Even before the iPhone 14 was released in September, we began to hear rumours about the Apple's 2023 phone line up, which will presumably include the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. But one of the most enduring rumours has been speculation about the introduction of an entirely new model, the iPhone Ultra.
We've heard all kinds of things about the rumoured iPhone Ultra since – including that it will be made from titanium. The most obvious conclusion is that it would inevitably be more expensive than even the iPhone Pro Max – which is why a casual comment from Tim Cook is being treated almost as confirmation that the iPhone Ultra is real (for the current line up, see the best iPhone 14 prices).
Apple's most expensive phone at the moment is the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which starts at $1,099 / £1,199. That's $100 / £100 more than the iPhone 14 Pro, but the only differences between the models are size and battery life. There have been rumours that Apple wants to differentiate them further. That's some to presume an iPhone Ultra is in the works, and a brief comment from Apple CEO Tim Cook during Apple's latest earnings call is now being taken as proof.
As noted by Bloomberg's regular Apple follower Mark Gurman, Cook responded to a question about the sustainability of iPhone pricing by suggesting that customers would be willing to spend more. In a response that Gurman describes as a "an off-the-cuff remark that could be quite telling about the company’s future," Cook said: “I think people are willing to really stretch to get the best they can afford."
He said this is because the iPhone has become “integral” to people’s lives since people now use it to make payments, control home appliances and manage their health. We think Cook's probably right. Despite the cost of living crisis, there seems to be no lack of appetite for increasingly expensive phones. But it's too early to say the iPhone Ultra is a thing.
To succeed, it would need to give us a reason to pay more, and it's not yet clear how it would do that. The upgrade could come in the form of materials, a faster chip and an improved camera, but it's already rumoured that the iPhone 15 Pro Max will be more greatly differentiated from the iPhone 15 Pro with the addition of a periscope lens for improved optical zoom.
Gurman hasn't provided much detail on what the iPhone Ultra might offer, other than a better camera and chip, which we would kind of expect, and perhaps an even larger display than the iPhone Pro Max (we'll need deep pockets, both literally and figuratively). Others have suggested the iPhone Ultra would have a titanium chassis and no charging port, relying on wireless charging.
Perhaps the strongest evidence for a potential iPhone Ultra is last year's launch of the Apple Watch Ultra, firmly confirming the 'Ultra' moniker in Apple's product range. But fans may not want to get too excited yet. Gurman suggests the iPhone Ultra wouldn't arrive until 2024, so for now we might have to stick with one of the existing four models (see below).