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Apple's iPhone 15 Pro bests all Android phones in future smart home preparedness

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are the first smartphones ever with a built-in Thread radio.

Published onSeptember 13, 2023

Apple Event 2023 iPhone 15 Pro action button
  • The iPhone 15 Pro’s A17 Pro chip has a built-in Thread radio.
  • That technically means the new Pro iPhones could function as border routers to connect a Thread network to the internet.
  • No Android phone has this capability just yet, but Google could be working on it.

With the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple made some internal changes that make the phones best equipped to handle modern smart home devices and networks. Both the new Pro iPhones are the first smartphones ever to feature a Thread radio, allowing you to directly control your Thread-enabled smart home devices.

Thread is a wireless smart home protocol designed to help your smart home devices talk to each other faster and more efficiently. Thread devices can connect to the internet and each other regardless of their brand and manufacturer. It is also the main infrastructure for Matter devices since it is designed with smart home meshes in mind. The more Thread-supported products you own, the stronger your smart home network becomes.

The only requirement for Thread products to reach the internet and establish a local network is a “border router.” It’s unclear how Apple would take advantage of Thread in the new iPhone 15 Pro models. The company says Thread support will be “opening up future opportunities for Home app integrations.” It’s possible the new iPhone 15 Pros could function as Thread border routers, similar to the Apple TV 4K (3rd generation) and HomePod Mini.

Currently, there are no Android phones that feature a Thread radio. According to Mishaal Rahman, Google is also working on a Thread network stack for Android. It will allow Android devices with a Thread radio to create a Thread network and act as a Thread Border Router. That means future Pixel phones and tablets with a built-in Thread radio could also serve as border routers. However, it’s unclear when that’ll happen.

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