Apple iPhone 15 and 15 Plus Review: Pro Features For Less


Apple iPhone 15


  • USB-C port for extra handy charging

  • Colourful matte design

  • Improved digital camera that may routinely take folks and pet portraits

  • Dynamic Island brings higher multitasking

Do not like

  • No always-on show

  • Discover My Associates characteristic solely works with different iPhone 15 telephones

  • Discounted iPhone 14 Professional could also be a greater worth

  • Galaxy S23 gives an extended optical zoom

After utilizing the iPhone 15 for a number of days, there’s one factor I can say with certainty: It is a main improve for older iPhone customers. 

The largest new addition is the USB-C charging port situated the place the Lightning connector was. Which means you need to use the identical cable to cost your Mac, your iPhone and lots of the different non-Apple units in your life. (Though I will need to admit, I unintentionally tried plugging a Lightning cable into my iPhone 15 on my first evening with the cellphone simply out of behavior.)


Watch this: iPhone 15 Overview: A Large Improve for Older iPhone Homeowners

There’s additionally a brand new second-gen ultra-wideband chip contained in the cellphone, enabling it to pinpoint the exact location of family and friends members which might be additionally iPhone 15 customers. And the digital camera now captures sufficient depth knowledge within the common photograph mode to create a portrait picture after you took the image. 

The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus additionally closely draw from the iPhone 14 Professional’s affect, giving customers who cannot splurge on Apple’s pricier cellphone a style of final 12 months’s “professional” options. That features the Dynamic Island, a devoted space close to the highest of the display screen for viewing time-sensitive knowledge like your Uber’s ETA, and the A16 Bionic processor. Whereas the iPhone 15’s digital camera technically is not the identical because the one on the iPhone 14 Professional, they every have a 48-megapixel primary sensor.

Total, these adjustments come collectively to make the iPhone 15 really feel like an enormous step ahead for these upgrading from an getting old iPhone. (That features me, an iPhone 12 proprietor.) Nevertheless it’s not a dramatic distinction from Apple’s earlier era cellphone. Moderately, it looks like an extension of the iPhone 14 Professional, which may make it laborious to suggest over final 12 months’s premium iPhone if you happen to can nonetheless discover it at a reduction. 

The iPhone 15 begins at $799 (£799, AU$1,499) for the 6.1-inch mannequin and $899 for the 6.7-inch Plus mannequin. And if you happen to’re curious concerning the “Professional” line Apple is launching, take a look at my colleague Patrick Holland’s evaluate of the iPhone 15 Professional and 15 Professional Max. All 4 new iPhones will arrive on Sept. 22 and can be found for preorder. 

iPhone 15 will get USB-C and a brand new look

A close up shot of the iPhone 15's USB-C port

The iPhone 15’s USB-C port

John Kim/CNET

Say goodbye to your Lightning cable. The iPhone 15 is the primary iPhone to assist USB-C charging, a transfer that complies with new guidelines from the EU mandating smartphones bought in Europe to undertake the widespread charging customary. A USB-C charging cable is included within the field as an alternative of a Lightning cable. 

USB-C has basically been customary throughout most devices (laptops, tablets, telephones, wi-fi earbuds) for years. However the iPhone’s transition is critical as a result of it has been the one main outlier in relation to USB-C. Even different current Apple devices, like newer iPads, have the charging port. 

For iPhone 15 homeowners, the largest profit you will get is a charging expertise that is extra handy, and in some circumstances quicker. The usual iPhone 15 can replenish its battery as much as 50% in half-hour with a 20-watt adapter, but it surely’ll cost at an excellent quicker 27W if you happen to plug it into the charger that comes together with your Mac.

Quicker knowledge switch speeds, nonetheless, are reserved for the iPhone 15 Professional and Professional Max, which assist USB 3. The iPhone 15 helps USB 2 switch speeds, similar to the Lightning port on final 12 months’s iPhone 14 and 14 Professional. 

However there’s one other solution to put the iPhone 15’s new charging port to make use of. You should utilize the iPhone to cost different devices. I charged the AirPods Professional 2, which Apple now sells with a USB-C case, by connecting the case to my iPhone 15 by way of USB-C. 

The change to USB-C could not really feel instantly handy, particularly if you happen to personal different Lightning-powered merchandise, like AirPods or an older iPad. Nevertheless it’ll be useful in the long term. 

Along with supporting Apple’s MagSafe magnetic charging system, the iPhone 15 can be appropriate with the brand new Qi2 wi-fi charging customary. That ought to make it simpler to align the iPhone 15 accurately on non-MagSafe Qi2 wi-fi chargers when these equipment ultimately launch. 

The iPhone 15 being held in someone's hand

The iPhone 15’s new matte end does not smudge simply. 

John Kim/CNET

There’s additionally some excellent news for these of you preferring to not use a cellphone case. The iPhone 15’s new end feels extra premium and does not collect as many fingerprint smudges. Apple says the again glass has been infused with colour, giving it that cloudy look. It nearly jogs my memory of the Galaxy S23, which additionally has a matte look, though its edges are shiny whereas the iPhone’s are aluminum. 

I’ve thus far been courageous sufficient to make use of the iPhone 15 and not using a case, and I have not needed to wipe away fingerprint smudges as soon as. 

Extra from the Apple occasion

The iPhone 15 now has the Dynamic Island 

A close up of the iPhone 15's Dynamic Island playing Spotify.

The iPhone 15 now has the Dynamic Island.

John Kim/CNET

The Dynamic Island, that tiny cutout for viewing sports activities scores and controlling Spotify, is not unique to Apple’s Professional iPhones. It is now obtainable throughout the complete iPhone 15 household, making it part of the usual iPhone expertise quite than an additional characteristic for area of interest “professional” customers. The Dynamic Island’s enlargement additionally marks the top of the notch display screen cutout, which debuted in 2017 on the iPhone X, on new flagship iPhones.

Apple launched the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Professional as a solution to preserve tabs on time-sensitive updates and handle music playback with out having to change between apps. I do not assume it is a sport changer, however the Dynamic Island does convey some comfort. For instance, I exploit it to control my fantasy soccer staff’s rating and skip tracks in Spotify with out opening the app. I may see it being particularly useful after I use my lunch break to squeeze in a exercise, since I can management my Spotify playlist and preserve Slack open on display screen on the similar time. 

The Dynamic Island alone is not a motive to improve. However I respect that it makes the iPhone higher at multitasking, which is essential contemplating the iPhone lacks the split-screen mode discovered on Android telephones. For the reason that Dynamic Island works routinely for probably the most half, there isn’t any studying curve.

Apple additionally elevated the iPhone 15’s show brightness in comparison with the iPhone 14. It now matches the iPhone 14 Professional’s brightness, marking one other similarity. This was noticeable in direct daylight after I considered each the iPhone 15 and iPhone 14’s screens side-by-side, though the iPhone’s display screen was already shiny sufficient to see comfortably within the solar. 

The iPhone 15 ought to have an always-on show, too

The iPhone 15 (left) and iPhone 15 Plus (right)

The iPhone 15 (left) and iPhone 15 Plus (proper)

John Kim/CNET

However the iPhone 15 is lacking one “professional” characteristic that I hoped to see: an always-on show. Beginning with final 12 months’s iPhone 14 Professional, Apple’s professional units have the flexibility to point out data just like the time and date even when the display screen is turned off. This makes it simpler to see bits of knowledge at a look with out really having to select up your cellphone and unlock it. 

In iOS 17, that always-on show has change into much more helpful because of a brand new characteristic known as Standby mode. When your iPhone is charging and located in panorama orientation, it can show giant widgets and clock faces — basically turning it right into a miniature sensible show. However with out an always-on show, the iPhone 15 turns ultimately right into a black rectangle as an alternative of persistently exhibiting the clock and my calendar. 

It is cheap that some options ought to stay unique to the iPhone 15 Professional, however I do not assume the always-on show ought to be one among them. There are many different options to differentiate the iPhone 15 Professional from the 15, reminiscent of a titanium construct, a devoted telephoto lens, the brand new A17 Professional processor and the Motion button for programming shortcuts. Just like the Dynamic Island, the always-on show feels prefer it belongs baked into the usual iPhone expertise, particularly since most competing Android telephones on this value vary and cheaper have the characteristic. 

The iPhone 15 will get a digital camera improve

The iPhone 15's camera

The iPhone 15 has a 48-megapixel primary digital camera. 

John Kim/CNET

The usual iPhone is lastly getting a bump in digital camera decision. Whereas the final a number of generations of the common iPhone have had a 12-megapixel digital camera system, the iPhone 15 has a brand new 48-megapixel sensor that snaps 24-megapixel pictures by default. This mixed with the iPhone 15’s improved dynamic vary brings an enormous increase in picture high quality in comparison with older iPhones just like the iPhone 12. 

The iPhone 15’s default 24-megapixel pictures look wealthy, sharp and colourful. Whilst you cannot at all times see the distinction at first look in comparison with the iPhone 14, the enhancements change into clearer when zooming in. I observed the iPhone 15’s new digital camera at work most prominently when taking pictures of individuals. The iPhone 15’s digital camera captures crisper particulars within the face and hair, as you possibly can see within the photograph under of my husband.

iPhone 15

A man sitting inside at a restaurant.

This photograph taken on the iPhone 15 has extra element while you zoom in intently, particularly within the topic’s face and beard. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

iPhone 14

A photo of a man sitting in a restaurant.

For those who zoom in and look intently, you will discover this photograph taken on the iPhone 14 is not as detailed as the identical photograph shot on the iPhone 15. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

You will not need to look twice to see the distinction if you happen to’re upgrading from an older mannequin just like the iPhone 12. Nearly the whole lot seems higher shot on the iPhone 15 in comparison with the iPhone 12 when capturing photographs of individuals. Check out the photograph of my pal Jamie under, and you may discover there’s simply a lot extra element in her face and hair. It is particularly spectacular contemplating I took this photograph in low gentle at an outside restaurant at evening. 

iPhone 15

A woman sitting at an outdoor restaurant at night.

This photograph taken on the iPhone 15 has a lot extra element and colour than the iPhone 12’s image. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

iPhone 12

A photo of a woman sitting at an outdoor restaurant at night.

This photograph was taken on the iPhone 12. As you possibly can see, it is a lot softer than the iPhone 15’s and does not have as a lot element. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Apple clearly had portrait images in thoughts for the iPhone 15. You not need to manually change to Portrait Mode to shoot a picture with a bokeh impact. The iPhone 15 can seize depth knowledge routinely when taking pictures an individual, cat or canine as a way to apply the impact afterwards. It is a enjoyable addition that gives extra flexibility when taking pictures and enhancing. It is refreshing to see Apple including extra enhancing choices like these to the iPhone, contemplating that is sometimes been one among Google’s sturdy factors with its Pixel telephones. 

Check out the pictures under to see the identical photograph with and with out the portrait blur impact.

iPhone 15 (With out portrait impact)

A man standing outside in a park near the water.

This photograph of my husband standing exterior at a park is stuffed with element and colour. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

iPhone 15 (With portrait impact)

A man standing outside in a park near the water.

I utilized this portrait impact after taking the photograph. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Although the iPhone 15 captures 24-megapixel photos by default, you may as well shoot on the full 48-megapixel decision. However that is most helpful for pictures that you just would possibly need to print for the reason that distinction in high quality is not very noticeable to the bare eye. 

Once I in contrast the identical photograph side-by-side — one shot at 24 megapixels and the opposite at 48 megapixels — I may solely see the 48-megapixel photograph’s further readability after I zoomed in very intently. If I had a tough time noticing the distinction on my 21-inch monitor, you actually will not be capable of see it in your cellphone’s tiny display screen.

That stated, these minute particulars will probably be noticeable if you happen to plan to order giant prints of your iPhone pictures. The 48-megapixel file was too giant to add for this evaluate, however here is a have a look at a photograph I captured on the 24-megapixel decision.

iPhone 15 (24 megapixels) 

A photo of buildings in New York taken from a distance while on the ferry.

A photograph taken from the ferry on the iPhone 15. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The iPhone 15’s new digital camera sensor additionally brings one other trick: higher zoom. There is a new 2x telephoto possibility within the digital camera app, which is frankly a much-needed improve contemplating Samsung has been far forward on this regard. Whilst you’ll get a a lot increased high quality zoom on the iPhone 15 Professional because it has a telephoto lens, the iPhone 15 makes use of the digital camera sensor’s center 12 megapixels to attain a clearer 2x zoom. 

The result’s a cleaner zoomed shot that preserves extra element at 2x in comparison with the iPhone 14. However once more, that is solely really noticeable when zooming in. To point out you what I imply, I cropped in intently on the palm timber within the photograph under, which was captured utilizing the brand new 2x telephoto setting, as an example how the iPhone 15 captures extra element on the pixel stage. On the iPhone 14, I manually zoomed in at 2x utilizing the pinch-to-zoom operate.

Authentic Photograph (iPhone 15, shot at 2x)

A photo of a building in San Jose.

Here is the unique photograph earlier than I zoomed in to look at it in nearer element.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

iPhone 15 (Cropped shot)

A photo of palm trees outside of a building.

This photograph has extra element than the one taken on the iPhone 14.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

iPhone 14 (Cropped shot)

A photo of palm trees outside of a building.

The iPhone 14 does not protect as a lot element when zooming in. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Samsung, nonetheless, nonetheless has Apple beat in relation to zoom images. The $800 Galaxy S23 has a devoted telephoto lens with a 3x optical zoom, providing sharper photographs and extra flexibility when taking pictures. Check out the identical portion of the picture proven above shot on the Galaxy S23 Plus at a 3x zoom. 

Galaxy S23 Plus (Shot at 3x, cropped in)

A photo of palm trees in front of a building.

This photograph was taken at a 3x zoom on the Galaxy S23 Plus.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Total, the iPhone 15’s new digital camera will really feel like an enormous step up from older generations. Whereas the digital camera upgrades are noticeable in comparison with the iPhone 14, it is not a sufficiently big leap to justify upgrading simply but. Nevertheless it’ll really feel like a night-and-day distinction for these coming from older telephones.

Check out the gallery under to see another pictures I shot on the iPhone 15.

The iPhone 15 has the identical chip because the iPhone 14 Professional

The camera module on the iPhone 15 (left) and iPhone 15 Plus (right)

The iPhone 15 (left) and iPhone 15 Plus (proper)

John Kim/CNET

The iPhone 15 inherits the iPhone 14 Professional’s A16 Bionic chip, which the corporate claims brings normal efficiency enhancements and allows quicker machine studying, which is essential for options that depend on language processing like iOS 17’s voicemail transcriptions. 

The A16 Bionic processor is not Apple’s latest cell chip, but it surely’s highly effective sufficient for lots of the issues iPhone 15 homeowners are more likely to be doing on their telephones. That features enjoying cell video games, scrolling by way of Instagram, enhancing pictures and making video calls. The variations will probably be extra noticeable if you happen to’re upgrading from a cellphone that is greater than two years previous. 

And I ought to know, as a result of I have been utilizing an iPhone 12 as my main cellphone earlier than reviewing the iPhone 15. All the things on the iPhone 15 feels lighter and quicker in comparison with the iPhone 12. However taking pictures in dim environments, like an outside restaurant at evening, felt noticeably quicker.

The iPhone 15 lineup additionally has Apple’s second-generation ultra-wideband chip, which allows a brand new characteristic for locating family and friends members in a crowd. After sharing their location with you within the Discover My app, your iPhone 15 will be capable of present how far-off the individual is out of your present location and level you in the fitting path. It is like utilizing your cellphone to search out an AirTag.

The catch, nonetheless, is that this solely works throughout the iPhone 15 lineup. So except you and your mates are all planning on upgrading your iPhones, you probably will not be placing this characteristic to make use of anytime quickly. 

An iPhone 15 showing the Find My app.

The iPhone 15 lineup has Apple’s second-generation ultra-wideband chip, bringing a brand new characteristic to the Discover My app.

John Kim/CNET

The iPhone 15 is rated for a similar battery life because the iPhone 14 in keeping with Apple’s claims. That is as much as 16 hours of streamed video playback for the iPhone 15, and as much as 20 hours of video streaming for the iPhone 15 Plus. 

I had 35% of my iPhone 15’s battery left after roughly 13 hours of use on a day that concerned taking plenty of pictures and importing recordsdata to Google Drive. That implies the iPhone 15’s battery is sufficient to get by way of a full day with ease, however you will need to pack a charger if you happen to anticipate an extended day that would contain taking plenty of pictures and movies. 

After operating CNET’s anecdotal utilization take a look at, which includes enjoying cell video games, taking a video name, streaming video and scrolling by way of social media over the course of 45 minutes with the display screen brightness set to 50%, the usual iPhone 15’s battery dropped from 100% to 95%. That is an enchancment from the iPhone 14, which noticed a drop from 95% to 85% throughout the identical take a look at. The iPhone 15’s outcomes additionally match the iPhone 14 Plus’ and Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus.

We’ll replace this evaluate with extra battery exams for each the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus shortly.

iPhone 15: Last ideas

The iPhone 15 being held in someone's hand

The iPhone 15 is available in the identical dimension choices as final 12 months’s iPhone 14. 

John Kim/CNET

The iPhone 15’s similarities to the iPhone 14 Professional gave me some deja vu. However these coming from an getting old iPhone mannequin will discover plenty of worth on this improve, from the brand new USB-C port to its increased decision digital camera, the Dynamic Island and recent design. As somebody who’s been utilizing an iPhone 12 for the previous three years (after I’m not reviewing different telephones, in fact), I can say this looks like an enormous improve. That stated, if in case you have an iPhone 14, and even an iPhone 13, you possibly can probably wait just a little longer, except you are tremendous wanting to get USB-C or the Dynamic Island. 

Apple not sells the iPhone 14 Professional by way of its web site, however you could possibly discover it by way of third-party retailers and carriers. I like to recommend checking for a reduced iPhone 14 Professional earlier than making your determination. It has rather a lot in widespread with the iPhone 15, but in addition features a devoted telephoto digital camera, extras just like the always-on show and a excessive variable refresh charge for smoother scrolling. Simply remember you will miss out on the USB-C port, which is a vital consideration if you happen to do not like packing further cables. 

All advised, the iPhone 15 looks like a leap ahead from older iPhones. It is nearly like an iPhone 14 Professional Lite, exhibiting that Apple’s “professional” iPhones are having an even bigger affect on the common fashions. 

How we take a look at telephones

Each cellphone examined by CNET’s critiques staff was really utilized in the actual world. We take a look at a cellphone’s options, play video games and take pictures. We study the show to see if it is shiny, sharp and vibrant. We analyze the design and construct to see how it’s to carry and whether or not it has an IP-rating for water resistance. We push the processor’s efficiency to the extremes utilizing each standardized benchmark instruments like GeekBench and 3DMark, together with our personal anecdotal observations navigating the interface, recording high-resolution movies and enjoying graphically intense video games at excessive refresh charges.

All of the cameras are examined in quite a lot of circumstances from shiny daylight to darkish indoor scenes. We check out particular options like evening mode and portrait mode and examine our findings in opposition to equally priced competing telephones. We additionally take a look at the battery life through the use of it every day in addition to operating a collection of battery drain exams.

We bear in mind further options like assist for 5G, satellite tv for pc connectivity, fingerprint and face sensors, stylus assist, quick charging speeds, foldable shows amongst others that may be helpful. And we in fact steadiness all of this in opposition to the value to provide the verdict on whether or not that cellphone, no matter value it’s, really represents good worth. Whereas these exams could not at all times be mirrored in CNET’s preliminary evaluate, we conduct follow-up and long-term testing in most circumstances. 

iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 14

iPhone 15 iPhone 15 Plus iPhone 14 iPhone 14 Plus
Show dimension, tech, decision, refresh charge, brightness 6.1-inch OLED; 2,556×1,179 pixels 6.7-inch OLED; 2,796×1,290 pixels 6.1-inch OLED; 2,532×1,170 pixels 6.7-inch OLED; 2,778×1,284 pixels
Pixel density 460 ppi 460 ppi 460 ppi 458 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 2.82 x 5.81 x 0.31 in. 3.06 x 6.33 x 0.31 in. 5.78 x 2.82 x 0.31 in. 6.33 x 3.07 x 0.31 in.
Dimensions (millimeters) 71.6 x 147.6 x 7.8 mm 77.8 x 160.9 x 7.8 mm 147 x 72 x 7.8 mm 161 x 78 x 7.8mm
Weight (grams, ounces) 171 g (6.02 oz.) 201 g (7.09 oz.) 172 g (6.07 oz.) 203 g (7.16 oz.)
Cellular software program (at launch) iOS 17 iOS 17 iOS 16 iOS 16
Digicam 48-megapixel (extensive), 12-megapixel (ultrawide) 48-megapixel (extensive), 12-megapixel (ultrawide) 12-megapixel (extensive), 12-megapixel (ultrawide) 12-megapixel (extensive), 12-megapixel (ultrawide)
Entrance-facing digital camera 12-megapixel 12-megapixel 12-megapixel 12-megapixel
Video seize 4K 4K 4K 4K
Processor A16 Bionic A16 Bionic Apple A15 Bionic Apple A15 Bionic
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Expandable storage None None None None
Battery Undisclosed; Apple claims as much as 20 hours of video playback (16 hours streamed) Undisclosed; Apple claims as much as 26 hours of video playback (20 hours streamed) Undisclosed; Apple claims 20 hours of video playback Undisclosed; Apple claims 26 hours of video playback
Fingerprint sensor None (Face ID) None (Face ID) None (Face ID) None (Face ID)
Connector USB-C (USB 2.0) USB-C (USB 2.0) Lightning Lightning
Headphone jack None None None No
Particular options Dynamic Island; 5G (mmw/Sub6); MagSafe; water-proof (IP68); wi-fi charging; eSIM; satellite tv for pc connectivity Dynamic Island; 5G (mmw/Sub6); MagSafe; water-proof (IP68); wi-fi charging; eSIM; satellite tv for pc connectivity 5G (mmw/Sub6); MagSafe; water-proof (IP68); wi-fi charging; eSIM; satellite tv for pc connectivity 5G (mmw/Sub6); MagSafe; water-proof (IP68); wi-fi charging; eSIM; satellite tv for pc connectivity
US value off-contract (at launch) $799 (128GB), $899 (256GB), $1,099 (512GB) $899 (128GB), $999 (256GB), $1,199 (512GB) $699 (128GB), $799 (256GB), $999 (512GB) $799 (128GB), $899 (256GB), $1,099 (512GB)
UK value £799 (128GB), £899 (256GB), £1,099 (512GB) £899 (128GB), £999 (256GB), £1,199 (512GB) £699 (128GB), £799 (256GB), £999 (512GB) £799 (128GB), £899 (256GB), £1,099 (512GB)
Australia value AU$1,499 (128GB), AU$1,699 (256GB), AU$2,049 (512GB) AU$1,649 (128GB), AU$1,849 (256GB), AU$2,199 (512GB) AU$1,299 (128GB), $1,499 (256GB), $1,849 (512GB) AU$1,499 (128GB), $1,699 (256GB), $2,049 (512GB)

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