Apple may be looking to try something different with next year iPhone 15 release. Rumors suggest that the company could introduce a device that some people call the iPhone 15Ultra — a large iPhone packed with the best features available to Apple phones at a premium price.
“Isn’t that what the iPhone 14 Pro Max is supposed to be?” You may be wondering, and you’re right: the iPhone 14 ProMax It’s currently at the top of Apple’s smartphone lineup, giving you a rapidly updating 6.7-inch display, a high-end A16 Bionic processor, and superior cameras, all for a starting price of $1,099.
The fact is that, apart from the big screen, the iPhone 14 Pro offers those same features. For next year’s models, Apple may be looking to further differentiate its Pro versions, just as it did with the iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 14 Pro more marked differences for its recent release. Hence the move to an iPhone 15 Ultra, which would drive home the point that this is more than just a rebranded iPhone Pro Max by including more substantial features.
We’re a long way from knowing if the iPhone 15 Ultra is actually part of Apple’s 2023 phone plans. In fact, some Apple watchers have already criticized the idea of Apple releasing an Ultra version of its phone instead of an iPhone 15. ProMax. But there are enough rumors from enough credible sources to at least consider the possibility of an iPhone 15 Ultra, and wonder how it might differ from a Pro Max model.
The definitive answer to that last question won’t come until next fall, when Apple officially shows off its iPhone 15 lineup. For now, though, there are enough iPhone 15 rumors combined with some of our own speculation to make some early guesses about how the iPhone 15 Ultra could stand out from the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
It used to be safe to assume that new Apple phones would feature the company’s latest mobile silicon, but then the iPhone 14 came along with a variation of the A15 chipset that powered phones from the previous year. However, we do anticipate that an iPhone 15 Ultra will run on a new system-on-chip.
In this case, it’s supposed to be the A17 Bionic, and it should offer a huge boost over the already impressive A16 Bionic that powers the iPhone 14 Pro Max. That’s because the A17 Bionic is expected to be built on a 3-nanometer process versus the 4nm A16 Bionic. A 3nm chipset can accommodate more transistors than 4nm silicon, increasing performance and power efficiency.
The bigger question is whether the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Ultra would use the same chipset, or whether the version powering the Ultra would have more cores. With the iPhone 13Apple used a different version of the A15 Bionic for the Pro models that included an additional GPU core. (That’s the A15 that powers the standard iPhone 14, by the way.) It will be interesting to see if Apple uses the same approach to further distinguish the iPhone 15 Ultra.
Different ports, or none at all
The days of the Lightning port are numbered, at least when it comes to the iPhone. The European Union has passed a law that requires standard charging technology on all mobile devices. While the law won’t take effect until 2024, it’s anticipated that Apple will get ahead of itself by replacing its proprietary Lightning port with USB-C for the iPhone 15 line.
But that change would affect all iPhone 15 models, not just the iPhone 15 Ultra. Some rumors suggest that Apple could go a step further by removing ports entirely from its Ultra phone, meaning it would rely entirely on wireless charging to keep the Ultra going. (Headphone ports no longer exist on the iPhone, so be prepared to take a couple of AirPods if you haven’t already).
rumors of a iPhone without port they’ve been around for years, so we don’t know for sure how much stock to put on this latest incarnation. For now, count on the iPhone 15 Ultra to swap out the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s Lightning port with USB-C… and we’ll see if the portless iPhone rumor has any basis this time.
A more durable body.
iPhone design has remained fairly static since the iPhone 12: flat edges, metal frames, and occasional tweaks to the rear camera array to accommodate larger sensors. That’s about as far as Apple likes to go with iPhone designs before they change things up, so we’re anticipating a few new approaches with the entire iPhone 15 lineup.
A rumor suggests that the high-end iPhone 15 could use a titanium alloy as a new material. Titanium would be more durable than the stainless steel used by the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The new alloy could also make the iPhone 15 Ultra lighter than its predecessor, which would be ideal since the iPhone 14 Pro Max weighed so little.
Here’s another rumor that’s been floating around for a while: The iPhone 14 Pro tipped to get titanium alloy at one point, so we’re not sure how much credence to give it. But if Apple is serious about this Ultra tag, a lighter, more durable material would be in line with that philosophy.
Here’s another rumor that is almost as predictable as that the new iPhone has an improved processor. Cameras are critical to the success of the iPhone, so naturally the iPhone 15 lineup will be in line for a tweak or two, and that’s especially true of the most expensive model in the lineup.
To that end, the iPhone 15 Ultra could be in line for a periscope style lens that would increase its zoom capabilities beyond the 3x optical zoom that the iPhone 14 Pro Max supports. It’s unclear if that feature would also be available for the iPhone 15 Pro or if Apple would treat it as an Ultra exclusive.
Some analysts have suggested that iPhone 15 Pro models, including the Ultra, get an eight-element lens, an upgrade from the seven-element lens found in the iPhone 14 Pro Max. More elements allow a phone camera to absorb more light and minimize distortion. Nevertheless, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo he doesn’t think an upgrade to an eight-element lens is going to happen.
There is another iPhone 15 Ultra camera rumor, and it relates to the front camera, or rather, the cameras. A filter is tilting the The iPhone 15 Ultra will have a second front lens. That could be related to Apple’s ambitions toward augmented reality, as a second camera could help overlay virtual objects on the Ultra’s viewfinder.
We are now moving away from the realm of rumors towards pure speculation and what we would expect to see from an iPhone 15 Ultra. That starts with storage, particularly the amount that Apple includes in the base model of its phones.
Buy any iPhone 14 model and the base version will have 128GB of storage, which is pretty standard among smartphones these days. (It’s also a new development for Apple: As recently as the iPhone 12, Apple still intended 64GB to be a suitable starting point.) But if you’re going to put the Ultra label on a device, its specs need to go above and beyond what’s standard for other phones. That means a minimum of 256GB in our mind.
It’s not a point that phone makers agree with. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra starts with 128GB of storage, and we’d expect the galaxy s23 ultra to do the same when it arrives in early 2023. But that’s all the more reason for Apple to do big things with storage in the iPhone 15 Ultra.
Apple Pencil Support
Speaking of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, it will almost certainly ship with a built-in S Pen, the second year in a row Samsung has offered that feature. (And the Galaxy S20 Ultra offered S Pen support, even if you had to buy the stylus separately.) In contrast, Apple phones continue to ship without a stylus included, even though one is available.
That would be the Apple Pencil, which Apple has restricted from use with the iPad Pro, iPad mini, iPad Air, and iPad 10th generation. (In the case of that latest tablet, you can only use the original Apple Pencil and not the second-generation model.) There’s absolutely no reason why that stylus shouldn’t work with a 6.7-inch phone, especially if you’re going to promote that phone as the ultimate productivity device.
Whether or not Apple agrees with that statement remains to be seen. But adding Apple Pencil support to the iPhone 15 Ultra would certainly make this rumored phone a clear improvement over the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
iPhone 15 Ultra perspective
With the next round of iPhones not expected until September 2023, it will be some time before we know if any of these rumored features work, or if the iPhone 15 Ultra even exists. But the fact that there are half a dozen ways such a device could be distinguished from the iPhone 14 Pro Max suggests that an iPhone 15 Ultra would represent more than just a name change.