Apple ushered in a tectonic shift in the iPhone world last year, adding a new device and a new naming scheme to the iPhone 14, along with the iPhone 14 Plus.
Originally thought to be the “iPhone 14 Max” and designed to complement the sizable iPhone 14 Pro Max – with a simpler chip, display and camera, the 14 Plus also showed that Apple didn’t stop at remaking product names for better clarity.
Rumors now suggest that the company will take a similar approach to the top-of-the-range iPhone 15 from 2023. Instead of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, it’s starting to look like we’ve been introduced to the “iPhone 15 Ultra”, positioned above the iPhone 15 Pro.
Nomenclature is no stranger to Apple. The company has just launched an extreme version of its smartwatch – loaded to the brim with features – called the Apple Watch Ultra.
The notion of an Apple iPhone 15 Ultra makes sense to us, and breaking away from Pro in the name will allow Apple to better justify any differences Apple decides to make to its two most powerful 2023 iPhones. It’s likely that the 15 Ultra will be more than just larger screen and battery, as is the case with the current iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max.
That said, there’s no guarantee we’ll see an iPhone 15 Ultra at all – one source claims we’ll be waiting until the iPhone 16 for the Ultra model and that it will sit on top of the Pro Max instead of replacing it. So below you will find leaks and rumors about both possible phones.
To the point
- What is this? The biggest and worst of the expected Apple iPhones in 2023
- when is it coming out? Probably September 2023 or September 2024
- How much does it cost? Probably even more than the iPhone 14 Pro Max
iPhone 15 Ultra expected release dates
Apple events historically take place in the first or second week of September. The company likes to announce on a Tuesday or Wednesday, then start pre-sales on the same Friday. The phone usually arrives in stores the following Friday.
For the iPhone 14, the event happened on September 7 (admittedly earlier than expected), and three of the four phones went on sale more than a week later on September 16 (the iPhone 14 Plus arrived on October 7).
In 2023, this means the likely dates for the events are September 5 or September 12 (both are Tuesdays), although the 6th and 13th are also possible. We could see the phone in stores on September 15.
This all assumes there’s an iPhone 15 Ultra, of course, but one leak suggests we won’t see the first Ultra model until 2024 – meaning it’ll likely launch in September 2024 as the iPhone 16 Ultra.
iPhone 15 Ultra price leaks
Early leaks on how Apple will price the iPhone 15 Ultra say a lot. Apple may launch an Ultra phone for $1,199. This would put the phone on a par with Samsung’s current “Ultra” device, the Galaxy S23 Ultra. This phone starts at $1199.99 / £1249 / AU$1949.
However, a more recent leak suggests it could be even more expensive, at $1,299, which is likely to equate to £1,429/$2,249 in other regions.
The current iPhone 14 Pro Max is priced at $1,099 / £1,199 / AU$1,899, which in itself is a price increase outside of the US market over last year’s model. We think it’s possible that when Apple switches from “Pro Max” to “Ultra” or adds Ultra above Pro Max, as the case may be, it will raise the price by $100 or $200 in the US with corresponding price increases elsewhere.
In any case, a price increase of some amount seems likely, and even Apple itself suggests that customers would be willing to pay more.
Hopefully, the price increase will also bring more reasons to buy. The current iPhone 14 Pro Max gets a bigger screen and battery than the standard 14 Pro and that’s about it. That’s a big premium for $100, but if Apple is going to push the price even higher, it needs to offer more features and more hardware to justify the price.
Fortunately, one source claims that the initial storage capacity will be 256GB, which is double that of the current models, which would somewhat justify the price.
- iPhone 14 Pro Max: $1099 / £1199 / AU$1899
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G: $1199.99 / £1149 / $1849
- iPhone 15 Ultra (expected): $1,199 / £1,309 / AU$2,099 – $1,299 / £1,429 / AU$2,249
iPhone 15 Ultra news, rumors and leaks
We’ve heard a lot about the highly anticipated iPhone 15, with rumors dating back to before the launch of the iPhone 14 series, but it’s only recently that news of Apple’s higher-end iPhone 15 Ultra has surfaced. Mark Gurman from Bloomberg mentioned right after the launch of line 14 that Ultra was coming, and that was the first news we heard about this new possible nomenclature.
Like I said yesterday: Ultra is coming. https://t.co/IrZUBHlLN2September 9, 2022
Then we heard further confirmation from other iPhone 15 leaks, with one leaker suggesting that in addition to a larger screen and battery, the iPhone 15 Ultra may have a better camera setup than its iPhone 15 Pro sibling.
The information was rather vague, with a leak saying that Apple was testing a long-awaited 8K video recording feature for its next iPhone, but the revealer wasn’t sure if the feature would come to the iPhone 15 Pro or just the higher end. iPhone 15 Ultra. This sparked speculation that the Ultra phone could see camera improvements over the Pro.
On that front, we’ve heard that the iPhone 15 Ultra could at least have more advanced imaging skills than the iPhone 15 Pro.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is one step ahead of the Galaxy S22 Plus and the entry-level Galaxy S22, and one notable improvement is the addition of a periscope-style zoom telephoto lens. Leaks suggest that Apple may also use periscope zoom on its larger Ultra device, and the size requirements for such a lens would make more sense on a larger phone compared to the smaller iPhone 15 Pro, which is also expected to arrive next fall.
The next camera upgrade could come in the form of a new Sony sensor that apparently captures more light and better avoids overexposure or underexposure of shots than current smartphone cameras, even in difficult scenes where foreground lighting is very different from the background.
We’ve also heard that the Ultra may have a dual-lens front camera, and the same source also says it may only come in one shade – the same silver color as the Apple Watch Ultra.
Elsewhere, there’s a reputable source claiming Pro models in the iPhone 15 lineup (possibly including the iPhone 15 Ultra) will get a USB-C port with support for data transfer speeds of up to 20Gbps or 40Gbps, down from just 480 Mbps on current iPhones. We have already heard similar claims from many sources. We also expect Wi-Fi 6E support on this phone.
Of course, it will also be very powerful. Expect the A17 Bionic chipset, which according to the source could be significantly more powerful than the A16 Bionic used in the iPhone 14 Pro line, which in turn could lead to better battery life.
It may even be more powerful than the same chipset in the iPhone 15 Pro, with one source claiming the software won’t limit the chipset in the Ultra as much. The only real reason the software would limit this in the first place is to stop the phone from overheating, which also suggests that the iPhone 15 Ultra may have a better cooling system.
Besides, we’ve also heard that the iPhone 15 Ultra could be coated in titanium, which is typically stronger and lighter than the stainless steel used in the iPhone 14 Pro Max. This claim comes from a leaked tweet LeaksApplePro (opens in a new tab)which is not one of the biggest leaks but has been right before.
Another source now says the same thing, so it may be true. The latter source added that the sides will apparently also be of a different shape, with them curved towards the back of the phone rather than at right angles.
More evidence of this comes from the image above, which supposedly shows the iPhone 15 Pro with brushed metal sides that are likely titanium, and with more curved edges than current models. So while it’s a different phone, the same design changes could apply to the iPhone 15 Ultra as well.
This image further shows the USB-C port, adding credibility to claims that we will see such a port in upcoming iPhones.
Another rumor suggests that the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Ultra will have thinner bezels than their predecessors, with all models in the series expected to feature curved edges.
Another design improvement could be the solid-state power and volume buttons, which sit flush with the body of the phone and don’t physically move.