So Apple’s “Wonderlust” event just ended and I got some hands-on time with the new iPhone 15 / 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro / 15 Pro Max.
There is a lot to unpack. The limited time I had in Apple’s controlled demo area means there’s no way to do a detailed look at some of the features that I — and probably you — really care about most such as the performance upgrades in the A17 Pro chip, the 5x telephoto lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and battery life. I’ll test those thoroughly when I get the devices for review.
Let’s start with the iPhone 15 Pros because those are the more exciting models. The premium iPhones have a new titanium mid-frame that replaces the stainless steel on the iPhone 14 Pros. It’s a brushed metal that not only reduces the amount of fingerprints that show on it, but also makes the iPhone 15 Pros the lightest “Pro” phones that Apple has ever shipped.
Apple is selling the iPhone 15 Pros in four colors: black, white, blue, and natural silver. There’s no gold color this year. Apple has been known to add a new color mid-year, so maybe in the spring? I’m usually a space gray or black iPhone type of guy, but I liked the natural silver titanium the most. The blue looks good, too — more of a navy and definitely better than the “Deep Purple” iPhone 14 Pros that barely looked purple.
The bezels around the display are indeed slimmer. Are they vastly slimmer than before? Not really. But they do create the illusion of the iPhone 15 Pro displays being slightly larger than they really are when in reality they are the same 6.1- and 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR displays as before. But hey, thinner bezels!
I immediately noticed the lighter weight as soon as I picked up the iPhone 15 Pro Max; the iPhone 14 Pro Max is a heavy brick in comparison. Not so noticeable is the iPhone 15 Pro; it feels marginally lighter than my iPhone 14 Pro, maybe because the device is denser than the Pro Max models. I’ve avoided buying the Pro Max series specifically because they’ve been so heavy. It’s great that using titanium makes the 15 Pro Max not feel like a chonker.
The second thing that I noticed and really like is the contoured edges — on both the front and back of all the iPhone 15s and 15 Pros. For most people, in-hand feel is not going to matter because they’ll have a case, but for people like me who dare to rock their phones naked, it’s a huge plus. With contoured edges, the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro cut less into my palms. It’s such a small thing, but it makes a big difference.
Then there’s the customizable Action Button above the volume buttons. This button replaces the mute switch and can be customized to quickly launch certain features such as the camera, voice recording, a Focus mode, a Shortcut, or an accessibility feature. By default, long-pressing the button performs the same function as the previous switch setting. I’ve long been a fan of double-pressing the power button on Android phones to quickly launch the camera app so it’s nice to see Apple catch up here.
The new USB-C port is, well, a USB-C port. It has USB 3.0 speeds for faster data transfers. Apple touted the ability to use a single USB-C cable to charge all your Apple devices. It sucks the smaller and more elegant-looking Lightning port is dead, but I’m all for carrying one less cable when I travel. Worth noting is that the USB-C port on the iPhone 15s and iPhone 15 Pros are not the same — they have different data speeds. The USB-C port on the iPhone 15s have USB 2.0 data transfer speeds (which is the same speed as Lightning) and the one on the iPhone 15 Pros are faster USB 3.0 speeds.
Exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the 5x telephoto lens that gives you a 120mm equivalent focal length. I was able to try it (it works!) but a room full of media and influencers isn’t exactly a good way to test the image quality, so more on that when I get devices for review.
The iPhone 15s have the same quality-of-life features as the iPhone 15 Pro: the contoured edges and USB-C port. There’s no Action button or titanium frame (still aluminum) and the colors are on the muted side in my opinion, but the 48-megapixel camera does look like the showstopper. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test that in the demo area.
Overall, the new iPhone 15s and 15 Pros feel really nice. I’m really glad that the only iPhone model that’s getting a price increase is the 15 Pro Max (starting at $1,099), though it also comes with double the storage as the regular 15 Pro. The iPhone 15 ($799), 15 Plus ($899), and 15 Pro ($999) have the same starting prices compared to the iPhone 14, 14 Plus, and 14 Pro.
So should you pre-order a new iPhone? That depends on what you’re looking for. Do you want a new titanium design? Do the contoured edges matter to you? Are you waiting to see if the cameras are a big jump over the ones in your phone? How good is battery life? Do you like the colors? Does your phone still work or is it on its last legs? Buying a phone is such a personal decision nowadays. There are so many factors to consider. Stay tuned for my review, but until then, enjoy the pics!