iPhone 15 Pro Max renders based on multiple leaks
03/20 Update below. This post was originally published on March 17
The iPhone 15 line-up is looking red hot: updated designs, a massive performance leap, and USB-C for every model. But will Apple blow it at the finish line?
A new report from Haitong International Securities tech analyst Jeff Pu (via MacRumors), claims Apple will increase prices for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max worldwide. Pu cites hardware upgrades, including a new titanium chassis, solid-state volume and mute buttons, the barnstorming A17 chip, increased RAM and a periscope zoom lens as the primary drivers.
The analyst is the most recognized name yet to throw his weight behind talk of price rises after recent leaks claimed the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max may increase by as much as $200 each. Assuming the same storage options, this would result in the following price points:
Interestingly, this would open a massive $400 gap to the iPhone 15 (from $799) and iPhone 15 Plus (from $899), as standard iPhone models are expected to be unchanged. It might also be genius.
The reason for this is carrier contracts. Most iPhones are sold on contract and a $200 price increase, while a shock for buyers, would be relatively easy to swallow when spread over a 2-3 year contract.
iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus renders based on their leaked bright pink and blue finishes
On the flip side, the price rises could really help standard models look more affordable, especially the iPhone 15 Plus, which will become the only relatively affordable big-screen iPhone. After all, bridging $400 is a lot, even on a multi-year contract.
Of course, the price increase could be smaller. $200 is the maximum number to have been mentioned, but the principle would remain the same at $100: it doesn’t price out Pro buyers, but it might win a whole new audience for standard models.
More sales through higher prices? It’s just the sort of thing Apple might try… and pull off.
03/19 Update: significant online debate surrounds the claim that iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max prices may rise by as much as $200. In the US, historically, Apple has limited increases to a maximum of $100 unless the company is moving the needle with a new storage tier or brand new line, such as the $999 iPhone X in 2017.
Speaking to a trusted industry source, I’m told the reason Apple is considering breaking this pattern is due to a combination of inflation, customer demand and long-delayed hikes in the US market.
For some time, Apple has offset inflation with steep price rises in other regions, aided by the dollar’s strength internationally. The flipside is demand for iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models caught the company by surprise, and the price points now seen as too low when spread across multi-year carrier contracts. The consequence has been the cannibalization of iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus sales.
Whether Apple will risk a $200 price hike remains to be seen. Personally, I would bet on the company sticking a more modest $100 bump. But if Apple go higher, at least you know now why.
03/20 Update: one of the big reasons iPhone 15 Pro models are expected to cost significantly more than their predecessors are their new solid-state volume and mute buttons. And now, we have our first look at them.
Sourced by reliable leaker ShrimpApplePro, the images show the volume controls will be completely flat. A single elongated volume button can be pressed at either end to raise and lower the volume. How well this will work in practice remains to be seen because physical buttons allowed users to adjust the volume unsighted. I suspect Apple must have a plan for this, or it would feel like a backwards step.
ShrimpApplePro also shared images of the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, which shows they will retain the physical volume buttons and mute switch, which have been seen on iPhones since 2007.
A video link for these changes can also be found on the Chinese social network Douyin.
The critical factor in the iPhone 15 Pro / Pro Max switch will be implementation. Apple is famed for its smart integration of new features. Perhaps the most notable recent example is Dynamic Island, an ingenious software tweak that not only hid the controversial pill-shaped cutout on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max but made it feel like a fundamental and desirable part of the phones’ overall design.
Why would Apple take the risk of moving to solid-state buttons in the first place? I suspect the two major advantages will be increased water resistance and durability. By definition, solid-state buttons have no moving parts, so there will be no gaps for water ingress. Similarly, their solid design should mean fewer breakages over time or if the phones are dropped.
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