iPhone 15 Plus now looks like a lock for this year — here’s why

Yellow iPhone 14 Plus in pocket
(Image credit: Future)

When the iPhone 15 arrives this fall, we expect to see four models — and that includes the return of the Plus-sized iPhone. In fact, we'd say the evidence is mounting that the iPhone Plus could be on its way toward being a fixture in the best iPhone lineup.

That may come as a surprise to some Apple watchers who've seen reports of disappointing iPhone 14 Plus sales ever since Apple's 6.7-inch phone debuted this past fall. But even if the iPhone 14 Plus isn't a best-seller, it's still outperforming the phone it replaced in Apple's lineup.

That's the word in a new report from Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC), which keeps tabs on Apple's panel orders for its assorted smartphones. As spotted by Phone Arena, the DSCC report claims that iPhone 14 Plus panel shipments are 59% higher than panel shipments for the iPhone 13 mini were at this point in the production cycle.

iPhone 14 Plus vs. iPhone 13 mini

If you'll recall, the iPhone 13 mini — and the iPhone 12 mini before it — marked Apple's attempt to cater to fans of small phones who wanted something more compact than other iPhones, all of which offer screen sizes above 6 inches. While there are certainly pockets of small phone devotees out there, the phone market these days is tilted toward phones with larger displays — something Apple found out for itself when neither the iPhone 12 mini or iPhone 13 mini caught on with consumers. 

When it came time to release the iPhone 14 lineup, Apple went in the opposite direction, replacing the mini with the iPhone 14 Plus. That phone features a 6.7-inch screen — the same size as the iPhone 14 Pro Max's panel, but for $200 less than Apple's premium phone.

Based on the DSCC report, it sounds like Apple made the right choice to go big with the screen on its fourth iPhone model. While DSCC's numbers only cover panel orders and not necessarily sales, the fact that Apple is ordering more 6.7-inch panels for its $999 phone would suggest that model is selling in greater numbers than the mini ever did.

Apple doesn't break down its iPhone sales by model, though many assume that the two iPhone 14 Pro models are generating more interest among shoppers than the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus. As an iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 14 Pro comparison will show you, the Pro models received the more substantial updates, from a 48MP main camera to a new A16 Bionic chipset.

iPhone 15 outlook

Still, the fact that iPhone 14 Plus has garnered enough interest to produce more panel orders bodes well for that phones long-term future, after some reports wondered whether Apple would even include a new version in this year's iPhone 15 lineup. That seems more likely to happen now, given the overall demand for phones with larger displays.

Beyond the iPhone 15, it's harder to forecast the future of the Plus model. Reportedly, Apple plans to add an iPhone Ultra model in 2024, with features and a price tag that top even the Pro Max model. That raises the question of whether Apple would then offer five iPhones — the four current models plus the Ultra — or drop one of the current models to make room for the Ultra. If it's the latter, you'd think the Plus might be on the short list to get dropped next year.

I've argued that Apple would be best served by dropping the Plus and putting its effort into three phones — the entry-level iPhone plus two Pro versions for people who want premium features. But if the numbers on iPhone 14 Plus panel orders are accurate, iPhone shoppers are telling me I'm wrong.

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Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.