I’ve owned the iPhone 15 Pro Max for nearly a month now, and it is still the best iPhone Apple has ever made.
Apple’s flagship smartphone has some serious competition in the form of the Google Pixel 8 Pro, but I’m still utterly ensconced within the Apple ecosystem, which means the iPhone remains the phone I’d have to take with me to a desert island.
Very few people rush a smartphone purchase these days. I can therefore assume that you’re reading this blog post because your index finger is still hovering over the ‘ADD TO BASKET’ button. You still haven’t committed fully to buying the iPhone 15 Pro Max because, even though you’ve consumed all of the reviews, you just want to know what it’s like to live with.
With that in mind, here are five things I’ve learned about the iPhone 15 Pro Max after a month (nearly) of ownership.
1. You need a case
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many tech commentators, reviewers, and regular owners of an iPhone publicly state how tempted they are to go naked.
For those tittering at the back, I’m referring to the device.
I can see where these people are coming from, too, because the titanium finish on the iPhone 15 Pro Max demands to be shown off.
It’s a really tricky dichotomy. On the one hand, you want to protect your expensive new gadget, but on the other, you want to enjoy part of what makes it so expensive – that beautiful design.
I’ve always had this issue with iPhones. Although, after a while, I often give in; the cautiousness that comes with being a new iPhone owner eventually dissipates and I care a little less about exposing that California-designed frame.
What you do with your iPhone 15 Pro Max is entirely up to you, but trust me – it does need a case; at least for the first few months of ownership. And if you’re wondering, my current steed is the Pitaka MagEZ Case Pro 4, which I highly recommend.
2. The camera is (nearly) the best on the market
This is subjective, I know, but I firmly believe that if you want a smartphone camera which is reliable and takes photos that don’t require a preference for a certain look, the iPhone remains king.
It’s the get-it-done camera system of the smartphone world. You’ll be able to count the times it lets you down on one hand. No matter the subject or conditions, it’ll grab a sharp, in-focus snap whenever you need it to, and it’ll do so incredibly quickly.
The photos will look great, too. They won’t be saturated, over-sharpened, or unnatural.
It’ll also shoot the best-looking video footage of any smartphone on the market. The 4K video produced by the iPhone 15 Pro Max is clean, sharp, engaging, and absent of any weird stabilisation artefacts.
But for me, the Google Pixel 8 Pro takes the most visually pleasing photos – because there’s something about the Pixel look that just works for me. This is not an easy problem for Apple to solve – and I don’t think they’d even class it as a problem; I’m an anomaly within their colossal user base.
3. 5x was an inspired choice
Like so many people, I wasn’t feeling particularly excited about the latest iPhone release. Another slab of metal and glass, I thought. Another camera system update.
This was shortsighted of me because I hadn’t considered just how important one of those updates would be.
The inclusion of a 5x optical zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro Max was an inspired choice by Apple. This optical focal length is exclusive to the big boy iPhone, and it’s a brilliantly smart way to tempt buyers to the more expensive device. Indeed, and as noted in my original review, I’d skip the iPhone 15 Pro entirely due to the lack of a 5x zoom – it’s that useful.
The gap between 3x and 10x optical zoom on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is way too big, and the latter is far too long to be useful in any situation bar one where you’re trying to impress your mates. As it turns out, 5x is all you really need in most scenarios.
Equivalent to 120mm on a proper camera and lens combo, 5x enables you to get close enough to subjects for a decent composition when you physically can’t, and adds pleasing compression to portraits. The fact the low light performance of this lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max is so biblically good is the icing on the cake.
I wouldn’t be without it now.
4. ‘Gates’ are overblown
When was the last time you attempted to bend your iPhone?
Can you think of a time when a problem you’ve had with an iPhone at launch wasn’t rectified by a software update?
No, me neither – on both fronts.
I don’t begrudge YouTube channels building brands and income around stress-testing devices. There is, clearly, an audience for it, and it is, arguably, holding tech companies to account in terms of device durability.
It’s just not for me. I don’t care if my iPhone blends, bends, or cracks when placed in extreme conditions – because I’m never going to place it in those extreme conditions. Similarly, I’m never going to attempt to bend my iPhone – because it will bend and crack if I do. Obviously.
I was also one of the lucky iPhone 15 Pro Max owners who didn’t experience any overheating issues with his device. Lots of people did, clearly – I’m not denying that. But it appears that the problem has been solved for most with an iOS update after less than a month of the device being out in the wild.
Panic over. As always.
5. USB-C DOES make a difference
The iPhone is, literally, the last device to the party with the switch to USB-C for its data and charging port.
This isn’t unusual for Apple – particularly when the thing they’re expected to change is tied to some form of revenue generation – or just blind stubbornness.
I think there was a bit of both with the insistence displayed in holding onto Lightning for so long. The Made For iPhone (MFi) program is probably a decent income generator for Apple and has many years of partnerships tied into it. There are also a lot of Lightning cables out there.
Times change and new legislation arrives. Apple was likely pushed into the switch to USB-C far earlier than it would have liked, but I’m glad it happened. I’m yet to put the port to use in terms of data transfer, but the ability to finally offload high-resolution video footage from the iPhone without relying on USB 2 transfer speeds is long overdue.
For me, it’s the charging convenience. Even after a month of ownership, I still smile every time I plug the cable that was previously charging my headphones into the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Although I’m not your atypical tech user (no reviewer is) I still maintain that most people have more USB-C cables than they do Lightning when their currently in-use devices are taken into account. That’s why Apple needed to do this; sometimes, you have to follow the crowd.
Should you buy the iPhone 15 Pro Max? Well, if this is the last in a long line of reviews and commentary you’ve digested on Apple’s latest flagship smartphone – yes, you should. You clearly want one.
However, I still don’t think it’s worth upgrading to from the iPhone 14 Pro Max unless you’re an avid smartphone photographer and love the idea of the utterly brilliant 5x optical focal length. Beyond that, there’s nothing particularly new on the table.
For everyone else, whether you’re coming from an earlier iPhone or an Android device, it’ll be one of the best purchases you make this year.
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