Bottom line: Apple's iPhone 15 Pro Max is the fastest and most feature-filled iPhone to date. It is also the most expensive to make, and now we have a better idea of just how much it costs Apple to manufacture as Nikkei recently partnered with research firm Fomalhaut Techno Solutions to disassemble and analyze the cost of Apple's latest handsets.

The top-of-the-line iPhone 15 Pro Max, with its cutting-edge A17 Pro SoC and 5x optical zoom, has an estimated bill of materials (BOM) of $558, or about 12 percent higher than that of the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

The overall cost increase comes down to more expensive individual components. The aforementioned telephoto camera lens, for example, costs Apple $30 each – up 280 percent compared to the optics used in last year's flagship. The new titanium frame, meanwhile, is 43 percent more expensive than the stainless steel it replaces, and the A17 Pro costs Apple 27 percent more than the A16 Bionic.

The entry-level iPhone 15 Pro Max ships with 256 GB of onboard storage, which twice as much as before. Some might believe this helps justify the $100 price hike Apple implemented this year but according to Nikkei, that wouldn't be accurate.

Due to continually falling NAND flash memory prices, it really only cost Apple about five percent more to double the phone's base storage capacity.

Nikkei also found that the majority of the phone's components – about 33 percent - were sourced from US suppliers including Qualcomm and Broadcom. Roughly 29 percent of primary components came from South Korea, and 10 percent originated from Japan. Samsung Group was responsible for the phone's display, we're told.

The publication noted that some analysts were surprised that Apple was able to maintain iPhone 14-level prices on all but the Pro Max model, especially considering the continued increase in the cost of daily necessities and services. It would seem that Apple executives were worried that an across-the-board price hike could negatively impact sales so they played it safe this year.

Image credit: Thai Nguyen