Apple iPhone 15 Pro review

iPhone 15 Pro review: Biggest iPhone hardware change in years

At the top of the Apple tree, the iPhone Pro range always showcases the best of what the iPhone has to offer, with an uncomfortably high price to match. This year’s iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max introduce two new hardware changes, as well as reintroducing spec differences between the two models. Both are excellent, but at prices this high (from $1,849 for Pro and $2,199 for Pro Max), they will be difficult to justify for many.

The iPhone is now a predictable beast. That sounds like a putdown, but it speaks to the consistency of the phone that ignited a category that changed the world. You can’t deny the power and reliability of an iPhone. But it has been so long since the iPhone last got a new feature that surprised and delighted. This is largely because the iPhone already does almost everything its users would like it to do, short of folding out into an iPad and also making coffee.

iPhone 15 Pro review

First impressions

The setup of the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max were both unremarkable. iPhones are notoriously easy to set up, and this was no different.

What was different was that as part of the setup process, I needed to assign a purpose to the new Action Button. Apple has this year killed the physical silent toggle and replaced it with a new button that can have different actions assigned to it. I’ve heard a spectrum of thoughts on the change from the silent switch to the Action Button. People who used to have their phones with sounds on (sociopaths, presumably, and those without smartwatches) enjoyed being able to use it to switch their phones to silent. But I can’t remember the last time I wanted my phone to make noise? I think it was shortly before I got my first smartwatch. The Action Button is designed for those of us who haven’t taken our phones off silent in a decade.

iPhone 15 Pro side

I’ll cover my impressions of the Action Button below, but my feelings about it are mixed.

The other big hardware change is that the iPhone uses USB-C now, because the European Union forced Apple to make the change. Suddenly, all your Lightning accessories are useless.

The big bonus of USB-C on the Pro models is that you can use it to connect to an external hard drive or computer to record Pro Res files in 4K at 60fps, or to transfer files. This is something that’s great for professional videographers, content creators, and those who get really intense about their kids’ birthday parties. You will need to get a fancier USB-C cable to do this, though, one that’s compatible with the 10GB/s speeds the phone is capable of (Bonelk and Satechi make some good ones).

iPhone 15 Pro specifications

iPhone 15 ProiPhone 15 Pro Max
Capacity128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB  256GB, 512GB, 1TB  
Weight187 grams221 grams
DisplaySuper Retina XDR display 6.1‑inch (diagonal) all‑screen OLED display 2556‑by‑1179-pixel resolution at 460 ppi  Super Retina XDR display 6.7‑inch (diagonal) all‑screen OLED display 2796‑by‑1290-pixel resolution at 460 ppi  
ChipA17 Pro chip New 6‑core CPU with two performance cores and four efficiency cores New 6‑core GPU New 16‑core Neural EngineA17 Pro chip New 6‑core CPU with two performance cores and four efficiency cores New 6‑core GPU New 16‑core Neural Engine  
Camera48MP Main: 24 mm, ƒ/1.78 aperture, second‑generation sensor‑shift optical image stabilisation, 100 per cent Focus Pixels, support for super‑high‑resolution photos (24MP and 48MP)
12MP Ultra Wide: 13 mm, ƒ/2.2 aperture and 120° field of view, 100 per cent Focus Pixels
12MP 2x Telephoto (enabled by quad‑pixel sensor): 48 mm, ƒ/1.78 aperture, second‑generation sensor‑shift optical image stabilisation, 100 per cent Focus Pixels
12MP 3x Telephoto: 77 mm, ƒ/2.8 aperture, optical image stabilisation 3x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 6x optical zoom range Digital zoom up to 15x
48MP Main: 24 mm, ƒ/1.78 aperture, second‑generation sensor‑shift optical image stabilisation, 100 per cent Focus Pixels, support for super‑high‑resolution photos (24MP and 48MP)
12MP Ultra Wide: 13 mm, ƒ/2.2 aperture and 120° field of view, 100 per cent Focus Pixels
12MP 2x Telephoto (enabled by quad‑pixel sensor): 48 mm, ƒ/1.78 aperture, second‑generation sensor‑shift optical image stabilisation, 100 per cent Focus Pixels
12MP 5x Telephoto: 120 mm, ƒ/2.8 aperture, 3D sensor‑shift optical image stabilisation and autofocus, tetraprism design 5x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 10x optical zoom range Digital zoom up to 25x
BatteryVideo playback:
Up to 23 hours Audio playback:
Up to 75 hours
Video playback:
Up to 29 hours Audio playback:
Up to 95 hours
Price (RRP)From $1,849From $2,199
Official websiteApple AustraliaApple Australia

The big changes here are the new, faster A17 Pro chip which has much better GPU abilities than the previous generation, allowing for console-quality gaming (which is huge), the new telephoto camera on the Pro Max and the body now being titanium.


It performs just as you’d hope a Pro iPhone model would, with a couple of exceptions.

Action Button

I love the idea of the Action Button. An extra physical button that can do stuff is great! But I have no idea what I want it to do, and it’s triggered too easily, even when the phone is locked. I currently have it set to find a song using Shazam, but I don’t think it’s putting the feature to its best use. Mostly because I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve wanted to use Shazam in the last year.

iPhone 15 Pro angle

It has the potential to be amazing for accessibility, which Apple already excels at. Some people use it for the camera or torch, but since there are already shortcuts for those on the home screen, I’m not sure how much time that saves.

It might be one of those features you have to live with for a while to really find the thing that makes sense. Again, love the idea. It might just be a me problem.


I absolutely love the feel of the new titanium sides. They feel like soft, smooth, suede. Lightly textured, yet still kinda silky? I’m sad to cover it with a case, but I know myself, and I cannot be trusted with a naked phone.

It would have been nice if Apple had been a bit more adventurous with the colours. Black, white and blue are nice, and it’s a gorgeous blue, but with some bravery, it could have been really cool.

Speaking of cases, the new fine woven material for iPhone cases (which Apple is now using instead of leather) is so soft. I can’t stop patting it. However, I have already changed back again to a Quad Lock case, just for ease of biking (and extra drop protection).


Here is where things start to get a little disappointing. Other people online are reporting that the soft titanium is scratching and denting easily. I haven’t noticed this, but again, I always use a phone case.

What I’m disappointed with is how easily the screen scratches. I haven’t cracked or broken it (and I still have never fully cracked a phone screen), but I already have a scratch on my phone screen, and I have no idea how it happened. I have dropped this phone precisely once, when it fell about 20cm from my pocket onto a hardwood floor. But it didn’t fall on the screen, and a drop like that shouldn’t have done much damage. Maybe a rock hit it when it was mounted to my bike on a ride? But it is a scratch that I can feel and see, and it happened within the first week of having the phone.

Ordinarily, if I damage a phone, there’s an event I can point to where it happened, but this might even have been as simple as me putting it in my pocket.

I’m going to put a screen protector on it ASAP, which should prevent further damage. But at this price, and with the toughness of the ceramic shield that Apple advertises, I really would have expected better. I got the same mysterious scratches on my 14 Pro Max too, but I’d at least properly dropped that one a couple of times. I did not have this problem before the introduction of the ceramic shield.


The cameras are why you pay extra for a pro-level iPhone, and these ones are glorious.

This year there are, once again, differences between the Pro and Pro Max, in that the Pro Max telephoto camera can zoom in 5x, while the Pro can only do 3x. No doubt Apple would say this is due to the size of the phone allowing for a bigger sensor.

Other than that, the phones have the same camera setup of one front camera, and three rear cameras. There is a 48MP Main camera, a 12MP Ultra Wide camera, a 12MP 2x Telephoto camera and a 12MP (3x for the Pro/ 5x for the Pro Max) Telephoto camera.

This year Apple has tweaked some of the photography algorithms a bit, and while some people really like the changes, they’re not quite to my taste. The phone seems to favour over-sharpening, and when you press the magic wand to touch up the photos, they become a bit overexposed. This is all personal preference, but it is a bit jarring coming from the 14 Pro Max, which I think handled these things better.

This is particularly noticeable in photos of nature. Similar to what I experienced with the base iPhone 15 model, leaves just look wrong and blobbish when you zoom in, like they’re in Forza Motorsport or something. However, a good way to avoid that problem is just to not zoom in on the leaves and instead enjoy how good the photos look at full size.

iPhone 15 Pro back

It also shows more of my skin imperfections than the mirror, which is still better than the skin smoothing of some other brands, but perhaps goes too far the other way. Or perhaps this is just the feeling that comes with realising that youth is fleeting and time comes for us all. Still, I don’t think my pores are that big.

The new 5x zoom on the Pro Max is excellent. It’s not as much zoom as, say, a Samsung S23 Ultra which can go up to 100x, but it’s more than enough zoom for my everyday usage. With a tripod, I can easily read the tiny writing on Lego boxes from across the room on 5x, but because I lack the muscle control of a sniper or surgeon, taking photos by hand leads to jumbled writing.

The Ultra-Wide camera continues to be perfect for taking more artistic and quirky shots. The more I play with the camera, the more excited I become about how much cool art is going to come out of it.

The hardware of the cameras appears to be top-notch, and I’ve taken some fantastic photos with it. I just hope that there are a couple of software tweaks coming to address the over-sharpening.

Who are the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max phones for?

These phones are for people who are serious about photography and/or gaming. The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are the best iPhone models Apple has ever released, which is something people say every year, but is still true.

There are some niggling concerns about durability, most of which will be solved by using a case and screen protector, but they are something to keep in mind if you’re one of those brave people who use their $1,849 phone naked.

Apple is on a three-year upgrade cycle at the moment, so iPhone 13 and 14 Pro owners don’t need this phone, as the differences aren’t enough if your old phone still works perfectly well. The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are for people coming from a regular 13 and older, an iPhone 12 Pro and older, or switching from a phone from a different brand. The performance from the chip, and the quality of the cameras are a game-changer if you’re coming from those phones and you’re going to love these ones.

Just don’t drop it.

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Apple iPhone 15 Pro
Apple’s best pro model yet is excellent, but the iPhone 15 Pro has some serious concerns.
Value for money
Ease of use
Excellent camera tech
A phone that can play console-quality games
USB-C charging and fast file transfer
Durability might be a problem
Battery life has not improved
Over-sharpening of photos in post-processing