iPhone 17 Slim could be the most expensive iPhone ever — but how?

iphone 16 ultra concept
(Image credit: Technizo Concept)

Here's what we know about the iPhone 17 Slim at this point — it's slated to replace the Plus model in the iPhone lineup, it's going to feature a new design that makes the phone significantly thinner than current models and some are tipping it to be the priciest iPhone of all.

Here's what else we know — if that last rumor about the iPhone 17 Slim's price is accurate, then there had better be more to this phone than a slimmer design.

We're in the very earliest days of the iPhone 17 Slim rumor cycle, with just a few reports providing scattered details about a handset we won't see until 2025 at the earliest. Heck, iPhone 16 details are still coming into focus, and that phone's arriving much sooner than the rumored Slim. So you're going to get incomplete and sometimes contradictory claims about the phone, with the details to fall into place over time.

That said, if we are talking about a phone that "could be priced higher than the iPhone Pro Max" according to The Information's iPhone 17 Slim report, we're going to need to hear about some more exciting features than what's emerged so far. We all appreciate thinner devices, sure, but probably not $1,200-plus worth of appreciation, I'm betting.

iPhone 17 Slim: What we know so far

Product shots from end of Apple Event

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

You can trace the vast majority of iPhone 17 Slim details up until now to two sources — The Information's report from earlier this month and claims from well-regarded analyst Jeff Pu of Haitong International Securities (as spotted by 9to5Mac). Both reports expect a slimmer iPhone than current models, which have a depth between 7.8mm and 8.25mm depending on which model you're talking about. How slim the iPhone 17 Slim would be is unclear at this stage.

It also seems widely accepted that the iPhone 17 Slim would replace the Plus-sized phone in Apple's lineup. The iPhone 15 Plus is expected to make way for an iPhone 16 Plus in the fall, but after that, it's likely the end of the road for this particular phone. Pu's report claims that the iPhone 17 Slim would have a 6.6-inch display, while The Information's sources say the screen could be anywhere from 6.1 to 6.6 inches.

The new phone would run on an A19 chipset, which tracks with reported plans to use A18 silicon in the iPhone 16 lineup. The Information also talks about an "aluminum chassis and a smaller hole and pill-shaped cutout" for the Dynamic Island feature on the phone.

All this sounds fine, if utterly unremarkable. This brings us back to the claim that I've had a hard time digesting since reading The Information's iPhone 17 Slim report — that this phone may cost more than the $1,199 iPhone 15 Pro Max. I mean, the Pro Max just switched to a titanium frame, but we're supposed to pay more for a phone that's reverted back to aluminum and will apparently have a smaller screen? Something's not adding up here.

iPhone Slim? Or iPhone Ultra?

iPhone 16 ultra concept by 4RMD

(Image credit: 4RMD/YouTube)

Barring further information on what makes the iPhone 17 Slim so special, the best explanation I've come up with so far is that what we're hearing about is a previously rumored iPhone model, but with a different name. Since 2022, we've been hearing about a potential iPhone Ultra joining Apple's lineup, as the pinnacle device, not unlike how the Apple Watch Ultra offers the best features of Apple's smartwatches.

Some rumors had even suggested an iPhone 16 Ultra might be part of Apple's fall releases, though it's becoming increasingly clear Apple has just four phones in the works and there's no apparent name change planned for the iPhone 16 Pro Max. So that brings us to 2025... when the iPhone 17 Slim is supposed to be on the scene.

So that makes me wonder — are the iPhone Ultra and iPhone Slim models really just the same thing?

It would make a lot of sense if they are. The Ultra is tipped to introduce a whole slate of features — greater durability, better cameras and perhaps even solid-state buttons that eliminate moving parts on your phone. Those are the kind of premium features that would justify a more expensive phone than the iPhone Pro Max — especially if you could fit all that into a super slim design. My guess is that all the iPhone Ultra rumors we've heard over the years are going to be folded into the iPhone 17 Slim as the rumored premium addition to Apple's phone lineup somewhere down the line.

The search for a new design

No matter what phone you're talking about — Slim or Ultra — it's pretty clear that Apple watchers are anticipating some sort of phone redesign to make its way out of Cupertino in the coming years. It's been seven years since Apple's last significant iPhone design change when the iPhone X did away with the Touch ID button to extend the display to just about the edge of the phone. (Well, apart from that notch at the top.)

Apple's made some minor tweaks in the ensuing years, flattening the edges of its iPhones and rearranging the rear camera array, but for the most part, the company has trotted out identical-looking devices for some time now. An iPhone Slim (or iPhone Ultra or heck, even an Ultra Slim) is an opportunity to freshen up that look, and maybe get people excited about upgrading their handset once again.

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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.

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