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3 exclusive iPhone 15 Pro features might be responsible for a big price hike

Published Sep 5th, 2023 6:50AM EDT
iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max units on launch day
Image: Jonathan Geller BGR

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The iPhone 15 series will come with higher price tags, at least for the Pro models. We’ve been discussing it for months, as various reports said that Apple will increase the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max prices this year. With just a week until the launch event, we have another report warning of “major” price hikes for the iPhone 15 Pros.

According to an analyst, the iPhone 15 Pros will be more expensive because of two key features unavailable from regular models. That’s the titanium chassis and the periscope zoom camera. Surprisingly, the A17 Bionic chip, also exclusive to the Pro handsets, isn’t listed as a reason for the price hikes. But the next-gen 3nm chip should be quite expensive.

I mentioned the iPhone 15 price hike rumors more than once and explained why they make sense despite the current economy. Apple knows it can rely on a massive base of iPhone users to upgrade to a new iPhone this year. And it knows buyers will pay more for a premium device and experience. That’s why the iPhone 15 prices are going up.

The iPhone chassis and the camera upgrade

But I also explained that the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max will offer plenty of exciting upgrades to justify the price hike. The titanium chassis and new zoom camera are two of them.

The new price estimates come from Digitimes Research analyst Luke Lin, who singled out these features:

Lin believes the pricing of the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus will not see much of a change from the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus, but the Pro series is likely to suffer from a major price hike because of the chassis upgrades from stainless steel to titanium and the periscope lens upgrade, which is only for the Pro Max, for performing 5-6x optical zoom.

Lin doesn’t mention price points for either iPhone 15 Pro variant. But rumors say the iPhone 15 Pro will start at $1,099, $100 more than its predecessor. Meanwhile, the iPhone 15 Pro Max could cost $200 more than the 14 Pro Max, starting at $1,299.

Both iPhone 15 Pro versions should feature titanium frames, but only the iPhone 15 Pro Max will get the periscope camera. Rumors also say that the iPhone 16 Pro will have a periscope camera next year. If that’s accurate, the iPhone 16 Pro could see another price hike next year, following Lin’s logic.

iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro bezels comparison
iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro bezels comparison Image source: yeux1122

Don’t forget about the A17 Bionic chip

What I find surprising in this report is the lack of attention to the A17 Bionic chip powering the iPhone 15 Pros this year. This will be the only 3nm chip in the industry, as Apple reportedly bought out TSMC’s entire capacity for a year. The chip won’t be cheap to make. TSMC might eat the production issues, but that’s only because Apple would pay a considerable sum to purchase the entire production.

A report last year found that the A16 Bionic chip inside the iPhone 14 Pros cost $110 to produce, making it nearly 2.5 times more expensive than the A15 chip. That A16 Bionic will power the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus this year.

Considering that Apple is moving to 3nm chips, it’s very likely the A17 Bionic will be expensive to manufacture. Maybe even more so than the A16. And that cost will certainly be passed on to the consumer.

Apple never shares details about iPhone manufacturing costs. But estimates for the iPhone 15 series should arrive soon after their launch. That’s when we’ll learn exactly how much it might cost to manufacture phones out of titanium and how much Apple might have paid for the A17 chips and the periscope zoom lens.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.