Titanium – the casing material of the Apple iPhone 15 Pro under the microscope

A big deal is currently being made of the fact that Apple has chosen titanium for the casing of its new Pro smartphones. In recent years, several patents awarded to Apple have shown that developments are heading in this direction. The Apple Watch Series 5 also paved the way for titanium casings on Apple devices in 2019. Or should it be better to mention the PowerBook G4 from 2001? You see, there's a lot to be said about Apple's use of Titan. Below you will find everything organized and explained, from material information to Apple patents to information about the sustainability of titanium.

Titanium and titanium alloys as a material for the housing of the Apple iPhone 15 Pro and Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max - you can find out why it's not that special and what advantages it has here.
Titanium and titanium alloys as a material for the housing of the Apple iPhone 15 Pro and Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max - you can find out why it's not that special and what advantages it has here.

The Basics: What is Titanium?

Let's start with the basics: Titanium is a chemical element with atomic number 22. It is at the top of the 4th subgroup in the periodic table, which is also called the “titanium group”. Titanium also belongs to the transition elements or transition metals, which also extend across other groups and some of which are used in titanium alloys. But this is all small-scale theory that you can read through on Wikipedia or in a chemistry textbook. That's why I'll stop right here.

What is much more important for this consideration is the fact that titanium is a robust metal that is resistant to corrosion and some chemicals. It is also relatively light, especially compared to steel. However, not as light as aluminum. Even small amounts of titanium in alloys provide greater stability and protection. Steel becomes tougher and stronger with a titanium concentration of 0,01% to 0,1%. It prevents intercrystalline corrosion in stainless steel alloys.

Above all, titanium ensures a lower weight of the object made with it (compared to stainless steel and its alloys) as well as the pure use of the other advantages of titanium. It achieves high strength with a relatively low density and is corrosion-resistant. However, it is also ductile, meaning it can deform before it breaks. This is possibly the reason for the aluminum substructure that appears in the iPhone 15 Pro (Max) is used. This could further stiffen the housing and protect it from deformation.

Density comparison of titanium, stainless steel and aluminum

Even though titanium has a significantly lower density than steel and the substructure in the iPhone 15 Pro (Max) is made of the even lighter aluminum, the Pro models of the iPhone 15 series only 19 grams lighter than its predecessors. But this can also be due to additional hardware inside the devices. If you look at the density and therefore weight comparison of different starting materials, you can see a considerable difference:

  • Iron: 7,87 g/cm3
  • Steel: 7,85 to 7,87 g/cm3
  • Stainless steel: 7,7 to 8,2 g/cm3
  • Titanium: 4,5 g/cm3
  • Aluminum: 2,7 g/cm3

What is Grade 5 Titanium?

As obvious as the comparison may be, Apple does not make it any easier for laypeople to understand and use titanium when it speaks of “Grade 5” titanium. This was in the Presentation of the new devices highlighted and, in addition to the iPhone 15 Pro, also mentioned as the source material used for Mars rovers. According to the titanium supplier Titanium Processing Center, the more technical name is Ti 6AI-4V. 

Ti 6AI-4V (Grade 5) is the most commonly used titanium alloy and is accordingly referred to as the “workhorse” of titanium alloys. Grade 5 titanium is believed to account for half of the world's titanium usage. In addition to aircraft turbines, engines, aerospace and shipping, it is also used in sports equipment, electronic devices and other consumer products. Without going into the exact additions for Grade 5 titanium, it is stated that titanium alloys in general may contain trace amounts of aluminum, molybdenum, vanadium, niobium, tantalum, zirconium, manganese, iron, chromium, cobalt, nickel and copper.

What makes titanium so special as a case material?

So the titanium alloy used for the iPhone is the most commonly used. Also and especially because it offers the highest strength-to-weight ratio among titanium alloys. Due to the numerous uses and the resulting large-scale production, the comparatively stable cost of the material certainly also plays a role. Titanium as a material for the iPhone casing as well as the casings of various Apple Watch models offers the best from different areas.

However, titanium is not really special as a housing material. As already shown, the material used can be found quite often on the market and has been used by Apple for a long time. It is used not only in space travel and in industrial forms, but also in consumer technology - such as wristwatches, loudspeakers, sports equipment, etc. The only special thing is that Apple has secured some patents for the processing of Grade 5 titanium in order to make its surface and appearance more attractive.

The use of titanium and especially “Grade 5 Titan” is nothing special. However, Apple has secured patents for the preparation of the metal surface. This is how the iPhone 15 Pro (Max) case looks better.
The use of titanium and especially “Grade 5 Titan” is nothing special. However, Apple has secured patents for the preparation of the metal surface. This is how the iPhone 15 Pro (Max) case looks better.

Apple's patents surrounding titanium as an embellished material for device casings

Apple was already able to secure a patent in 2021, thanks to which the iPhone manufacturer was granted the rights to process titanium material into a semi-glossy surface. But it wasn't just about the iPhone, but also about the iPad, the Apple Watch and the MacBook. However, it is not yet clear whether these devices will also have the brushed and polished titanium outer shell.

In 2022, Apple was awarded another patent that once again deals with the processing of metal surfaces. This is specifically about strong and stable metals whose original surface is not very attractive and needs to be spruced up for sale. The patent describes the creation of a textured surface. This would be matt, but can be made shinier with additional coatings.

Sustainability: Titanium is said to be better in many areas

In addition to hardware upgrades and housings, the big topics for the new Apple products in 2023 are sustainability and environmental friendliness. Here too, titanium is convincing compared to other materials. According to some sources, there are several advantages that, in addition to environmental compatibility, also concern the ethical aspect of the recovery and processing of the raw materials. The following arguments are mentioned, among others:

  • Longevity of the material: The iPhone can be used longer because it wears less during everyday use. If the device is replaced more frequently, there will theoretically be less electronic waste. However, this assumes that iPhones are only replaced because of their appearance and not because of the annual chip and camera upgrades.
  • Promotion of raw material: Compared to mining aluminum, mining titanium from the earth's crust is said to use less energy. This means that the current Pro models of the iPhone have a lower carbon footprint. However, it is important to note the aluminum substructure, the influence of which cannot be masked by the titanium shell. The titanium alloy also contains other metals.
  • ethical concerns: Titanium appears to be primarily mined in safe and regulated parts of the world. This can reduce concerns about dangerous working conditions, child labor and the like. As mentioned in the last point, when it comes to grade 5 titanium, attention must go beyond the namesake to the alloy metals.
  • Recycling options: Titanium can be recycled very well. This means that the large-scale use of the material as an alternative to less reusable materials results in less electronic waste.
  • Falling price: Apparently the price of titanium and alloys will continue to fall, so that there will be a good ratio of weight, strength and price, somewhere between aluminum and steel.
The outer shell of Apple's iPhone 15 Pro (Max) is made of titanium alloy. This has several advantages in terms of longevity, weight, sustainability, etc.
The outer shell of Apple's iPhone 15 Pro (Max) is made of titanium alloy. This has several advantages in terms of longevity, weight, sustainability, etc.

When did Apple first use a titanium case?

As already mentioned at the beginning, Apple dared to experiment with offering a device with a titanium case in January 2001. This is the first generation of the Apple PowerBook G4, which was sold until 2003. From January 2003, the different sizes (12 inches, 15 inches, 17 inches) were replaced by devices with aluminum housings. Today, Apple still uses aluminum as the housing material for the MacBook (although this could change again in the future according to the patents mentioned above).

Apple's first foray into using titanium, after plastic cases for the PowerBook G3, was short-lived as it brought with it several problems. For example, the hinges of the display were made of titanium, which was stable but not designed for long-term use. Even when these components were used regularly without overexertion, they often broke. In addition, the display cables that ran past the titanium hinges were often damaged. There were even third-party manufacturers that made sturdier components to fix the problems.

Plastic parts that were connected to the titanium housing could also be damaged because they could not withstand the stress that titanium could withstand and transfer to it. In addition, the plastic cutouts for the WLAN antennas were not sufficient, so the radio connection to the Internet router was poor due to the metal shielding. And the paint on the edges of the titanium base wore, peeled and bubbled - especially where the palms of the hands rested when using the laptop.

These current Apple devices have a titanium casing

Will Apple completely switch from stainless steel and aluminum to titanium?

The above-mentioned patents from 2021 and 2022 indicate that not only the Pro models of the iPhone, but also the iPad, the MacBook and again the Apple Watch will see a change to titanium as the housing material. However, you should keep the same thing in mind here as with all other patents: Apple operates according to the motto “You are better off than you are.” The patent specifications say nothing about future developments and, like many others, could languish in the company's poison cupboard over the years.

Further information in the article sources

In this post I have listed a wide variety of information and data for you. Of course, I don't have all of these in my head and I didn't even determine them all myself. Or to put it another way: I used a lot of sources. If you would like to use this for your own research, please use the following list:

Did you like the article and did the instructions on the blog help you? Then I would be happy if you the blog via a Steady Membership would support.

37 comments on “Titanium – the housing material of the Apple iPhone 15 Pro under the microscope”

  1. Hallo,
    I'm currently thinking about buying an iPhone 15 Pro 256. I have the iPhone 14 Pro 256GB.
    Is it even worth it?
    Apart from that, 2 questions:
    1) Can I continue to use my power supply with a Lightning connector using a USB C-Lightning adapter for the iPhone 15 Pro?
    2) Will I continue to use my Magsafe case from the iPhone 14 Pro for the iPhone 15 Pro?

    Greeting Horst

    1. Hello Horst! So unfortunately I don't know whether the switch is worth it. I ordered the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the new 15 Pro Max late, so I won't get it for a few weeks. I'd say if you're not using it as a camera then there's probably little new there.
      To your questions:

      1. Your power supply certainly doesn't have a built-in Lightning cable, right? That means there is either a USB-A or a USB-C socket. You can continue to use it with both. A USB-C to USB-C cable is included with the iPhone 15 Pro. If you have a USB-A port (the big, rectangular one that you can only plug in at a certain rotation), then all you need is a USB-A to USB-C charging cable - for example this one from Ugreen.

      2. Unfortunately I have bad news regarding the MagSafe charging case. I read in a US magazine that the cases unfortunately don't fit the iPhone 15 Pro. But I don't know what's wrong. But I think at least the camera bump has gotten bigger again.

  2. Hi Jens,
    I actually should have known about the cable myself. Now I'll just wait until I get the 15 Pro in the Apple store. the casing color can be seen. I'm leaning towards titanium blue although judging from the photos it looks more grey-blue. It's a shame that gold is no longer available. More and more inclined to buy. So now I'm going to the Oktoberfest. Of course without an iPhone.
    Greetings and cheers

    1. Hello Horst! Yes, get the new iPhone 15 Pro. Then we can talk shop again. 😊 And I hope you have fun at the Oktoberfest. For me, that would be one of the worst places I could be locked up. 😂 LG, Jens

      1. Hi Jens,
        Here is an article from the Munich TZ about the iPhone 15:
        I just came back from the Oktoberfest: it was nice because there isn't that much going on during the day. I consumed a roast ox and 2 liters of beer. Went to the Oktoberfest with my parents for the first time in 1956. And once every year since then. That's befitting someone who was born in Munich. Have you ever been to the Oktoberfest?
        What do you think about the article?

        1. I'm glad you're back safely! 😊 I've been to the Oktoberfest before, but I don't like crowds. And then you're wrong there. But I can understand if you like doing it! I will respond to the article to the individual points mentioned there:

          1. Glass breakage in bend test: I saw another bend test (US website) and they said it held well. The iPhone 6 Plus was also said to have a bending problem and I always had it in my back pocket and never had the glass break. So: I don't think it's a real problem.

          2. Sweat stains on the case: Yes, these are probably there temporarily and disappear again on their own. No problem for me since I always have a case around it anyway.

          3. Overheating (40°C and more): How to overheat iPhone? With CPU-intensive games and similar computing things. I was also able to get the iPhone 14 Pro Max very warm. And sometimes I forgot my iPhone 14 Pro Max in the car and all it showed was the thermometer. So temporary overheating during computationally intensive tasks doesn't deter me. Before things become dangerous for the chip, the system slows down the CPU - just like on the Mac. And a warm iPhone often happens in the first few days because the system then calculates a lot of data, such as searching the photos for pets and doing similar things. Maybe the testers had the effect in the first few days. You don't know all that. That's why I like to see things like this myself.

          4. Not scratch-proof: Yes, that's right. The titanium has a coating on it and it can be scratched. From what I've seen in photos so far, it looks like people went to a lot of trouble to scratch the casing. I use a case and so I'm not afraid of it.

          5. Improper workmanship (not well aligned display or dirt in the camera lens): In my opinion, these are manufacturing defects that can easily be complained to Apple. I am 120% sure that you can return the iPhone and get a new one without asking.

          I hope the answers help you decide. If I had two pints of beer, I would have ordered two iPhones straight away. 😂

  3. Hi Jens,
    Thanks for commenting on the article, which left me a little unsure. That has calmed me down now. Regarding the 2 measures: when I was younger there were 4-6 measures with no after-effects the next morning.
    Now it's just a matter of waiting. Now I'm at the point where I can hardly wait for the 15 Pro.
    Greeting Horst

    1. Hello Horst! Great, then have a nice wait. For your reassurance: I just saw a video from someone who has an iPhone 15 Pro and specifically discussed this “overheating”. Result: Nothing overheats, despite heavy use and hot weather conditions. It gets warm, but continues to work - just like the old iPhones. No particularly high heat development noticeable.

      1. Hi Jens,
        I just ordered the iPhone 15 Pro Max 256 GB Titanium Blue. Should be between October 26.10th. 23 and 03.11.23/6,7/XNUMX will be delivered. I'm curious whether I can cope with XNUMX inches.

        Wish you and the team a nice week

        Greeting Horst

        1. Hello Horst! Chic. 😊 I bravely ordered “natural”… let’s see what it looks like. Then I'll keep my fingers crossed that it comes sooner rather than later. Unfortunately my delivery date is in November because many people probably ordered the large one in “natural”. But whatever. You can still hold out for a few weeks. I've had the large model for years and wouldn't want a small one anymore. The large screen is great for people who don't want to admit that they're starting to need glasses. 😂 Have a nice rest of the week too!

          1. I first wanted to order Titan White, but the delivery date was November 17.11th - November 27.11th. displayed. I then saw Titan Blue in a tutorial video. My address gave me problems when ordering on Apple. A very dedicated employee at the Apple Store in Munich helped me place the order, or rather get it done. Many people complain about Apple, but the commitment of its employees is top notch. Be it in the store or on the phone. Service.

            Greeting Horst

          2. Hello Horst! Yes, that is actually my experience too. They are already trying. Where they no longer try is problems with old Macs. At least that's what some readers have already told me.

          3. Hi Jens,
            I have no problems with glasses. Been wearing one since I was a kid. I can't imagine being without glasses anymore, I'm so used to them. Normally time goes by very quickly, but now it seems very slow to me. Case (Magsafe) etc. coming tomorrow. I wish you a nice weekend!

            Greeting Horst

  4. Hi Jens,
    I canceled my iPhone 15 Pro yesterday. Why, because it was available in the Apple Store Munich yesterday. I then had it reserved straight away. I just came from the store and now I have the iPhone 15 Pro Max 256 GB titanium blue. Since I have visitors coming soon, I can't set this up until later.

    Greetings to you and the team

      1. Hi Jens,
        I've just finished setting it up including the e-Sim and transferring the data from the iPhone 14 Pro. I am pleasantly surprised by the weight and handling of the iPhone 15 Pro. The Magsafe case, lens protector and screen protector are already installed. I'm also happy with the color titanium blue. I am very satisfied with the data transfer from my storage from the PC. All I had to do was start iTunes on the PC and connect the iPhone via USB. My USB-USB C adapter proved its worth. Tomorrow the iPhone 14 Pro will be prepared for sale. All hell broke loose in the Apple Store in Munich on Rosenstrasse today. Nevertheless, I received my new iPhone very quickly. The existing 15 Pro Max were gone within minutes. Good thing I pre-ordered yesterday.
        Greetings to you and the team

        1. Hello Horst! Exciting! Which screen and lens protection did you use? I remember that you had something from Arctic with the iPhone 14 Pro that didn't last, right? Well, I'm happy for you anyway! As soon as mine arrives in November, I'll write a short article with my impressions - even if it's already quite late in the iPhone year. 😂 Have a nice evening! Jens

          1. Hi Jens,
            At that time I found a top lens protector for my 14 Pro on Amazon. The company was called wlooo. This was very easy to install and has lasted to this day. For my 15 pro I have another one from wlooo (here is the link to Amazon) ordered and it is just as comfortable as the one from back then and costs 12,99 euros. You can also choose the color to match your existing iPhone. From me an absolute purchase recommendation. For
            For the display I recommend the ArktisPro display protection glass from Arktis (here link to the Arctic shop). It can even be done thanks to the included template
            with one hand (tried it myself).

            Greeting Horst

          2. Hello Horst! Thanks for the recommendations. I was so free and included the links to the products right at the top of your comment. I think I'll get the screen protector glass too. That looks reasonable and you have already checked it. 😊 LG, Jens

  5. Hi Jens,
    Now I only have one problem, but it seems to be due to IOS 17. I can neither receive nor send SMS. I just spoke on the phone with an Apple employee for about an hour. Turning Settings-Messages-iMessage off and on again resulted in the message appearing below Settings-Messages-Send&Receive: “Waiting for activation...”. This message is still there after about 1 hours. The email from my Apple account is in Settings-Messages-Send&Receive. Now I'm still waiting for activation.
    My fears about the handiness of the 15 Pro Max were not confirmed.

    Greeting Horst

    1. Hello Horst! But that almost sounds like a problem with the SIM card. Did she ask you for a PIN? And can you make calls without WiFi? Then it would be clear that the SIM works and it is somehow connected to iOS. But the problem is completely new to me. I hope it still resolves! Because of the handiness: Were you concerned that the iPhone was too big?

  6. Hi Jens,
    The problem was solved yesterday evening. I suspected that something had gone wrong when installing my e-SIM and then called my provider. The service employee promised me that she would check this and that I should check it after about 15 minutes and call again if unsuccessful. I then did that and everything works fine now. I reported this to the provider. Now I have a new contract with 5G and more data volume. This costs €8,99/month with a discount for the first two years. The 15 Pro Max is quite comfortable to use. So my concerns were completely unfounded. I was surprised by the weight. It feels a lot lighter than my 14 Pro. With my wireless charging station, which I bought for the 14 Pro, I can also charge the 15 Pro Max without any problems and it doesn't feel like it takes any longer. I couldn't find any abnormalities (housing, gaps, etc.) or excessive heating. When charging, the heating was just as low as with the 14 Pro. Ergo: I am very satisfied with my 15 Pro Max!

    Greeting Horst

    1. Hello Horst! Thanks for your detailed report. It's good that the SIM problem has been corrected again. And I've heard that thing about weight quite a few times. In practice it's only a few grams, but you obviously notice the difference very clearly. Then have fun with the device! LG, Jens

  7. Hi Jens,
    When preparing and packing it for shipping, I found that investing in a good case, a tempered glass display and lens protection was worth it. My 14 Pro had no scratches etc. even though I mostly carried it in my pocket. It looks like it was just taken out of the box.
    Nice Sunday!
    LGr Horst

  8. Hi Jens,
    Here's a brief conclusion after almost 4 weeks with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. To date, no problems with overheating, neither when intensively surfing with 5G nor when using wireless charging, etc. I was surprised by the battery, as it feels like it lasts a lot longer than that of my iPhone 14 Pro. The switch to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which wasn't actually planned, was definitely worth it for me and I haven't even tried out the new photo features yet. I'm now eagerly awaiting your impression of the iPhone 15 Pro Max. I assume you've gotten it now.

    Greetings to you and the team

    1. Hello Horst! I'm glad to hear that everything is going well for you. The photo functions interest me the most. I'll test them out in the next few days. Mine arrived earlier, but I'm in the middle of the podcast and haven't even been able to unpack it yet. It hurts a bit when it's standing here all the time, but you can't really do anything with it until tomorrow. 😂 But I'm not looking forward to switching all the authentication things from the banks and other services to the new phone. That's always annoying. But it has to… Well then, have a nice evening and see you soon! Jens (greetings from Lynne!)

      1. Hi Jens,
        I'm looking forward to your description of the photo functions. Thanks also to Lynne for the greetings.
        I hope you have fun with your new 15 Pro Max😀😀😀

        Warm greetings to Lynne and you

  9. Hi Jens,
    I still had an external 1 TB SSD lying around from WD, but it couldn't be displayed or formatted on the PC. So it was broken. So I bought a new SSD (Samsung T7 with 1 TB) from Amazon. This was immediately displayed on the PC. I copied the software on it to the PC and then reformatted the T7 (format: ExFAT). Two cables (USB C-USBA and USB C-USB C) were included with the SSD. I connected the SSD to the 15 Pro Max using the USB C-USB C cable. An additional power supply was not necessary. The SSD was displayed without any problems as the T7 folder in the data app and the transfer worked perfectly in both directions.

    1. Hello Horst! Oh, thank you for this little report. It's great that the Samsung T7 runs so smoothly on the iPhone. When I recorded our podcast videos, we always ran into storage issues. With a terabyte this should no longer be the case! I think I'll get one!

    2. I just see that Amazon has the Samsung T7 Shield (robust version) with the same read/write values ​​and 2 TB capacity for almost the same price. Here is the offer (97 EUR down from the normal price!). I jumped at it straight away!

      1. Hi Jens,
        Thanks for the tip. I ordered these immediately too. Definitely better to take with you. Twice as much storage and at this price!
        Gruss Horst

        1. I almost think the wrong offer has been entered. 😂 The price is so incredibly good and the other colors cost almost twice as much... strange, but definitely a good bargain. 😂

          1. Hi Jens,
            I just watched again (17:17 p.m.). The price is now 134,99 for the black one, 128,99 for the white one, and 139,99 for the blue one. Our price of 113,49 may have been an error on Amazon's part. We were lucky there.👍

Post a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked with * marked

In the Sir Apfelot Blog you will find advice, instructions and reviews on Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Studio.