This September we’re expecting Apple to launch four new iPhones – the iPhone 15, the iPhone 15 Plus, the iPhone 15 Pro, and the iPhone 15 Ultra. But demand for the iPhone 15 Plus will probably be relatively low – going by past form, so it’s the other three that we'll likely see the most attention.
The base iPhone 15 will no doubt offer up a relatively affordable experience, the more high-end but still compact iPhone 15 Pro follows, and top-tier tech paired with a massive screen manifests as the iPhone 15 Ultra.
So that, in brief, is how this trio will likely be positioned, but for a more in-depth look at their likely specs and pricing (going by leak, rumors, and educated guesses), read on.
iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 15 Ultra: specs comparison
Want just the headlines? Here’s a specs comparison of what we’re expecting from the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Ultra (or 'iPhone 15 Pro Max' as it might be called).
This is based primarily on leaks, but with some guesswork informing details too. So any or all of it might be wrong, but we’d expect a lot of it to be right.
|iPhone 15 (rumored)||iPhone 15 Pro (rumored)||iPhone 15 Ultra (rumored)|
|Display:||6.1-inch OLED||6.1-inch OLED||6.7-inch OLED|
|Resolution:||1179 x 2556 pixels||1179 x 2556 pixels||1290 x 2796 pixels|
|Refresh rate:||60Hz||Adaptive 1-120Hz||Adaptive 1-120Hz|
|Chipset:||A16 Bionic||A17 Bionic||A17 Bionic|
|Rear cameras:||48MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide||48MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom||48MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP telephoto with 6x variable zoom|
|Front camera:||12MP||12MP||12MP dual-lens|
|Storage:||128GB, 256GB, 512GB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB||256GB, 512GB, 1TB|
iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 15 Ultra: price and availability
There’s bad news on the pricing front, because leaks suggest that all three of these iPhone 15 models could cost more than their predecessors. So far, none of the leaks have gotten very specific about pricing, but for reference the starting prices of the current models is as follows:
- iPhone 14: $799 / £849 / AU$1,339
- iPhone 14 Pro: $999 / £1,099 / AU$1,749
- iPhone 14 Pro Max: $1,099 / £1,199 / AU$1,899
So we’d think the starting prices will be at least that much for this year’s models, but going by the latest leaks they’ll probably be even higher. Regardless though, you’ll certainly be paying more for an iPhone 15 Pro than an iPhone 15, and even more for an iPhone 15 Ultra.
As for the availability of these phones, we expect them all to be announced at the same event, which based on past form will probably happen in the first half of September. Then, around a week later the phones will probably ship. These being iPhones, they’re sure to be available in most countries.
iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 15 Ultra: design and display
These three phones could look more similar to each other than the iPhone 14 does to the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, for one simple reason: all iPhone 15 models reportedly have a Dynamic Island, meaning the notch will be no more, even on the basic model.
Reports suggest all three of these iPhone 15 models might also have slightly rounded edges, which is a change from last year but not something that’s expected to differ between the three phones. They’ll likely also all have an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance, going by past form.
However, the standard iPhone 15 could be the odd one out in some ways, as the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Ultra will reportedly be made of more premium materials, with a titanium frame. They might also have an Action Button (as seen on the Apple Watch Ultra) rather than a mute switch.
We might also see the iPhone 15 Pro and Ultra sport slimmer bezels than their predecessors, and than the standard iPhone 15.
But the iPhone 15 Ultra might be the odd one out in other ways, as it’s sure to be significantly larger than the other two. We don’t know exactly how large, but dimensions similar to its predecessor are likely, meaning 160.7 x 77.6 x 7.9mm.
The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro meanwhile will likely be approximately the same size as each other – probably around 147.5 x 71.5 x 7.9mm, which is how large the iPhone 14 Pro is. We’re assuming that measurement for both of these upcoming phones because both are rumored to have a Dynamic Island (which could slightly affect the size), though they may well be slightly different to that, and to each other.
As for the screens, all three upcoming phones could have some distinct differences. Leaks suggest that the iPhone 15 will have a 6.1-inch 60Hz display, likely with a resolution of around 1179 x 2556.
The iPhone 15 Pro will probably be the same size, and with both having a Dynamic Island they’ll also probably both be around the same resolution. But the iPhone 15 Pro is likely to have the edge when it comes to refresh rate, as it’s almost certainly going to be 120Hz.
The iPhone 15 Pro is also sure to have an always-on display, which the iPhone 15 will reportedly lack, and it will probably get brighter. We’re not sure how bright, but it’s likely to top out at a minimum of 2,000 nits, as that’s what the iPhone 14 Pro can manage. The standard iPhone 14 can only reach 1,200 nits, so the same might be true of the iPhone 15.
The iPhone 15 Ultra will surely have the largest screen, likely coming in at 6.7 inches and 1290 x 2796 like its predecessor. This will also likely have a 120Hz refresh rate, and according to leaker ShrimpApplePro it could have a peak brightness of 2,500 nits.
So in other words then, the iPhone 15 Ultra could have the biggest, brightest screen, while the iPhone 15 has a small, significantly less bright and lower refresh rate screen, and the iPhone 15 Pro is somewhere in the middle – matching the Ultra for refresh rate, the iPhone 15 for size, and having a max brightness that’s between those two.
iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 15 Ultra: cameras
You might get a very different camera experience on each of these handsets, with the iPhone 15 rumored to have a 48MP main camera (up from 12MP on the iPhone 14) and a 12MP ultra-wide, along with a 12MP front-facing camera.
The iPhone 15 Pro meanwhile might have largely the same cameras as its predecessor, with a 48MP main one, a 12MP ultra-wide, and a 12MP telephoto (with 3x optical zoom), along with a 12MP selfie camera. In which case, the main difference between this and the standard iPhone 15 on the photography front would be the presence of a telephoto camera on the Pro.
That said, there could be more differences, as one source has talked about a new ‘state-of-the-art’ Sony sensor for the iPhone 15 Pro. That could prove particularly beneficial for low light shots.
There’s also talk of the iPhone 15 Ultra getting a new 48MP Sony sensor, which would be the largest sensor ever used by an iPhone. It’s unclear though whether this is the same sensor as the one mentioned above for the iPhone 15 Pro, and if so whether both would get it or just the Ultra.
Either way, another upgrade that is expected to be exclusive to the top model is that the iPhone 15 Ultra could get a variable telephoto camera. That would allow it to optically zoom to multiple distances, and it will reportedly also be able to zoom further than current models, possibly topping out at 6x.
The selfie camera could also be a dual-lens 12MP one on the iPhone 15 Ultra, so it might only be the 12MP ultra-wide camera that it shares with the other models.
iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 15 Ultra: performance
The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Ultra are both likely to use an A17 Bionic chipset. This would be Apple’s new mobile chipset for 2023, and leaks suggest the A17 Bionic has a 20% more powerful CPU than the A16 Bionic.
So these two phones should have quite a power boost compared to their predecessors, especially as both the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Ultra might have 8GB of RAM, up from 6GB last year.
The iPhone 15 Ultra also might be less limited by its software than the iPhone 15 Pro though, so while the core specs sound similar, the Ultra could be slightly more powerful.
Both phones should be a lot more powerful than the standard model though, as leaks suggest that the iPhone 15 will be stuck with an A16 Bionic chipset, currently seen in the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. It will probably also have less RAM (likely 6GB), and less storage (topping out at 512GB while the other two models will likely come with up to 1TB).
Data transfer speeds could also be better on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Ultra, reportedly topping out at 40Gbps, while the standard iPhone 15 might be limited to 20Gbps.
iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 15 Ultra: battery
The battery is one thing that we haven’t heard much about yet for any of these phones, but it’s likely that they’ll have similar size batteries to their predecessors.
That would mean a roughly 3,279mAh battery for the iPhone 15, around a 3,200mAh one for the iPhone 15 Pro, and approximately a 4,323mAh one for the iPhone 15 Ultra.
Some changes could be coming to the way these phones charge, but they might come to all three models, with talk of the entire iPhone 15 range having USB-C for example. The whole iPhone 15 line might also support reverse wireless charging.
iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 15 Ultra: verdict
So, which of these phones should you buy when they finally launch? Well, if the various leaks and rumors we’ve heard are right, the standard iPhone 15 might approach the level of the already-available iPhone 14 Pro, but not quite reach it – at least when it comes to the available camera lenses and the refresh rate.
Still, it will also probably cost less, so it could be a good upgrade if you don’t want to spend a small fortune on a phone.
If money is less of an object then the iPhone 15 Pro will likely provide more power, an extra lens (compared to the iPhone 15), and a higher refresh rate, but at a higher price.
The iPhone 15 Ultra though looks set to be Apple’s most premium smartphone yet, with a bigger, potentially brighter screen than these other handsets, and possibly more power and better cameras than even the iPhone 15 Pro. Of course, you’re sure to have to spend big to obtain this model.
So there could be something for everyone here, and these are all shaping up to be likely candidates for our list of the best iPhones.
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James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.