iPhone 15 Ultra price hike rumor is nothing to sweat over

iphone 15 ultra concept
(Image credit: 4RMD/YouTube)

If your 2023 plans include getting a new iPhone, you might be paying more for the privilege, at least when it comes to the highest-end model. The latest iPhone 15 rumor claims that Apple is considering a price hike for its iPhone 14 Pro Max successor, with the upcoming phone potentially costing $200 more than the current model.

That would make the rumored iPhone 15 Ultra the most expensive phone Apple's ever sold, which is doubtlessly why the rumor is getting so much attention. It's also something that I wouldn't get too worked up about at this early date in the iPhone 15 rumor cycle.

The iPhone 15 Ultra pricing rumor comes from LeaksApplePro (opens in new tab), who posts Apple rumors of varying accuracy to Twitter. The leaker expects the iPhone 15 Ultra to cost at least $100 more than the $1,099 starting price for the iPhone 14 Pro Max and says that the price hike could wind up as much as $200 more. That would mean a starting price of $1,299 for next year's top-of-the-line Apple phone, making it more expensive than even in the Ultra model in Samsung's Galaxy S lineup.

Rising component costs would be the culprit for any price increase. LeaksApplePro estimates that it's getting more expensive to build an iPhone and that the iPhone 15 Ultra's component costs could rise by around $100. That's a rise that Apple would pass on to consumers — or so the rumor concludes.

Complicating matters is the whole iPhone 15 Ultra concept. Some rumors suggest that this phone will be more than just a rebranded Pro Max model but rather the iPhone equivalent of the Apple Watch Ultra — an ultra premium version with features that set it apart even from iPhone Pro handsets. To that end, a popular rumor suggests the Ultra could feature a more durable titanium frame, solid-state buttons and a periscope-style lens, among other features that could set it apart from other iPhones.

So you can understand the logic at play here. An iPhone 15 Ultra is going to offer premium features; thus, you can expect a premium price tag.

I'm not here to dispute that claim or even argue that there won't be a price tag. But I am going to point at a calendar that shows we've got 10 more months before any sort of iPhone 15 is likely to show up on our doorstep. And that's a lot of time for things to change.

Conditions driving up the cost of components could ease up, making the prospect of building an iPhone 15 Ultra less costly than anticipated. Or Apple could take the temperature of the market, conclude that higher prices will negatively impact sales and price its phones accordingly. No one outside of Apple really knows what iPhone 15 prices are going to be, and I'd imagine the few people that have any clue at this point are keeping their options open.

iPhone 14 Plus vs iPhone 14 Pro Max

The iPhone 14 lineup didn't see price hikes this past fall. (Image credit: Future)

After all, consider the iPhone 14 Pro models, which were supposed to see price hikes of their own this past fall. Leading right up to the September launch event, rumors pointed to a $100 boost to the cost of both the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. (LeaksApplePro was among the rumormongers advancing this claim, interestingly enough.) That increase never materialized, with the iPhone 14 Pro models starting at the same $999 as their predecessors. 

It's always possible that history repeats itself again in 2023 with the iPhone 15, especially in light of how far away we are from the actual launch date.

Again, don't take this as a suggestion that the iPhone 15 Ultra is going to be an affordable phone for most people. Even if Apple holds the line at $1,099 for its most expensive handset, that's still a lot to pay. I just wouldn't lose much sleep over the possibility that the iPhone 15 Ultra may cost a bit more than that amount.

For now, your best course of action isn't to fret about a price hike that may or may not come pass but to be more pro-active about your iPhone purchase plans. If you're weighing an iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 14 buying decision, figure out if paying more for next year's phone would be a deal-killer for you. If it is, then start shopping for an iPhone now, with an eye toward taking advantage of the best iPhone 14 Pro Max deals to lower the cost of Apple's premium phone.

And if you're still set on an iPhone 15 Ultra — or whatever 2023's best iPhone winds up being — start budgeting as if a $200 price hike is something you'll have to account for. At the very worst, you'll wind up paying exactly what you were afraid you might have to, and if the rumor ends up being wrong, you've got a couple hundred dollars still left in your pocket.

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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.