Apple caused a tectonic shift in the iPhone world this year when it added a new device and naming scheme to the iPhone 14 lineup, with the iPhone 14 Plus.
Originally supposed to be the ‘iPhone 14 Max’ and designed to complement the bulky iPhone 14 Pro Max – with a simpler chip, display and camera system, the 14 Plus also showed that Apple didn’t go beyond reworking its product names for more clarity.
Rumors now suggest that the company will apply similar treatment to the top of next year’s iPhone lineup. Instead of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, it seems that we will be introduced to an ‘iPhone 15 Ultra’, which will sit above the iPhone 15 Pro.
The naming convention is not uncommon for Apple. The company has just launched an extreme version of its smartwatch – packed with features – called the Apple Watch Ultra.
The idea of an Apple iPhone 15 Ultra makes sense to us and breaking away from the Pro in name will help Apple justify any differences Apple decides to inject into its two most capable 2023 iPhones. It’s likely the 15 Ultra will be more than just a bigger screen and battery, as is the case with the current iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The biggest and meanest of Apple’s expected 2023 iPhones
- When is it out? Probably September 2023
- How much is it? Probably as much if not more than the current 14 Pro Max
iPhone 15 Ultra release date predictions
Apple events historically take place in the first or second week of September. The company likes to make an announcement on Tuesday or Wednesday and then start presale the same Friday. The phone usually hits stores the following Friday.
For the iPhone 14, that event fell 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 September 5 or September 12 are likely event dates (both are Tuesdays), although September 6 and 13 are also possible. We could see the phone in stores as early as September 15.
iPhone 15 Ultra price leaks
The early leaks on how Apple will price the iPhone 15 Ultra are telling. Apple can launch the Ultra phone for $1,199. This would put the phone in the same price bracket as Samsung’s current “Ultra” device, the Galaxy S22 Ultra. That phone costs $1,199.99 / £1,149 / AU$1,849.
The current iPhone 14 Pro Max costs $1,099 / £1,199 / AU$1,899, which in itself represents a price increase outside the US market over last year’s model. We think it’s possible that when Apple switches from ‘Pro Max’ to ‘Ultra’ it will raise the price by $100 in the US, with corresponding price increases elsewhere.
Hopefully, that price hike will also come with more reasons to buy. The current iPhone 14 Pro Max gives you a bigger screen and battery than the standard 14 Pro, and that’s it. That’s a big bonus for $100, but if Apple wants to push the price up even further, it needs to offer more features and more hardware to justify the price.
- iPhone 14 Pro Max: $1,099 / £1,199 / AU$1,899
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G: $1,199.99 / £1,149 / AU$1,849
- iPhone 15 Ultra (expected): $1,199 / £1,309 / AU$2,099
In other words, we expect the iPhone 15 Ultra in its current form to cost about the same as the iPhone 14 Pro Max, with 256GB of storage.
iPhone 15 Ultra news, rumors and leaks
We’ve heard quite a bit about the expected iPhone 15 with rumors dating back to before the launch of the iPhone 14 series, but only recently has news of a higher Apple iPhone 15 Ultra emerged. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said right after the launch of the 14 line that an Ultra was coming, and that was the first we heard of this new possible nomenclature.
As I said yesterday: Ultra is coming. https://t.co/IrZUBHlLN2September 9, 2022
We then heard further confirmation from other iPhone 15 leaks, and one leaker suggested that, in addition to a larger screen and battery, the iPhone 15 Ultra could see a better camera setup than its iPhone 15 Pro sibling.
The information came across as rather vague, with the leak saying that Apple was testing a long-awaited 8K video recording feature for its next iPhone, but the leaker wasn’t sure if this feature would come to the iPhone 15 Pro or just the higher end segment iPhone 15Ultra. This sparked speculation that the Ultra phone could see camera improvements over the Pro.
Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra is a step ahead of its Galaxy S22 Plus and the base model Galaxy S22, and a major improvement is the addition of a periscope-style telephoto zoom lens. Leaks suggest that Apple could also use a periscope zoom on its larger Ultra device, and the size requirements for such a lens would make more sense on the larger phone compared to the smaller iPhone 15 Pro also expected next fall.
In any case, if the iPhone 15 Ultra offers 8K video capture, it could actually run at higher data transfer rates than current models, too, letting you get all that footage off your phone in a reasonable amount of time.
And it looks like it could get such a speed upgrade, with one reputable source claiming that the Pro models of the iPhone 15 line (presumably including the iPhone 15 Ultra) will get a USB-C port with support for data transfer rates of up to 20Gbps or 40Gbps, compared to just 480Mbps on current iPhones.
In addition, we’ve also heard that the iPhone 15 Ultra may be plated with titanium, which tends to be stronger and lighter than the stainless steel used by the iPhone 14 Pro Max. This claim comes from a tweet from the leaker LeaksApplePro (opens in new tab)who is not one of the greatest speakers, but has been right before.