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If Apple releases the iPhone 15 Ultra next month, it needs these 4 things

A Deep Purple iPhone 14 Pro on top of a Haunted Mansion wallpaper placemat.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

With Apple’s fall event just weeks away at this point, it’s pretty much full steam ahead for iPhone 15 rumors. One of the latest reports seems to revive an early rumor that has since been put on the back burner.

What’s the rumor? According to Andrew O’Hara from AppleInsider in a report on MacRumors, it seems that Apple might change the name of the iPhone 15 Pro Max to the iPhone 15 “Ultra.” Originally, this rumor popped up in late 2022 and early 2023 from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, but it slowly faded as other reports suggested this would be a change coming in 2024.

It now seems that this rumor has been revived, and the iPhone 15 could eliminate the “Pro Max” moniker for a much simpler “Ultra” name.

But as much as I would like to see the iPhone 15 Ultra name become real (iPhone 15 Pro Max doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue), Apple needs to make sure that it’s actually worthy of the Ultra moniker, as well as a potentially bigger price tag.

A much-needed telephoto camera upgrade

iPhone 14 Pro Max and Galaxy S23 Ultra camera modules.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

If we take a look at all of the iPhone 15 rumors from the past year, one of the biggest has been that the larger iPhone 15 Pro will be getting a periscope telephoto lens. Unfortunately, it looks less likely that this will be available on the smaller iPhone 15 Pro, which is a shame for those who want a great camera without using a ginormous phone.

Still, Apple needs to get this right if it is indeed changing the Pro Max moniker to Ultra this year. If the iPhone 15 Ultra is getting the periscope lens, it needs to be a true periscope telephoto lens that gives users at least 10x optical zoom instead of the typical 3x.

Including a periscope lens would indeed make the large model worthy of the “Ultra” name, but only if we can actually get a really good optical zoom with it.

The back of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, showing the camera lenses.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

For example, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is one of the best phones out there for smartphone photography. You get a 200MP main camera with a 10MP periscope telephoto and a 10MP telephoto, along with a 12MP ultrawide. With this combination, the S23 Ultra is able to get incredibly good 10x optically zoomed images, and even the 30x zoom is catching up, according to Andy Boxall, who reviewed the S23 Ultra for Digital Trends.

And as DT’s Joe Maring also pointed out, the S23 Ultra’s powerful camera system is also great for taking wildlife photos. Of course, it’s also just great for any situation where you want to get a good close-up shot without disturbing others.

Again, if Apple is going to add a periscope lens and change the name to iPhone 15 Ultra, that upgrade needs to be worthy of being called “Ultra.” As proven by Samsung, that means at least 10x optical zoom, so let’s hope Apple can get it right.

It’s time for faster charging speeds

Nothing Phone 2 next to the OnePlus 11.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

At the moment, the iPhone 14 lineup supports a maximum charging speed of around 3o watts. Rumors strongly suggest that Apple will finally be ditching Lightning this year in favor of USB-C, which could also mean support for faster charging speeds.

Compared to the competition from Android, the iPhone 14 series — including the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max — have some of the slowest charging speeds out there. A lot of Android phones charge much faster than 30W.

For example, the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Nothing Phone 2 have a charging speed of 45W, which isn’t the fastest, but definitely faster than what Apple currently offers. The OnePlus 11 supports 80W charging in the U.S. and 100W charging internationally, which means you can get a 50% charge in about 10 minutes and a full charge in 25 minutes.

The iPhone has always had slow charging speeds compared to the competition, and on a technical level, the outdated Lightning tech has been to blame. With Apple supposedly switching over to USB-C, it means using a universal charging cable and the possibility for faster charging speeds. Now, I certainly don’t expect Apple to go from 30W to 100W, but at least something like 45W would make an iPhone 15 Ultra worth the upgrade.

And if Apple were to add reverse wireless charging, which most Android phones also have these days, the best time to add it would be with the iPhone 15 Ultra. I mean, faster charging speeds and the ability to charge up your AirPods? It would finally put the iPhone on even playing ground with Samsung and Google.

Better, more reliable battery life

iPhone 14 Pro showing battery charge levels.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

One of the benefits of the iPhone Pro Max model over the regular iPhone Pro is better battery life, though that claim doesn’t always hold up. For Apple to make the iPhone 15 Ultra worth the extra money, the battery should be significantly improved.

Currently, the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a battery capacity of 4,323mAh, which is significantly more than the 3,200mAh of the standard iPhone 14 Pro. But even the iPhone 14 Pro Max is vulnerable to battery aging and degradation, as our iPhone 14 Pro Max review unit has 100% battery health, but still ends up with about 20% battery by the end of the day.

Hopefully, Apple can improve the battery life on an iPhone 15 Ultra. A lot of the larger Android phones out there have batteries up to 5,000mAh, and some of them can last for around two days on a single charge. If Apple could do something similar for an iPhone 15 Ultra, then it would definitely be worth it.

More storage options

iPhone 14 Pro showing Settings iPhone Storage used.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The type of user who would most likely purchase an iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max are those who would be considered “power users.” That means a lot of photos and videos, media, files, apps, and even games.

Apple added 1TB of storage as an option beginning with the iPhone 13 Pro. I actually leapt at the opportunity for a 1TB phone, so that’s the one I got, as well as a 1TB iPhone 14 Pro the next year. If Apple’s going the iPhone 15 Ultra route, it should expand the storage options even further.

To make it truly “Ultra,” Apple could add a 2TB internal storage option. Perhaps make the base storage 512GB, and have 1TB or 2TB as the mid- and high-tier storage capacities.

And while it’s very unlikely, another option would be to add a microSD card slot so users can expand storage even more. However, this might be nothing more than a pipe dream, as Apple has never allowed expandable storage on any iPhone or iPad model, and expandable storage is also becoming less of a thing with Android phones as well.

There’s more to a name than just the name

The iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max all lying on a table.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

We’re less than a month away from Apple’s iPhone 15 event, which means the rumor mill is in full swing right now. While we may have forgotten about the Ultra rumor from earlier in the year, it seems to be back from the dead and an actual possibility now rather than next year.

And if it is true, well, Apple really needs to make the new flagship iPhone worthy of the Ultra name by making it significantly better than the regular iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. If the only difference will be a periscope lens that doesn’t even support 10x optical zoom, what’s the point? If Apple is going to make an iPhone 15 Ultra, it should definitely go all out and make it the best damned iPhone there is.

Of course, you should also take all of this with a grain of salt. O’Hara, who is starting this rumor up again, doesn’t have a complete track record with Apple rumors like other insiders. His most recent success with a rumor was sharing renders of the AirPods Pro 2 before they launched last year, so take that as you will.

Still, as much as I like the name iPhone 15 Ultra over iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple needs to enact the necessary changes to make it actually “Ultra.” Changing an iPhone name is no small event, and if Apple’s really taking the leap this year, it needs to be justified in doing so.

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Christine Romero-Chan
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade. She graduated from California…
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