It seems like 2023 is the year of ‘comebacks’ for smartphone manufacturers. If 2022 was a year of ‘boring’ and ‘no need for an upgrade’ smartphones, then 2023 is known as a ‘resurgence’, ‘exciting’ and ‘worth every penny’ for the industry. The latest of the manufacturers to release a phone worthy of its price tag is Apple.
Many people had criticised the iPhone 14 series for not doing enough to warrant people’s money. The iPhone 15 series, on the other hand, changes the game altogether. The best among the four smartphones released by Apple is the iPhone 15 Pro. It’s simply the best iPhone in years and the one that should be on everyone’s shopping list. It’s brighter than ever, has titanium sides, a new USB-C port (thank you European Union), a brand-new action button and is somehow lighter than in previous years.
I’ve had the chance to use the 15 Pro for over a month now, and I’m every bit impressed. I may not be completely sold on iOS vis-a-vis Android, but that discussion is for another day. For everyone on board with Apple, iOS, and the ecosystem, the 15 Pro is worth the upgrade, even if you’re coming from one of the iPhone 14 models.
The ‘Pro’ model is always overshadowed by the maxed-out ‘Pro Max’ sibling. But this is one of those years wherein the Pro is the one to get. Save some money along the way as well. The 15 Pro has a 6.1-inch OLED screen which makes it much more pocketable than the 15 Pro Max. The 15 Pro gets titanium sides, instead of stainless steel, and this helps keep its weight in check.
The crisp and bright OLED display
The star of the show is undoubtedly that display. It’s got a peak brightness of 2,000 nits (it gets plenty bright in outdoor sunlight), and the Dynamic Island has gotten much more useful over the past year.
The screen is vibrant and colour-accurate. Accompanying the screen are some of the most impressive built-in speakers out there. The overall experience was immersive and there was plenty of depth to the sound. What I liked most is that the audio doesn’t distort at deafening volumes (yes, the 15 Pro can get very loud). Whether you’re watching the latest that Netflix has to offer or just browsing through YouTube, you’ll be lost in the content, and that’s a good thing.
That USB-C port
By now you must know that all iPhone 15 models come with a USB-C port, instead of a Lightning one. This is a huge change in the world of Apple and iPhones. Android and iOS users
can now share a single cable! I’m not going to go into any details, but iPhone consumers are very relieved after having to ask multiple people before finding a cable to charge their phones.
A17 Pro chip
The most significant upgrade (as is the case in most years) is the chipset. Apple’s chips have always put them ahead of the pack and the A17 Pro chip maintains their lead in the industry. The A17 Pro chip supports advanced ray-tracing graphics (similar to consoles). It’s a game-changer in the industry. The 15 Pro will be able to play AAA video games (like Resident Evil Village and Assassin’s Creed Mirage) which would typically require a console or a PC to run on.
I still think that if you’re specifically looking to game on a smartphone, then a pure gaming phone would be worth the money. Or maybe a smartphone plus something like a Steam Deck/ROG Ally. Nonetheless, with many more games slated to release in the next few months, gaming on an iPhone will pick up.
As for day-to-day performances, the 15 Pro flies. The 15 Pro is zippy, and smooth, and just breezes through all your tasks. It’s more noticeable when playing high-end games than browsing social media or taking photos/videos. The only downside is that the phone gets warm after just a brief half-hour of gaming.
Can it last a full day on a single charge?
Yes, the 15 Pro can last a full day on a single charge providing you aren’t constantly pushing it to its limits. The 15 Pro comes with a 3,274mAh battery (slightly larger than the previous model) but the battery life, according to Apple, is the same.
Apple has been criticised for providing poor battery life on all of its models barring the outsized ‘Pro Max’ over the years. Most consumers could get a day’s worth out of it unless they were heavy users. The same stands for the 15 Pro as it hasn’t shown much improvement over the 14 Pro.
Overall though, battery life is quite good for a phone of this size. I constantly got to bed after a full day of clicking photos, streaming videos, listening to podcasts, and making several calls with about 15 percent battery. You can eke out around six hours of screen-on-time through a 12-15 hour day. That’s better than a lot of smartphones floating around in the market.
Click, click, click!
The 15 Pro has one of the best cameras. Period. The 15 Pro can true-click to-life photos and that’s one of the best compliments one can give. The 15 Pro gets a triple-camera setup. There’s the 48MP main sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide lens and a 12MP periscope camera (3x optical zoom). There’s a 12MP front-facing camera as well.
It’s missing the 5x optical zoom of the 15 Pro Max, which is a shame. The 15 Pro is a small upgrade when compared to the 14 Pro. White the physical hardware seems to be the same, there is one small difference. The lenses have a “nano scale coating” to reduce lens flare.
One other new thing is the 24MP output for images (using the 48MP sensor) as compared to the 12MP images on the 14 Pro. Twice the resolution this time around.
There’s also the ability to set a default focal length (24mm, 28mm or 35mm) for the main lens. Portrait mode has also been improved on the 15 Pro. Apple calls it, “next-generation portrait mode”. When using the main camera mode, the camera now can automatically recognise portrait subjects. Any photo can now be turned into a portrait even after the photo has been clicked. Even the focus point can be adjusted after the fact.
All this adds up to a reliable camera system in almost every scenario. If you’re coming from a 14 Pro then you won’t notice much difference in the image quality when compared side-to-side. But, if you’re coming from any other older iPhone then the differences in image quality will be huge.
We need to talk about the Action Button
I’m someone who constantly sets my smartphone to silent mode. The ‘mute switch’ has been one of my favourite features on the iPhone (there is an ‘Alert Slider’ on OnePlus smartphones) for years. With the 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max, Apple has decided to make one of the biggest design changes in the past couple of years. Instead of the ‘mute switch’ is a brand new Action Button. The Action Button allows for dozens of customisations that weren’t previously possible. There’s a plethora of shortcuts that can be triggered with the Action Button - like launching the phone’s torch or launching an app of your choice.
To me, the Action Button is something I’ve used the least since getting my hands on the 15 Pro. I only use it to switch my phone to ring or silent, like how it used to be. It takes an extra few seconds to trigger, which is something I’ve had to get used to.
Having the ability to launch any app with just a button is enticing, but what would you choose instead of a ‘mute/ring’ button? Ask yourself that and then you’ll realise just how useless the button is. Maybe, in the coming months, I’ll take a liking to it, but for now, it is my least favourite thing about the 15 Pro. Even the Dynamic Island has grown on me and become more useful over the months.
Verdict: Best iPhone in years?
The answer is a resounding yes. I haven’t liked Apple’s choices for the iPhone for many years now. The hardware upgrades have been lazy, and the software isn’t anything to get excited about. All of that changes with the iPhone 15 series. Apple has a seriously good chipset in the
A17 Pro, a Dynamic Island that is finally worthy of the spot it takes up, USB-C (thank god for this!), extremely reliable cameras and a fantastic display to boot.
The 15 Pro is probably the best iPhone over the last couple of years. Period. I’m hoping Apple builds upon this momentum over the next few years.
Of course, the 15 Pro isn’t perfect. The battery life hasn’t gotten any real upgrade, the 5x zoom is reserved for the 15 Pro Max, and the Titanium finish doesn’t feel as premium as previous editions of the iPhone or even from some of the competition. There is the Action Button. I hope it grows on me, but for now, it is my least-used feature out there.
Just one word on the accessories. Many people have already written and I’m just going to echo them. Don’t buy the new FineWoven cases from Apple. They discolour fast, gather dirt and are somewhat slippery. Buy a third-party case instead.
The 15 Pro has a bright future vis-a-vis gaming, with some big names and games coming on board. It’s an exciting time to be an iPhone user. Just remember that the iPhone is very expensive. Some foldable smartphones that have been released over the past couple of months are cheaper.
Still, if you’re an Apple fanboy or just a hardcore iPhone user, then an upgrade to the 15 Pro will be worth every penny.