Apple has no excuses as iOS 18 disappoints millions: No AI unless you buy a $1,000 iPhone 15 Pro

iOS 18 with Apple Intelligence has been announced now, and based on older iOS releases, it was quite predictable Apple would “pull an Apple” and create separation between iPhone models by making new AI features exclusive to some of them.

In fact, it was so predictable that I… predicted it about a week ago. But I’m not here to brag (well, maybe a little bit)… I’m here to do my other favorite thing (as a tech writer), which is to complain about first-world problems.

A first-world problem or not, Apple has decided to make its new “Apple Intelligence” ML algorithms exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. That’s it. Two iPhones.

Say what?!

In one of the most controversial Apple moves in recent times, new iOS 18 AI will be exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro: iPhone 15

As I said, it was expected that Apple was going to keep certain new iOS 18 features exclusive to the most expensive iPhones (because this happens every year), but this went beyond my wildest expectations.

Apple Intelligence is quite literally coming to only two iPhone models right now, and eventually, six in total – when the iPhone 16 series is out. Unless only the iPhone 16 Pro models get AI, which will be the cherry on top!

This move makes the $800 iPhone 15 and $900 iPhone 15 Plus, which are Apple’s current flagship phones (!), sort of irrelevant.

Sure, some would say “not everyone cares about the AI in iOS 18” but that’d be a very weak argument, since the most impressive part about iOS 18 is indeed Apple Intelligence.

And let’s not forget people using the iPhone 14 and iPhone 13, which are pretty capable devices even by today’s standards. The decision to make Apple Intelligence exclusive to the latest Pro iPhones could indeed push people using the vanilla version of the iPhone to upgrade to a Pro model.

Of course, that’s exactly what Apple’s always wanted, which is what every phone maker wants – to upsell. However, I’m simply not sure that’s a fair way to achieve that. It feels like cheating. Cheating your own users who’ve waited a while to get a taste of the whole next-gen “AI” thing.

Samsung is now more generous than Apple when it comes to software updates: New Galaxy flagships get longer support and more feature-rich updates than iPhone

Speaking of other phone-makers, Samsung and Google have (so far) handled the same situation far more gracefully than Apple.

Right after the launch of the Galaxy S24 series with OneUI 6.1, Samsung made it clear that older Galaxy flagships will get some of the new AI features too. In fact, Samsung under-promised and over-delivered, because the Galaxy S23 and even Galaxy S22 flagships now have virtually all the best AI tricks from the Galaxy S24.

On the other hand, Google handled the situation differently…

Initially, the company said the full AI feature bag it introduced earlier this year would be exclusive to Pixel 8 Pro. After backlash online, Google reverted this decision, and said Pixel 8 will also be getting the same AI tricks as Pixel 8 Pro (the two run on the same Tensor G2 SoC).

In a sense, Google tried to pull an Apple but got intimidated by the complaints and didn’t commit to its controversial AI blockade. Damn. Apple really is the best at being greed… I mean courageous.

Does Apple have a valid excuse for denying millions of iPhone users from accessing its new AI in iOS 18?

In the end, a fair question some might have is whether Apple has a valid excuse for denying millions of iPhone users from accessing the new “Apple Intelligence”.

For instance, somebody I was chatting with made the argument that “Apple is in the business of selling hardware”, and limiting new AI to the iPhone 15 Pro is just a way to get people to buy it.

While this is a valid (obvious) point, it doesn’t act as an excuse/explanation for those who just bought an iPhone 15 to find out the iOS 18 version they’ll be getting is at least half as capable as the one their friend with iPhone 15 Pro will get.

Speaking of hardware, the “hardware limitation” argument doesn’t hold up either, since the chip powering the iPhone 15 is barely any less powerful than the A17 Bionic in the iPhone 15 Pro. Sure, the Pro model has twice as many NPU cores, which plays a direct role in AI and ML tasks, but this isn’t an excuse either.

If cheaper/older iPhones “can’t handle all the new AI tricks” iPhone 15 Pro can, why not give them at least the AI features they can handle? Again, not to make this an “iPhone vs Android” story, but Samsung updated the old Galaxy S22 series of phones with 90% of the AI tricks found in the latest Galaxy S24.

Will Apple get away with creating a “Pro iPhone” monopoly around AI, or will iPhone users start a protest?

In the end, the announcement of the long-awaited, “monumental” iOS 18 update (which some would argue is the biggest iOS update ever) leaves a slightly sour (apple) taste in my mouth.

I have an iPhone 13 mini (alongside the iPhone 15 Pro Max I use for testing), and while I didn’t expect iOS 18 to make my iPhone 13 look as new as the iPhone 15 Pro, I certainly expected at least a couple of worthy AI tricks, which would make my life easier.

Recently, I wrote about how Circle to Search and webpage Summarize on Pixel and Galaxy are my favorite new AI features I wanted to see on iPhone, and those aren’t even the most powerful/demanding new AI tricks on Android – not even close.

Now that Apple finally has an equivalent of these features (with the help of Apple’s own AI and ChatGPT), we must accept that not only my iPhone 13 isn’t getting them, but even your brand new iPhone 15 will be left out.

But hey, at least the 2018 iPhone XS is getting 7 years of iOS updates! And the same amount of Apple Intelligence as the latest iPhone 15. What are you so bitter about?!

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