iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max Hand-on: Faster Processor, Better Cameras, and Better Performance
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iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max Hand-on: Faster Processor, Better Cameras, and Better Performance

I got my hands on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max and wanted to share my initial impressions. The standout features include the titanium frame, a powerful 5x zoom camera, and the addition of an action button. Here’s what I thought…

Following the recent Apple event, I had the opportunity to personally examine the new iPhone 15 Pro models.

After the annual fall event by Apple, I got my hands on the new iPhone 15 Pro models, and the first thing that struck me was a significant refinement compared to previous iPhone Pro iterations. Unlike last year’s iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, which used stainless steel, the 2023 models sport a titanium frame, resulting in a lighter and more ergonomic feel. While the shift to titanium is the most noticeable change for this year, there are several other noteworthy features on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max.

In recent years, Apple has used its Pro line to introduce cutting-edge technology, while the standard models retained the prior year’s specs, presumably to keep costs down and encourage users to upgrade to the premium models. This trend continues with the standard iPhone 15 and 15 Plus, which inherit the features of the previous year’s 14 Pro. Consequently, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max carry forward this tradition and are Apple’s most advanced phones to date.

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max boast slightly curved edges, offering a more comfortable grip. During my brief 30-minute hands-on experience in a crowded demo room, the reduced weight and slimmer profile made a positive impression. These new Pro models also feature narrower bezels, providing more screen real estate, with a 6.1-inch display for the iPhone 15 Pro and a 6.7-inch screen for the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max
iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max

In terms of colors, you can choose from four metallic options: the classic black and white titanium, as well as blue titanium, and “natural” titanium with a grayish tone.

Pricing for the iPhone 15 Pro starts at $999 (£999, AU$1,849), while the iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at $1,199 (£1,199, AU$2,199). Although the Pro Max is pricier than last year’s starting price of $1,099 for the iPhone 14 Pro Max, the new iPhone 15 Pro Max begins with 256GB of internal storage, double that of its predecessor.

Also Read “Future ‘iPhone Ultra’ Model Could Capture Spatial Photos and Videos for Vision Pro Headset

Preorders for the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max open this Friday, with the phones hitting Apple Stores and online sales next Friday, September 22nd.

As rumored, both the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max have made the switch from the Lightning port to USB-C, offering data transfer speeds of up to 10GB per second (a change that also applies to the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus).

There’s also a notable new feature: the introduction of an action button that replaces the long-standing mute switch found on iPhones. By default, a long press will mute or unmute your device, but you can customize it to trigger various shortcuts, such as activating the flashlight, recording voice memos, or even launching the camera. Once the camera app is open, the action button can serve as a physical shutter button, reminiscent of the Sony Xperia 1 V and its dedicated hardware shutter button.

Better cameras, better zoom

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max come equipped with an impressive 48-megapixel camera featuring a larger sensor. By default, the photos captured are at 24 megapixels, and the inclusion of lidar scanning significantly enhances low-light and night photography. Additionally, both phones retain the 12-megapixel ultrawide camera from last year’s iPhone 14 Pro.

Also Read “iPhone 15 Design Rumors: How Apple’s New Phones May Change

However, the standout feature this year is the improved zoom, exclusive to the Pro Max model. While the Pro maintains its predecessor’s 3x telephoto camera (equivalent to a 77mm lens), the Pro Max boasts a remarkable 5x optical zoom (equivalent to a 120mm lens) achieved through a “tetraprism” design that refracts light multiple times, allowing for enhanced zoom capabilities within the iPhone’s compact form. When testing the Pro Max’s new telephoto camera, the difference between 5x and 3x zoom was striking. Impressively, I was even able to digitally zoom all the way up to 25x magnification, a remarkable feat for an iPhone.

Top-tier Android smartphones, notably the Samsung Galaxy S series, have employed a similar technology, utilizing periscope cameras for years. However, their approach involves stacking lenses within the phone’s frame and using a mirror to angle them out the back of the device. For instance, the Galaxy S23 Ultra features a periscope camera capable of 10x optical zoom.

Apple is also catering to professional photographers by introducing additional zoom steps in the camera app’s interface. With the camera app open, users can easily switch between popular focal lengths, such as 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm, and designate one of them as the default focal length when launching the app.

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max cameras are also expanding their video capabilities, including vlog encoding. They leverage the faster throughput speeds offered by USB-C cables to shoot and instantly transfer photos in the highest quality Pro Raw format from your iPhone 15 Pro to a Mac. Moreover, they can record video in ProRes format directly onto an external storage drive.

Looking ahead, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max introduce spatial video capture, utilizing multiple cameras to create videos with depth that can be enjoyed on an Apple Vision Pro AR/VR headset. Regrettably, this feature won’t be available until later this year.

Faster processor, more gaming

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max come powered by the A17 Pro Bionic processor, a cutting-edge 3-nanometer chip boasting a staggering 19 billion transistors. This powerhouse of a chip ensures lightning-fast performance for the devices. Furthermore, the new six-core GPU in these phones is a game-changer, offering up to a 20% boost in speed compared to the A16’s GPU. This added capability also enables ray tracing, enhancing the visual experience.

Apple’s commitment to mobile gaming continues with the iPhone 15 Pro launch. Renowned developers from Ubisoft and Capcom showcased full console versions of popular games, including Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Resident Evil 8, and Resident Evil 4 Remake, set to come to the iPhone 15 Pro later this year (Assassin’s Creed is expected in early 2024). Additionally, Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding is also slated to make its way to the iPhone 15 Pro.

Also Read “What to Expect from Apple’s September 12 iPhone 15 and Apple Watch Launch

While gaming is a highlight, the A17 Pro silicon’s capabilities will extend beyond gaming to benefit augmented reality applications.

iPhone 15 Pro Vs Pro Max

FeatureiPhone 15 ProiPhone 15 Pro Max
Display6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display
ProcessorA17 Pro Bionic Chip (3nm)A17 Pro Bionic Chip (3nm)
Storage Options128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Camera System48MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 3x telephoto, Lidar48MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 5x telephoto, Lidar
Zoom Capability3x optical zoom, 25x digital zoom5x optical zoom, 25x digital zoom
GPU Performance20% faster than A16 GPU20% faster than A16 GPU
GamingTypically slightly better than Pro Max due to a smaller displaySame gaming capabilities with announced titles
iOS VersioniOS 17iOS 17
StandBy ModeAvailableTypically slightly better than Pro Max due to a smaller display
Battery LifeTypically slightly better than Pro Max due to smaller displayTypically slightly shorter due to larger display
WeightLighterHeavier

The iPhone 15 Pro debuts with iOS 17, which will be publicly available when the phones launch on September 22nd. This iOS version introduces StandBy Mode, a feature previewed at WWDC 2023. StandBy Mode transitions the phone into a more passive state during the night, displaying oversized time and app widgets. It activates when you turn the phone sideways, serving as a handy feature when using a MagSafe stand, effectively turning your phone into a luxurious and high-tech alarm clock.

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