Another year, another iPhone release with the usual 2 camps split on whether this year’s version is actually worth it or not.
We took the new shiny Blue Titanium iPhone 14 Pro Max for a spin, and we can tell you, that it’s definitely the “small” updates that make ALL the difference in this year’s model.
Design & Hardware
One of the first things you’ll notice when picking up the new titanium built iPhone from the box is how lighter it is compared to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and more comfortable holding it in one hand is. It’s amazing how some minor changes in the body design make a difference. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is around 20 grams lighter than its predecessor, with more rounded edges, that gives it a less sharp feel, and making this by far the best design upgrade Apple did in years.
The bezels also get a trim this year, with a smaller profile all around. With this change, Apple was able to keep the same screen size while reducing the length and width of the iPhone 15 Pro Max down.
As we mentioned, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is made of titanium with brushed finish on the sides. Our review unit is the Blue Titanium, which we can safely say it’ll be this year’s favorite color by far. The natural look of the titanium finish has something really attractive.
Other than the titanium build, there are 2 other major changes on the hardware side, first is of course the USB-C port instead of the Lightning port, which is for sure a welcomed changed for me personally. Gone are the days of carrying multiple cables when traveling. The USB-C port on the Pro models is the 3.0 version which is capable of 10Gbps speeds compared to the much slower 2.0 version on the iPhone 15 models, which essentially mean faster transfer speeds. One thing to note here, is that the cable Apple includes in the box does not support higher speeds, and you’ll have to get a third party cable to do that.
Apple also added support for USB Power Delivery (USB PD), which allows the iPhone to charge other devices though a USB-C to USB-C cable. If you plug another iPhone for example, the software can determine which phone has more battery and start charging the other immediately. Also something to note here, this type of charging is made for smaller accessories such as the AirPods, since the charging output power is low.
Then comes the new Action Button, which replaces the iconic mute switch which was Apple’s signature since the first iPhone. By default, the Action Button lets you silence the iPhone, but you can also customize it to do other things like turn on the flashlight, record a voice memo, open the camera with specific modes (take photos, take videos, etc…), and of course an unlimited number of commands thought the shortcut app.
The Action Button reacts to two different commands, a tap, and a long press. For example if you set it to open the camera, a long tap can launch the camera app, and then with a tap, you can snap photos without having to use the on screen shutter button. Also worth mentioning, the Action Button can still silence calls with a long press if you have the Silent Mode setting assigned.
On the display front, not much has changed on the display this year, expect for the bezels which I mentioned in the hardware section. The 6.7-inch OLED panel maintains its 120Hz refresh rate, with 1,600 nits of peak brightness and 2,000 nits outdoors. Overall, the display is vibrant, bright with superb color reproduction.
Performance and battery life
The iPhone 15 Pro max gets the A17 Pro chip, the latest Apple silicon. The chip has a new 6-core GPU design that can handle “ray tracing,” an advanced graphics computation, in addition to a neural engine for better AI adaptation. While you might not feel the difference in performance on a day-to-day use because the iPhone is generally fast and snappy even on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, Apple showed off the real power of the chip by focusing on gaming, specially the ray-tracing enabled games. Apple said that the new chip is able to elevate the iPhone’s gaming performance to put it on par with a console level.
Overall the A17 Pro chip runs smoothly as expected, I stress tested tested with everything from launching the camera in different modes while apps are downloading in the background and multiple apps running at the same time. I did not see any drops or lags at all, the phone was able to handle everything throw at it. Games got an equal outcome, and playing for long times, did not burden the performance at all.
There’s also a new graphics processor which is 20% faster than the previous version, which ensures that everything looks super sharp.
Battery life is great, of course this will vary with time. The 15 Pro Max’s battery made it through a full day of use (unplugged at 6:30am and reached around 10% at 11pm). Usage included stress testing the device by taking photos and videos, browsing socials, watching YouTube videos, work related emails and note, and streaming music with the additional light gaming from time to time during the day. The Pro models support wired charging up to 27W and 15W wireless charging via MagSafe or Qi2 charges. In terms of charging speeds, I was able to get up to 55% in about 30 minutes.
Let’s talk specs first, the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s camera upgrade is big, and from what I was able to see, it definitely puts the iPhone at the top of the rankings in terms of output quality. The 48MP camera get a larger main sensor which now shoots 24MP photos by default with the option to choose between 48MP HEIF or ProRAW formats. The main camera module also offers three shooting options with 24mm (1X), 28mm (1.2X) and 35mm (1.5X) which you can toggle by pressing the 1X button on the camera app.
There’s a new telephoto lens this year as well, which offers 5x optical zoom and reflects light four times inside the iPhone itself to create space for a 120mm focal length.
Overall, the iPhone 15 Pro Max did a much better job than its predecessor at capturing close-ups for sure, the photos are cleaner and more vibrant.
Then of course you have the portraits, which now lets you take a normal photo and change it to a portrait after the shot is taken. Here’s a photo I took of my cat (Garfield) in normal photo mode and applied portrait afterwards. You can also change the focus in the photos after the shots are taken.
Other Portrait example in medium light setting
Night mode is equally good this time around, even with the 5x telephoto, here are some samples below.
Zoom capabilities samples below
Video shooting on the iPhone 15 Pro Max is also as solid as it gets. With Cinematic Mode now supporting digital zoom up to 3x.
For professionals, there’s now the ability to export ProRes footage via USB-C at up to 4K and 60 frames per second.Overall, the video quality on the iPhone 15 Pro Max captures superb video quality with ability to now zoom in closer than ever.
iPhone 15 Pro Max & FineWoven case
No, the iPhone 15 Pros are not just a minor upgrade from the 14s, and while individually on paper the changes might seem small, you actually get a lot of changes with the introduction of the new titanium body which gives the phone a fresh new look, to the Action button, USB-C, A17 Pro processor and most of all the great camera improvements. Overall the iPhone 15 Pro Max is recommendable for sure.