Apple's iPhone 15 event left analysts unimpressed

Apple (AAPL) unveiled its iPhone 15 launch lineup this week, including the iPhone 15 Plus and Pro models. But the grand reveal didn’t enthuse some analysts, with Radio Free Mobile Founder Richard Windsor reducing the event to “[just] a gesture, some silicon, and a bit of camera.”

Yahoo Finance Tech Editor Dan Howley breaks down some of the new features on the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro, while also dissecting headlines of France suspending iPhone 12 sales due to high radiation levels.

Video transcript

- Apple's big fall launch event went as expected, with the big newsmaker being the iPhone 15, but it wasn't exactly a big hit for analysts. The annual event failed to excite DA Davidson's Tom Forte, for example. He said the tech giant may not be able to rely on strong iPhone sales to drive its share price higher.

Radio Free mobile founder Richard Windsor called the event a gesture of some silicone and a bit of camera. And Keybanc's John Vinh said the product launch was, overall, slightly negative. The stock fell. It tends to fall on the days when it makes these announcements.

Here to break down why all of these comments are coming in, Yahoo Finance's senior tech reporter Dan Howley, who was there at the event and who had a chance to take a look at some of the new products. Dan, good to see you.

DAN HOWLEY: It's easy, Julie. I think the-- it's an interesting take from analysts, obviously. This is something that we've kind of anticipated for some time now. I mean, Mark Gurman has been reporting on this over at Bloomberg, and he basically, like I say, lives inside Tim Cook's wall.

So it's not as though there was something that we didn't see that we were expecting or something that we were hoping to see that we didn't get. So this is basically kind of par for the course, when it comes to Apple launches. As you said yourself, the share prices usually fall after the event and then they go back up from there over time.

And I think that's likely what we'll see here for the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 pro. And just to give you an idea of really what we saw from the products, yeah, there were-- the new dynamic island is now on the iPhone 15, and it gets last year's Pro chip, the A16. But really, the big upgrades came with the iPhone 15 pro line. That's the titanium case.

As you can see here, the A17 pro chip. Ray tracing really going heavily in on gaming there. The camera with 5x Zoom. And they also have the dynamic island on that. So really, it's-- I think if you look at the standard iPhone, yeah, the upgrade isn't really that wild. It's got USB-C, oh, my god.

But the [INAUDIBLE] is really where you're seeing the upgrades, and I think that's where most people will tend to look. So as these analysts obviously seemingly disappointed by the announcement, you have others that are high on it. And so I think this is essentially par for the course after every Apple event.

There's the-- kind of, maybe they'll announce something awesome, they announce exactly what's been reported, and then the, why didn't they announce something awesome kind of feeling.

- Yeah. And then there's me, who's phone has already hit kind of the hard landing scenario, and I'm just waiting for them to announce something that is extremely kind of cost conscious for me that makes sense for me to get off of this cracked phone screen that I have here. But plenty of risks for investors to focus on here when it comes to Apple.

China responding to reports of an iPhone shutdown. Meanwhile, France orders Apple's to halt the iPhone 12 sales, as well, Dan, due to high radiation levels. What's your take on that front?

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah, the China thing is basically-- there were reports that the country was telling people in the Central government to not use the phones for iPhone, specifically for business, or in their personal lives, rely on a national brand like, I don't know, a Huawei. And then they have obviously responded now.

The foreign ministry saying, oh, no, that's not true. There were some security incidences that were reported in media, and we haven't announced a ban. We treat all brands, both foreign and domestic, the same, which obviously, you could take that with what you will, granted the US has this same kind of stance, as well.

And as far as France goes, this is for the iPhone 12, and this has to do specifically with specific absorption rate. It has to do with the amount of radio frequency energy that the body takes in when you use a device. And France is saying that for the iPhone 12, in particular, it's higher than EU standards.

And so they're calling for Apple to make changes. They say that a software update could be all that they need to do and they'll be able to fix it there. And Apple basically saying, look, that's not true. We have third-party labs in our own labs saying that it falls within the appropriate range. So I think this is something that's going to be kind of resolved rather quickly.

I don't think this is going to drag out by any stretch of the imagination. I think the broader issue is, again, the issue with China and what's going on there. And when you look at it with the overall, I guess, problem with potential bans, there's also, as I mentioned, Huawei earlier, they launched a new phone that's got a high-end chip in it that's supposed to offer speeds, connection speeds, that are on par with 5G and kind of came out of nowhere.

So Apple shares in China have jumped as the shares of Huawei have declined because they didn't have the kind of phones that consumers wanted. So that could mean, then, that with these consumers now getting access to a Huawei device that has what they want as far as capabilities go, that we could see a return of customers to Huawei away from Apple. So we'll just have to see how that kind of rolls out and what the numbers show in the next quarter or so.

- And, Dan, Apple is trying to guide consumers to its higher-end devices, and they're spending more to do it. Ultimately, they want consumers to ditch their old devices, so people can trade them in. Are there any other options?

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah, I mean, look, I'm going to probably do this myself, trade in my iPhone 14 Pro for iPhone 15 because I'm a giant baby and just want the coolest phones. But I think the other is that you can give them to a kid if they're looking for a first phone. You get rid of your old one.

- I've done that.

DAN HOWLEY: [INAUDIBLE] yeah. My mom's 8 Plus, she could give to our nephew, her grandson. And then you could also donate them or just recycle them. If you don't think you're getting anything out of it and it's just kind of a waste, you can go ahead and take it to Best Buy, and they'll recycle it for you.

- You said 8 Plus?

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah, yeah. She's got an oldie.

- OK, all right. I thought-- look, I thought I was a couple iterations behind. I'm on a 12 Pro Max. I hope they'll take my 12 Pro Max. Somebody can use it.

DAN HOWLEY: Oh, yeah.

- They'll take it.

- Yeah? All right.

- They'll give you a discount on the new one.

- OK, I got to change the screen before then. Thanks so much, Dan. Appreciate it.