Apple iPhone 15 review

Apple iPhone 15 review: More than just a USB-C upgrade

There are a few things in life you can set your (Apple) watch by, and one of those is that every year, around this time, there will be new Apple iPhones and Watches. This year’s iPhone 15 includes a bunch of minor tweaks and one earth-shattering change: Apple has moved away from Lightning and towards the light of USB-C.

The thing that Apple needs to grapple with, though, is that the iPhone has a largely settled formula. Beyond making numbers go higher (megapixels, brightness nits, processor speed), there’s not really much left to do without drastically altering the shape (folding) or doing something else that we mere mortals without multi-billion dollar R&D budgets can imagine.

So, the iPhone 15 follows tradition in that it is basically the iPhone 14 Pro in a new hat. This is great for people upgrading from the iPhone 11 or 12, because the 14 Pro was great, and it was more expensive last year. It’s just not especially exciting.

Apple iPhone 15 review contents

First impressions

I review and set up a lot of phones, and there’s still nothing much easier than setting up a new iPhone from another iPhone. Sure, this is because of the Apple walled garden which is an antitrust nightmare, but by golly does it work.

However, the setup this year was not seamless. All four iPhone 15 devices (the regular and Plus 15, plus the 15 Pro and Pro Max) I set up had a little hiccup early in the process and had to do an update before going back to the beginning. This isn’t a problem, but it is worth being aware of so it doesn’t take you by surprise, should it happen to you.

Other than that, it feels good in the hand. I like the new colours, and last year’s iPhone 14 cases mostly fit, which is a nice surprise.

Apple iPhone 15 specifications

Storage128GB, 256GB or 512GB
ProcessorA16 Bionic chip
ConnectivityUSB-C (USB 2)
Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
Bluetooth 5.3
Camera48MP Main: 26 mm, ƒ/1.6 aperture, support for super-high-resolution photos (24MP and 48MP)
12MP Ultra Wide: 13 mm, ƒ/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view
12MP 2x Telephoto (enabled by quad-pixel sensor): 52 mm, ƒ/1.6 aperture
12MP TrueDepth Camera (front), ƒ/1.9 aperture
BatteryUp to 20 hours video playback, and up to 80 hours audio playback
DurabilityIP68 (dust and water resistant)
Price (RRP)From $1,499
WarrantyOne year
Official websiteApple Australia

Obviously, the biggest physical change is the move to USB-C. I actually really liked Lightning, and I wish Apple had loosened its control on the standard so it was Lightning going wide. Lightning is sturdier, and I prefer it. That said, the sooner everything is USB-C the better, because having to find a different cable for everything is frustrating.

You’ll notice that the iPhone 15 has the A16 Bionic, which is the same chip as last year’s iPhone 14 Pro. Enjoy it, it’s a great chip. Fast and reliable, as it should be.

It’s also basically a new screen. It gets brighter than last year’s model, and instead of having the camera “notch”, it’s now got the same Dynamic Island as the Pro range.


In terms of performance, it runs and feels like a new iPhone. If you’re used to iPhones, it performs exactly as you expect – no better, no worse. If you’re not used to iPhones, it’s fast and reliable. The base iPhone range isn’t going to set any über-nerds’ worlds on fire, but it’s going to be a phone enjoyed by people who like iOS.


While the body of the iPhone 15 is basically the same as the 14, which was basically the same as the 13, the screen looks totally different and it’s noticeable in a good way. The brighter screen is one of the brightest I’ve seen, and holds up to the rigours of a very sunny day.

Plus, the Dynamic Island is ridiculously useful. When it was first announced last year, I thought it would be cool, but not really make a difference to how I use my phone, but it’s significant. It gives easier access to apps you have running in the background (like music and workouts), and gives more information at a glance. It turns a negative (area of dead space on your screen) into a positive (helpful bit of info in a small package). It’s probably going to be the most noticeable thing (aside from USB-C) for anyone who’s upgrading from a 13 or base 14 model.

Ultra-Wideband Chip

If you’re also getting a new Apple Watch, the Ultra-Wideband (UWB) Chip is going to be your best friend. You might remember that on earlier models, you could ping your phone with your watch to work out which jacket pocket you accidentally left it in, or hear that it’s fallen behind the couch cushions. Now, when you ping your phone with a watch that also has UWB, your watch will tell you how many metres away the phone is and in which direction. It’s like a high-tech game of warmer/colder. Not a reason to rush out and buy a new phone and watch, but still handy and something to look forward to if you’re getting them anyway.


Apple has kept it simple, keeping the same number of cameras: two on the back, and one on the front.

The front camera is a 12MP f/1.9 selfie camera that gets some solid results. It doesn’t do the aggressive retouching that some other brands do, which I find to be super icky. But it possibly also swings a bit too far into the other side, by sharpening all of my imperfections. It’s a difficult thing to find the middle ground on, and I prefer this direction to the skin smoothing, but hopefully one day they’ll find a middle ground.

The 48MP main camera is incredibly good at this price point. Photos are clear and vibrant, and they don’t look over-processed to my eye. You can also use it to get a 2x zoom photo, even without the telephoto lens, which is nice.

iPhone 15 back

However, the Ultra Wide camera is less impressive. Photographed leaves looked really noisy, and there’s just something off about it. I’m hoping the problem is software and it can be improved in an update, but my hopes are low.

The goodness of the 48MP camera (which again brings the vanilla iPhone camera closer to the skills of the Pro line)  mostly makes up for the disappointment of the Ultra Wide, but for $1,500, I would want both of them to be exceptional.

Who is the Apple iPhone 15 for?

If you don’t have the budget, or the need, for the iPhone 15 Pro, but still need a new iPhone then the iPhone 15 is for you. Anyone with an iPhone 12 or newer isn’t going to notice too much of a difference. Not everyone upgrades on a one or two-year cycle, however, which is important for us tech enthusiasts to remember.

If you’re on an iPhone 12 or older, though, and you’re looking for an upgrade, you’ll probably love the iPhone 15. The 48MP camera is excellent, the screen is bright and responsive, the Dynamic Island is handy, and the A16 Bionic chip is fast and reliable. The iPhone 15 is a predictably great phone.

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iPhone 15
Overall performance tweaks and a USB-C transition means that the iPhone 15 is a predictably great phone.
Value for money
Ease of use
Great 48MP main camera
Bright, redesigned screen
The Dynamic Island is now on the vanilla iPhone range, too
USB-C charging
The Ultra-Wide camera could be better
It’s a very minor update over iPhone 14
Only the Pro models include fast USB-C file transfer