Apple ended up keeping its phone lineup intact with this year’s iPhone 15 release, but that may change in 2024 with the possible arrival of the iPhone 16 Ultra. Rumors suggest that Apple is working on a high-end version of its smartphone, with an eye on launching it as soon as 2024.
Just like the Apple Watch Ultra combines the best features on the standard Apple Watch, the iPhone 16 Ultra will be positioned as a step up from the current iPhone Pro models with a more substantial feature set – and a price to match.
Although this is an early rumor cycle, we’ve heard that the iPhone 16 Ultra could feature a larger display than the iPhone 15 Pro Max, solid-state buttons, and several camera upgrades. Here’s what we know so far.
iPhone 16 Ultra release date speculation
Talk of an Ultra model for the iPhone range dates back to 2022 when Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicted it Such a phone would follow the Apple Watch Ultra “In the next two years.” This has not turned out to be 2023 although a number of rumor mongers are claiming that Apple will rename its Pro Max phone as the iPhone 15 Ultra.
For his part, Gorman wasn’t among the people who expected the Ultra model this year. Instead, in February 2022Gorman reported that Apple was “working on producing a high-end Ultra model as early as 2024 as well as adding more exclusive features to the Pro Max.”
Since Apple’s iPhone launched in fall 2023 and went without any sign of an Ultra model, the next closest date for an Ultra appearance is fall 2024. This is when Apple typically announces new phones, although it has been known to show off New iPhone SE releases in spring. If Apple sticks to its usual launch schedule, we could see the iPhone 16 Ultra launch in September 2024 alongside the rest of the iPhone 16 lineup.
The price of the iPhone 16 Ultra is possible
If we don’t know the iPhone 16 Ultra’s release date — or even if the phone will be coming in 2024 — we’re less sure about the price. The iPhone 15 Pro Max saw a price increase this year of $100 to $1,199. This seems to put a lower bound on the price of the iPhone 16 Ultra, especially if the Ultra ends up behind the Pro Max as Apple’s top phone.
For what it’s worth, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 starts at $799, which is $400 more than the Apple Watch Series 9. If Apple applied the same pricing strategy to its phone lineup, the Ultra model would come in at $1,399, as that’s $400 more compared to the price Starting price for the iPhone 15 Pro is $999. That won’t make the iPhone 16 Ultra the most expensive smartphone ever — Samsung and Google both charge $1,799 for their foldable phones — but it will cost the Ultra outside most shoppers’ budgets. We’re sure this will be a non-starter.
For now, we’re just assuming that the iPhone 16 Ultra will cost about the same as the iPhone 15 Pro Max and are adjusting our expectations as more pricing rumors emerge.
iPhone 16 Ultra design and screen
The biggest rumor about the iPhone 16 Ultra is that Apple could increase the screen size from 6.7 inches of the iPhone 15 Pro Max to 6.9 inches for the new flagship. This will be the largest screen ever on an iPhone.
As for the iPhone 16 Ultra display itself, a rumor that preceded the launch of the iPhone 15 indicated that Apple may use newer Samsung panels that provide more brightness. As it turns out, the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s peak brightness remained at the same 2,000 nits maximum outdoors as the iPhone 14 Pro Max. But the iPhone 16 Ultra will likely switch to a brighter display, especially now that Google’s Pixel 8 Pro features a display with a peak brightness of 2,400 nits.
Another rumor about the iPhone 15 Pro could also find its way into the design of the iPhone 16 Ultra. Some were expecting Apple’s new phones to have solid-state buttons. Instead of moving like current volume buttons do, these buttons will instead use haptic feedback to indicate pressure. The advantage of solid state buttons is that they reduce the number of moving parts that can fail over time.
While the new action button on the iPhone 15 Pro models provides haptic feedback, Apple has reportedly encountered technical issues while trying to implement solid-state buttons for mass production. Perhaps the phone manufacturer will figure out a way to solve this problem for the iPhone 16 Ultra, but at least one analyst casts doubt on that possibility.
Rumors of a buttonless iPhone have circulated for years. If that happens, it will obviously include the Ultra version of the iPhone.
In fact, we can see another button added to the right side of the iPhone 16 Ultra, which is rumored to be called the Capture button, according to MacRumors. This could be for the camera and content capture, but we don’t have many details at this point.
iPhone 16 Ultra cameras
The big step on the camera front for the iPhone 15 was the quad-prism telephoto lens adopted by the iPhone 15 Pro Max that allowed it to increase its optical zoom to 5x. (The iPhone 15 Pro’s more traditional telephoto lens still offers up to 3x zoom.) With iPhone 16 rumors surrounding the quad lens to appear on all iPhone 16 Pro models, you’d expect the iPhone 16 Ultra to use that approach as well, though perhaps With stronger zoom to challenge the 10x optical zoom of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Other iPhone 16 camera rumors point to a potentially larger sensor, a 48MP main camera to capture more light and an increase in the megapixel rating on the ultra-wide camera to 48MP, which is consistent with the move Google just made with the Pixel 8 Pro. These potential changes will likely affect the iPhone 16 Ultra as well.
iPhone 16 Ultra chip and battery
With the A17 Pro debuting in the iPhone 15 Pro lineup, logic dictates that the iPhone 16 Ultra will use whatever high-end chipset Apple is developing for its next high-end phones — presumably the A18 Pro, though there aren’t many rumors about this silicon yet. now.
One report from MacRumors He quotes analyst Jeff Pu, who says that all iPhone 16 models will feature an A18 chip of some sort, with the more powerful A18 Pro chip reserved for the iPhone 16 Pro models. This appears to include the iPhone 16 Ultra if it is indeed part of Apple’s iPhone lineup.
The iPhone 15 Pro models are said to feature 8GB of RAM – Apple has never confirmed how much memory that includes, so we’ll have to rely on teardowns to get that information. You might think that 8GB of RAM would be the minimum requirement for the Ultra model, although we’ve seen high-end phones offer 12GB of memory in multiple cases.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the first iPhone to offer 256GB of storage in its base configuration. Once again, we expect the iPhone 16 Ultra to follow suit with at least as much storage.
Apple has been rumored to be working on its own modem for future iPhones, and while that may be ongoing work, Qualcomm announced back in September that it would supply Apple with modems through 2026. If the iPhone 16 Ultra is coming next year, that means it will have On a modem provided by Qualcomm.
Battery life has been a standout for the Apple Watch Ultra, which promises to last twice as long as a standard Apple Watch. We haven’t heard any rumors regarding the iPhone 16 Ultra’s battery, but you can imagine that Apple will prioritize making it the longest-lasting iPhone in its lineup.
iPhone 16 Ultra: Expectations
The iPhone 16 Ultra has a high ceiling to clear, largely due to all the improvements Apple has made to the iPhone 15 Pro Max. This phone’s premium chipset, more powerful telephoto lens, extra storage, and long-lasting battery truly make it the best iPhone you can buy. How can the Ultra model outperform that?
It’s something we’ll find out more about as iPhone 16 Ultra rumors start to spread. It’s pretty clear based on reports that Apple is considering such a device. Now all that remains to be seen is whether it can deliver a phone worthy of the Ultra name.
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