iPhone Ultra Concept images show a rugged phone with Apple Watch Ultra design elements, and a new camera layout

I’m not entirely sure why the iPhone has a rotating crown on it, but it gives me ‘volume dial on a hi-fi audio player’ energy…

Apple’s rumored to be working on a new iPhone line, after Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported Apple CEO Tim Cook as telling investors that consumers are willing to pay more for a better iPhone. Just last year, Apple debuted the higher-end Apple Watch Ultra, and it’s safe to say that the iPhone Ultra could easily be something the company is working on behind the scenes. Designer Jimmy Huynh put together renders of what the iPhone Ultra could look like if it followed the footsteps of its Apple Watch counterpart. The design feels a little on the literal side as far as translating details goes, but what Huynh does pretty well is making the iPhone look even more brutish and rugged than its predecessors. It also features what looks like an entirely new camera array featuring one larger shooter and a smaller one, laid out in the same style as the iPhone 14.

Designer: Jimmy Huynh

The iPhone Ultra’s design has a few shockers. Let’s first get that port out of the way – it definitely doesn’t look like a USB-C one, even though Apple’s been given an ultimatum to shift their iPhone line to USB-C by 2023 by the European Union. Moving upward, the bezel on the right to the screen comes with a thick bulge, housing the power button along with a rotating crown. Now the thought of a rotating crown on a smartphone just feels downright odd, but if I were to really think about it, the rotating element could help with quite a few apps, like adjusting the focus on the camera, controlling the volume during music playback, probably even seeking through YouTube or Netflix videos. That knob is a solution looking out for problems if you ask me for my frank opinion, and I’d probably be the first to say it’s the least relevant detail in this otherwise stellar concept.

The iPhone Ultra concept also has another new detail in form of the Action Button, located right above the volume keys. It’s difficult to imagine what this button would do for the smartphone, although it could serve a multitude of purposes within all of the iPhone’s apps. I’d absolutely love for it to be a back or home button, or a camera shutter button when in the camera app.

The rest of the overall design looks pretty good if you ask me. You’ve got that curved body around the edges and an absolutely flat screen, making the iPhone Ultra great to hold and easy to use given that accidental palm touches get significantly reduced with flat displays. The flat display does come with a significant lip around the edges, providing a fair bit of protection from drops. That rounded frame helps with absorbing impact too, and if the Ultra name is any indication, the frame is probably made out of titanium.

Flip the iPhone Ultra over and things really begin looking different. The back panel sports three screws on the corners that fix it to the phone’s frame. I, for one, would bet an entire month’s salary on the fact that Apple would never have exposed screws like this in a bid to look so obviously rugged. I’ll admit, though, that it’s kind of a nice touch.

The camera bump highlights probably the one largest change with the phone’s rear. Unlike the Pro models that sport three cameras, this iPhone Ultra concept only has two lenses (and a LiDAR sensor), but one camera lens is significantly bigger than the other. This larger camera could be the Ultra’s main 48MP wide-angle shooter, although that doesn’t seem ‘ultra’ enough. A bigger camera would mean a larger sensor, enabling the camera to capture more light. This could mean a variety of things, all the way from better bokeh in Portrait Mode, or finally that Astro photography feature that we were all expecting last year. The second lens is probably the 12MP telephoto that we’ve seen on previous models. A redesigned flashlight also sits rather proudly on that massive camera bump, offering brighter light that’s great for photography as well as outdoor use.

Bloomberg’s Gurman mentioned that Apple’s big new bet with the iPhone will either be the Ultra or the highly anticipated iPhone Fold. Details on the nature of the phone will probably leak in the coming months, as we gear up for iPhone season sometime in September or October.