Every year, Apple comes out with the iPhone and for this year, it comes in four different iterations: the regular iPhone 15 and the bigger iPhone 15 Plus; and the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, which are regarded as “Pro” level iPhones.
To me, the Pro and Pro Max models have always been the centerpiece (or pieces) for iPhones every year while the non-Pro models have always been relegated to just, “regular” iPhones but they are still quite capable machines that can handle the day-to-day without breaking a sweat and they still command a pretty hefty price tag despite not being top dogs.
Both iPhone 15 and 15 Plus have three storage options: 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB, and looking at just the 15 Plus, it starts at RM4,899 for the 128GB model, RM5,399 for 256GBs and RM6,399 for 512GBs.
What I have with me right now is the 15 Plus, the “middle sibling” of the iPhone 15 family, and here are my thoughts on the device after using it for a few months or so.
What’s in the box
In typical Apple style, the packaging is compact with the phone and USB C cable tucked neatly in the box.
What you won’t find is a charging brick, which is standard nowadays for iPhones and competitors have also jumped on the trend but as a user, I do find it pretty weird that you have to shell out a bit of money for that accessory, especially when they say that these phones are capable of fast charging.
As a user, you kinda want to see how fast they can charge but it seems that you have to pay extra for that.
For this year, Apple has opted for a sandwiched ceramic glass design that has a color-infused frosted glass back with aluminium edges for the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus. They come in a bunch of colours: Black, Blue, Green, Yellow and Pink which might look a bit subdued to most people.
The one that I have is the blue version and to be really honest, it looks more white than blue, it might be because of the finishing, but it doesn’t really matter if you put a case on.
It still feels great and premium in the hand but the 6.7-inch phone does feel a bit wide at times while holding it in one hand, making one-handed operation a pretty daunting task especially if you don’t have a case on.
If you do have a case on, it does add thickness to the phone which means reaching for the corners will require some hand gymnastics but thankfully Apple has gestures to make the experience a less of a challenge.
Although the iPhone 15 looks similar to last-gen’s iPhone with the mute switch and volume buttons on the left and the power button over on the right, one huge difference that you’re going to see is at the bottom of the phone, where you would find USB C port, due to recent regulations.
As an average consumer, I’m kinda glad they did the switch because it makes it easier to charge up the phone but again, the lack of that charging brick does mean that you’ll have to buy one separately or charge using whatever you have lying around if you don’t want to cough out extra for the charger.
Flanking the new port is the speaker (the other one is at the top) and microphone grill.
To put it simply, you won’t be disappointed by the screen. The colours can get vibrant and sunlight visibility is pretty good but you would have to crank up the brightness if you’re looking at it under direct sunlight.
If given a choice on screen size alone, I would pick the 15 Plus because consuming media such as watching Netflix, YouTube just looks better on a 6.7-inch screen than on the 6.1-inch iPhone 15.
Talking about watching videos in landscape, the iPhone 15 Plus now has a smaller notch that was previously introduced by iPhone 14 Pro lineup and while it is smaller than the iPhone 14, it’s still there. It’s a noticeable thing if you tend to focus on it, but if you’re just looking at the content, it does sort of disappear.
The addition of the Dynamic Island that first came out with the iPhone 14 Pro lineup is pretty neat as well as you can see that some 3rd party developers have already created nifty features for it.
For instance, if you order a delivery on Grab, it will show you the progress of your order, including a cute progress bar on top so you can see when your meal will arrive.
The screen is also great for gaming but it’s only a 60hz screen so you won’t get the higher refresh rates like you would get with other devices within the price range but you would hardly notice it if you’re just playing casual games.
The iPhone 15 Plus might not have the latest and greatest chipset from Apple (that goes to the Pro lineup), the A16 Bionic found in last year’s iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max can still handle the day to day tasks without breaking a sweat.
If your day is just comprised of replying messages, checking social media, emails, maps, shopping apps and a bit of gaming here and there, then it shouldn’t be a problem for the iPhone 15 Plus.
Even when it comes to gaming, even though the iPhone is not a gaming phone but the performance is capable enough that you can max out the settings on games such as Call of Duty (CoD) Mobile; turn on other things like bloom, real-time shadows and it would still be able to run the game smoothly without any noticeable hiccups.
It does get a bit warm after playing graphic-intensive games for a while but not to the extent of being unbearable.
As mentioned previously, the 60Hz does mean that it might not look as smooth as a 120Hz device, but to be really honest, playing games at 60Hz is good enough for me. If you want to take it up to those heights, then the Pro lineup with its 120Hz screen might be a more suitable choice for you.
For the day-to-day, there’s not much to complain about the performance of the phone because just like iPhones of yesteryear, you can expect it to be relatively smooth and lag-free experience despite rocking that one-year-old chipset.
To put it short, it’s an iPhone camera and just like previous iPhones, the 15 Plus, despite having two lenses instead of three (it doesn’t have the telephoto lens) like the higher end Pro series, is a dependable point and shoot camera.
The great thing about iPhones is that most of the shots are good enough that you don’t really need to delve into the settings like in other devices to really bring out its capabilities.
All you have to do is open the app and snap, and the shots, whether its daytime or night, will come out great. Colours are quite vivid when it comes to purples, reds and yellows, with good detail and dynamic range.
Night time shots are also pretty good depending on the lighting and you might be able to get some really detailed shots with low noise if the light source is enough.
As for the front camera, it takes good selfies if you’re in a well-lit environment, but if you’re not, the screen will turn into a flash so you can get as much light as possible.
In terms of battery life, if you’re using the phone moderately, it should last you the whole day with a bit to spare at the end but expect that to drop if you’re gaming or spending the whole day taking photos.
Like I mentioned previously, the phone doesn’t come with a charger out-of-the-box so you would have to pay an extra RM99 if you want that Apple 20W wall adapter (or higher if you want to get chargers that put out higher watts).
Then there was the overheating issue where users reported that their devices would get too hot when they charged their phone up to a point where a notification would come out saying that charging is temporarily suspended until the device has cooled down.
I’ve experienced that issue early on but it has subsided somewhat after a few updates. What’s worth noting is that the phone will still get a bit warm even though I am using a 20W Apple charger that comes with the 10th gen iPad. It’s weird considering that I’m already using a verified Apple charger but the problem still somewhat persists.
If you’re part of the Apple ecosystem, you would already know the neat things that these devices can do such as send files and links to your other devices via AirDrop, sync your photos via iCloud to view it on your iPad and all of that good stuff.
There’s also integration with their computer lineup where you can send stuff but also do other things such as making calls with your Mac instead of your phone, the AirPlay to Mac feature where you cast your content to the computer and complete a purchase from your Mac on your iPhone or Apple Watch.
If you don’t have those things, it’s okay as the phone itself is more than enough to do what you need to do and the App store has a bajillion apps that can help you do it.
There’s also first party features which might make your Android friends feel a bit jealous such as Namedrop where you can share contact information just by touching two phones together and the functionality of the Digital Island, but there are also things which the iPhone can’t do, such as split screen multitasking.
For someone who has been using Android for a very long time, I do admit that I sorely miss that feature while testing this phone out especially when driving as you can put the maps app side by side with a music app so you can focus more on the route without having to fiddle with your phone to change songs.
It’s also quite known that the iPhone would get updates for a very long time (up to 7 years in some cases).
You can’t get that with some Android manufacturers because most opt for around 2-3 years of OS updates and maybe a bit more for security patches but competitors such as Samsung has claimed that their new S24 series will be getting software updates for 7 years. Even Google has promised to give the same treatment for their new Pixel 8 and 8 Pro.
Should you get the phone
If seen in a vacuum, it’s a great phone. From the build quality down to the software and OS, it’s the culmination of what Apple has tried and perfected for years and you will be getting your monies worth if you decide to get one.
It’s all fine until you put it alongside not only the competition such as the newly announced Galaxy lineup, but also within the camp with the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max which might cost more but they have that extra camera module, to be really honest, it’s a tough sell for me.
Then there’s the older iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, specifically the Pro Max which is priced at around RM6,499 for the 512GB model (or lower if there’s a sale) while the 15 Plus retails at RM6,399 for the same storage.
They have the same chipset, but the 14 Pro Max edges out in the camera department just for having that telephoto lens and that might be an actual point for some people to opt for it instead of the older iPhone.
But at the end of the day, if you decide to get one for yourself, it’s a great buy. It’s made out of premium materials that feels great in the hand, it generally takes great photos and you’ll be guaranteed to be getting updates for years to come. After all, it’s an iPhone.