Another year, another new iPhone. But this time, Apple is using titanium alloy on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, which is a first for the iPhone.
Before we start, I just want to say that I have been a lifelong Android user, and this is my first iPhone. So this review is coming from someone who is new to the world of Apple. I have been using the phone for more two months and here are my thoughts about it.
What’s in the box?
As usual, you only get the phone and a rather good-quality woven USB-C to USB-C 2.0 cable. The iPhone 15 Pro has a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, and you need to get a USB-C 3.2 cable if you want to take advantage of the faster transfer speed. Otherwise, the included cable is perfectly fine for charging.
Design and build quality
The iPhone 15 Pro has a similar design to the iPhone 14 Pro. At a glance, people would have a hard time differentiating both. However, the new titanium alloy frame is lighter and supposedly more durable than the stainless steel frame on the previous model.
The phone’s softened edges and curved corners make it comfortable to hold as the frame doesn’t dig into my palm. The matte finish adds a touch of elegance and reduces fingerprint smudges.
The phone is tightly constructed and feels incredibly sturdy in my hand and the IP68 water and dust resistance provides peace of mind against accidental spills or splashes.
The biggest change this year, besides the titanium frame, would be the use of USB-C. Apple is no stranger to this, having already equipped iPads and MacBooks with USB-C, but this is the first time for an iPhone.
By now, we all know why Apple replaced the Lightning port (*cough* EU law *cough*) with USB-C, and having been using Android devices all my life, I have plenty of USB-C cables lying around, and now I only need to bring one cable to charge different devices! Hurray!
The inclusion of the Action button, replacing the mute switch on the older models, is another big change this year.
The smaller size also makes it pocket-friendly when compared to my 6.7-inch OnePlus 10T. This is good, especially when I’m wearing shorts or jeans with a shallower pocket.
One of the things Apple is really good at is making gorgeous displays. The iPhone 15 Pro has a 6.1-inch LTPO Super Retina XDR OLED, HDR10, and Dolby Vision display with a resolution of 2532×1170 pixels and a pixel density of 460 ppi.
The display is bright, sharp, and colourful, with excellent contrast and viewing angles. It also supports a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling and animations or it can go as low as 1Hz to save battery life. There’s an option to limit the display to 60Hz to save battery life, but why pay so much for the phone and not use it to its fullest?
Apple says the screen has a peak brightness of 2,000 nits. I don’t have the tool to measure this, but I can attest that the screen is easily visible in bright outdoor conditions. Additionally, the display supports Dolby Vision HDR, enhancing the contrast and colour range of videos for a more immersive viewing experience.
As for colour accuracy, the Pro’s display covers a wide colour gamut, and it ensures that colours appear natural and true-to-life.
There’s no option to choose what colour profiles to use on the iPhone, unlike on Android phones, as the display automatically adjusts its colours depending on what you are looking at.
As for Dynamic Island, it’s been a bit distracting since I first started using the phone. But, after a couple of weeks, my mind learned to ignore it, and now I’m fine with it. However, I wish it could be smaller, as it takes up valuable screen space.
The iPhone 15 Pro is powered by the new 3nm A17 Pro chip, which is one of the most powerful mobile chips on the market. The phone also has 8GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage. This makes the Pro extremely fast and responsive for day-to-day usage.
I tried playing Resident Evil Village on the phone, and honestly, I’m amazed that a console game can run natively on an iPhone. But it doesn’t run that well even on the lowest settings, as the frame rates fluctuate quite often.
Nonetheless, it’s an amazing achievement on Apple’s part. I’m curious to see how the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Mirage, an open-world game, runs on the phone.
The Pro has no problem running Apple Arcade titles and demanding games such as Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail. Playing GPU-heavy games caused the phone to warm up but not be uncomfortable to hold.
When it comes to photography, what I’m looking for in a smartphone camera is the ability to bring out my phone and immediately start shooting without fiddling with the settings to get it right. And the Pro does that very well.
The iPhone 15 Pro has a triple-lens rear camera system with a 48MP main sensor, a 12MP ultrawide sensor, and a 12MP telephoto sensor with 3x optical zoom. The front-facing camera is a 12MP sensor with optical image stabilisation (OIS).
The 48MP main sensor is the star of the show. The camera saves in 24MP by default, but there are options to save in 12MP or 48MP.
It captures stunning detail in both bright and low-light conditions, and it has excellent dynamic range.
The 12MP ultrawide sensor is great for landscape photos and group shots. The sensor also has improved edge detection, which helps to reduce distortion and improve sharpness around the edges of the image.
But, the low-light performance isn’t that good when compared to the other two sensors.
The 12MP telephoto sensor is a solid performer, and it offers 3x optical zoom. This makes it great for zooming in on distant subjects without sacrificing image quality. The sensor also has OIS, which helps to reduce blur and camera shake.
The front-facing camera on the Pro is also very good, and it takes excellent selfies and portrait photos. The autofocus feature ensures that your face is always in focus, even if you’re moving around.
The 3,274mAh battery inside the iPhone 15 Pro is smaller than many other phones out there. But, don’t be fooled by the size as the phone will easily last a full day on a single charge with moderate usage. On heavy usage, it doesn’t quite last the entire day.
As per Apple’s official specifications, the iPhone 15 Pro, along with other iPhone models, supports charging capabilities of up to 20W through wired connections and up to 15W through wireless charging.
Apple claims all iPhones, regardless of their battery capacity, able to achieve approximately a 50% recharge in just 30 minutes when using a 20W Apple adapter.
I don’t have a 20W adapter, so I’m using a 100W GaN charger and the included cable to charge the phone, and from 1% to 100%, it took around 1 hour and 31 minutes, give or take.
But this is nothing compared to my OnePlus 10T, which boasts 150W fast charging that can go from 1% to 100% in under 20 minutes. Apple really needs to do something about the charging speed for its next iPhone.
To maximise your iPhone’s battery longevity, there’s an Optimised Battery Charging feature available in the Battery settings. This feature enables the iPhone to adapt its charging patterns based on your usage, particularly during overnight charging and your sleep routine.
The aim is to minimise the time the battery spends at a full 100% charge. The phone will charge rapidly, up to 80%, and then complete the charging process just before it anticipates your need for the device.
Additionally, the iPhone 15 series introduce a new Battery Health option: an 80% charge limit. Enabling this option ensures that the iPhone only charges up to 80% and refrains from reaching a full charge. This feature is designed to further extend the lifespan of the battery.
However, the phone will sometimes charge to 100% even when the charge limit is turned on. Apple says “iPhone will occasionally charge to 100% to maintain accurate battery state-of-charge estimates.”
The iPhone 15 Pro comes with iOS 17, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. iOS 17 is a major update that includes a number of new features, such as a redesigned lock screen, a new notification system, and a new Focus mode. At the time of writing this review, I have updated the iPhone to the latest iOS 17.2.
I find the Lock screen customisation to be limited, even though there is plenty of screen estate. The Always on Display (AoD) is good; I use it to check the time, battery percentage, and notifications that I received without having to touch the phone.
Besides that, I can’t control the ringtone, alarm, or media volume separately. I wish Apple would implement separate volume toggles in the future.
Gesture control is limited compared to Android. I miss being able to swipe left and right. But on iOS, I can only do so on the left side.
For the action button, you can only assign one action at a time. But if you assigned it to run the Shortcuts app, there are many potentials in this. For example, I set mine to bring up a list of actions such as toggling silent, shutting down or restarting, opens Spotify, turning on the flashlight, and many more options.
Overall, iOS 17 still offers limited customisation compared to Android, and I hope one day Apple can further improve on this aspect.
The Dynamic Island is only useful when I’m taking Grab, I can check how long it takes for the driver to arrive without opening the app and controlling Spotify and Apple Music playback. These are my two most common use cases, most of the time, it just sat there, nothing doing much.
The Pro offers top-notch haptic feedback. The Taptic engine delivers vibrations that are finely nuanced, ranging from subtle to more intense as required. The precision in these vibrations is quite far above that of my Android phone, which itself also feels quite nice, but not on the same level as the Pro.
Should you buy it?
The iPhone 15 Pro is the one of the best smaller phones on the market right now. It has an iconic design now with Titanium alloy, a powerful chip, excellent cameras, and long battery life.
However, it’s important to note that the iPhone 15 Pro Max has a better camera system, so if you’re looking for the best possible camera on an iPhone, that’s the phone to get. But, the camera setup on the Pro should be more than good enough for most users.
Here comes the pain point, the price. The starting price of the iPhone 15 Pro is RM5,499 for the 128GB version and it can go all the way up to RM7,999 for 1TB version.
RM5,499 is a huge amount of money for many people (me included), and you can get like a couple of Android devices with it.
But, of course, you can’t get the iPhone experience from other brands, so you have to decide whether it’s worth paying that much for that.
For me, it’s an eye-opening experience, having been using Android since my college days, to use a phone that is completely different in many aspects.
If you are still using an iPhone older than the iPhone 13 Pro, and for Android users looking to try an iPhone, this should be your next upgrade.