Apple iPhone 15 and 15 Plus review

Apple iPhone 15 and 15 Plus review

Apple iPhone 14 Pro

On the rear, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus still have the dual cameras in the top left, though the back of the phone is now color-infused glass with a choice of very soft colors including blue, pink (yay!), yellow, green, and black. The chassis is still made of aluminum, but it’s now a little rounder on the edges, making the phone nicer to hold. On the front, however, there’s a big difference: The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus now have the Dynamic Island, inherited from the Pro models which received it last year.

The Dynamic Island itself hasn’t received any massive upgrades, but it’s still gives the phone a unique look (compared to non-iPhone smartphones), and is a useful, situational reminder that something is happening in the background – be it a timer, some music playing, or the Uber app letting you know when the driver’s arriving.

The customizable Action Button from the Pro models is sadly absent; iPhone 15 users will have to make do with the old mute switch.

Put all of these changes together, though, and you get phones that inherit nearly all of the key features of the Pro models, and even surpass them in some ways. Despite having the same, 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch display sizes, they’re very light (6.02 ounces for the 15 and 7.09 ounces for the 15 Plus).

They’re also nice to hold, and are way more colorful. And while the aluminum frame isn’t as fancy as the titanium on the Pro models, I doubt there are other significant drawbacks.

What’s up with the 60Hz display?

Inside, you get the A16 Bionic chip which the Pro models had last year. Suffice to say, it’s still one of the fastest mobile chips you can get, and it will serve you well for two, three or more years. Apple doesn’t say how much RAM its phones have, and it’s probable that the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus don’t have as much as the Pro models, but it’s not something you’ll often feel in everyday use. Finally, the storage starts at 128GB and ends at 512GB for both models, which will do just fine for most people.

Unfortunately, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus feel slower than the Pro models due to lack of one key feature: Their displays only have a 60Hz maximum refresh rate, while the Pro models have ProMotion displays with a refresh rate up to 120Hz. Comparing these phones side by side reveals just how important this is; everything just feels so much smoother on the Pro displays. If you’ve never used a 120Hz display, you won’t mind the lower refresh rate on the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus; to me, switching from the 14 Pro Max which also has a 120Hz display, the difference was palpable.

Another thing that’s missing from the iPhone 15 is the always on display. Personally, I don’t care about the feature (I have it turned off on my daily driver as it’s too distracting), but it is something to consider. Curiously, StandBy – Apple’s new feature that turns the phone into a fancy alarm clock when flipped on the side and plugged in – does work, though without always on, it’s fairly pointless, as it will only work when you touch the phone’s display.

On the flip side, brightness now goes up to 2,000 nits. This does make a difference, especially in bright sunlight, as the phone’s display is much easier to read.

Battery life hasn’t changed. Apple’s official figures are up to 20 and 26 hours of video playback, respectively. In real-life use, that’ll be roughly a day for the iPhone 15 and a day and a half for the iPhone 15 Plus.

Also very important: The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus now have a USB-C charging port. It doesn’t support super-fast, USB 3.0 data transfer speeds like the one on the Pro models, but is otherwise an improvement over the old Lightning port, simply because most other devices and accessories, including Apple’s own MacBooks, iPads, and new AirPods Pro, have the USB-C, too.

If you prefer to charge wirelessly, you can do it via MagSafe-compatible chargers, just like you can on the Pro models.

A big camera upgrade

I love what Apple has done with the cameras on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. Yes, these phones still don’t get the dedicated telephoto camera, but they now have a 48-megapixel main camera.

This comes with several big advantages. Firstly, there’s now a 2x zoom mode, enabled by the quad-pixel sensor on the main camera. Apple has done a great job here, and it’s almost like having a dedicated telephoto camera; the photos that I took at 2x magnification were significantly better than the crop-outs of 1x photos of the same scene.

Furthermore, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus now take 24-megapixel photos by default. Again, this will result in more detailed daylight photos; and yes, this does mean these photos will often be better than the ones taken with last year’s iPhone 14 Pro. It doesn’t work in Night Mode, though.

In low light conditions, the iPhone 15’s main camera takes sharp, bright, vivid photos. I’ve tested it against the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which typically took an even sharper photo, but at the expense of colors sometimes being unnaturally saturated.

Furthermore, with the iPhone 15, you can simply take 48-megapixel photos. Sure, they will only turn out good in excellent light, but the option is there, and it will sometimes net you a wonderfully detailed photo, which you wouldn’t be able to get with a 12-megapixel camera.


The new iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, which start at $799 and $899, respectively, are great phones for the price. If you need a new iPhone and don’t want to overpay, either one is a no-nonsense buy.

In comparison with the Pro models, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus lack the new A17 Pro chip, have slightly less capable cameras, and miss out on the 120Hz refresh rate, Action Button, always on display, as well as some pro-oriented features like ProRAW support. They’re also not as capable for gaming, so if that’s your thing, you’ll probably want a Pro.

But the cheaper iPhone 15 and 15 Plus actually win over the Pro models in several ways: They’re lighter and come with a wider choice of colors. With the Dynamic Island on the front, you also get one of the coolest new iPhone-specific features Apple has launched in years. And they don’t lag behind the Pro models when it comes to battery life. With all that in mind, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are probably the prudent choice for most buyers.

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