The iPhone 15 Ultra hasn't even been confirmed yet – for now the top iPhone models are called Pro and Pro Max – but that hasn't stopped the iPhone rumour factory from doing what it does best and churning out tons of tips, piles of predictions and a cornucopia of concepts too.
Some upgrades are really obvious: there's no doubt that whatever the best version of Apple's mobile system on a chip is in 2023, it'll be in the most expensive iPhone with the usual performance and efficiency improvements. But others are more interesting. Could the Ultra be the iPhone that Apple thinks different about, a phone that's more than just an iPhone Pro with a bigger display? Here are five predictions that seem highly likely for the best iPhone in 2023.
1. A titanium shell
We've heard rumours of a titanium alloy for a few years now – most recently it was rumoured for the iPhone 14 Pro – but it's possible this one will come true with the iPhone 15 Ultra if Apple does indeed want to differentiate it from the other iPhones: the design of the iPhone has stayed fairly static for a few years now so we might be due a rethink. Titanium is more durable than the stainless steel of the current iPhone 14 range, but it's more costly too: it's the material used in the Apple Watch Ultra's casing.
Lightning needs to go. EU regulations mandate USB-C on phones from 2024 onwards, so bringing USB-C to the most expensive iPhone in 2023 and to other models the following year makes sense.
The main reason for wanting USB in the Ultra isn't EU compliance, though. It's speed. Lightning connectors are relatively slow, and if you're chucking 48MP photos or high resolution video down a cable that's a problem for creatives whose time is money.
3. A periscope lens
The camera upgrades in the iPhone 14 Pro are very welcome, but Apple still lacks decent optical zoom: the current iPhones max out at 3x. A periscope lens has been rumoured for some time now and was once again predicted for the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max; Samsung already uses the tech in its Galaxy S22 Ultra. An iPhone 15 Ultra with 5x or even 6x optical zoom would be a very welcome upgrade.
4. Wider selfies
Last month, AppleInsider reported (opens in new tab) a Twitter tipster claiming that in addition to USB-C, the iPhone 15 Ultra will have twin front cameras. Having twin selfie shooters would enable wider angle selfies or different zoom levels, so you might be able to switch between solo and group selfie modes.
5. Much more storage
The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max start out with just 128GB of storage, which is pretty hopeless for a phone with a 48MP camera sensor and a good reason for me to keep PhotoRAW mode switched off on my Pro. A 256GB model would be a much better starting point, and upping the maximum storage from 1TB to 2TB would be good news for photo and video pros.
Right now all of the above are just rumours, but they all seem pretty solid predictions to me: there's nothing particularly outlandish about more storage, faster data transfer or more premium materials. As much as I'd love the iPhone 15 Ultra to be Apple's first foldable phone, I suspect that's still a bit further in the future.