It’s a big day for Apple fans… the latest iPhone 15 models are now in stores!

Of course, the question for any loyal iPhone user is whether to upgrade. Here’s what you need to know about the new devices and where to get them.

One of the most basic questions I always get is whether it’s better to go to your carrier or the Apple store for the transaction.

I visited the Apple Tower Theater store in Downtown Los Angeles to get some answers.

“We’re going to get them set up connected and activated all right here in the store,” said Terence Smith Jr., an Apple Sales Specialist. “Anything you can do at your carrier you can do at the Apple store.”

Terence Smith Jr., an Apple Sales Specialist

That’s good to know. Especially if you’re considering switching plans or carriers or trying to get an upgrade deal.

This year, there are four new models of the iPhone 15. Green is one of the color choices but it’s also part of a major push from Apple to make its products carbon neutral by 2030.

“All four models use more recycled content than ever before, including 100 recycled cobalt in the battery which is a first for Apple,” iPhone Product Manager Piyush Pratik explained to me.

iPhone 15 and 15 Plus have a new 48-megapixel camera and a pill-shaped info center called Dynamic Island.

“It’s a really easy way for customers to get those useful nuggets of information without having to go to the app deliberately,” said Pratik.

By default, the base iPhone 15 models will take photos in a whopping 24 megapixels, which is double from before. This means more details when you zoom in, more freedom to crop your photos, and better prints if you ever decide to do that.

The Pro models get a new Titanium frame.

“These are our lightest pro models ever so when customers pick them up they will feel the difference,” said Pratik.

He’s right. The iPhone Pro models feel so light and breezy this year, that you might mistake them for the base models, which have traditionally felt lighter in the hand. This makes a big difference if you decide to step up to the Pro Max, which is usually the heaviest of the bunch.

The Pro models also feature a customizable Action Button on the side that replaces the ringer switch. This is low-key the most useful new feature on the iPhones. You can set it to do nearly anything with a press. Google, hope you’re taking note.

The biggest difference between the base Pro and the Pro Max is that the Max features 5x zoom. Apple says it’s like having 7 lenses in your pocket; they’re counting the ultra-wide angle, the 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 2x and 5x settings you can “snap to” in the viewfinder.

No matter what, the extra zoom will no doubt come in handy in certain conditions.

iPhone Product Manager Piyush Pratik with tech reporter Rich DeMuro

All of the new phones feature a USB-C connection instead of Lightning, and yes, the new cable comes in the box.

“It’s really versatile,” said Pratik. Apple remains mum on why they changed the connection, but it’s likely due to the EU requiring all devices sold there to have the standard connection.

A few things to note about the new USB-C. For starters, it doesn’t offer faster charging over lightning. It CAN offer faster data transfer speeds but only if you have a Pro model and use a USB-C 3 cable, which is sold separately.

Also, you can buy any other USB-C cable you’d like and it will work with the iPhone 15, just be sure to check for the USB-C PD, or power delivery, spec on the cable details.

Back to the green push. The new phones and watches come in fiber-based packaging and many watch bands are made from recycled materials.

Since Apple is no longer selling leather, they’ve created a new material called FineWoven.

“It feels really premium … soft to the touch but it’s also super durable,” said Pratik.

Apple sent some samples of the new material, and it feels like a mix between suede and a braided finish. It’s certainly unique, but not for me since I prefer rubbery, grippy cases anyway.

Tap to compare photos I took with the new phone!

iPhone 15 models start at $800 and come in pink, yellow, blue, green and black. The pink is getting a lot of attention.

The Pro models start at $1000. The Pro Max with the 5x zoom is $1200. They come in black, white, blue and natural. The natural is getting a lot of buzz.

As for that old phone, keep in mind there are several ways to get rid of it. You can hand it down to a family member or friend, sell it on a third-party site, or trade it in.

If you trade it in through your carrier, you’ll get more for your phone, but you will likely be asked to have a premium unlimited plan and a contract with your carrier that lasts anywhere from 24 to 36 months.

You can also trade it into Apple, you’ll get slightly less for your trade but you won’t be on the hook for any plan changes or cellular contracts.

“Customers can trade in their old phone and receive up to $650 in credit which they can apply to their new purchase,” noted Smith.

Whether you “need” to upgrade is really a personal preference. The new phones are probably some of the biggest updates Apple has delivered in a while, USB-C is a welcome addition, and the cameras have some notable improvements.

“They are going to be a huge upgrade for everyone and especially for customers who may still be on older iPhone models like the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12,” concluded Pratik.