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Apple may raise the price of this iPhone 15 model only, and I'm not surprised

Consumers who want the best display, battery life, and camera performance this year may need to fork out an extra $200. But there's a bigger picture here.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Every year, we hear rumors of Apple charging a little more for its latest iPhones. And, every year, those rumors never actually materialize, thankfully. Part of the reason for this steady stream of $799 to $1,099 iPhones is, to put it bluntly, the lack of changes.

Also: Everything Apple will announce at its 'Wonderlust event' this week

That is, until this week, when Apple is expected to release the iPhone 15, which swaps out the aging Lightning port for a more standardized USB-C, stainless steel material for titanium, and the 12-megapixel cameras for more-capable 48MP lenses, among other things. Oh, and the most premium iPhone 15 Pro Max will likely feature the company's first periscope lens for far-distance photos and videos like never before.

That last bit is important, because it may be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Or, in other words, it's Apple's red carpet to finally raise the price of its most beloved hardware product. According to Taiwanese market intelligence firm, TrendForce, the larger components and new camera system on the upcoming Pro Max model have justified a $100 price bump, bringing the $1,099 variant up to $1,199 this year.

But is anyone surprised? Apple currently charges an additional $300 when you order a stainless steel Apple Watch instead of an aluminum one. With the shift to titanium on the new iPhone Pro models, not only are they expected to be lighter than their predecessors, but also more durable. Those benefits come at a cost.

Also: iPhone 15's USB-C upgrade may have serious implications for the charging accessory future

Fortunately, there's some upside to all of this, too; TrendForce also suggests that the rest of the iPhone 15 series will remain untouched in terms of pricing, meaning the standard iPhone 15 should still start at $799, the iPhone 15 Plus at $899, and the iPhone 15 Pro at $999. (Remember, the smaller Pro model doesn't get the upgraded periscope lens, so it remains Apple's competitively-priced, sub-$1,000 entry into the Pro experience.)


Apple last year debuted a larger iPhone 14 Plus model alongside the standard iPhone 14.

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Here's the real winner in all this: the iPhone 15 Plus. If last year's iPhone 14 Pro Max sold like hotcakes, then the iPhone 14 Plus sold like cereal on a diner breakfast menu. The ideal customer for the Plus model was straightforward, but everyone knew it was too expensive for what it was -- and priced too close to iPhone Pro territory. 

Also: iPhone 15: Four features that make this year's Apple handsets truly matter

With the iPhone 15 Pro Max getting a $100 price bump, there's now a $300 gap between it and the iPhone 15 Plus, should Apple keep the latter at $899. That makes the Pro splurge a little less justifiable this time around, and may just be effective enough of a pricing strategy to drive up sales for Apple's less ambitious big-screen phone.

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