iPhone 15 Ultra vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max: Cheat sheet
The iPhone 15 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max may look the same at a distance, but the Ultra should have a new, curvier design with titanium side rails
We may also see an Action button replace the iPhone 14 Pro Max's mute switch on the Ultra
A new A17 Bionic chipset should significantly increase the power of the iPhone 15 Ultra compared to the iPhone 14 Pro Max's A16 silicon
A periscope telephoto camera could increase the iPhone 15 Ultra's zoom to 6x magnification. The iPhone 14 Pro Max can manage 3x.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max's Lightning charging port could be swapped for a USB-C port on the iPhone 15 Ultra, bringing faster charger and data transfer with it.
iPhone 15 Ultra vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max: Quick menu
An iPhone 15 Ultra vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max comparison is particularly interesting at this point in time, given that Apple is about to announce a new round of devices. TThe Apple September event may not be for another two weeks or so, but we already have a strong idea of how these two phones could match up.
The iPhone 15 Ultra is thought to be what we're getting instead of the iPhone 15 Pro Max — it would be the new top player of the iPhone family. Several upgrades have been tipped compared to what we saw on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but there will still be similarities between the phones.
You'll currently see the iPhone 14 Pro Max in second place on our best phones list. We expect the iPhone 15 Ultra to replace it, if not dethrone the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra to become the new best phone on the market — assuming the leaks we've heard up to now have been accurate, that is.
iPhone 15 Ultra vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max: Specs
iPhone 15 Ultra vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max: Price and availability
The iPhone 15 Ultra isn't on sale yet, though it's pretty certain that it will appear on September 12 at the Apple "Wonderlust" Event, then go on sale 10 days later on September 22. (Again, this assumes Apple doesn't stick with the iPhone 15 Pro Max name.)
The iPhone 14 Pro Max is on sale right now, but will likely soon disappear from Apple's shelves as the new generation of Pro iPhones emerges. You'll still be able to find the current model at wireless carriers and through third party retailers for a bit, hopefully at a discount.
As for pricing, the iPhone 14 Pro Max starts at $1,099/£1,199. The iPhone 15 Ultra could cost as much as $200 extra according to some leaks, meaning there could still be a financial motivation to go for an iPhone 14 Pro Max even if it's no longer the latest model.
iPhone 15 Ultra vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max: Design
Other than its Dynamic Island notch, the iPhone 14 Pro Max looks like any other iPhone from the past three years. (Well, not the iPhone SE, but you get what I'm saying.) The iPhone 15 Ultra could change that up with a more rounded design featuring narrower display bezels titanium side rails instead of stainless steel, which should make the iPhone 15 Ultra lighter, and perhaps more comfortable to hold, without sacrificing strength.
On the side of the iPhone 15 Ultra, we may see a brand new Action button where the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a simple mute switch. According to code found in iOS 17, the Action button seems to be able to mute and unmute the phone, but it can be customized to perform other tasks like open a certain app or activate the flashlight or a voice note.
The iPhone 15 Ultra should get the iPhone 15 USB-C port like all other models in the new lineup, getting ahead of EU legislation ordering all companies to adopt it by 2024. This will mean using a different connector from the iPhone 14 Pro Max's Lightning port to charge your phone or transfer data, but things should power up and send faster with the new port if you have the right cable (possibly ones with Apple-specific approval like you get now with Made for iPhone accessories).
Your choice of colors on the iPhone 15 Ultra will apparently feature a new titanium gray color, as well as a new signature blue color and the returning silver and Space Gray. The iPhone 14 Pro Max offered a slightly different combination of Silver, Space Black, Gold (apparently replaced by the new titanium gray option) and Deep Purple, which will be retired in favor of the new blue as the "hero" color for this year according to the leaks.
iPhone 15 Ultra vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max: Display
We don't expect to see changes to the size, resolution or refresh rate of the iPhone 15 Ultra's display compared to what the iPhone 14 Pro Max offers. But it's possible the new model will be significantly brighter, with an alleged brightness rating of 2,500 nits, compared to the 2,000 nits Apple claims the iPhone 14 Pro Max is capable of.
iPhone 15 Ultra vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max: Cameras
We expect the iPhone 15 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max to share most of their cameras. That includes the 48MP main camera and 12MP ultrawide camera on the back of the phone, plus a 12MP TrueDepth camera up front.
But new to the Ultra will apparently be a periscope telephoto camera, providing a higher zoom level (potentially up to 6x magnification or even 10x magnification) than the current 3x digital zoom that the iPhone 14 Pro Max has.
Like the iPhone 15 Pro, the iPhone 15 Ultra could also be in line to get a larger main sensor that's capable of capturing more light. The result should be brighter pictures than you get with the current iPhone 14 Pro models.
We'd expect a new photo or video capture feature or two to be added to the iPhone 15 series alongside the updated hardware of the iPhone 15 Ultra, as Apple tends to do with every new iPhone generation. However, these rarely leak in advance of launch day, so we are just making an educated guess for the moment.
iPhone 15 Ultra vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max: Performance
Apple should be updating the iPhone 14 Pro Max's A16 Bionic chip for a new A17 Bionic chipset in the iPhone 15 Ultra. The new silicon is expected to use a 3-nanometer process for improved power and efficiency.
Alleged A17 Bionic benchmarks show a nice big leap in performance for the iPhone 15 Pro over the iPhone 14 Pro, which we imagine would apply to the iPhone 15 Ultra too.
The expected price increase for the iPhone 15 Ultra could mean more on-board storage with Apple offering 256GB as the default capacity for the Ultra. Like other iPhones, the iPhone 14 Pro Max featured 128GB in its base model. There's also talk of a 2TB version option, offering double the storage of the highest-capacity 1TB iPhone 14 Pro Max.
The iPhone 15 Ultra will most likely run iOS 17 out of the box, while the iPhone 14 Pro Max will be able to upgrade to it around the same time as the iPhone 15 models arrive, assuming Apple keeps to its traditional timing. But as the newer phone, we'd expect the iPhone 15 Ultra will end up getting one or two extra years of updates over the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
iPhone 15 Ultra vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max: Battery and charging
The larger Pro Max or Plus models typically aren't hurting for battery life, as you can see in our best phone battery life list that features the iPhone 14 Pro. But the iPhone 15 Ultra is said to have an even larger battery, which should mean it lasts even longer on our battery test, especially with the improved power efficiency a 3nm chipset would likely bring.
Charging speeds could be increasing on the iPhone 15 Ultra compared to the iPhone 14 Pro Max's official 20W wired speeds. We've heard of speeds as high as 35W for the iPhone 15 Ultra but it's not clear if this is unique to the top new iPhones, or will be available on all iPhone 15s thanks to the addition of a USB-C port.
With wireless charging, the maximum on the iPhone 15 Ultra could still be 15W as it was on the iPhone 14 Pro Max. However, the iPhone 15 Ultra may be able to get 15W from standard Qi-compatible chargers, not just official Apple MagSafe gear.
iPhone 15 Ultra vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max: Outlook
This year's iPhone launch could be one of the biggest leaps between generations we've seen in a while. The iPhone 15 Ultra's tipped new zoom camera, chipset, and reworked design with an Action button and USB-C port should make it very obviously different from the iPhone 14 Pro Max it'll replace.
We're concerned that a price hike would mean the iPhone 15 Ultra may not be as accessible to users as the iPhone 14 Pro Max was at launch. Plus it doesn't seem like most of the cameras, nor the display outside of maximum brightness, will be changing much this time.
Still, the rumors are strong enough for us to suggest holding off on buying an iPhone 14 Pro Max right now, and waiting to see what happens in terms of new features on the Ultra.