iPhone 15 Pro review three months later: Worth every penny
Three months after its launch, it's still undeniable that the iPhone 15 Pro is expensive, but worth it for the performance and the lightness.
iPhone 15 Pro review: cameras have seen a great update, but that doesn't mean they'll be used
A couple of weeks after I bought an iPhone 15 Pro, Apple marketing sent me a survey email. Apparently that's common, but I've not had it before and I spent an unfeasibly long time considering its last question, about what I thought overall.
What I said was that for the first time ever in buying an iPhone, I'm not able to forget the price. There may never have been an iPhone whose price didn't make you wince, but usually after you've paid for it, after that pain is gone, you somehow forget the cost and just enjoy the phone.
This time, even a couple of months further on from the survey, I get this phone out and I think about how it's over a thousand bucks. And in my case, more -- I went for a 256GB one because I film quite a lot, so the cost was the UK equivalent of $1,200.
Maybe it's the economic climate, or maybe it's just that this is the most I've paid for an iPhone. Or maybe it's because through a family mistake I ended up committed to passing my old iPhone down instead of trading it in.
iPhone 15 Pro review: the move to USB-C is more of a boon than perhaps expected
Mind you, I am delighted that she got my old phone because she was still rocking an iPhone 6s and worrying about news that Apple wouldn't support it for much longer. You should see her pleasure at swiping up for Face ID, too.
Anyway, I've thought about this issue of the price so much. I've thought about it more than I have about the Action Button, the switch to USB-C, the lightness of this iPhone, and of the improvements to the cameras.
iPhone 15 Pro review: design and specifications
These features -- the Action Button, USB-C charging port and so on -- are the headline features that you see the moment you pick up the phone for the first time. Then when you turn it on, that's when you notice the speed, the overall responsiveness -- and the screen.
The iPhone 15 Pro comes with a 6.1-inch screen, a Super Retina XDR one that's 2556 by 1179 pixels at 460ppi. It has the same always-on feature of the iPhone 14 Pro, and also the same Dynamic Island.
Plus it has True Tone, Night Shift, and ProMotion up to 120Hz. ProMotion makes the whole iPhone faster and more responsive, but I'm someone who can't see the difference unless I've got a non-ProMotion screen next to it.
I can see that the phone just feels faster than my old iPhone 13 Pro, it's just that I can't tell how much is the ProMotion and how much is the faster processor. The iPhone 13 Pro has an A15 Bionic processor, while the iPhone 15 Pro has an A17 Pro.
Then, the iPhone's innards are now wrapped in a thin layer of Titanium over an aluminum frame. It is this change from aluminum that accounts for the some of lighter feel, and the rest is a shift in the center of gravity. This is something I've still not gotten used to.
iPhone 15 Pro review: light titanium
This lightweight feel is the thing you're supposed to notice when you pick up the iPhone 15 Pro, at least compared to previous iPhones. The very first time I got it out of the box and held it in one hand, with my iPhone 13 Pro in the other, I couldn't feel a difference.
But then seconds later when I went to leave my office, I had a moment's panic that I'd left the new iPhone behind. I hadn't.
And this is something that also won't leave my mind. The iPhone 15 Pro feels lighter enough that I've had perhaps half a dozen false alarm panics as I think it's not in my pocket.
There has been one time when I actually did leave it in my car and didn't notice the slight weight decrease in my pocket until I was just far enough away that I had to run to get back in time.
iPhone 15 Pro review: build quality and feel
Linked to the lightness is the feel of the device. It does feel good, I do sometimes just hold it while I'm thinking.
I'll also hold it for longer than I might while I'm turning it so that I can reach the Action Button. I am using that Action Button, I have it pointed to a folder of Shortcuts.
iPhone 15 Pro review: the Action Button is a misstep
But the Action Button remains irritating. I do switch my phone to silent so I was someone who used that mute switch, and it's annoying to have to press and hold the Action Button, then tap on the Shortcut I had to create that mutes or unmutes.
It really should be that a regular press of the button does the mute/unmute stuff. If that were the case, it would feel right to get more actions, more choice of actions, when you press and hold the Action Button for a little longer.
As it is, the Action Button does do something when you simply press it instead of pressing and holding. It pops up a message saying "Hold for 'Show Action Button'."
iPhone 15 Pro review: the Action Button can register a short press, so it should do something with it more useful than this message
I'm finding I get that often because the pressing and holding takes just long enough that my mind has gone on to something else.
iPhone 15 Pro review: hardware changes and USB-C
The Action Button is a physical change to the iPhone design and initially I welcomed it, then I got irritated by it, now I use it a lot but also mutter a little as I do.
I also had a journey in how I got used to USB-C. This switch from the old Lightning port to USB-C was originally of not one single pixel's interest to me.
USB-C brings faster charging with the right gear, but I charge my iPhone overnight so I'll never even notice the difference in how soon it's done. Then USB-C also brings faster data speeds, but I AirDrop everything and rarely think about the speed.
iPhone 15 Pro review: the new design just makes you want to hold the iPhone
Plus I know others have said that switching to USB-C is awkward because they've got a pile of Lightning cables and now have to change them. I didn't expect to find that because I have an iPad Pro and a MacBook Pro so I've already got USB-C cables, but there has been one sticking point.
While I put a USB-C cable in my own car, I keep forgetting to get one for my wife's. So if I'm driving hers with its Lightning cable, I can't use my iPhone and CarPlay.
But if there's that one tiny sticking point, overall USB-C has proved to be a boon for me in ways I did not think of. For instance, I relish how I can now charge up my Apple Watch by plugging it into the USB-C charging port on my iPhone 15 Pro, for example.
And while AirDrop does work superbly most of the time, for some reason lately I've been getting more problems with files failing after many minutes of transferring. So now I plug a spare USB-C SSD external storage drive into the phone, copy the video off, and then take it from the drive to the Mac.
I have tried filming to that same external SSD, but it hasn't worked for me. My SSD is too slow for the job, so while it tried, it failed.
It's perfectly good for manually transporting video from the iPhone to the Mac, but I am now in the market for a faster external drive and perhaps a dock that I can record to.
iPhone 15 Pro review: cameras and video
For all that I shoot videos and have been trying out external drives, for some reason I've shot a lot less since getting the iPhone 15 Pro. It's a scheduling thing rather than a criticism, though.
So while I don't have much experience yet with the improved cameras, I have begun experimenting.
Plus I accidentally walked in on a Today at Apple training session all about iPhone photography, when I visited the Apple Covent Garden store. I learned a lot from that and came away chiefly glad I had the iPhone 15 Pro, and controllably envious of the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
In the same store, I did try out an iPhone 15 Pro Max and it is far too big for me, so I'm simultaneously happy with what I got and a little envious of the zoom in the larger model.
But speaking of happy, I had not noticed the new spirit level in the camera app in iOS 17 until that day in the Apple Store. I can't pretend I've used it hugely since, but it's so neatly done that I do look at it every time I take a photo now.
iPhone 15 Pro review: it's very faint, and it vanishes very quickly, but iOS 17 includes a nicely done spirit level in the camera app
It's just that for whatever reason, I haven't done much photography with this iPhone. I have shot a couple of videos on it and been pleased with the result, but none of the videos were elaborate or difficult or particularly new.
I have experimented with the new Log video format, but until I've a project that would actually benefit from it, all I'm doing is filling up my storage space.
The more I read about Log, though, the more impressed I am that I have it on this iPhone -- and the more I think I'll be keeping this one for a long time.
iPhone 15 Pro review: design issues in day to day use
I am bothered by the ambient light sensor. It's surely ignorance on my part and the right nudge in Settings would sort it out, but I keep finding that it has turned brightness down far too low.
True, I like a bright screen and maybe as I get older my eyesight is just deteriorating, but I am now often going in to Control Center and raising the brightness where I don't recall ever doing that with my iPhone 13 Pro.
I'm also then later going back in and lowering it, so quite possibly I'm just awkward, but it is a recurring grumble.
But if I'm bothered by the ambient light sensor when I'm using the iPhone, it actually impresses me when I am not. If I've left the iPhone on a desk and leave the room, the screen goes off -- only to spot me coming back in and waking up again.
iPhone 15 Pro review: the screen is gorgeous, but that does mean it's like seeing your last iPhone more clearly
There's something wrong about an always-on screen that goes off, but coming from an iPhone 13 Pro, I adore the always-on display.
Coming from an iPhone 13 Pro
I am still fiddling with what widgets I want on the always-on display, but no question, that feature is big for me. I am struggling to explain why since I have an Apple Watch, I can read the time and complications on that.
Yet still, I find I will glance at the phone to check the time and just as with the price, I find I keep thinking about that always-on display far more than I would expect.
I thought it was a reason to upgrade and it is a reason that I am glad I have.
Whereas I thought the Dynamic Island was a reason to upgrade and since I've had it, I've barely given it a thought. It is equally impressive and I do particularly like the Face ID animation when you're unlocking, say, the new Journal app.
But otherwise it's just there and it's somehow how it should always have been. I don't appreciate the Dynamic Island enough, but I do recognize that it would be a key thing I'd miss if I went back to my old phone.
iPhone 15 Pro review: price to performance
I'd have liked to say that how long I use the iPhone every day and so calculate a per-minute cost, but that's silly. I know I use it hugely.
And based on last time, it will be two years before I upgrade, so call it $1.70 per day. Or if I do get an iPhone 16 at launch, the cost of the iPhone 15 Pro would probably work out to roughly $3.30 per day.
I definitely get more than three bucks of use out of this every day. I use it excessively, I relish using it, and at times I've done all my work through this iPhone 15 Pro -- and done it faster than I have ever done before.
So I don't know why I'm not able to put the buyers' remorse completely behind me this time, but I have got to conclude that the iPhone 15 Pro is worth the money.
iPhone 15 Pro review: Pros
- It's so light that you can forget you've got it
- Everything does seem so much faster than on older iPhones
- It feels so good in your hand
- The screen is remarkably good
- Apple's camera updates are notable
- USB-C proves to be more useful than just being a Lightning replacement
iPhone 15 Pro review: Cons
- It's such a lot of money
- The updates are small enough that they are only significant coming from an iPhone 13 Pro or older
- It's so light that you can lose it
- Camera improvements are only useful if you use the camera
- The Action Button needs a rethink
Score: 4.5 out of 5
Where to buy the iPhone 15 Pro
Read on AppleInsider
Apple's iPhone 15 Pro has a starting retail price of $999, but wireless carriers are offering aggressive incentives, bringing the cost down to as low as free via bill credits.
The best iPhone deals are at your fingertips in our roundup, but you can also jump straight to the individual carriers below.