08/27 Update below. This post was originally published on August 24
The iPhone 15 range is expected to be Apple’s most expensive iPhone range ever, and now a further price shock has been revealed.
In a new exclusive, Digitimes sources confirm the much-discussed potential $200 price increase for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, but also state that the iPhone 15 Pro is unlikely to escape the hikes with a $100 price jump as well.
This increase was previously mooted for the Pro, but went quiet when it appeared Apple’s goal was to widen the gap between the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, with the latter exclusively getting the company’s first 10x optical zoom camera. It is also speculated that the iPhone 15 Pro Max could be rebranded iPhone 15 Ultra to signify this new divide.
If Digitimes is correct, the iPhone 15 range will be priced like this:
- iPhone 15: starting from $799
- iPhone 15 Plus: starting from $899
- iPhone 15 Pro: starting from $1,099
- iPhone 15 Pro Max: starting from $1,299
The iPhone 15 Pro Max price may also rise close to $2,000 if leaks about a new top tier two terabyte storage option are borne out.
Why is Apple doing this? Sales of the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus, while increasing in recent months, have largely underwhelmed. The iPhone 14 Plus is priced at just $100 less than the iPhone 14 Pro, and the difference becomes insignificant over an average two-year carrier contract. Apple carries similar profit margins across all iPhone models, so an even spread of demand works best for its supply chain.
The new prices should change this. The iPhone 15 Pro will cost $300 more than an iPhone 15, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max/Ultra will cost $400 more than the iPhone 14 Plus.
Of course, striking the right balance is difficult, but Apple will hope its relatively moderate iPhone 14 Pro-inspired upgrades for the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus (Dynamic Island design, 48MP camera, A16 chip) will contrast enough with the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max (super slim bezels, Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, faster charging, titanium chassis) to create clear value distinctions.
As always, Buyers will deliver their verdict with their credit cards.
08/26 Update: Last week, Bloomberg reported that US carriers will offer significant iPhone 15 discounts due to falling smartphone demand.
“So far this year it’s been record low upgrades across all carriers,” said Jeff Fieldhack, Counterpoint research director for North America, speaking to Bloomberg. “The iPhone 15 launch is a window for carriers to steal high-value customers. And with that big iPhone 12 installed base up for grabs promos are going to be aggressive, leaving Apple in a good spot.”
Following this report, I spoke to sources at two major carriers who also confirmed that this will happen in the UK and Europe as well. Moreover, the moves are unlikely to hit Apple’s bottom line, with carriers planning to bundle more minutes and data to create attractive multi-year contracts rather than any direct price reductions on the phones themselves.
This is likely to give Apple a major boost at a time when most smartphone makers are struggling to ship units. Whether less influential rivals will cut their own profits to counter these potentially irresistible bundles remains to be seen, but it seems inevitable.
Either way, even if you aren’t an iPhone fan, I would strongly advise anyone considering upgrading their phone right now to hold off until the iPhone 15 launch (tipped for September 12). You are likely to see major discounts on your favorite brands soon after the new iPhones go on sale circa September 15.
08/27 Update: Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has doubled down on the anticipated Apple launch and sales dates for the iPhone 15 range in his latest newsletter.
From what I’ve heard, the launch of the 2023 iPhone and Apple Watch will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 12. That’s slightly later than last year’s Sept. 7 event. If the company’s typical pattern holds, we should expect iPhone preorders to begin on Sept. 15 and for opening day sales to kick off on the 22nd.
I speculated that September 15 would be the sales date, as Apple historically likes to start pre-orders on Friday of the week they are announced. This rapid turnaround from announcement to sale helps keep potential buyers excited and the hype train running.
Supply chain reports continue to suggest that sales of the iPhone 15 Pro Max will be in short supply at launch due to production issues with its new 10x optical zoom lens — so if you want one, my advice would be to move early. The optical zoom lens will be exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and is expected to see the phone launch with a $200 price increase compared to the iPhone 14 Pro Max. It may also be rebranded as the ‘iPhone 15 Ultra’.
iPhone 15 Pro buyers are understood to get off more lightly with just a $100 increase, while the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus prices should be unchanged. This strategy is designed to widen the gap between Pro and non-Pro models, with the former bringing cutting-edge features and the latter increasingly based on the Pro version of their predecessors.
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