12/11 Update below. This post was originally published on December 8
iPhone 15 leaks have already revealed Apple’s ambitious plans for its next-generation smartphones. But now new information says those ambitions come with a heavy price.
Working with Howtoisolve, influential industry insider LeaksApplePro has released a truckload of new iPhone 15 information, including price increases that will likely shock US buyers.
Last month the leaker revealed that the bill of materials for the iPhone 15 Ultra, Apple’s new name for its ‘Pro Max’ models, will increase by up to $100. Now LeaksApplePro states that the iPhone 15 Ultra will have a starting price as high as $1299 — a $200 increase on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and the biggest single generational jump in iPhone history.
“It’s going to be a more expensive iPhone. Even in the United States,” the leaker explains. “Apple has been losing margins year after year. Rising production costs and inflation, that makes the money the company has in the bank worth less, have finally broken the camel’s back.”
LeaksApplePro states that “we don’t know the situation for the other devices in the line-up.” That said, with a $1299 starting price potentially seeing the iPhone 15 Ultra rise as high as $1799 for the 1TB model, this is likely to have a knock-on effect on the rest of the range because Apple doesn’t like to have a gulf between products in the same lineup.
On the flip side, the iPhone 15 Ultra will give you more for your money. LeaksApplePro states that the iPhone 15 Ultra will ship with a minimum of 256GB (double the current 128GB entry point), easing some of the price rise pain.
In addition, the leaker reiterates that the new model will come with dual front-facing cameras, USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 (40Gbps) will replace the Lightning port with its USB 2.0 speeds (480Mbps/0.48Gbps), and “it will be made of out titanium” — something which comes with significant strength and price increases.
12/10 Update: Speaking to me, LeaksApplePro has provided further information about Apple’s use of titanium in the iPhone 15 range. Following a recent leak from popular fellow industry insider ShrimpApplePro that Apple will bring titanium to all iPhone 15 modelsnot just the iPhone 15 Ultra, LeaksApplePro says this is categorically incorrect.
“That’s not true,” LeaksApplePro argues, saying it will be “Ultra only (maybe the 15 Pro but definitely not the 15 and 15 Plus).”
Given the cost of titanium, this makes sense. Because it is 3-4x stronger than the stainless steel used in the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, some might argue that this reduces the pricing as less will be needed to make a chassis that is as strong, if not stronger.
The problem with that argument is titanium is currently priced at $35-50 per kg, compared to $1-1.50 per kilogram for stainless steel. It’s a colossal difference and surely puts it out of reach for standard iPhones.
As such, to my mind, the question becomes more about whether Apple will complicate its supply chain with three different chassis materials (aluminum for standard models, stainless steel for the iPhone 15 Pro and titanium for the iPhone 15 Ultra), or stick to two . This would likely mean an upgrade to stainless steel for standard models, because downgrading the iPhone 15 Pro is unlikely to be an option.
12/11 Update: LeaksApplePro has returned with additional information today.
First, the insider answered my query about Apple’s choice of chassis materials. Interestingly, the answer is that currently, Apple plans to use all three: aluminum for the two standard iPhone 15 models, stainless steel for the iPhone 15 Pro and titanium will be reserved for the Ultra.
LeaksApplePro does add the caveat, “that’s what we know for now.” This is fair, given how early the iPhone 15 range is in its development cycle, but it is interesting to see the company add this complexity to its supply chain.
Second, LeaksApplePro states that the repeatedly leaked dual front cameras are highly likely to be an iPhone 15 Ultra exclusive.
I suspect this is not just from a cost perspective but is highly likely to be down to physical size. The Dynamic Island already takes up significant real estate on the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro display. Adding a second camera would leave almost no space for any other icons — many of which (time, cellular / WiFi signal, notifications, etc) users consider essential.
In comparison, the second camera would be considered a luxury addition. In contrast, a 6.5-inch iPhone 15 Ultra can house the camera and still retain the same number of icons as an iPhone 15 Pro. Whether Apple would make the display even bigger to live up to the Ultra name and its supersized Android-rivals, remains to be seen.
And there is one final, fascinating titbit: “Apple is only considering one color for the iPhone 15 Ultra, and it’s the same color as the Apple Watch Ultra [silver]. I don’t know if that will be the only color available in September, or if there will be more, but as of today none of my sources have seen any color other than the same as the Apple Watch Ultra.”
Yes, the iPhone 15 Ultra looks set to drive iPhone prices higher than ever, but it also looks like the most exciting and ambitious smartphone Apple has released in years.
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