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The real reason why the iPhone 15 Pro Max price might go up by $200

Published Aug 29th, 2023 6:50AM EDT
iPhone 14 Pro Max and Beats Studio Buds+ earbuds
Image: José Adorno for BGR

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Apple will soon send out press invites for its iPhone 15 launch event, which should take place on September 12th this year. That means you’ll preorder one of the four new models a few days later, with Apple shipping it to your door on September 22nd.

Millions of people will hurry to upgrade to a new iPhone 15, and most will pick a Pro version. That’s despite the imminent price hikes coming to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. The latter will be especially popular with buyers.

If an analyst’s recent research note is accurate, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will make up for 35% to 40% of new iPhone shipments. And that might be the real reason why the iPhone 15 Pro Max price is increasing by up to $200.

iPhone 15 Pro Max demand expectations

Rumors say the iPhone 15 Pro will start at $1,099, or $100 more than the previous version. The cheapest iPhone 15 Pro Max could go for $1,299, or $200 more expensive than the 14 Pro Max.

Ming-Chi Kuo penned a note on Medium focusing on Largan, a major winner of periscope camera orders from Apple and Huawei. The iPhone 15 Pro Max will be the first iPhone with a periscope zoom camera.

iPhone 14 Pro on a side table
iPhone 14 Pro on a side table Image source: Jonathan Geller, BGR

It’s in this context that Kuo dropped the percentage estimate for the iPhone 15 Pro Max:

iPhone 15 Pro Max, the most expensive iPhone, accounts for 35–40% of iPhone 15 series shipments, the highest share. iPhone 15 Pro Max shipments in 2H24 also grew 10–20% YoY compared to iPhone 14 Pro Max in the same period. It means Apple is optimistic about the selling point of the periscope, which is only available in iPhone 15 Pro Max.

These are early estimates, and sales haven’t started yet. But Kuo’s data usually comes from solid sources from Apple’s supply chain. Those sources might know specific details about Apple’s part order plans for the next-gen iPhone.

In this case, it’s enough to know how many periscope zoom cameras Apple has ordered to figure out its iPhone 15 Pro Max manufacturing plans. That’s the only phone to rock the component this year. Next year, the iPhone 16 Pro will also get a periscope camera. That’s a claim Kuo’s new research note just repeated.

People love the Pro Max

If the figures are correct, the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, and iPhone 15 Pro will make up 60% to 65% of Apple’s orders. Apple’s optimism isn’t out of place despite the marked smartphone sales slowdown. The iPhone continues to sell incredibly well despite fears about the economy.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max has been the best-selling smartphone in the first half of 2023. That’s usually a title that goes to the base new iPhone model. That’s the iPhone 14 this year, which only came in third after the Pro Max and Pro versions.

Global smartphone shipments in first half of 2023 show iPhone 14 Pro Max at the top.
Global smartphone shipments in first half of 2023 show iPhone 14 Pro Max at the top. Image source: Omdia

I’ve already explained that the iPhone 15 Pro Max price hike to $1,299 would be warranted, making the handset an amazing purchase. The phone features an updated design that brings thinner bezels and rounder edges on the back. The metal frame between the two sheets of glass is made of titanium, and there’s a new OLED screen.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max also features a USB-C port and the zoom lens Kuo mentioned. Add the Action button, the larger battery, the A17 Bionic chip paired with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 2TB of storage, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max will be a tremendous computer in your pocket.

Apple knows you’ll pay more for a better iPhone

But the real reason the iPhone 15 prices are going up is different. Apple is increasing the cost of the next-gen Pro Max model in this economy because iPhone buyers will pay it. That’s it; that’s the reason the iPhone 15 Pro Max might start at $1,299.

As I explained in the past, iPhone owners will eat any price hikes because we need these devices in our lives. And Apple fully knows it.

That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if the conversation about the iPhone 15 Pro Max started with a question like “How do we charge more for this thing?” rather than “How can we make the Pro Max better?”

Renders based on leaked iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 16 Pro Max (Ultra) designs.
Renders based on leaked iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 16 Pro Max (Ultra) designs. Image source: 9to5Mac

Again, I’m not saying the iPhone 15 Pro Max won’t be worth the price hike. It’s quite the opposite. Or that Apple doesn’t want to make the best possible iPhone. Again, it’s quite the opposite. But Kuo’s remark about the Pro Max’s market share made me think of Apple’s strategy for the next few iPhone generations.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max won’t be more expensive because Apple has to pay for more expensive components like the A17 Bionic and the periscope lens. It’ll be more costly because Apple knows Pro Max will pay more for a better phone. Obviously, Apple can’t just increase the cost without delivering meaningful upgrades.

Everyone else is dying to be in Apple’s shoes

It’s not just Apple who would do that had they known it’d work. Samsung is dying for its Galaxy S24 Ultra to be such a formidable device so it can similarly raise the average selling price of iPhones. The Galaxy S23 Ultra was the sixth best-sold smartphone in the top 10 the iPhone 14 Pro Max leads. But the iPhone had triple the sales.

Also, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 wasn’t anywhere near that top, another high-end Samsung flagship that’s also one of the most expensive handsets in the world.

Google would love to sell more Pixel 7 Pro units than Pixel 7a. Or, better yet, have the Pixel Fold become a must-have device. But Apple’s rivals can’t get to where Apple is in terms of loyalty and appeal. Their iPhone Pro Max equivalents do not sell as well.

These developments must be even sadder for Samsung, which prides itself on having made popular large-screen devices. If not for the Galaxy Note, we might have never had phones like the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro Max. Phones that tens of millions of customers will gladly pay $1,299 (and upwards) in a bad economy.

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.