Now the dust has settled from the iPhone 14 launch I think it's pretty clear that the iPhone 14 Pro is the best phone for power users. It has the processor and camera improvements that the more affordable iPhone 14 models don't, and while the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a larger display that's the only key difference – so for me the Pro Max doesn't do enough to make it worth getting over the Pro.
But according to predictions from well-placed industry sources, that could change next year. The iPhone 15 Pro Max could be rebranded as the iPhone 15 Ultra, and as the name suggests it'll have the best spec of any iPhone – so there will be more to it than just a bigger iPhone 15 Pro.
Here are the five key things that'd make me pick the iPhone 15 Ultra over the iPhone 15 Pro.
Lightning served an important purpose – it was superior to the then-common USB ports used in rival devices, and it didn't have USB's annoying ability to be the wrong way round no matter which way you held it – but USB-C is where it's at now, and we know Apple is moving there; it's already in my MacBook Pro and my iPad Air as well as my various wireless earbuds. As much as I like MagSafe, my chargers are too chunky for travel and an iPhone 15 with USB-C instead of lightning would be one less cable I'd need to remember to pack.
2. A periscope lens
The weak point in the iPhone camera remains the lack of long optical zoom, and that's something that my recent time with the Sony Xperia 1 IV made very clear: I used its 5x zoom a lot and the difference between it and my iPhone was dramatic. The new superpixels in the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max should mean better long distance shots in the concert venues where I take most of my pics, but a periscope lens would mean I could also get better shots without having to get closer. It's predicted for both the Pro and the Ultra but I suspect Apple might keep this one for the Ultra only.
3. A 3nm processor
Apple has reportedly signed contracts for the 3nm Apple Silicon that'll power the iPhone 15 Ultra. That's significant because the 3nm process reduces energy consumption by up to 30% while also boosting performance, enabling your iPhone 15 Ultra to do more with less power drain. Or more likely with Apple, to do more with the same amount of battery life as in the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Speaking of which...
4. A bigger battery
The battery in this year's iPhone 14 Pro Max is smaller than last year: 4,323mAh to the iPhone 13 Pro Max's 4,352mAh. It's also very slightly smaller than the battery in the iPhone 14 Plus, which is 4,325mAh, and which Apple says has the best battery life of any iPhone. That's partly because the always on display of the iPhone 14 Pro Max isn't in the Plus, so it'll use marginally less power, but it's still distinctly odd to have the most expensive iPhone deliver poorer battery life than the one two steps down – not least because it's Pro Max users who are most likely to really hammer the battery.
5. Under-display Touch ID
This was predicted for the iPhone 14 range but didn't make it in time. As good as Face ID is, Touch ID is more convenient in many places (for example in the cinema when you want to sneakily check messages without dazzling the people behind you; in the car when your phone is on a mount), it works in really bad lighting conditions and it's more elegant for making payments: on my MacBook, which has Touch ID, Apple Pay and App Store purchases are faster than they are on my Face ID iPhone.