Tuesday, February 27, 2024
iPhoneReviews

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is very expensive, but, hey, it’s worth it if you can afford it

Apple says that it is updating the battery cycle lifespan for the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is going to add a hefty charge on your credit card, but if you can afford it, it offers a handsome new design and a fantastic camera system.

The camera system

First, let’s talk photographs and videos. The iPhone 15 Pro Max boasts an exclusive tetraprism camera lens that extends the Telephoto camera from a 3x optical zoom to a 5x zoom. What’s more, it has three-dimensional image stabilization to ensure those zoom shots aren’t blurry. Not enough? How about seven focal lengths? The iPhone 15 Pro Max has those, too.

With all the camera improvements, photos taken in daylight are crisp and vibrant, and there’s some improvement in night photography. As for recording videos, the cinematic mode videos are outstanding and the optical zoom features work with video as well as photos, as you’d expect. (Speaking of which, The video support changes are also anticipated to benefit creative professionals, especially being able to record ProRes video to an external storage device.)

However, Samsung’s main competing phone – the Galaxy S23 Ultra – offers 10x optical zoom, and there’s reasonable disappointment why the iPhone 15Pro Max doesn’t do the same. Apple says there are three reasons for this; read this 9to5Mac article for their reasoning.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max boasts an exclusive tetraprism camera lens that extends the Telephoto camera from a 3x optical zoom to a 5x zoom.

Okay, back to the camera system. Much of the overall-excellent photo/video quality is due to a new 24MP default image size that combines 12MP of pixel-binned image data with full-sensor 48MP info.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max now uses a default resolution of 24 megapixels, combining the light you get from 12MP shots and the detail from the 48MP sensor. The result is great pics, but bigger file sizes. Keep that in mind when considering your storage options for the smartphone (256GB, 512GB, and 1TB).

I also really like the new Focus and Depth Control tool that allows you edit the amount of background blur in pics. Or you can change up the focal point altogether. The tool works with the front camera and Live Photos as well as “non-Live” ones.

Both the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max dynamically adjust up to 120Hz with Apple’s ProMotion, have P3 wide color support, haptic touch, and both HDR and Apple’s True Tone. However, the Pro Max get almost twice as bright at up to 2,000 nits of peak brightness. Apple says that this makes it easier to see the screen in bright sunlight. I didn’t have a problem viewing my iPhone 14 Pro Max screen in the sun, but if you did, you might appreciate the extra brightness of the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The Design

The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are designed with what Apple describes as “aerospace-grade” titanium that’s strong yet lightweight. This premium alloy — the same used in spacecraft — purportedly has one of the highest strength-to-weight ratios of any metal.

Apple has also made a small but important change to the frame: trimming a bit of metal to add contoured edges all around. The result is a smartphone that’s a bit lighter than its predecessor and very comfortable in your hand. Apple’s Pro smartphones have been getting heavier since 2019, but the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max reverse the trend.

Note that in a support document Apple says that  fingerprints might “temporarily alter the color” of the titanium frame on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. I haven’t noticed it with mine. But if you do, not to worry:  Apple says this is not a permanent condition, as the fingerprints can be wiped off to restore a clean finish.

The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are designed with what Apple describes as “aerospace-grade” titanium that’s strong yet lightweight.

The bezels are also a tad smaller than before. This allowed Apple to reduce the size and weight of both the Pro and Pro Max without shrinking their respective 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch OLED screens.

The Action button

There’s a new Action button replaces the single-function switch used to toggle between ring and silent. It offer additional options so users can choose between quickly accessing the camera or flashlight; activating Voice Memos, Focus, Translate, and accessibility features like Magnifier; or using Shortcuts for more options. Though it takes a while to adjust to the change (for example, you may find yourself accidentally pressing the volume keys by mistake), I like the Action button. However, some folks don’t.

There’s a new Action button replaces the single-function switch used to toggle between ring and silent.

By default the Action button lets you silence your iPhone, but the customizable button can be almost anything you want it to be. I use it to trigger Shortcuts. Once you’ve used the Action button to trigger a Shortcut, you can keep pressing the button to control the primary action in the action you’ve implemented. 

A press-and-hold gesture with fine-tuned haptic feedback and visual cues in the Dynamic Island ensure the new button launches the intended action. I’ve heard complaints that the Action button is hard to reach on the larger handset, but I haven’t found that to be an issue. By the way, the Action button can only trigger one feature at a time.

USB-C

As widely reported, one of the biggest changes in the entire iPhone 15 line-up is the move from a Lightning to USB-C port. Yes, this creates a dilemma with using previous Lightning accessories, but the change was worth it.

Among other things, this allows charging via more physical connections as well as increasing the speed you can get files off the iPhone in the first place.

one of the biggest changes in the entire iPhone 15 line-up is the move from a Lightning to USB-C port.

Despite the new charging port, the iPhone 15 series offers the same maximum charging speeds as the iPhone 14 line-up — up to 27W with a wired charger, as you’re not limited to USB-C options. There’s MagSafe for wireless charging at 15W (Qi is 7.5W) and support for a number of peripherals.

Battery cycle improvements

As pointed out by James Cross at Macworld, previous methods to check an iPhone’s battery cycle count were unofficial or complicated. However, battery cycle info is visible on ‌iPhone 15‌ models by navigating through Settings, General, and About. A new “Battery” section is present toward the bottom of the page. In addition to the number of battery cycles, it also lists production date and the date of its first use.

What’s more as James points out, all of the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models feature a new battery health setting that prevents the devices from charging beyond 80% at all times when enabled. This is apparently designed to reduce the natural degrading common to all rechargeable batteries.

What’s more, you can open Settings > General > About and find a new Battery section that shows your battery’s manufacture date, date of first use, and cycle count. 

Etc.

And here are several other things you should note: 

° Both the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max feature the second-generation Ultra Wideband chip, enabling two iPhone devices with this chip to connect at three times the range as before. This opens up a new way to use Precision Finding for Find My friends, so iPhone 15 users can share their location and find each other, even in crowds. Apple says that Precision Finding is built with the same privacy protections that users have come to trust in Find My.

° The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max now support Wi-Fi 6E for greater wireless performance, including up to 2x faster speeds, and introduces the first Thread-enabled smartphones, opening up future opportunities for Home app integrations. According to Apple, the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max come equipped with super-fast 5G,6 and include:

° All of these great features are enabled by the new A17 Pro chip, a change in naming convention that befits additions such as hardware-accelerated ray tracing. The new CPU is purportedly up to 10% faster with microarchitectural and design improvements, and the Neural Engine is now up to 2x faster, powering features like autocorrect and Personal Voice in iOS 17. The pro-class GPU is up to 20% faster and features a new 6-core design that increases peak performance and energy efficiency. 

° Apple plans to be the first smartphone to support Thread radio, allowing it to connect to Thread-enabled devices without a hub. Thread is a networking protocol that makes Matter work better by making it easier and faster to connect smart devices to your home. It works alongside your home Wi-Fi network , while also extending your network’s reach and making it more reliable.

° One downside to the iPhone 15 Pro Max is that entry-level price is $100 higher than the 256GB 14 Pro Max cost last year. 

Also, let me note that some iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max users complain of overheating issues, but I’ve experienced no issues.

Conclusion

Is the iPhone 15 Pro Max expensive? You betcha. But, hey, you get a high-end camera/video recorder, GPS device, mobile gaming system, and more for the price. And, hey, Apple even throws in a phone, as well.

Apple World Today rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.