A new Apple leak has revealed a price shock for the iPhone 15

A new Apple leak has revealed a price shock for the iPhone 15

01/01 Update below. This post was originally published on December 29th

Leaks of the iPhone 15 series have revealed a number of potentially tempting upgrades coupled with steep price hikes. But now a new report claims that Apple may cut prices.

In a blog post, historically reliable insider yeux1122 reveals that Apple’s internal analysis of iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus sales has concluded that the decline is “well below the expected range” — even accounting for ongoing component shortages caused by the pandemic. And as a result, Apple will aggressively price its successors.

“The biggest problem is the price,” reports the insider. That makes sense. The $899 iPhone 14 Plus costs just $100 less than the iPhone 14 Pro, despite having an inferior display, chipset, camera and older design. Since most buyers will spread the cost of the purchase over a two-year contract with the carrier, there’s little reason to switch to the Plus over the Pro.

Yeux1122 says that Apple has explored several options to counter this, including reducing the gap between standard iPhone 15 and Pro features, but concluded that more aggressive pricing for standard models is the most likely strategy.

Update 12/31: Bad news for those hoping that Apple’s potential price cut on the standard iPhone 15 models could see the return of the Mini format. Ever since yeux1122 revealed Apple’s “aggressive” pricing strategy, there has been a lot of talk about how the company will achieve this.

The iPhone 15 Plus price cut affects the iPhone 15, iPhone 14 (which will likely remain on sale) and even the base iPhone SE. As such, the idea that Apple could simply ditch the Plus and launch the iPhone 15 Mini below the iPhone 15 makes a lot of sense. This would allow Apple to create a cheaper entry point to the lineup, extending the price gap to the iPhone 15 Pro models while keeping other prices unchanged.

However, AppleLeaksPro shot down this strategy, stating“As far as I’m concerned, we’re not planning to launch the iPhone 15 mini next year, in case you’re wondering.”

If it’s right, it’s a shame. Not everyone loves big phones, and what Apple achieved with the Mini format was remarkable. Surprisingly poor sales eventually led to its cancellation, but market reports claim that sales of the iPhone 14 Plus are even lower.

This could have opened the door for Apple to deliver three iPhone sizes again, as those who bought the Mini loved it. It’s hard to make the same argument for the iPhone 14 Plus, where there are Apple and Android alternatives. That said, I suspect it’s significantly easier to design a smartphone with a 6.7-inch form factor than a 5.7-inch one.

Update 01/01: Quotes TSMC chairman Mark Liu may have just leaked key information about the performance of Apple’s next-generation A17 chipset, which is targeting the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max/Ultra. TSMC is Apple’s primary chip partner, and Liu spoke about the company’s product timelines, confirming that mass production of 3-nanometer chips has begun at its Tainan campus in southern Taiwan.

Liu said demand for 3nm chips is “very strong” and “The mass production of 3nm chips is the fruit of decades of cooperation with the local supply chain.” But he gives it away when Liu talks about the benefits of 3nm chips, saying that their tests show they outperform 5nm chips requiring 35% less power.

While Samsung Foundry has already delivered the world’s first 3nm chips for cryptocurrency mining, TSMC’s chips will be the first used for consumer devices, and Apple will get priority access to the lion’s share of what TSMC makes. As a result, the M2 chips in the upcoming refresh of the MacBook Pro lineup are hotly tipped to launch this new technology in the first quarter.

The timeline then leaves plenty of time to transition to mobile for the Apple iPhone 15 Pro and Ultra when they launch in Q3. That’s not surprising since 3nm almost powered the iPhone 14 launch before it was pushed back, but until Liu’s comments, nothing was known about its performance and efficiency benefits.

Of course, it remains to be seen how Apple will use these efficiency gains. It could choose to provide a major improvement in battery life and a relatively small increase in performance, or vice versa, although I suspect the most logical option will be the middle ground. Either way, Apple now has a level of flexibility it hasn’t enjoyed since the A14 became the first 5nm iPhone chip in 2020.

When 3nm A17 filters down to standard iPhone models in 2024, these efficiency gains would also give Apple the flexibility to reintroduce the iPhone Mini. The move has already been shot down for 2023, but it’s a size that’s much more unique than the iPhone 14 Plus and is unlikely to find a rival from the major Android smartphone makers based on its current market position. This means that when Apple drops a device, it rarely looks back.

The obvious move would be to drop the iPhone 15 Plus by $100 to $799, forcing the iPhone 15 down to $699. That pushes the iPhone 14 (which would remain on sale) to $599. At that price, Apple risks cannibalizing sales of the $429 iPhone SE, which explains reports last week that the company is considering canceling the 2023 iPhone SE altogether.

Interestingly, the new flagship, the iPhone 15 Ultra, is tipped to be even more expensive than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but yeux1122 also supports this, saying that Apple will also manage the differences between it and the iPhone 15 Pro. Yeux1122 cites material and camera differences, which are consistent with reports of an Ultra with a titanium chassis and dual front-facing cameras.

Ultimately, any talk of a price cut will be shocking, as it contradicts multiple leaks that Apple will increase, not decrease, most of the iPhone 15. This means that yeux1122 has a successful history of leaking information that goes against the grain.

Notably, in March, an insider countered by claiming that the iPhone 14 would have thinner bezels than the iPhone 13 — a week later leaked schematics showed. In August, yeux1122 said that iPhone 14 prices would not increase despite widespread reports, and Apple ended up freezing prices in its biggest markets. In September, the leaker also shared iPhone 14 Plus cases, which showed that the “iPhone 14 Max” branding rumors were wrong until then.

So while the iPhone 15 Ultra may end up being the most expensive iPhone ever, yeux1122’s information suggests that buyers of the standard iPhone 15 models will have more money left in their accounts than expected.

More at Forbes

MORE FROM FORBESPrices for Apple iPhone 15 Ultra 2023 can start from $1300

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