iPhone 15 Pro Max release date: when it'll launch in September
Apple’s new iPhone 15 smartphone series will launch in September, but there are already plenty of rumors today
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: iPhone 15 Pro Max
📅 iPhone 15 Pro Max release date is likely to be September 22, 2023
📷 Camera may get a periscope lens, enabling much farther optical zooms
⤴️ New design language could include rounded back and screen edges
⚡️ iPhone USB-C port could bring high-speed connection to 15 Pro phones
💰 iPhone 15 Pro Max price could further increase over standard iPhone 15
✏️ iPhone Ultra could join the line as a new luxury tier above 15 Pro and Pro Max
🧪 Apple allegedly experimenting with solid-state volume and power buttons
Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Max release date is on track for September, but months before we see CEO Tim Cook unveil the new iPhone for 2023, we have early rumors. Relying on expert sources, we have evidence that the iPhone 15 Pro Max will shake up Apple’s top-end smartphone, with new design language, a better telephoto camera, a brighter screen and a new USB-C port.
There are still plenty of questions: will the new iPhone get a fresh ‘Ultra’ name this year or is Apple saving that for 2024? Will the chassis of Apple’s new phones change, or will it be the same flat-sided design we’ve known for three generations? Let’s go in-depth on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
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Hard details about Apple’s new phone will be scant, with leakers basing much of their reports on supply chain happenings and whispers seeping out of the tech giant’s halls. A lot of this will change as the year goes on and plans solidify, but if you follow me on this journey, by the time Apple announces the iPhone 15 Pro Max, or whatever it calls it, along with the others, you’ll already know if you’re buying one or hanging onto your old phone another year.
Here’s everything we know about the iPhone 15 Pro Max release date and more.
iPhone 15 Pro Max release date: September 2023
Current rumors suggest that the iPhone 15 Pro Max release date is Friday, September 22, 2023. The genesis of this iPhone rumor comes from reliable supply chain analyst Jeff Pu, who says the phone will launch on that day in the US, per Tom’s Guide. There is some confusion to clear up, as the leak originally cited September 23, but since the source is based in Hong Kong and Apple normally releases on a Friday in the second half of September, the iPhone 15 Pro Max on September 22, 2023, seems likely.
All of this falls in line with Apple’s normal iPhone release date timeline, as it’s likely to announce the iPhone 15 lineup, including the iPhone 15 Pro Max, in September 2023, right after Labor Day, with pre-order availability following days later and phones shipping the next week. This has been the pattern over several releases, with very few exceptions (a notable example being the iPhone 14 Plus, which saw a delayed October release compared to other models).
Still, it’s very early, and although Pu’s September 22 prediction could be part of Apple’s best-laid plans, things can easily change between now and then.
Coinciding with the iPhone 15 Pro Max release date could be the sale of the Apple Reality Pro – the rumored name for its VR headset. Before this, Reality Pro leaks suggested Apple was prepping for a reveal this spring, we’re now expecting a June World Wide Developer Conference, or WWDC, Reality Pro reveal. Prior reports have seen the Apple Reality Pro release date to late 2023 – the most recent reported delays may change that, but still, iPhones tend to release closer to the holidays, and it’s reasonable to expect Apple wants its new headsets in the same window.
There may be one more iPhone coming, also. On February 27, Apple supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo tweeted that he believes the company has restarted the development of the iPhone SE 4 with its first major refresh, bringing it more in line with the rest of the phones. According to Kuo, the phone will get a full-screen OLED design based on the iPhone 14 chassis. We have no word about whether the phone will use Face ID or move Touch ID elsewhere on the body, and it’s not expected until the first half of 2024.
iPhone 15 Pro Max design: curved edges, screen
Early iPhone 15 design rumors pointed to several key changes for 2023, with the iPhone 15 Pro Max gaining a USB-C port for the first time, a periscope camera (more on that later), curved sides with “2.5D” glass like that found on older iPhones and the Apple Watch. In February, several leaks made those changes more likely after alleged CAD files were used to produce renders published by reliable Twitter tipsters like Ice universe and Unknownz21 or publications of note like 9to5Mac and MacRumors.
New details like a slimmer bezel and smaller overall chassis, but same screen size, became clear in the leaks. Other rumors suggesting the new iPhones would ditch mechanical buttons in favor of solid-state look set, as iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max renders appear to show capacitive buttons instead.
For the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus, we expect the inclusion of USB-C, Dynamic Island and smaller bezels, but those phones’ physical dimensions could be almost identical to their predecessors, with Apple making up the difference in screen size instead of shrinking the chassis of each. In short, they may have larger screens than their “Pro” counterparts.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max brightness may be getting boosted to 2,500, according to a February 7 rumor from ShrimpApplePro. The same day, as detailed in the article linked above, we caught wind of an Apple patent for under-screen sensors and a Dynamic Island that will move around and change shape and size to suit current needs or disappear altogether. While there’s no reason yet to suspect it will come on the iPhone 15 Pro Max release date, it’s an intriguing proposition.
iPhone 15 Pro Max camera: periscope lens
Rumors have predicted Apple would be switching to a periscope lens for its “Pro” phones as far back as 2020. In July, Kuo wrote in his Medium blog that it’s finally coming in 2023, and that looks more likely after iPhone 15 Pro Max renders hit the web on February 27, 2023 – at least, for the 15 Pro Max.
A periscope lense would add the kind of impressive zooming abilities you can see on display in our Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra camera review. Kuo believes the camera will come down to the iPhone 16 Pro in 2024.
That leaves the iPhone 15 Pro with a possible iteration of Apple’s traditional camera design, hopefully in its final form, as the recent renders show its cameras protruding much farther than before. For a nice illustration, check out this comparison tweeted by 3D artist Ian Zelbo, who produced the 15 Pro renders for 9to5Mac:
The iPhone 15 camera bump is expected to change, which in itself isn’t remarkable news, but it’s possible this particular change would make way for the same 48MP camera currently only found on the iPhone 14 Pro.
iPhone 15 Pro Max ports: USB-C, with a catch
Apple may move the iPhone 15 Pro Max and others to USB-C, says Kuo. On November 16, 2022, he tweeted that although the whole lineup will move to USB-C, only iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro will get high-speed data transfer via the port, with Kuo predicting Thunderbolt 3 or USB 3.2 support, rather than Thunderbolt 4 or USB 4. That could still mean data transfer rates up to 40Gbps, which would be a massive improvement over the current 480Mbps offered by current iPhones’ lightning ports.
Unfortunately, that leaves the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus ports in the lurch with no speed upgrade, as Kuo predicts they’ll only have USB 2.0 support – which tops out at the same throughput as lightning.
There may be another hitch. On February 10, 2023, it was rumored that Apple is going to require Made for iPhone (MFi) certification for the new iPhone USB-C ports to fully unlock their full charging speed and data throughput capabilities – however, no reputable tipsters have corroborated it, making this a fairly shaky rumor.
On February 16, reliable Twitter leaker Unknownz21, whose scant history has nevertheless been very accurate, tweeted an alleged photo of the iPhone 15 Pro USB-C port on actual early hardware:
Unknownz21 stated the next day they would be posting more imagery, but later said an unexpected, but positive development would delay that.
While a move to USB-C for iPhones has been rumored for years, a recent decision by the EU to require all smartphone makers to adopt the port may have spurred Apple’s timeline a little, making the iPhone 15’s USB-C switch more likely now than ever.
iPhone 15 Pro Max specs: smaller chips, more RAM
The iPhone has maintained a performance lead over its Android counterparts for years, though that lead is narrowing dramatically, thanks to Samsung Galaxy S23 key specs resulting from that phone’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor.
Apple might move to a 3nm process for the rumored A17 chipset in the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. That’s based on a Bloomberg report from December 29, 2022 that Apple’s primary chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd (TSMC), has begun mass production of chips on the new process, which its chairman, Mark Liu says will “offer better performance than its 5nm chips, while requiring about 35% less power.” Liu’s choice not to put a number to the performance gains has lead some to speculate that Apple is prioritizing battery life improvements over performance gains.
I don’t think there’s enough in that report to draw that conclusion, but there might be if you go back in time a little – a June 16, 2022 analysis of TSMC’s forthcoming process by Anandtech showed a chart that illustrates the characteristics of the coming chips.
Notably, the final column, labeled N3E, features an efficiency gain of 34% (which echoes Liu’s “about 35%”) with a performance improvement of 18% over the previous 5nm process. The article’s author notes that the N3E chip can be tuned to either prioritize efficiency or power, so you wouldn’t see those numbers simultaneously.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is likely to get a RAM boost, if word on the grapevine from TrendForce is to be believed. The Taiwanese research firm reported on October 25, 2022 that the new phones would use 8GB RAM to keep up with camera and processor improvements, and also said Apple will continue using a Qualcomm 5G modem, kicking its own internal modem down the road to 2024 – perhaps for the rumored iPhone Ultra, which is not expected to launch with the iPhone 15 Pro line.
More recently, another TrendForce report covering iPhone 15 specs said the memory used would be faster LPDDR5 RAM (perhaps LPDDR5X, but it wasn’t specific).
Finally, it’s expected the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max (but not the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus) will become the first iPhones with Wi-Fi 6E support – a protocol which uses the 6GHz band that was recently cleared for public use and which enables faster throughput with less interference at the cost of more limited range than the current 5GHz band most consumer routers support. That rumor came from Unknownz21, who shared alleged schematics with MacRumors.
iPhone 15 Pro Max price: spendier Pro phones
We don’t yet know much about pricing for the iPhone 15 lineup, and speculating about it right now is a little messy, given how Apple handled pricing for this year’s iPhone around the world and what rumors say about its iPhone 15 plans. So let’s do it!
A leak on December 29, 2022 suggested that Apple is deeply disappointed in iPhone 14 sales, and is considering knocking $100 off the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus models, which would make the cheapest non-iPhone SE phone just $599, as reported by Forbes. The report notes that this could eat into iPhone SE sales, speculating that could be what’s behind recent claims by Kuo that Apple may cancel the iPhone SE in 2024, which, as guesses go, is astute enough.
The idea that Apple might drop the price of those phones flies in the face of the fact that the iPhone 14 line actually saw a price increase everywhere but in the US and China – Apple’s most important iPhone markets. It’s possible the leaker got some details wrong, and that Apple is considering lowering prices only where it raised them this time, or, I suppose, that it’s dropping them worldwide, but it’s very unlikely it would drop prices in the US and China only.
Apart from that, I’d expect the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro to either keep the same price or even see a slight increase, if rumors about a switch to titanium, a significantly more expensive material than stainless steel, are true.
Whether the phones are pricier or not, they may be affordable if a rumor about an iPhone 15 hardware subscription is true. According to analyst Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, Apple will roll phone subscriptions into its Apple One plan, presumably in a higher tier than the current $32.95 plan that encompasses all of Apple’s services.
iPhone 15 Ultra: a new luxury tier
In September 2022, coinciding with the release of the Apple Watch Ultra, Mark Gurman of Bloomberg said Apple plans to replace the iPhone 15 Pro Max with new branding in the form of the iPhone 15 Ultra, mirroring the naming convention it’s used for its higher-end computers and best laptops.
More recently, on February 6, Gurman updated his predictions to say Apple plans to release iPhone Ultra in addition to the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max with a larger 6.8-inch display (the iPhone 15 Pro Max screen is expected to measure 6.7 inches).
Gurman’s report also said the iPhone 15 Ultra ports will be, well, nonexistent – if true, the phone would then need to use another charging standard, and would probably be MagSafe only. It could cost even more than the iPhone 15 Pro Max price, which itself may rise above the 14 Pro Max $1,099 starting price point. Yikes.
Updated: February 27, 2023