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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max review

Apple’s most recent, most costly, and greatest iPhone is superior to the iPhone 14 Pro Max. It’s a touch lighter, quicker, has a better camera, and is more handy. Because, though somewhat uninspired, it’s still the best iPhone. And if you want the best iPhone, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is it.

Nonetheless, it’s difficult not to be disappointed. I can’t help but feel bored with it after days of use and a battery of tests. All of the enhancements are good, although they are mostly unimaginative. It’s as if Apple has run out of ideas, or that the iPhone is too crucial to take any chances with, or that all of the company’s greatest efforts have gone toward Apple Vision Pro.

The best case one can make for the latest iPhone is that it’s an iPhone—it runs iOS, it runs iPhone apps, it’s fairly privacy-minded, and it works great with other Apple products and services. But you can say that of every modern iPhone, so why choose this one?

bUY THE IPHONE 15 PRO MAX FROM AMAZON

Design and build

  • Lighter titanium frame
  • Action button
  • USB-C

When you pick up an iPhone 15 Pro Max (or ordinary Pro model), the first thing you’ll notice is how much lighter it feels than prior Pro phones. Apple’s choice from stainless steel to titanium for the outside frame only decreased weight by around 10%, but since all of that weight comes from the exterior edges, it seems to be an even larger weight reduction.

This, however, does not make it a lightweight phone. For some time, other premium smartphones of this size, such as the Pixel 8 Pro and the Galaxy S23+, have been lighter than the iPhone Pro Max versions, and this move brings Apple in line with them. It’s welcome, but it’s neither innovative or even competitive.

You will also not discover that the titanium (bonded to aluminum) frame is more durable. It’s not more scratch-resistant, more difficult to dent or damage, or less likely to show fingerprints–though the natural titanium hue appears to cover them nicely. Otherwise, the brushed and matte touch of the titanium sides feels a little nicer than the shiny stainless steel, and the edges are smoothed down a little, making the phone a little more comfortable to handle without a case.

Speaking of colors, they’re all a little dull, which isn’t unusual with Pro models. Gold has been replaced with a Natural Titanium hue that is… gray… yet extremely attractive and classy. White and black are still accessible, although the white is less brilliant and the black is less dark than in prior editions. So three of the four hues are, to varying degrees, variations of grey. Blue Titanium, a dark blue tone that feels refined but conservative, is this year’s special color.

Much has been made of Apple’s decision to replace the Lightning connector with USB-C. Apple isn’t providing quicker charging than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but the USB-C connector makes it much easier to charge your iPhone, MacBook, and possibly most of your other digital devices with the same cable. This connection on the Pro versions enables USB3 transfer rates, which is useful for unloading large amounts of video.

You can connect an external disk and capture video straight to it; in fact, this is essential to shoot 4K/60 ProRaw (internal storage only supports 30fps). You can connect an external display to your iPhone and obtain an extremely low-latency mirror, which is ideal for playing premium games that require a linked Bluetooth controller. A USB-C card reader may be used to read photographs. I connected to the internet without using WiFi by plugging in my USB-C to Ethernet converter. USB audio interfaces also function, as long as they receive enough power.

iPhone 15 Pro Max
The iPhone 15 Pro USB-C port (top) looks similar to the Lightning port (bottom) but offers greater flexibility.

It’s all very handy, but it’s also quite annoying that Apple only made this jump because EU legislation (which they opposed) forced them to. The transition to USB-C is undeniably an enhancement that Apple could have made years ago. This is hardly cutting-edge technology, and it has long been standard in Android phones. It’s difficult to give Apple credit for doing better for its consumers simply in response to criticism.

The switch to USB-C isn’t the only way Apple has improved the iPhone 15 Pro’s usability. The mute switch has been replaced by what Apple refers to as the Action Button. To mute or unmute, press and hold it for a second, with a different vibration pattern so you can switch between modes without looking. In Settings, you can also set the button to execute a range of additional tasks, such as launching the Camera app (and acting as a shutter), turning on the flashlight, starting recording a voice memo, launching the magnifier, enabling an Accessibility feature, or launching a Shortcut.

iPhone 15 Pro Max
Replacing the mute switch with a programmable button has been a long time coming.

That final option is maybe the most potent if you know how to create shortcuts (if not, you can copy one from the web). It gives you nearly limitless freedom to make the Action Button do whatever you want. You can rapidly open any app and even conduct various operations within it. You may make it conditional so that it performs various things depending on where you are.

Changing a switch into a button isn’t exactly a unique concept – OnePlus and Samsung have both experimented with this in the past – but it’s well-executed.

One oddity: The settings menu for adjusting the Action Button appears strangely out of place, visually entirely different from any other Settings screen, but it’s easy to grasp. Perhaps most importantly, because the Action Button’s functions are specified by software, its capabilities may (and should) be increased in future iOS software upgrades. However, it’s difficult to comprehend why the Action Button is only available on “Pro” variants and not on basic iPhone 15 devices. It appears to be arbitrary and capricious.

iPhone 15 Pro Max
The Action Button menu looks nothing like any other Settings menu.

At first sight, this is clearly an iPhone Pro model, but without knowing about color variations, casual viewers might not even realize it’s the iPhone 15 Pro.

Screen and speakers

  • 120Hz ProMotion
  • 2000 nits peak brightness
  • No improvements compared to 14 Pro Max

On the outside, the rest of the iPhone 15 Pro models seem very much like before.

The display’s size and capabilities have not changed, but the bezels around it have reduced somewhat (making the phone body a teeny bit smaller). It still has good color accuracy and HDR quality, peaking at 1,000 nits for conventional dynamic range, 1,600 nits for peak bright regions for HDR material, and a scorching 2,000 nits for a short period of time in strong sunlight outside, making it very easy to view on a sunny day.

The speakers and microphone quality sound identical. Apple has made several internal design changes to make components easier and hence less expensive to fix, which we hope you never have to deal with.

Cameras

  • 5x, 120mm zoom is fun
  • New 24Mp default offers better detail
  • Still sort of over-processed
  • New video options are nice but restrictive

Let’s get this out of the way right away: The iPhone 15 Pro Max’s cameras are nearly identical to those found in the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The primary 48Mp wide camera, ultra-wide camera, and front camera remain unaltered. The telephoto camera features a new sensor and periscope lens array that allows for 5x optical magnification, or 120mm equivalent. Only the iPhone 15 Pro Max has this feature; the iPhone 15 Pro has the same 12MP, 3x optical camera as previous year.

That zoom level is excellent, but it lags behind premium Android phones that already use this technology. It creates substantially “zoomier” images, and when you utilize digital zoom to zoom in to roughly 10x, the shot is clearer than on the ordinary iPhone 15 Pro or older iPhone Pro models.

It’s not so powerful that you can capture amazing photographs of very distant or microscopic objects…Your hummingbird photography game will not be eternally altered. However, it brings you closer to the action for sports or just capturing a great natural bokeh while taking candid photos at a park, picnic, or elsewhere.

Photography on the new iPhone 15 Pro models becomes fascinating on the software side of things. With updated picture processing, Apple has introduced a new default 2Mp image size that works in HEIF or JPEG modes. The 48Mp “Pro” photos may now be stored in a “HEIF Max” format rather than ProRaw, which implies a bit less control if you do a lot of post-processing, but the images are still excellent.

iPhone 15 Pro Max iPhone 15 Pro Max

The difference between 3x optical zoom (left) and the new 5x zoom exclusive to the Pro Max model (right) is significant.

 

Furthermore, the basic wide shot now has three alternative possibilities. The default 1x is similar to 22mm, however you can choose between 28mm and 35mm crops by tapping the “1x” button in the camera app. These new settings still create 2Mp pictures, but they employ distinct groups of pixels from the image sensor as they pass through different stages of the image processing pipeline. It is a type of digital zoom, however it produces cleaner, sharper results than digital zoom.

When you take a shot of a human, dog, or cat, the iPhone 15 recognizes the subject and instantly records the depth map data with the image. Then, even if you weren’t in Portrait mode at the time, you can go back and activate it in the Photos app later, tweaking depth-of-field and picking the focal point. So, for the majority of photographs of humans or pets (at least dogs and cats), you won’t have to say “I wish I took a portrait mode shot” or “I wish I didn’t take a portrait mode shot.” Just shoot and deal with it afterward. Handy!

With 5x optical zoom, pushing into 10x digital still produces very usable results.

Two new tricks for video shooting are available. You can shoot ProRaw at 4K and 60fps if you put in an external disk and record directly to it (those files are so large you’ll want to do that anyhow). To achieve this, you’ll need a USB-3 capable cable; the one given in the box is only rated for USB2 speeds, which is typical of almost every smartphone’s accompanying cable.

The possibility to film in Log color format is very intriguing. A narrowed color range that requires post-processing is a real “Pro” feature. Apple supplies LUTs (look-up tables) to convert these Log encoded ProRaw recordings to HDR, but the idea is that they include a broader range of data, giving you considerably more choice when color grading videos in post-production.

It’s a game changer for Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro users. There are just two major downsides. First, because there is no LUT applied to iPhone playback, you can just see the flattened color space. You should be able to view the restored HDR with a default LUT applied (and maybe tap to switch between them). Second, the Log color space option is accessible only when shooting in ProRaw, which takes up a lot of space. I believe that the ability to shoot more compact HEVC files with Log color space would be very appreciated, and it appears that Apple could simply include this in a software update.

There’s nothing to “wow” you about the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s camera. Apple’s image processing still seems a little aggressive and can give your images a bit of an over-smoothed and over-saturated look, but the bump to 24 megapixels does help give sharp detail without as many sharpening artifacts. But you’re not going to be floored by what you get. There’s no big breakthrough, no never-seen-that-before feature that makes this a must-have.

Battery life and charging

  • Similar excellent battery life to the iPhone 14 Pro Max
  • USB-C reverse charging can be convenient

It’s unclear whether the A17 Pro CPU in the iPhone 15 Pro Max consumes less power than the A16 Bionic, but the total phone system has around the same battery life as last year’s iPhone 14 Pro Max. It lasted 13 hours and 2 minutes in our battery rundown testing, where we looped the Geekbench 4 tests with a set screen brightness of 200 nits, just a couple percent longer than last year’s Pro Max phone.

That’s hardly an upgrade, but it’s still excellent battery life, especially for a phone with a 120Hz display. Apple’s official statistics claim the same battery life as the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and that’s probably what you’ll experience in normal everyday use; you won’t notice a few percent difference here or there.

Despite the switch to USB-C, charging performance has remained unchanged. Apple claims that you can still get around 50% done in 35 minutes, which is quite true.

However, the switch to USB-C brings one nice improvement: the ability to charge other USB-powered devices, although at a rate of only 4.5 watts. This includes AirPods and the Apple Watch, as well as other phones, including Android phones (assuming they support USB Power Delivery). You’re unlikely to rescue a single phone using your iPhone, but topping off your nearly-dead AirPods or Apple Watch is a distinct possibility.

Performance

  • Roughly 10% better CPU performance
  • About 20% better GPU performance
  • The chip can get hot and slow down, but that’s not uncommon

The A17 Pro is the heart of the iPhone 15 Pro models, while the A16 Bionic featured in last year’s Pro phones powers the ordinary iPhone 15. The naming change is intriguing and most likely intentional: we wouldn’t be shocked if future products include an A17 non-Pro chip.

It’s a larger and more complicated processor, but it still has six CPU cores: two for performance and four for efficiency. The SoC is linked to 8GB of RAM, an increase from 6GB in last year’s Pro iPhones. We assessed CPU performance to be roughly 10-12 percent quicker, which is the type of speed boost seen on benchmark charts but not felt in practice. For a long time, iPhones have been more than quick enough, and they continue to run circles past the greatest Android phones. There has been no change.

The GPU is a brand-new six-core design, up from the A16’s five cores. Apple claims it’s 20% quicker, but that’s what we’d expect with 20% more cores. However, the cores are a completely new architecture that supports ray tracing hardware acceleration and mesh shaders, both of which have been popular capabilities in PC graphics processors for years and are now included in the newest smartphone chips for Android phones.

We found a performance boost very close to the advertised 20% on the GeekBench 6 GPU compute test, which assesses utilizing the GPU for general computation activities rather than graphics rendering. Again, there’s around a 20% jump in the 3DMark Wild Life Extreme high-end graphics test.

The 3DMark Solar Bay test is new this year, and it performs a very high-end test employing ray tracing with three distinct quality settings. In this test, the phone is 50-60% quicker than the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Apple is marketing the iPhone 15 Pro as being capable of running console-quality games, as proven by the Resident Evil: Village port, which it claims is comparable to the Xbox and PlayStation console versions. Well…no. Yes, it’s the whole game, but with a notable decrease in resolution and overall graphical fidelity. It’s still an incredible achievement, but you should forget about the A17 Pro turning your iPhone into a pocket gaming system. That is only true if you go back to the previous generation of gaming consoles, and we’ve heard the “as powerful as a console!” claim before concerning iPhones. It was a significant selling point for the iPhone 5, which, as we all know, did not replace any PlayStation or Xbox consoles.

This new GPU is most exciting in what it means for Macs. When this new architecture makes its way to M-series processors, it will really help Mac to catch up to the feature set that Windows gamers take for granted, and may help catch up on performance as well.

A little digression on thermals. Some users have reported that when running high-end premium games, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max become quite hot. This is correct, however the iPhone 14 Pro did as well, and it appears to be only a few degrees hotter. However, I really noticed the heat while using the phone while it was charging, where it occasionally became too hot to handle.

The thermal performance throttling of the iPhone 15 Pro is similar to the iPhone 14 Pro.

Is there heat throttling that reduces the A17 Pro’s performance while performing lengthy heavy workloads? Yes, but this was also true of previous chips. Consider these 3DMark Wild Life Extreme stress test results, which loop the high-end benchmark for 20 minutes.

Both the iPhone 14 Pro (left) and iPhone 15 Pro (right) soon lose around a third of their performance – after the first run! – and then stabilize. The primary difference is that the iPhone 15 Pro is always roughly 20% quicker than last year’s finest. This isn’t a surprising outcome. The finest high-end smartphones have a “Stability” score in this test of less than 70%, and some are as low as 60%.

Price and availability

As you might expect, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is not a cheap smartphone. When paying full price, this is how much you’ll have to pay:

  • 256GB – £1,199/$1,199
  • 512GB – £1,399/$1,399
  • 1TB – £1,599/$1,599

You can buy Apple UKApple US and a range of third-party retailers. Or at AMAZON.

NOW TELL US YOUR OPINION ABOUT THE iPhone 15 Pro Max in the comment !!

Achraf Grini
Achraf Grini
Hello This is AG. I am a Tech lover and I have long been a promoter and editor for a shopping company, I have followed smartphones and headphones and others. I covers iOS, Android, Windows and macOS, writing tutorials, buying guides and reviews.
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