The iPhone 15 Pro could be a lot tougher — here’s why

iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max/iPhone 15 Ultra renders from 4RMD
(Image credit: 4RMD)

The iPhone 15 Pro could introduce a big change to Apple's premium phones — and we're not talking about the USB-C connectivity that's been tipped to replace the Lightning port in every iPhone 15 model. Instead, this change would be exclusive to the Pro models, and it would mean for a much tougher iPhone than ever before.

That's because it's possible Apple may use a titanium alloy as the metal of choice for the frame on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. The move would figure to improve the durability of the new phone over previous models while also decreasing the weight. In addition to switching up the materials it uses for its Pro models, Apple's also expected to move away from the straight edges of recent iPhones for more rounded edges.

It's the titanium rumor that's caught our eye, though, as it's a change that figures to have an immediate impact on your iPhone experience while potentially widening the iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 15 gap. Here's what we know about the rumors surrounding Apple's choice of iPhone 15 materials and how the switch to a titanium frame would benefit you.

Titanium iPhone 15 Pro: Anatomy of a rumor

The material used in current iPhone frames varies depending on what model we're talking about. The standard iPhone uses aluminum, as does the iPhone 14 Plus (and the iPhone mini models before it). The more expensive Pro models use a stainless steel alloy for their frame.

Apple's alleged switch from stainless steel to titanium predates any iPhone 15 chatter. A year ago, some sources were tipping the iPhone 14 Pro to get a titanium frame, a move that obviously didn't happen.

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Will it be a new story this year? Some leakers certainly think so, as rumors started swirling shortly after the iPhone 14 release that the iPhone 15 would see a titanium-based model. At the time, rumors claimed the material would be part of an iPhone 15 Ultra device, which — depending on who you talked to — was either going to replace the iPhone 15 Pro Max in Apple's lineup or appear as a separate, high-end phone.

iPhone 15 Ultra rumors have subsequently died down, but talk surrounding a titanium-based iPhone continue. And more than just anonymous leakers on Twitter are touting the potential changes. Analyst Jeff Pu of Haitong International Securities in Hong Kong included a titanium frame in a list of anticipated iPhone 15 Pro features that he shared in a research note. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has mentioned titanium as an iPhone 15 Pro feature, too.

The best indicator of new iPhone 15 Pro materials comes from a Patently Apple post citing two supply chain reports that seemingly confirm a switch to titanium for the new models. 

Why titanium matters

iPhone 14 Pro Max and iPhone 14 Plus drop tests

iPhone 14 Pro Max and iPhone 14 Plus after drop testing (Image credit: Allstate Protection Plans)

As noted above, titanium's appeal lies in its durability. It's considered twice as strong as aluminum and roughly 30% stronger than steel. Stainless steel can also be prone to fatigue and shattering.

Titanium is considered twice as strong as aluminum and roughly 30% stronger than steel.

That could be a boost for iPhone durability. Current iPhones are considered fairly resilient, though iPhone 14 drop-testing revealed some damage to the Pro after just one drop. Presumably, the addition of titanium would be meant to reduce any catastrophic damage.

Just as important as durability is weight, and titanium turns out to be much lighter than stainless steel — a little bit more than 40% lighter. iPhones aren't the bulkiest handsets around — the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the heaviest Apple phone at 8.47 ounces — but every little bit helps.

That said, the iPhone 15 Pro models may not be substantially lighter than their predecessors if Apple winds up adding other components to the phones. The iPhone 15 Pro Max, for instance, is tipped to get a periscope-style telephoto lens, and that could mean more parts than the current camera setup. So think of the lighter titanium as a way to offset any extra weight the iPhone 15 Pro models take on.

There's one potential downside to titanium — it costs more than stainless steel. Switching to a more expensive material could put the pressure on Apple to increase the cost of its Pro models. It's probably not a coincidence that iPhone 15 Pro pricing rumors point to a $100 price hike for the Pro and Pro Max.

Will a titanium iPhone happen?

We won't know Apple's iPhone plans for certain until the Apple September Event, when it's expected that the company will show off its new devices. But the fact that multiple sources have included titanium frames in their iPhone 15 Pro forecasts — including some Apple watchers with a strong track record when it comes to unannounced products — bodes well for the feature's existence.

One potential red flag is the fact that the titanium frame was first touted as an iPhone Ultra feature. The iPhone 15 Ultra may not be happening this year, but many believe that an Ultra model is in the works for Apple at some point — possibly as soon as 2024. If it is, Apple could reserve a titanium frame as an iPhone Ultra exclusive, and we'd have the second iPhone launch in a row where the Pro models were tipped to get titanium only for that feature not to appear.

For now, though, the conventional thinking is that a titanium-based iPhone 15 Pro is a distinct possibility. And that should be a welcome change for anyone looking for a lighter-but-durable iPhone.

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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.