The iPhone 15 Ultra is a bit less than a year away, but reports are already pouring in about what to expect. Here's what the rumor mill thinks is coming, and a first glance at what it may look like.
The generational jump for the iPhone 14 Pro was a little wider than others. Cameras were improved across the board, a new cutout for the sensor housing was introduced, and the display gained always-on capabilities.
However, Apple didn't change the external design by much. The Dynamic Island is an interesting software feature, but little else is noticeable unless the iPhone camera bumps are side-by-side.
Rumors suggest the iPhone 15 Pro will get some significant external design alterations along with much-needed upgrades. The 6.7-inch iPhone Pro Max may be referred to as the "Ultra," which is the focus of this rumor roundup.
Rumored iPhone 15 Ultra design
Apple tends to find a design it likes and stick with it for several years. The current flat-sided design debuted with the iPhone 12, and while some elements have changed, it has remained mostly the same.
The iPhone 15 Ultra is expected to iterate on this design by curving the bottom edge. The sides will remain flat, but the part that connects to the back glass would resemble the corner of a MacBook Pro.
The back would still be made from glass so MagSafe and wireless charging could work. But the edges are rumored to be made from titanium.
This would make the phone lighter but tougher overall. The curved edge would also provide more protection from drops.
Until more rumors are shared, we expect the camera bump to remain the same. It may have to shift to accommodate the new curved edges depending on how Apple implements the design.
Rumored iPhone 15 Ultra features
Outside of design changes, there are some increasingly obvious feature updates coming too. A port transition is expected, and Apple may finally improve its telephoto camera.
USB-C port, Thunderbolt
Apple's move to USB-C has been predicted for years, but, for the iPhone 15, it may not be a choice. The EU has passed a law forcing smartphone manufacturers to adopt the universal port, and Apple has to comply by 2024.
Some had speculated that Apple would go port-less before adopting USB-C, claiming that Lightning and MagSafe were necessary proprietary fixtures. However, that doesn't seem to be the case, as the transition to USB-C has already begun in other products.
Moving to a USB-C port doesn't guarantee faster speeds, but rumors suggest the port will offer more than convenience. Apple could use the USB 4/Thunderbolt spec in the iPhone 15 Pro, at least according to Ming-Chi Kuo.
That would allow wired data transfer speeds of up to 40 Gbps, an approximate 80x increase over the USB 2.0 speeds used by iPhone today. Thunderbolt speeds would be a massive improvement for creatives, especially those working with massive ProRes video files.
Two selfie cameras
The iPhone has only one front-facing camera alongside an array of sensors used for Face ID, but that could change in 2023. The 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Ultra is rumored to have two selfie cameras.
This addition would be limited to the larger iPhone, likely due to space considerations. So, the smaller iPhone 15 Pro would likely retain the dot-dash Dynamic Island cutout.
Two selfie cameras could serve multiple purposes, perhaps for better depth data collection or a wider depth of field. The rumor didn't specify what this hardware would be used for.
Apple may want to differentiate its most expensive "Ultra" model since the standard iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, and iPhone 15 Pro will all likely have a Dynamic Island with no notch.
One rumor suggests that Apple could hide Face ID components below the display, which would change how the Dynamic Island would display itself in software. That change could be tied to adding a second selfie camera, but it isn't clear if the rumors are related.
Periscoping telephoto lens
Rumors of a periscope telephoto lens have been around for years. It seems Apple is working on the technology internally, but it never makes the final cut.
The iPhone 15 Ultra could get a periscope lens for much better optical zoom. Ming-Chi Kuo seems to suggest the lens would only be used in the iPhone 15 Ultra model, then the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Ultra would both get the periscope lens.
The technology works by stacking a series of lenses "folded" so it fits vertically within the iPhone case. A mirror reflects the image from the outward-facing lens and optically zooms using the periscope-like lens stack.
Samsung and other smartphone manufacturers have been using periscope lenses for years, so Apple would be entering the market with a more mature initial version. It could enable zoom ranges like a modest 10x optical zoom or even the incredible 100x zoom found in some smartphones.
In September 2021, Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that the iPhone 15 would get an under-display Touch ID sensor. He pulled back that rumor in March 2022, stating that the 2023 and 2024 iPhones wouldn't have the feature, as Face ID with a mask is a good-enough solution.
Kuo also stated in an October 2022 note that iPhone 15 could get solid-state buttons. They would replace the physical volume and power buttons, which may increase device rigidity and water resistance.
Sony to provide new camera sensors that improve exposure clipping at the high and low ends. This would reduce overexposure or underexposure in certain settings.
iPhone 15 Ultra release date window
Apple tends to announce its iPhone lineup during a September Apple Event. Depending on supply chain constraints, all models could release at the same time or take a staggered approach based on availability.
Expect the iPhone 15 Ultra to cost a premium with its new design, periscope lens, and other improved technologies. High-end models with 2TB of storage could cost well over $2,000.