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Moving to iPhone 15 is a much bigger step than the iPhone 14 was, and for all of us, it's a return to Apple phone form.
The iPhone 14 launch was, frankly, a disappointment compared to the rest of the annual marches. Instead of any major updates, it adds a slightly improved main camera and crash detection — and it's all.
While the iPhone 14 Pro moved to A16, the iPhone 14 remained at A15 from the iPhone 13.
At the time, it was believed that Apple had decided to pause standard editions of the iPhone to allow for more differentiation from the Pro line in the future. The working theory was that once the Pro became advanced enough than the regular models, Apple could add some of its features next year.
It seems that the forecast was justified.
However, after a year-long pause in separating the two models, the iPhone 15 will see a processor improvement in 2023 and several other advantages over the 2022 Pro devices.
iPhone 15 features an all-new 48 MP main camera. Buy from AT&T Buy from Verizon Buy from Xfinity
Review of iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus – Appearance
Looking at the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus from the front with their screens turned off, there is very little difference in design. than the choice of materials and colors compared to the iPhone 14. A closer look reveals that the TrueDepth camera system is a little lower, but that's all you get on the front.
On the back, Apple uses the same glass backing as before, except this time it's a colored version with a textured matte finish. The aluminum body also features the contoured edge that Apple introduced for these models.
The colors are weak in every possible way. The glass is well crafted, but it reminds me a lot of a frosted shower door from the 80's Miami Vice-infused era, with very muted pastel colors to match.
Apparently a few people in Cupertino aren't fans of color saturation and have decided to simply swipe a color swatch past the glass of the iPhone during the coloring process rather than putting in the effort of coloring it. This, of course, is an exaggeration, since there is the slightest hint of color here — but we cannot say this more clearly, it is just a hint.
This won't mean much to those who say, “My iPhone should have a case,” but the color choices in the iPhone 15 lineup are unremarkable.
Taking pictures of different colors is also difficult. When the light is too bright or too dim, the entire line appears white. In fact, when I opened the box for this review, I had to double-check the documentation provided to me to ensure the box was properly packaged with the correct color phone.
We'll get it. The choice of material is complex, and that choice of material combined with what Apple wants in terms of scratch resistance from color coatings is complex. But wow, these colors are simple.
Anyway, there's not much to say about size and weight either, although the newer models are a bit lighter and larger. At 5.81 inches long and 2.82 inches wide, the iPhone 15 is slightly longer than the iPhone 14, while the iPhone 15 Plus measures 6.33 by 3.06 inches.
Both are 0.31 inches thick, matching the 2022 versions. What has changed is the weight: the iPhone 15 now weighs 6.02 ounces and the Plus now weighs 7.09 ounces, compared to 6.07 ounces and 7.16 ounces respectively for the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro.
A big design change lies underneath. After more than a year of rumors, Lightning was abandoned in favor of USB-C.
iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus – USB-C here
When it comes to connectivity, the headliner is the arrival of USB-C, with Apple finally removing Lightning from its flagship models.
There is a misconception that Apple was forced to do this with the iPhone 15, and that's not entirely true. The iPhone takes 20 to 30 months from creation to delivery, and given the architectural differences with USB-C, such adoption would be fairly early in the design process.
Two years ago, there was no EU law requiring the use of USB-C on new devices not even taken into account. And only the iPhone 16 will be “forced” to have it.
USB-C has always had many benefits if you embrace it. The main drawback is that now many Lightning-based accessories won't work unless you use an adapter.
Luckily, there's an adapter for this, as there are for many cables that have been around since the dawn of computers.
But as always, not all USB-C is created equal. While the Pro models feature USB-C with 10Gbps data transfer speeds, the A15 Bionic chip in the iPhone 15 doesn't have USB 3 capability built-in, so data transfer is limited to USB 2.0 speeds.
Opinions vary on how important this is, with opinions largely depending on how often a particular user transfers data over the cable. Apple's iCloud covers most of the population's data transfer needs — provided the user spends money on more storage capacity.
Transferring large data such as video still takes time. We're not sure how often a director will use the iPhone 15 rather than the Pro model with its faster 10 gigabits per second data speed, but the number is definitely not zero.
If this speed is important, either buy the Pro model now or be patient. The situation will likely change in the future, especially if the iPhone 16 adds the A17 Pro with a native USB 3.2 controller, like the iPhone 15 Pro models – — but now this obviously won't help.
And USB-C allows users to directly connect to a TV or other display at up to 4K resolution with a single cable, without the need for a Lightning dongle. While the cable is technically a DisplayPort alternate mode, the $8 USB C-HDMI cable will get you there.
So presenters and gamers rejoice, because this has become easier. It's still not an HDMI to HDMI cable, but as always, we recommend being prepared if you know you'll be giving a presentation.
When we were using the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro, we played several games that supported the Apple Bluetooth controller. It was fine, although not yet optimized to work on larger screens, and almost everything in the iOS App Store is touch-friendly, as it should be.
The availability of higher-end games and the lack of big-screen experience may or may not change as Apple now pushes “console-quality” games for the iPhone. Over time we will see how much real effort they put into this initiative, as we have heard this before from Cupertino, many times over the last 25 years.
So far, what we've seen on the Mac in terms of game porting can mostly be carried over to the iPhone. So maybe this time it will catch on.
iPhone 15 Plus
iPhone 15 Plus is equipped with a 6.7-inch OLED display. Buy from AT&T Buy from Verizon Buy from Amazon
iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus review – Screens
The most obvious element carried over from the Pro is the display, which remains 6.1 inches and 6. 7-inch Super Retina XDR version. Full-screen OLED panels now feature a dynamic island instead of the oft-derided notch.
As demonstrated on the iPhone 14 Pro, Dynamic Island is a smart way to keep the TrueDepth camera array visible and do so through UI elements. Thanks to the expanding black notification bubble, Dynamic Island is almost made to exist in this place.
Pro feature borrowing continues with vibrancy: Apple makes iPhone 15 as bright as the previous Pro equivalents. This update means the screens can support a maximum brightness of 1,000 nits for typical content, rising to 1,600 nits for peak HDR brightness and 2,000 nits outdoors.
Another big display change has occurred with modern Pro models – — the screens have a slightly higher resolution. The iPhone 15 has a resolution of 2556 by 1179, while the Plus has a resolution of 2796 by 1290.
All screens have Apple's typical iPhone pixel density of 460 pixels per inch.
The list of features continues as usual, including TrueTone support, wide color gamut (P3), 2 million to one contrast ratio and Haptic Touch. We've talked enough about these features over the years and won't do so again.
You still don't get ProMotion support or an always-on display here, as those are benefits exclusive to the Pro model. A lot of drama has been made about the lack of 120Hz displays, and much of it is noise of a deeply technical nature.
We're not going to get into the “most people won't notice the difference” argument — which is true. We're also not going to try to deny the importance of this to some — which is also obviously true. We'll say that if an $800 120Hz iPhone is a deal breaker for you, buy a used iPhone 13 Pro or spend a little more and get the new iPhone 14 Pro while you still can.
If you do this, your phone will still be better than almost any other Android device, and you'll get 120Hz.
iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus Review – Cameras
After years of the 12-megapixel image capture element being the standard for Apple's camera system on non-Pro iPhone models, Apple has finally given the iPhone 15 a much-needed upgrade. It's still a dual-camera system, but the resolution is higher than 12MP.
The main camera now uses a 48-megapixel sensor with f/1.6 aperture and optical sensor shift image stabilization and 100% Focus Pixel usage. What this means for users is that it is capable of increasing image resolution by up to four times, but it has other tricks up its sleeve.
For example, Apple can use a 48-megapixel sensor to create a 12-megapixel telephoto-equivalent photo by simply cropping the image down to a central stack of pixels. Essentially, it simulates a third telephoto lens with 2x “optical zoom.”
The default camera output is 24MP HEIF, striking a balance between efficiency and image post-processing, and the system chooses which one. pixels to use and/or combine. In theory, this gives a wider dynamic range than using the entire sensor, generating a 48-megapixel image with a high dynamic range algorithm.
The ultra-wide sensor has a resolution of 12 MP, an f/2.4 aperture and a 120-degree field of view as usual, as well as 2x optical zoom. This gives the camera system a total optical zoom range of 4x and digital zoom of up to 10x.
Of course, you get the usual camera extras like True Tone flash, Deep Fusion and Photonic Engine computational photography elements, Smart HDR5, Portrait Lighting, and Photographic Styles.
Although Apple's mastery of computational photography keeps it at the top from a photographic standpoint, stick with the 12-megapixel sensor possible only to a certain extent. Ultimately, the move to a 48-megapixel main camera is a big benefit for Apple's 2023 mid-range iPhone.
What Apple offers in its Camera app will suit almost everyone who watches instead on iPhone 15 iPhone 15 Pro. If that's not the case, there are third-party apps for more granular control over shooting and processing than Apple allows by default.
The front still uses a 12MP TrueDepth camera, which has all the usual capabilities including face mapping for use with Face ID for security purposes.
iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus – performance
In 2022, Apple's “refresh” for the iPhone 14 and Plus was not a new chip, but a (slightly) better one. Instead of joining the Pro line and using the A16 Bionic, the version Apple used was taken from the iPhone 13 Pro, giving it an extra GPU core.
A year later, it has become apparent that Apple is now moving forward with providing the iPhone with a Pro version of last year's A16 Bionic.
This means you get the same six-core processor with two performance cores and four efficiency cores as the 2022 Pro models. These high-performance cores also consume 20% less power than A15 counterparts.
The five-core GPU's throughput is now 50% higher than the A15, delivering improved gaming experiences. Meanwhile, the 16-core Neural Engine is now capable of around 17 trillion operations per second.
Since we're talking about the chip from a year-old iPhone Pro model and not something completely new, we have a pretty good idea of how powerful the iPhone 15 is in real-world usage and benchmarks. GeekBench 6 tests confirmed our expectations.
The improvements over two chips are obvious for single-core processors. They become even clearer when all cores are engaged.
All this is good. The new phone is, as expected, faster than a year ago.
However, for the iPhone 15's ultimate target market, this is a largely useless and overly specific metric. In September 2023, the iPhone 15 Pro is being sold en masse, and in significant quantities. of those who undergo modernization annually.
Over the next five months, the balance of purchases will shift from Pro models to non-Pro models. “Every three years” buyers don't have to adhere to Apple's annual release cycle and buy when they simply can't afford to compromise a minute longer.
When the shopping balance changes, what will matter to most is that the iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Plus is the new iPhone, has a better camera, and is better than the last iPhone they bought years ago.
There is no doubt that it meets all these real indicators.
iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus – charging, connection and battery
Charging is still possible at more than 15W via MagSafe and 7.5W via Qi, so accessories using these technologies will continue to be sold and operate as usual. Apple references Qi2 support in the phone's documentation, so when the spec is fully available in consumer products, it's possible the existing 7.5W Qi charging limit will expand to 15W. Time will show.
You still get fast charging with USB-C, with a 50% charge possible in 30 minutes when using a 20W or higher power adapter. Charging is limited to a maximum power of 28W, which is unchanged from the iPhone 14.
In terms of power, the iPhone can provide up to 20 hours of locally stored video playback on a single charge, while the Plus gets 26 hours. In streaming mode, these figures reach 16 hours and 20 hours respectively, and audio playback lasts up to 80 hours and 100 hours, regardless of whether streaming or stored locally.
Our battery testing matched these numbers. Of course, your results may vary depending on your use cases and what you're using. If you run the “console quality” game on your iPhone that Apple promises in the future, you won't even get close to this watch.
Each iPhone in the 2023 lineup has a slightly larger battery than the corresponding 2022 model. This is not enough, since more power-intensive tasks take away what that very little extra power provided. User behavior is still the main factor affecting battery life.
Cellular still supports mmWave and sub-6 GHz elements of 5G, as well as Gigabit LTE. Local connectivity includes Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 3.0, NFC for Apple Pay and more.
Wireless connection speeds are largely dependent on your Wi-Fi router or local 5G environment, which is further limited by network congestion. However, the top speed is about the same as the iPhone 14, so that's good.
It also uses a second-generation ultra-wideband chip that expands existing UWB capabilities and increases the range by three times. The new UWB feature, released in 2023, also allows users to use Find My to find friends who also have an iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Pro, with heading and ranging functionality.
Last year's outstanding addition Emergency SOS via satellite has been improved for 2023. Not only can you use it when you're having trouble in the all-too-common zero-bar situation, you can also use roadside assistance via satellite to call for help for your car as well.
It follows the same principle of answering a short questionnaire, then pointing the iPhone at the sky, but the message is sent to AAA in the US, who can then provide assistance.
This service is covered by AAA if you are already a member. It is unclear what fees respondents will charge non-members — but this will become clear before help is sent.
We were unable to fully verify this. In 2023, as has been the case for many years, we have not received support from Apple for this review.
iPhone 15 is not halfway between iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro
iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus are a long-awaited upgrade to the level Non-Pro iPhones, especially after the iPhone 14's half-hesitation regarding updates from last year.
In the future, Apple will offer many of the benefits of previous years' Pro models in a new non-Pro lineup, as has been the case since Pro's introduction. This, of course, allows Apple to save design resources by half.
It is clear to everyone that the Pro models are the most equipped versions in any annual product line. Since some elements are missing or cut down compared to the Pro, such as the number of cameras or display features, it looks more like a slightly neutered iPhone 14 Pro — and there's nothing wrong with that.
The existing iPhone line from Apple is iPhone SE, iPhone 13, iPhone 14, iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 .Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. The price between models is only about $100, obviously depending on storage options.
The advent of the secondary market makes the choice a little more difficult. Carriers have a limited number of 2022 iPhone 14 Pro models left, with some of them being sold at pretty steep discounts. If you're reading this shortly after the iPhone 15's September 2023 release date, the carrier's new iPhone 14 Pro with a full warranty is an attractive option at a price very similar to the 2023 iPhone 15, given the additional lenses over the 2023 iPhone 15. iPhone 15 is not Pro.
These new supplies will soon run out. If you're debating between the iPhone 15 and the new iPhone 14 Pro, we recommend making a decision sooner rather than later, as time will decide for you soon enough.
Despite this, however, this is a solid mid-range iPhone. We're not sure we'd recommend it to iPhone 13 or iPhone 14 owners right now, but if you're using an iPhone 12 or older, it's an incredible upgrade.
And this is exactly how you need to evaluate the line of non-professional iPhones – — not with a one-year lens, but with a three-year lens.
iPhone Review of iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus – pros
- 48 MP camera
- Dynamic Island will appear on a model other than Pro
- USB-C here
- USB-C here
iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus review – cons
- Incredibly boring color selection
- USB-C at USB 2.0 speeds
Rating: 4 out of 5
Where buy iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus
Wireless carriers are currently incentivizing Apple's iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus releases by offering discounts of up to $830.
You can find the best iPhone deals from wireless providers below, as well as in AppleInsider's iPhone pricing guide.