iPhone Ultra just tipped for 2024 launch — here's what we know

iPhone 15 Ultra render with rounded edges
(Image credit: @jonjuhan/Twitter)

We’ve heard a number of rumors about the future of the iPhone Pro range, particularly whether we may see an Ultra model instead of a Pro Max. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the iPhone Ultra could arrive alongside the iPhone Pro Max — not as a replacement.

Over on Twitter, Gurman posits that Apple may stick to the four-model release plan, with a single entry-level iPhone, 2 Pro models and an Ultra sitting at the top. He notes that both the iPhone Minis and iPhone 14 Plus have all been failures, so would be the most likely candidates for the chopping block.

Gurman also claims that Apple has discussed the option of adding a higher-end iPhone to its line-up. That’s on top of rumored changes that would better differentiate the Pro and Pro Max models — particularly from the entry-level iPhone.

Those changes include offering differing materials, processors, cameras and potentially even a periscope lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. That’s the one camera hardware feature Apple has ignored so far, giving its competitors a big advantage where optical zoom is concerned. However, an Ultra model may not appear this year, with Apple reportedly discussing the possibility of releasing one alongside the 2024 iPhone range.

It’s not clear what would differentiate an iPhone Ultra from the iPhone 16 Pro Max at this early stage. But we can speculate based on what Gurman said and what Apple did with the Apple Watch Ultra, which launched last Fall.

The Apple Watch Ultra was notable for having a larger screen made of sapphire glass and a titanium body that wrapped around the bezel. All of these premium materials combined to create a much more durable device, which could happen with the iPhone Ultra next year. 

Gurman himself said that Apple has discussed using materials to differentiate between different kinds of iPhones, after all.  He also likens the possibility to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, which offers better camera capabilities, a larger display and unique design, plus stylus support. The latter being another feature Apple has avoided adding to the iPhone, keeping the Apple Pencil as a strictly iPad-only peripheral, and something Steve Jobs rallied against during the original iPhone launch event back in 2007.

All of that would come with a premium price tag, which may alienate some customers due to how expensive iPhones are already. CEO Tim Cook isn’t worried, and admitted as such during Apple’s latest earnings call when asked about whether the rising price of iPhones is sustainable. He believes that high prices aren’t an issue and that “consumers could probably be persuaded to spend more.”

“ I think people are willing to really stretch to get the best they can afford in that category,” Cook said, noting that iPhones are now “integral” to people’s lives due to their wide-reaching use. Payments, smart home control and banking were the examples he used. That suggests that, at its highest level, Apple believes there could be a market for an even more expensive iPhone — a niche the Ultra model could easily fill.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.