iPhone 15 Ultra tipped to replace iPhone 14 Pro Max — here's what that could mean

iPhone 14 Pro Max
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Update: Now it seems that the success of the iPhone 14 Pro Max could make the Ultra iPhone a dead cert.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max might be the last iPhone to bear that particular name, if Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman is accurate. Writing the latest edition of his “Power On” newsletter, Gurman suggested that the most-expensive iPhone 15 might skip the naming convention.

So the iPhone 15 Pro Max might end up being the iPhone 15 Ultra.

While the ‘Pro Max’ moniker has existed since the launch of the iPhone 11 range in 2019, a rebrand wouldn’t be the end of the world. The name is a bit of a mouthful, so a simpler name is more than welcome. It would also help differentiate the phone and step out from the shadow of the iPhone 15 Pro as a more standalone device.

We’ve already heard some speculation that Apple will be doing more to better differentiate between the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has already said that he expects the most expensive iPhone to have additional unique features. Likewise, LeaksApplePro has already suggested that the Pro Max name could be nixed in favor of the Ultra branding.

Should that be the case then a rebrand would be the easiest way to showcase the iPhone 15 Ultra is its own thing, not just a larger iPhone 15 Pro. It would also mean that, despite all the rumors of the iPhone 15 Ultra already, we wouldn’t see the launch of a fifth iPhone next year. 

iPhone 15 Ultra — how would it be different?

So what would make the iPhone 15 Ultra so ultra? For one, Apple could take a page from the Apple Watch Ultra and focus on durability. For instance, the iPhone 15 Ultra could use a stronger titanium alloy design, which was rumored at one point for the iPhone 14 series. 

Another possibility is that Apple could reserve the rumored periscope zoom camera for the largest iPhone 15 Ultra and keep the iPhone 15 Pro at 3x optical zoom. This would give Apple a more direct competitor to the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. 

This is more far-fetched but Apple could even decide to make the iPhone 15 Ultra port-free, as the company has been rumored to be working on a portless iPhone for years. But the company would have to make the MagSafe charging really fast to make up for the lack of Lightning or USB-C. 

Ultimately, we could end up with four iPhone models that have a unique naming system — with each one offering something different. In my mind I can see the iPhone being the basic device, while the Plus model would offer the larger screen. Meanwhile, the Pro would offer more, particularly in the camera department, and the Ultra would have the cutting edge features that require a large price tag.

New design for iPhone 15

Gurman has also suggested that next year could see Apple offer a brand new iPhone design. As he points out, Apple’s current pattern is to change things up every three years. The current iPhone design has been around since the iPhone 12, which could suggest change is on the horizon.

Apple is already rumored to bring the Dynamic Island from the iPhone 14 Pro series to the iPhone 15, so that's a pretty plausible design change for 2023. That would enable you to get notifications, alerts and live updates at the top of the screen and a smaller cutout than the current notch. 

In addition, since it’s heavily rumored that the iPhone 15 range could be the first time an iPhone launches with USB-C, a redesign wouldn’t be out of the question.

This is assuming that USB-C is a universal design change, as some recent rumors have claimed. Early rumors suggested that only the most expensive iPhone 15 model would ditch Lightning, which would help differentiate the Ultra model. However, with the EU's universal charger legislation taking effect in 2024, it would be in Apple's best interests to get inline as soon as it can.

We’re still almost a year out from the iPhone 15 launch, and that means there are still a bunch of unknowns right now. So sit tight, and we’ll bring you more iPhone 15 rumors as we get them.

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.