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Review: the iPhone 15 has a lot going on under the hood

Undoubtedly, the iPhone 15 looks almost identical to its predecessor, but there’s a lot going on that you might not see. Here’s our review of the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro.

It’s the second year of Thailand being in the first wave of iPhone releases which meant that we got the iPhone 15 the same day the US did (actually, it was a little earlier thanks to timezones). Last Friday, Apple fans descended onto Apple stores nationwide to get their hands on the brand new flagship smartphone from the San Cupertino-based company, ushering in the year of the iPhone 15. 

I’ve had the iPhone 15 for about a week now and I already gave my first impressions just a few days ago. But after playing around with it a little more over the weekend, I can definitely say that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the iPhone 15—though erring more on the Pro lineup than just the base lineup.

[Hero image: Apple]

Cameras, gaming, and USB-C: here’s our review of the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro

I am titanium

iphone 15 review
Image credit: Apple

At first glance, both the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro don’t look too drastically different from the iPhone 14, though you’ll clock the distinct features if you look a little more closely. The rounded edges, as small a change as it may be, actually give the iPhone 15 a nice smooth curved look compared to last year’s sharp drop-off edges. As I mentioned in my first impressions article, I still think the base iPhone 15’s colours are so much more fun than the iPhone 15 Pro. They’re more vibrant compared to the Pro’s usual dark tones.

That’s not to say that the iPhone 15 Pro doesn’t look good, especially with the new titanium material. Compared to the 14, the brushed titanium edges stave off fingerprints better. Not only that, but the titanium material makes the 15 Pro feel significantly lighter than its predecessor. The colours are rich and dark but I opted for the natural titanium as I think that’s the only colour that seems to be interesting. However, showing off the colour means going caseless, something that I and a majority of people aren’t brave enough to do. We’re not all Marques Brownlee, okay?

The other small but notable difference in the 15 Pro compared to the base lineup and its predecessors? The disappearance of the mute toggle switch has now been replaced with an Action Button. It’s so much easier to use and can be customised to whatever function you desire, though I hope it can be updated later on for more increased functionality. For example, a double-click could open the camera or an extended press starts voice recording.


Megapixels, focal lengths, and all that jazz

iphone 15 review
Image credit: Apple

The iPhone 15 continues Apple’s mission to give users a versatile camera right in their pocket. I’m not much of a camera nerd so I don’t know what the argument is on having an actual DSLR versus an iPhone, but it can’t be denied that the iPhone 15 does give a lot of photographic capabilities. 

The base iPhone 15 bears the same A16 Bionic chip that the 14 Pro had and also has a 48MP main camera, but a new triple-stacked sensor does give the 15’s photos an increase in quality. Previously, the base iPhone lineups only had 12MP cameras so there’s a significant bump with the iPhone 15. The camera defaults to shooting at 28MP (that can be changed in the setting, don’t worry), so even at default, the iPhone 15’s camera is so much better than its predecessor. Of course, that’s if you’re comparing the 15 and 14 base lineups and not the 15 and the 14 Pro.

For the first time in a while, there’s a difference between the 14 and 14 Pro Max cameras. Aside from the bigger screen and bigger battery, which are already a given, the Pro Max this year comes with a 5x zoom. It’s a nice option to have. Maybe if you’re planning to shoot wildlife and you don’t want to stumble on your camera with its humongous lens in case a bear starts chasing after you, this is a great feature to have. Other than that, I’m not exactly sure if you’ll be using the telephoto lens a lot aside from trying to read something that’s too far away.

Again, that’s not to say that the 15 Pro lineup’s camera is subpar. The most impressive feature the Pro and Pro Max have this year is not in the actual shooting of the photo, though they have also improved shutter speeds so that they take photos quickly so action photography is better. Now you can also edit photos in post to make them have that portrait effect with a blurred background. Not only that, you can also change the focus of your photo if you wish to do so all from the phone itself. No need for Photoshop or any other third-party apps.


Chip goes pro

Image credit: Apple

That editing ability comes thanks to the A17 Pro chip. You might not see its full power on display in your everyday use but fire up Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail and crank up the graphics to max and you’ll get a taste. I say a taste because AAA titles are set to arrive to the iPhone 15 later this year, so you’ll be able to play Resident Evil 4 and Death Stranding right on your phone. The “Wanderlust” event also showed off how ray tracing looks like thanks to the A17 Pro chip. Sadly, I’m going to have to wait for these games to be released to really fully test the chip’s capabilities, but with the likes of Genshin and Honkai, it shines. However, it should be noted that it does drain a significant amount of battery when playing with all the graphic settings turned to max. We’ll see how it fares once the AAA titles come out soon. 


Nice to “C” you

Image credit: Apple

The biggest change across the entire lineup is that the Lightning cable is finally gone and the USB-C is here. The very first advantage of this is that you can now use any USB-C cable to charge your iPhone, which means fewer cables when travelling. Apple seems to be set on phasing out Lightning with the iPad already using USB-C and a new AirPods Pro 2 coming out with a USB-C case. 

This new port also means faster transfers, which is a great help if you’re utilising the RAW format when shooting videos and photos on the Pro lineup. You can even plug in an external drive so that your photos and footage are directly stored there. There’s also this quirky feature of basically using the iPhone as a charger. Not exactly sure if I’ll be using that though.


The Verdict

Image credit: Apple

I still think that sticking to the Pro lineup is the best way to go to really get what the new iPhone 15 has to offer. While the base lineup does have some improvements, you’ll appreciate it more if you’re updating from a generation or two earlier. But the main draw across the whole lineup is the new USB-C, which can be a deciding factor for those thinking of buying the 15 or not.

The cameras on the Pro offer a lot of flexibility and utility so that you can shoot and edit right there on your device. For photographers and videographers, this along with the utility of the USB-C could be what sways you to buy one for yourself. 

An update to the iPhone 15 is, in my opinion, worth it if you’ve got a 13 or earlier. With Apple’s trade-in, you can get a pretty good deal. If you’re on a tight budget, settling for the base 15 is okay, but the Pro lineup is where you’ll get the best experience.

The iPhone 15 starts at THB 32,900, the iPhone 15 Pro at THB 41,900, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max at THB 48,900. Visit Apple.com to see more details and pricing. 


Review: the iPhone 15 has a lot going on under the hood

Eric can be found lost in his own world jamming with headphones on while writing when he's not prepping for a DnD session or researching 'Star Wars' galactic history on Wookiepedia. A proud Ravenclaw, he loves playing (and writing about) video games, humming the 'Doctor Who' theme under his breath, and rewatching 'Friends', 'New Girl', and 'The West Wing'.

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