In 2023, Apple will launch four iPhone models, the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 ultra, and iPhone 15 ultra Max. Like the iPhone 14 Pro models, the iPhone 15 ultra models will offer features not available on the iPhone 15 model that is more affordable.
Listed below is everything we know about the iPhone 15 ultra and the iPhone 15 ultra Max based on circulating rumors. The iPhone 15 ultra is expected to measure 6.1 inches, while the iPhone 15 ultra Max is expected to measure 6.7 inches, similar to the iPhone 14 Pro.
According to Apple, the iPhone 15 ultra models will have thinner, curvier bezels and a new titanium chassis, so far. Additionally, Apple is expected to add a new mute button that could be used as an Action button, similar to the Action button on the Apple Watch Ultra. The mute switch will be replaced by the mute button.
The iPhone 15 ultra and Pro Max will be equipped with an upgraded 3-nanometer A17 chip, while the iPhone 15 models will use the same A16 chip. In addition to the Dynamic Island, all iPhone 15 models will switch from Lightning to USB-C, but the iPhone 15 ultra lineup will include a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3 or USB 3.2 speeds.
There will be more RAM along with the A17 chip, but all iPhone 15 models will use the same 5G Qualcomm modem chip technology for connectivity. The iPhone 15 ultra and Pro Max will have similar features, with one major difference – the telephoto camera.
Both models will include telephoto lenses, but only the iPhone 15 pro Max will have a periscope lens that will enable 5x to 6x optical zoom, an improvement over the iPhone 14 Pro’s 3x zoom.
Renders and leaks of parts
In February, a photo of an iPhone 15 ultra with USB-C port surfaced, giving us our first look at the design. Dummy models followed in April, as did several renderings.
It is interesting to see the similarities between the USB-C and Lightning ports on the current iPhone 14 Pro models. The image shows off the deeper curve that Apple is expected to add to the iPhone 15 ultra models, and it has a brushed metal finish that could be the rumored titanium chassis.
There is a noticeable difference in size between the standard iPhone 15 and the iPhone 15 ultra models, due to the thickness of the bezels. Thinner bezels will be limited to iPhone 15 ultra models and not the standard iPhone 15.
A comparison of the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 15 ultra mockup shows the thinner bezel design.
It was initially speculated that the iPhone 15 ultra would include a unified volume button, but this is no longer the case. Since Apple is no longer using solid-state button technology, the updated design is back to Apple’s standard two-button design used on the iPhone 14 Pro. In light of the updated design, renders and leaks depicting a single button are now outdated.
Apple is expected to swap the mute switch for a mute button, which is accurate in renders.
This iPhone 15 ultra Max is expected to be slightly thicker than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, with small reductions in height and width. The iPhone 15 ultra Max is expected to be 8.25mm thick, 0.4mm thicker than the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
According to renders of the iPhone 15 ultra, the edges are expected to be curved, and the bezels will be thinner than on the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Details of the design
With 6.1- and 6.7-inch OLED displays, and a Dynamic Island cutout for the camera and Face ID, the iPhone 15 ultra and Pro Max are expected to look similar to the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max.
The two Pro models have been rumored to have some tweaks to their chassis. ShrimpApplePro says the iPhone 15 ultra models will feature thinner, curved bezels than the iPhone 14 Pro models. It is expected that the displays will remain flat, despite slimmer, curved edges, reminiscent of Apple Watch Series 7 and Series 8.
Apple’s iPhone 15 ultra is expected to feature 1.55mm bezels, which means it will set a new record for thinnest smartphone bezels. The iPhone 14 Pro has 2.17mm bezels.
As an alternative to stainless steel, rumors suggest that Apple will use titanium for its iPhone 15 ultra and iPhone 15 ultra Max frames this year. Titanium is lighter and stronger than stainless steel, but it is also more expensive because it is more difficult to work with.
Assuming no major changes have been made in terms of internal components, a titanium frame iPhone will be lighter than a stainless steel frame iPhone, so the 15 Pro and Pro Max should be lighter than their predecessors, the iPhone 14 Pro. As the devices won’t be made from pure titanium, the alloy Apple uses will ultimately determine their weight.
In the past, Apple has used two titanium colors in its Apple Watch lineup, a silvery-like natural titanium color and a darker space black version.
Titanium also has a different finish from stainless steel. Instead of being shiny, it has a matte finish that won’t attract fingerprints like stainless steel’s does on the iPhone 14 Pro.
Because titanium is much stronger than stainless steel, an iPhone chassis made of the material may be more resistant to dents, dings, and bends, but it may be easier to scratch because its oxide layer is easily damaged.
It is rumored that the iPhone 15 ultra will come in a deep red color, similar to that of burgundy or maroon. Apple often releases a new color every year, and this year’s color could be a deep red.
In addition to silver/gold and space gray color options, the red shade will be available alongside dark purple, green, and dark blue shades.
In addition to solid-state buttons, Apple also used an elongated, single button design for the iPhone 15 ultra models. In order to simulate a button press, Apple intended to use haptic feedback, creating the illusion of pressing even when there isn’t a button to press.
In April, Apple abandoned plans to use solid-state buttons, citing “unresolved technical issues,” according to reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
Apple will instead “revert to the traditional physical button design,” according to Kuo, including replacing the rumored single button with a dual-button setup similar to that of the iPhone 14 Pro models. iPhone 16 models in 2024 may instead feature solid-state buttons.
A source from the MacRumors forums has suggested that Apple might turn this mute button into an “Action” button similar to the ACTION button on the Apple Watch Ultra, which multiple sources have subsequently confirmed will be the case.
There is no word yet on what functions a new “Action” button will be able to perform, but it is allegedly going to replace the current Ring/Silent switch located near the volume buttons. Like the Apple Watch Action button, it would probably be customizable and could be used to activate Do Not Disturb, Low Power Mode, the Camera app, and so on.
In order to change the way iPhone 15 ultra and Pro Max are restarted and powered off, Apple is expected to use the new Action button. To restart the iPhone 15 ultra, the Action button combined with the Side button could be used instead of pressing the Side button and a volume button.
An OLED display driver chip manufactured on a 28nm process could be included in all iPhone 15 models, leading to reduced power consumption and improved battery life.
It appears that older cases will not fit with the new iPhones, based on a set of 3D printed iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 ultra models.
Although the iPhone 15 Plus is able to fit inside an iPhone 14 Plus, the cases won’t fit for most of the iPhone 15 lineup due to small changes in the dimensions. iPhone 14 Pro cases do not work properly due to the larger rear camera housing, as well as the curved design and changes to the buttons.
Dynamic Island Updates
The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 ultra Dynamic Island is expected to feature an updated design with an integrated proximity sensor, but this change will not result in noticeable changes to the look or functionality of the Dynamic Island. This could be an attempt by Apple to lower device costs by adjusting component costs.
Naming – The iPhone 15 Ultra?
It has been speculated that Apple will call the iPhone 15 ultra Max the iPhone 15 Ultra after the launch of the Apple Watch Ultra and rumors regarding iPhone improvements limited to the high-end iPhone 15 ultra Max.
This possibility was raised by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman in September, when he suggested Apple would debut an “Ultra” iPhone 15 in February, but he backed away from that claim. Gurman claims Apple is indeed developing an iPhone model that could be marketed as “Ultra,” but he expects it to be part of the iPhone 16 lineup in 2024.
Thus, Apple may stick to the iPhone 15 ultra and iPhone 15 ultra Max this year, but the iPhone 15 Ultra is not ruled out.
Regulatory requirements in Europe are forcing Apple to make a design change to iPhone 15 models, replacing the Lightning port with a USB-C port. Due to EU law, all devices must use a universal charging port, so Apple either needs to make a worldwide change or design a special iPhone for Europe.
For the iPhone 15, Apple is rumored to be adopting the USB-C port globally instead of Lightning. Those who own USB-C products, such as iPads and Macs, will be able to use the same charger and cable setup. With USB-C, iPhones, iPads, and Macs will be able to use the same charger and cable setup.
Although all iPhone 15 models will come with USB-C, the iPhone 15 ultra models are expected to offer higher data transfer speeds. The iPhone 15 ultra models should support USB 3.2 or Thunderbolt 3 transfer speeds, so up to 20Gb/s at a minimum or up to 40Gb/s if Thunderbolt is included.
Wired transfers of photos, backups, and other information will be much quicker with faster data speeds, as will future device-to-device transfers using a USB-C to USB-C cable.
A switch to USB-C may also facilitate faster wired charging speeds than are possible with Lightning.
According to a rumor on Chinese social networking site Weibo, Apple could restrict the iPhone’s USB-C port, preventing it from working with accessories that aren’t approved by Apple. Despite Apple’s Lightning port, none of Apple’s USB-C ports are restricted in any way.
Rumors suggest Apple may add an integrated circuit interface to the USB-C chip to encourage customers to buy genuine iPhone accessories and protect them from counterfeits.
ShrimpApplePro has also said that only USB-C accessories certified by Apple Made for iPhone (MFi) will be officially supported by iPhone 15 models. According to reports, Foxconn produces MFi-certified accessories like EarPods and cables with USB-C connectors.
According to ShrimpApplePro, cables without MFi certification will have limited data and charging speeds, since MFi certification can limit fast charging and high-speed data transfers.
New periscope camera technology will be introduced with the launch of the iPhone 15 ultra lineup, but the update will be limited to the iPhone 15 ultra Max. In one of the few times that Apple has limited new technologies to the larger 6.7-inch Pro iPhone, it will use an inferior feature in the standard 6.1-inch Pro iPhone with the introduction of the periscope lens.
The iPhone 15 ultra Max will feature a periscope lens system, allowing for a 5x or 6x optical zoom compared to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which offers 3x optical zoom.
Because of the internal space required for the hardware, Apple is likely to limit periscope technology to the iPhone 15 ultra Max. A periscope lens system generally uses a primary lens to capture a photo, and then a mirror or prism sends light 90 degrees to a second lens that then sends it to a sensor. In order to extend focal length, the image sensor and secondary lens are positioned sideways in the smartphone, but they take up valuable space.
By using a prism or mirror, a “folded” telephoto lens system can be created that fits into the chassis of a smartphone while increasing optical zoom.
This system will require a square-shaped telephoto lens, a departure from the circular telephoto lens used on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, because light is reflected at an angle. The cutout for the camera can still be circular, but the lens inside will be square.
In order to avoid blurry photos at higher zoom levels, Apple will need to incorporate optical image stabilization into the system.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses periscope lens technology, and Samsung’s lenses offer up to 10x optical zoom, and with digital zoom, Samsung offers 100x digital zoom. In similar fashion to Samsung, Apple may not advertise its telephoto lens as a “periscope,” but the iPhone 15 ultra Max’s telephoto lens is expected to offer greater optical zoom.
It is expected that Apple will adjust the position of the Ultra Wide and Telephoto lenses on the iPhone 15 ultra Max to accommodate the larger periscope camera. However, this will not result in any significant changes for end users. As Apple needs more space for the hardware, the periscope lens will be placed beneath the flash and LiDAR sensor. On the iPhone 14 Pro Max, that’s the Ultrawide camera, so the camera position will be swapped.
Other Camera Improvements
Moreover, Sony is expected to add an improved LiDAR scanner to its rear-camera models in the iPhone 15 ultra. Sony’s VCSEL (laser) used for the LiDAR Scanner has lower power consumption than the current model, so either the LiDAR Scanner in the iPhone 15 ultra will be more efficient and use less battery, or it will offer better performance at the same power consumption level.
As the first A-series chip built on a 3-nanometer process, the iPhone 15 ultra and Pro Max will use Apple’s next-generation A17 chip.
Because of increased transistor density, the A15 and A16 chips used in the iPhone 14 models use a 5-nanometer and 4-nanometer process, respectively.
TSMC has been perfecting the 3nm process for some time now, and with the technology jump, processing performance is expected to increase by 10 to 15 percent while reducing power consumption by 30 percent. In 2023, Apple will only be able to use the A17 chip in its iPhone 15 ultra models because the 3nm chips are more expensive to make.
The iPhone 15 ultra and Pro Max are expected to feature 8GB of RAM, up from 6GB in the current iPhone 14 Pro.
5G and 6E Wi-Fi
In 2023, all iPhones will feature Qualcomm’s next-generation X70 chips with improved AI for faster processing speeds, better coverage range, and increased battery efficiency.
The faster Wi-Fi 6E specification is expected to be limited to the iPhone 15 ultra and Pro Max. As compared to Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E offers faster connectivity speeds, lower latency, and increased capacity. In addition to providing 1.2GHz more spectrum in the 6GHz band, Wi-Fi 6E is capable of delivering whole-home gigabit coverage, multi-gigabit connectivity for venues, and is capable of handling higher data streams, such as virtual reality and augmented reality.
Tray for SIM cards
In the United States, Apple removed the SIM card tray with the launch of the iPhone 14 model. With the launch of the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 ultra models, the SIM card tray could be removed in other countries as well.
It is rumored that it will be eliminated in France, and if that’s true, it may be removed in other European countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the UK.
Based on Jeff Pu’s report, the iPhone 15 ultra and Pro Max could cost more than the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. As a result of the titanium frame, the A17 chip, and more, Pu believes that the price will increase, but he did not provide an estimate of how much the price might increase to.
Apple has not changed its high-end iPhone pricing since the launch of the iPhone 12 Pro models, which start at $999 and $1099, respectively.
iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 15 ultra
iPhone 15 models will have fewer features, including A16 chips, standard cameras without telephoto lenses, aluminum chassis, and slower USB-C connectivity, but they will be more affordable than iPhone 15 ultra and Pro Max.
Check out our iPhone 15 roundup for more information on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus.
The iPhone 15 ultra and beyond
Along with the iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Pro, and iPhone 16 Pro Max models, Apple may add an “iPhone Ultra” next year to the iPhone lineup. There may be additional camera improvements, a faster chip, a larger display, and a portless design without Lightning or USB-C on the iPhone Ultra.
Apple’s Pro Max iPhones, which typically cost $1,099., are expected to be more expensive.
As early as 2024, Apple could implement under-display Face ID technology, increasing the usable display area, but this is a feature that may not be ready until 2025.
A 5G modem chip could be introduced by Apple as soon as 2024, according to Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon, which would be included in iPhone models as early as 2024. According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone 16 will have a modem chip designed by Apple.