iPhone 15 Pro review three months later: Worth every penny

Posted:
in iPhone edited December 2023

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
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
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.

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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
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
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
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.

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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 <a href=iOS 17 includes a nicely done spirit level in the camera app" height="590" >
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
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.

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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



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.

Read on AppleInsider
hecalder
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    kkapoor said:
    Those pro's and cons at the end of the review need a redo.

    What are your suggestions?


  • Reply 2 of 25
    retrogustoretrogusto Posts: 1,100member
    Anyone upgrading from an 11 Pro or older model shouldn’t expect it to feel especially light—it’s only 1 gram lighter than the 11 Pro, and heavier than every older non-Max iPhone. But I do hope they continue to reverse the trend of ever-heavier phones.
    pulseimageshecaldertokyojimu
  • Reply 3 of 25
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,671member
    Anyone upgrading from an 11 Pro or older model shouldn’t expect it to feel especially light—it’s only 1 gram lighter than the 11 Pro, and heavier than every older non-Max iPhone. But I do hope they continue to reverse the trend of ever-heavier phones.
    The 15 Pro has spacial video support getting lighter probably won't happen anytime soon, but performance in comparison to competition will continue to get better. A very satisfied 11 Pro user....
    edited December 2023 hecalder
  • Reply 4 of 25
    I sense a little FanBoi hyperbole in this post. The titanium doesn't "wrap over the aluminum frame". Far from it. The band that runs around the frame is TI. That's all. 
    Thus, all the gushing the new "light" phone and how you forget it's in your pocket is pure hype too. Yes, it's a tiny bit lighter. But in daily use it's difficult (if not impossible) to tell the difference.
    Yes, the iPhone 15 Pros are nice. But they're only incrementally different to the iPhone 14 Pros and most of the differences don't have any practical effect.
    I have a 15 Pro Max and I like it. But in no way does it achieve the hype that Apple employed in selling it.
    darkvadergrandact73williamlondonhecalder
  • Reply 5 of 25
    Some math to consider about the expense of the iPhone 15 Pro, at least in the US:

    The iPhone X 256GB in 2017 cost $1150. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $1443 in late 2023 dollars. And yet the iPhone 15 Pro 256GB, a very significantly better phone in virtually every measurable parameter, costs $1099 in late 2023 dollars. So, in real dollars adjusted for inflation, the iPhone 15 Pro 256GB has gone down in price by a whopping 24% vs the iPhone X 256GB. And again: you're getting a significantly better phone in every measurable way for 24% less money. 
    edited December 2023 Afarstarwilliamlondonhecalderdinooneking editor the grate
  • Reply 6 of 25

    dbs888 said:
    I sense a little FanBoi hyperbole in this post. The titanium doesn't "wrap over the aluminum frame". Far from it. The band that runs around the frame is TI. That's all. 
    Thus, all the gushing the new "light" phone and how you forget it's in your pocket is pure hype too. Yes, it's a tiny bit lighter. But in daily use it's difficult (if not impossible) to tell the difference.
    Yes, the iPhone 15 Pros are nice. But they're only incrementally different to the iPhone 14 Pros and most of the differences don't have any practical effect.
    I have a 15 Pro Max and I like it. But in no way does it achieve the hype that Apple employed in selling it.
    I have to agree and disagree. Yes, the band is exactly what you say it is, and it's kind of ridiculous that Apple has the entire Pro marketing campaign based around the word "Titanium." This from the company that once had an entire 15" Powerbook completely clad in titanium. Now it has the hype machine dialied to max for what amounts to a piece of Ti trim around the phone. 

    Where I disagree is about the perception of lightness. Back a few years, when I upgraded from my 11 Pro Max to the new flat-sided design of the 12 Pro Max, I swore it was significantly heavier. The phone felt like a brick in my pocket by comparison to the 11. And yet the weight and dimensions were virtually unchanged. But specs be damned, it still felt like a brick... and that feeling continued through the 13 Pro and 14 Pro (I refused to get another Max after the 12 because of the way it felt.) But I have to say my 15 Pro "feels" so much lighter, even though the specs don't bear out why that should be. Is it the slightly curved edges which soften the brick-like feeling? Is the weight distribution somehow different along with loss of a few grams? It sure ain't the titanium, but from my experience it IS something. The 15 has been my favorite pro model yet. 
    hecalder
  • Reply 7 of 25
    Wesley HilliardWesley Hilliard Posts: 168member, administrator, moderator, editor
    dbs888 said:
    I sense a little FanBoi hyperbole in this post. The titanium doesn't "wrap over the aluminum frame". 
    No, William has it. The outer rim is titanium, but that's it. The internal frame is aluminum to reduce weight even further. Also, I can say there is a perceptible difference in weight. The iPhone 15 Pro Max I have with a Pitaka aramid fiber case now weighs just slightly more than the iPhone 14 Pro Max without a case. That's a big deal.
    williamlondonhecalder
  • Reply 8 of 25
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,307member
    Having upgraded to an iPhone 15 Pro Max from an iPhone 7, the first thing I did was switch OFF 120Hz Pro Motion.  Honestly, I don't see the appeal at all.  Switching it off saves battery.  And on that note, I also immediately limited charging to 80%.   If I am out and need to record videos for hours (rare), then I could switch off the 80% limit, charge to 100%, then switch the limit back on.  That way it gives me full battery during those rare times I might need it, but honestly, I don't.  This battery is great.  And no doubt my switching off ProMotion helps a lot too.

    While my main reason to upgrade was for improved performance, the larger screen, and a vastly better camera.  The camera in many cases is not "vastly" better.  There are still times when it shoots photos that don't have a lot of pixel data and therefore the photo is not sharp as a result.  That always happens when I need to zoom, and there are times when 5x zoom is too much.  In other words, I wish it had more cameras so I could get the full resolution of the sensor at every zoom level.  That's really what separates an iPhone camera from a dedicated camera like my Panasonic GH5.  It's also why dedicated cameras aren't going away anytime soon.

    And while the price stings at a lot.  I'm not one of those people who lacks understanding about money and blows it all ever 1, 2 or 3 years.  No, I will keep a phone for 5-7 years and be happy with it all that time, even if that means I need to pay to get the battery replaced during that time.  But hopefully, this iPhone 15 battery will last longer due to the 80% charge limit.  We shall see.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 25
    citpekscitpeks Posts: 238member
    Anyone else notice what looks like excess glue squeezed out into the rightmost microphone portal in the second photo?
    darkvaderwilliamlondon
  • Reply 10 of 25
    petripetri Posts: 118member
    I’ve hung onto my 13 pro for another year and have zero regrets.  I’m sorry but while there clearly are some improvements in the 15, they’re in no way worth the money over my already excellent, and basically faultless phone.  
    darkvaderwilliamlondon
  • Reply 11 of 25
    dbs888 said:
    I sense a little FanBoi hyperbole in this post. The titanium doesn't "wrap over the aluminum frame". 
    No, William has it. The outer rim is titanium, but that's it. The internal frame is aluminum to reduce weight even further. Also, I can say there is a perceptible difference in weight. The iPhone 15 Pro Max I have with a Pitaka aramid fiber case now weighs just slightly more than the iPhone 14 Pro Max without a case. That's a big deal.
    One man's "big deal" is another man's "meh". I've been a Mac fan and owner from the Macintosh Plus (with 1 MB of RAM!). But I marvel at the marketing hype Apple regularly indulges in these days (the "Titanium" iPhone is a prime example). "Space Black" is another -- it isn't black at all. But I guess Apple saying that something is titanium or black is proof enough for those susceptible to the reality distortion field. And, pardon me, but I just don't buy the "my new phone is so light that I forget it's in my pocket." Yeah, really.


    darkvaderwilliamlondon
  • Reply 12 of 25
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 1,146member
    It's a whole lot of new "meh".

    The only big new thing that's really great about the 15 is the switch to USB C.  I wouldn't even consider the "pro" model, the 15+ (in black, because the other colors suck) would be the only one I'd even bother looking at.  I do not need fancy cameras in my phone, the camera in the 5 was good enough for everything I need, and it doesn't have a stupid camera bulge, give me that in a large screen phone please.

    And add an easily swappable battery and headphone jack.  I'm fine if it's a few ounces heavier, I won't even notice.
    grandact73williamlondon
  • Reply 13 of 25
    jasonfjjasonfj Posts: 564member
    On the subject of the mute switch loss - I often mute, and previously glanced at the side to see if it was on or off. 

    Now there is no indication, even with the always on display, that the phone is muted u less I wake the phone and get the onscreen up.  Even then the silenced icon disappears intermittently. 
  • Reply 14 of 25
    darkvader said:
    It's a whole lot of new "meh".

    The only big new thing that's really great about the 15 is the switch to USB C.  I wouldn't even consider the "pro" model, the 15+ (in black, because the other colors suck) would be the only one I'd even bother looking at.  I do not need fancy cameras in my phone, the camera in the 5 was good enough for everything I need, and it doesn't have a stupid camera bulge, give me that in a large screen phone please.

    And add an easily swappable battery and headphone jack.  I'm fine if it's a few ounces heavier, I won't even notice.
    You let us know when you find the phone you're looking for. We won't be holding our breath. 
    bageljoeymuthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondonhecalder
  • Reply 15 of 25
    I sold Apple my iPhone 11 Pro and now have the iPhone 15 Pro with more memory the A17 and 4x storage.  The larger brighter and sharper screen are wonderful. Oh, and it’s 5G and downloads seem instant compared to the 11. Oh I did buy a USB-C cable for my Prius to continue in-car charging.
    3x telephoto and many camera improvements are very welcome.

    I have no complaints and even found a better leather case than my old iPhone 11 Pro Apple case.
    hecalder
  • Reply 16 of 25
    I wonder how many people really upgrade their iPhone every year? 
  • Reply 17 of 25
    I have a few notes about this article.

    The author said that they didn't notice the ProMotion when using the phone and it seemed the same as their 13 Pro...it's because the iPhone 13 Pro has pro motion! If you wanna compare, just toggle low power mode on and off and it will toggle 120 & 60hz and you will be able to tell the difference 

    the author also mentioned that the titanium is "lighter than the aluminum of its predecessor". All pro models have been made with stainless steel which is heavier than titanium, but titanium itself is 2/3 heavier than aluminum.

    the last thing is that the author said that the ambient light/proximity sensor noticed them leave the room then come back, toggling the always on display on and off. This is also untrue. This toggling happens because the phone recognizes the Apple Watch you are wearing (which they mentioned they have) is moving away from the phone, so when the watch is away from the phone for a certain amount of time, the AOD turns off, then turns back on when you approach 


    These are very minor things but I've worked with iPhones for almost a decade and i love the little nuances that make them stand out so i wanted to share 
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondondanoxhecaldertokyojimuthtelijahgking editor the gratemobird
  • Reply 18 of 25
    Equivalent of USD 1200 for the 256GB model is still cheaper than in Sweden. There that model costs 16495 SEK which is about 1570 USD or 1260 GBP.

    It's ridiculously expensive but I will upgrade from my X because I keep phones five generations on average. In fact I think almost everyone should do that to reduce e-waste as very few people need the incremental upgrades year-on-year.
  • Reply 19 of 25
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,264moderator
    pullman said:
    Equivalent of USD 1200 for the 256GB model is still cheaper than in Sweden. There that model costs 16495 SEK which is about 1570 USD or 1260 GBP.
    Sweden sales tax is 25%, US amount is without tax:

    256GB model in the US is $1100
    $1100 = 11510 SEK x 1.25 = 14387 SEK

    To get US equivalent, remove sales tax then convert:
    16495 / 1.25 = 13196 SEK = $1261 so $161 more and EU requires 2 year warranty, US is 1 year

    UK one is £1099 including 20% sales tax, so £915 without tax = $1148, $48 more
    williamlondon
  • Reply 20 of 25
    newvideoaznewvideoaz Posts: 14unconfirmed, member
    jdw said:
    Having upgraded to an iPhone 15 Pro Max from an iPhone 7, the first thing I did was switch OFF 120Hz Pro Motion.  Honestly, I don't see the appeal at all.  Switching it off saves battery.  And on that note, I also immediately limited charging to 80%.   If I am out and need to record videos for hours (rare), then I could switch off the 80% limit, charge to 100%, then switch the limit back on.  That way it gives me full battery during those rare times I might need it, but honestly, I don't.  This battery is great.  And no doubt my switching off ProMotion helps a lot too.

    While my main reason to upgrade was for improved performance, the larger screen, and a vastly better camera.  The camera in many cases is not "vastly" better.  There are still times when it shoots photos that don't have a lot of pixel data and therefore the photo is not sharp as a result.  That always happens when I need to zoom, and there are times when 5x zoom is too much.  In other words, I wish it had more cameras so I could get the full resolution of the sensor at every zoom level.  That's really what separates an iPhone camera from a dedicated camera like my Panasonic GH5.  It's also why dedicated cameras aren't going away anytime soon.

    And while the price stings at a lot.  I'm not one of those people who lacks understanding about money and blows it all ever 1, 2 or 3 years.  No, I will keep a phone for 5-7 years and be happy with it all that time, even if that means I need to pay to get the battery replaced during that time.  But hopefully, this iPhone 15 battery will last longer due to the 80% charge limit.  We shall see.

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