Review of the iPhone 15 Pro Max: the greatest just got better

The iPhone 15 Pro Max increases the bar not only for the iPhone family but also for smartphones in general. Apple’s huge flagship ticks box after box, from novel materials to some of the greatest smartphone cameras we’ve ever used. It falls just short of ideal due to a slightly higher price tag than the previous generation, the absence of genuine fast charging, and Apple’s aggravating insistence on promoting 5x optical zoom as the pinnacle of smartphone telephoto technology. Still, they are small quibbles that don’t distract significantly from an otherwise excellent iPhone experience.


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Leave it to Apple to make titanium seem glamorous while also reminding me of my aging joints.

I know, Apple gleefully informed us that the iPhone 15 Pro Max (and Pro) utilizes the same titanium as NASA’s Mars rover. That sounds remarkable to me, but when I think of titanium, I think of hip or knee replacements. Because of its low-corrosion, lightweight, and high-strength qualities, the material is preferred by surgeons, and it makes perfect sense as the new iPhone frame material.

Patients with new titanium knees and hips are unlikely to be able to touch the metal but if you buy an iPhone 15 Pro Max or – as I did – test it you’ll find it to be smooth yet strong, with a brushed surface that feels cool but not chilly. When compared to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, holding the 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Pro Max is a noticeably different sensation it’s lighter and the titanium feels a touch warmer than the polished steel of its predecessor.

It’s not just the titanium; Apple has changed the frame somewhat, eliminating just enough metal to provide curved edges all around. It’s one of the simplest yet most significant design improvements I’ve seen from a smartphone maker, and it actually transforms how the phone feels in the hand.

Keeping with the theme, one of the most pleasant and helpful improvements is Apple’s removal of the silent / ring button. It converts a boring, one-trick pony analog feature into a sleek, customizable button that can be practically whatever you want it to be.

The introduction of the USB-C port in favor of the Lightning port, however, will be the most significant shift for some iPhone aficionados. I understand your dissatisfaction with the transition (all those now-ineffective wires in your house, workplace, and car), but it has no effect on the phone’s functionality, and Apple does provide you with a woven USB-C-to-USB-C connection. I’ll miss the old port, but I think we’ll all forget about it quickly.

Naturally, if the only alterations between this phone and its predecessor were exterior, the iPhone 15 Pro Max may be a letdown. This is, however, a substantially more powerful phone than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, thanks to Apple’s all-new A17 Pro chipset, which, for the first time, provides

The iPhone series now has console-quality gaming. Granted, Resident Evil: Village was not created for a 6.7-inch display, nor was Apple’s high-definition Super Retina XDR OLED panel, but at least that display now has the tiniest iPhone bezels I’ve seen.

The triple-camera array on the iPhone 15 Pro Max appears unaltered from the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s, but appearances may be misleading – there are enhancements both inside and out that contribute to giving one of the greatest photography experiences available on any phone.

While Apple appears to have utilized the same 48MP primary camera sensor as in last year’s Pro Max, the picture processing pipeline has been completely overhauled.

The three-camera array remains the same, but a more powerful 5x optical zoom lens has been added (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff).

The three-camera array remains the same but a more powerful 5x optical zoom lens has been added (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff).
There’s a new 24MP default image size that cleverly combines 12MP of pixel-binned image data with full-sensor 48MP information for photographs that are nearly always true-to-life (Apple may be slightly over-blueing the sky.)
The new structure is also more adaptable. I never had to select whether to photograph in portrait mode now or later – if the iPhone 15 Pro Max could read depth information it kept all the information I’d need to shift a shot to portrait mode and choose the focal topic after the fact.

If you were looking for 10x optical zoom on an iPhone, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will let you down (albeit not as much as the 3x optical iPhone 15 Pro). I was disappointed when Apple announced that the maximum optical zoom on its largest smartphone had only been increased to 5x; after all, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has an excellent 10x optical zoom, as well as the wild, AI-assisted 100x Space Zoom (which may add too much ‘artificial’ information for my taste, but it’s an option if you need it). Apple does a remarkable job of competing with only half that zoom range, owing primarily to the image quality at that expanded focal length, which rivals and occasionally outperforms Samsung’s top camera.

The combination of its innovative 3nm CPU, a display that may halt at a power-saving 1Hz, and clever power management may account for exceptional all-day battery life; nevertheless, your experience will vary depending on how you use the iPhone.

In a nutshell (after all, this is my two-minute review), this is my favorite iPhone ever. I don’t generally enjoy Apple’s largest iPhone, but the iPhone 15 Pro Max is lighter (and somewhat smaller) than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which, combined with the new curved edges, makes it feel more comfortable in my hand. With amazing photos, speedy performance, and limitless potential, you’ve got a lock for a spot at or near the top of our best phone list.


The iPhone 15 Pro Max is lighter and easier to carry (Photo courtesy of Future / Lance Ulanoff).

Contoured edges make it comfortable to handle.
It is lighter and slightly smaller in size.
In case you missed it, Apple’s 2023 Pro-level iPhone has ditched its gleaming stainless steel frame in favor of a brushed titanium one. It’s durable (though not as robust as steel), corrosion-resistant, and, probably most crucially for your hands, pockets, and baggage, lighter.

Aside from updating the exterior plating, Apple made a few additional tweaks that offer the phone a fresh appearance and feel. The new contoured edges come first. True, this iPhone appears to be nearly identical to the iPhone 14 at first sight.

Close study reveals curving around the edges that give the phone a softer look and make it much more pleasant to carry, especially at this size. Furthermore, because of a much narrower bezel, the Super Retina XDR display appears larger (and the Dynamic Island appears smaller).

Because the proportions and weight are different, the phone feels different. The iPhone 15 Pro Max measures 76.7 x 159.9 x 8.25mm, whereas the iPhone 14 Pro Max was 77.6 x 160.7 x 7.85mm. That means it’s only a smidgeon smaller than the previous generation, which I confirmed when I tried to put the iPhone 15 Pro Max into an iPhone 14 Pro Max leather cover (Apple no longer sells leather accessories) and it fit perfectly.


This side of the iPhone 15 Pro Max appears to be identical to that of the iPhone 14 Pro Max (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff).
The iPhone 15 Pro Max, on the other hand, is 19 grams lighter than the iPhone 14 Pro Max (221g vs. 240g) owing to the titanium body and new recyclable aluminum frame. That is a significant difference.


Another significant design change is a practical one: the new USB-C connector. It’s somewhat larger than the departing Lighting connector, but it will provide 10Gbps high-speed data transfer capabilities provided you have the correct connection (the cable Apple sells with the iPhone is not high-speed).


The body is made of “tough glass-based materials” on the front and rear, and there is a fingerprint sensor on the front.

is also their Ceramic Shield, which guards against glass damage. I could not tell you anything about the robustness of various glass materials because I am not one to drop phones. I did, however, drop the phone into a water fountain. The phone with an IP68 rating handled it flawlessly. The phone is rated to withstand 30 minutes of swimming in fresh water up to six feet deep, but that was only for a brief duration. Just keep in mind that once your phone is submerged, it cannot be charged again until it is totally dry.

Apple left the two volume buttons and the power/sleep/Siri button alone, but above that they made a significant design and functional modification with the addition of the new Action button, which is exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro.

The long-surviving silence/ring switch—still available on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus—is replaced by this small little button. The Action button is programmable through one of Apple’s most elegant utility interfaces ever, replacing a single-function switch.

The Action button’s default setting is ring/silence control, but rather than having a switch, you have to press it once to see if your phone is ringing or not, and you have to press it again to change it. Even if a lot of individuals could decide to leave this place alone, they would be losing out on all the hidden benefits. The Action button can initiate voice memos, activate the flashlight, turn your phone into a digital magnifying glass, activate a favorite Focus Mode (with comprehensive controls inside the Action button settings page), and more.


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