Think: Thin

A slimmer $1,500 'iPhone Ultra'
Apple Plans a Thinner iPhone in 2025
The people familiar with the project described the new iPhone, internally code-named D23, as a major redesign...

Put a note on my desk in the morning: Think thin.

Apple is developing a significantly thinner version of the iPhone that could be released as early as 2025, according to three people with direct knowledge of the project.

On the surface, news that Apple is working on a slimmer iPhone is about as interesting as news that Apple is working on a new iPhone. You could say this confidently without any sources required. But The Information has a few details here worth mentioning.1

The slimmer iPhone could be released concurrently with the iPhone 17, expected in September 2025, according to the three people with direct knowledge and two others familiar with the project. It could be priced higher than the iPhone Pro Max, currently Apple’s most expensive model starting at $1,200, they said.

While pricing information is notoriously hard to scoop – because, of course, Apple can change its mind at any point right up until launch – this sure sounds in-line with the mythical "iPhone Ultra". That is, a model of the device which is even more premium (and subsequently, more expensive) than the current top-of-the-line 'iPhone Pro Max' models. There was some talk last year that Apple was aiming for the new device/pricing tier this year, but with the move to a titanium body and $100 price-hike last year for the 'Pro' models in the last cycle, they likely bought themselves a little time, quite literally.

The people familiar with the project described the new iPhone, internally code-named D23, as a major redesign—similar to the iPhone X, which Apple marketed as a technological leap from previous generations and which started at $1,000 when it was released in 2017. Several of its novel features, such as FaceID, the OLED screen and glass back, became standard in subsequent models.

Apple is still testing different designs for the slimmer phone, which could include an aluminum chassis and a smaller hole and pill-shaped cutout for its front-facing camera and sensors, one person with direct knowledge of the matter said. The phone will include Apple’s latest-generation processor, likely called the A19, and could have an improved front camera for video calls and selfies. The screen will measure somewhere between the 6.12-inch diagonal display of the standard iPhone and the 6.69-inch display of the iPhone Pro Max, the person added. The rear cameras could be relocated from the upper-left corner of the phone’s back to the top center as part of the redesign, another person with direct knowledge said.

Apple, of course, hasn't significantly redesigned the iPhone since 2017 with the iPhone X – the model which coincided with the 10 year anniversary of the original. This new model would be 8 years after that upgrade, so it would seem there's no real milestone here to push this redesign (though I would just note that if Apple kept their numbering standard, the 2025 iPhone would be the 'iPhone 20' – it's complicated, more here if you wish...).

And it's hard to imagine just how different Apple would dare design the most popular device in the world. Per the above, it's still going to be a large black slab of glass with perhaps a smaller Dynamic Island. It would be a bit strange for Apple to "downgrade" from titanium to aluminum in a new premium model, unless they were aiming to make it lighter and had some new way to brand the aluminum as premium. Either way, the biggest change, if the above is correct, would clearly be to the back of the device, with the massive square of cameras and censors moving to the middle of the device instead of the left side.2 Personally, I would love for a design that meant that iPhone didn't comically wobble when placed on its back – and does anyone dare lay it down that way anymore without a case?!

Other than that, thin would seem to be in. And that obviously brings to mind the new iPad Pro, which is almost comically thin. It's hard to imagine Apple could go this thin with the iPhone – there's a reason the 11" iPad Pro is slightly thicker than the 13" version, and that reason would be even more pronounced in a ~6" iPhone.

Last week, Apple unveiled its thinnest product to date, a new version of the iPad that is 5.1 millimeters thick, roughly equal to the thickness of five stacked credit cards. By comparison, the iPhone 15 is 7.8 millimeters thick. Apple later apologized for an ad promoting the new iPad that featured a hydraulic press crushing musical instruments and other objects; the ad offended many viewers.

Could Apple crush the iPhone down to, say, 6mm? And if so, how comically large would the camera bump be? Maybe that's why it needs to move to the middle!

In recent years, Apple has released four iPhone models. It plans to drop the iPhone Plus, one of its less-expensive models, which has a large screen but lacks the latest-generation processors and cameras, in 2025, three people said. The Plus, which debuted with the iPhone 14 and will still be part of the iPhone 16 lineup this year, has sold below expectations, they said.

Poor Plus. But this makes total sense if the latest third-party model sales information is even just directionally accurate: the 'Pro Max' now rules supreme, with the 'regular' iPhone in second, and the smaller 'Pro' iPhone in third. The 'Plus' is the clear laggard for the past couple of models – behind even 'last year's iPhone'.

As for price, The Information doesn't say anything beyond the notion that it would be more expensive than the current $1,200 starting point (technically, $1,199) of the 'Pro Max' models. I tried to think through this last year, coming up with $1,499 as the logical (for Apple – not for you) starting point. But that was before the aforementioned $100 price-hike last year. Still, I think a $300 jump from 'Pro Max' to 'Ultra' makes sense (again, for Apple, not for you). And this would push the very top-of-the-line model, with maximum storage, likely past $2,000.

That "Emerging Market" iPhone can't come soon enough...

1 Seemingly backed up, as they note, by reports from both Haitong Securities' Jeff Pu and Display Supply Chain Consultants' Ross Young.

2 On the flipside, the rumored change to this year's iPhone models (at least the 'Pro' versions) is a new camera button. This follows the 'Action' button, which could also be used for the camera but was in a bad position to use it that way to take pictures. This camera button would line up with a shutter button on a regular camera. And finally would make the upper-left position of the iPhone's camera system make some sense. Moving that system to the middle of the back negates that somewhat (since you could now hold the device horizontally either way). But that's a minor thing.