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iPhone 15 Review: Is It Worth the Upgrade?
October 25, 2023
In an era where smartphone upgrades seem to roll out annually, it’s essential to address the common misconception that the latest and greatest is always worth the investment. The iPhone 15 is no exception to this trend, but does it truly bring enough to the table to justify the upgrade from its predecessor? In this comprehensive review, we’ll dive deep into the iPhone 15, exploring its design, display, performance, battery life, and camera capabilities to help you make an informed decision.
The iPhone 15: Apple’s latest iteration in the ever-popular iPhone series. With every new release, Apple manages to captivate the tech world’s attention, and the iPhone 15 is no exception. It brings a multitude of subtle tweaks and upgrades, making it an enticing prospect for both Apple loyalists and potential switchers.
In this review, our goal is to provide an in-depth analysis of the iPhone 15, ensuring you have all the information you need to decide whether this latest release is worth your hard-earned money. We’ll explore its design, display, performance, camera capabilities, and other essential features that could sway your decision.
Table of Contents
The iPhone 15’s design is a testament to Apple’s commitment to perfection. With softer corners and a gentle curve at the screen edges, it retains the iconic iPhone silhouette, making it instantly recognizable. The switch from shiny stainless steel to lighter, coated titanium gives the phone a more premium yet lightweight feel. The new color options, including the elegant matte Black and a range of pastel shades, add a touch of personalization to your device.
Physical dimensions of the iPhone 15 have been subtly altered, resulting in slightly slimmer bezels and a smaller diagonal size. This not only enhances the overall aesthetics but also contributes to a more comfortable grip.
Midnight, Purple, Starlight, Blue, Red, Yellow
Black, Blue, Green, Yellow, Pink
146.7 x 71.5 x 7.8 mm (5.78 x 2.81 x 0.31 in)
147.6 x 71.6 x 7.8 mm (5.81 x 2.82 x 0.31 in)
Build Quality and Durability
The build quality of the iPhone 15 is top-notch, with tight assembly that leaves no room for creaks or loose parts. Apple’s Ceramic Shield and IP68 rating provide peace of mind, ensuring that the device can withstand everyday challenges. However, it’s worth noting that the iPhone 15’s glass back can be quite slippery, so investing in a protective case might be a wise choice.
One of the most significant design changes in the iPhone 15 is the transition from the Lightning port to a USB-C port. This shift brings convenience and compatibility with a wide range of devices. It’s also worth acknowledging the role of the European Union in pushing Apple to make this change, aligning with global standards for device charging and connectivity.
The iPhone 15’s display is another area where Apple has made substantial improvements. The Super Retina XDR OLED display offers a stunning visual experience. With its impressive size and resolution, it provides sharp, vibrant, and true-to-life visuals. The significant increase in brightness and contrast compared to the previous model makes it a delight to use, even in bright outdoor conditions.
With a brightness of 1000 – 2000, it outshines most of its competitors in the market. While the iPhone 15 features a 60Hz refresh rate (as opposed to the Pro models’ higher refresh rate), the overall screen quality and usability are top-notch. Unfortunately, the base iPhone 15 lacks the always-on display feature, which some users may miss.
Under the hood, the iPhone 15 packs the groundbreaking A17 Pro chip, boasting a manufacturing process that is the world’s first at three nanometers. The performance improvements are evident, and benchmark scores on Geekbench 6 confirm that it’s a powerhouse, offering remarkable single-core and multi-core performance.
When compared to competing smartphones like the Galaxy S23 and Pixel 7, the iPhone 15 maintains a strong lead, making it a top choice for those who demand peak performance from their devices. The GPU and Neural Engine in the A17 Bionic contribute to a seamless and lag-free experience.
The iPhone 15 comes with 6GB of LPDDR5x RAM, ensuring swift multitasking and smooth app-switching. While the base model might have varying storage options, it’s essential to note that Apple continues its tradition of omitting expandable storage, so choose your storage capacity wisely.
Apple has bumped up the battery size in the iPhone 15, featuring a 3349 mAh battery. This change translates to an additional 30 minutes of power in battery tests. The testing methodology involves streaming HD video over Wi-Fi with maximum brightness, and the iPhone 15 proves its endurance.
When comparing battery life with other flagship phones like the 15 Pro Max, Galaxy S23, Pixel 7, and OnePlus 11 5G, the iPhone 15 performs admirably, falling in line with its competitors. If you opt for the larger 15 Plus, you can enjoy a few extra hours of battery life.
Both the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus support 20W wired charging, but it’s essential to note that Apple has removed the charging brick from the iPhone 15’s package, aligning with environmental concerns and reducing electronic waste. The provided braided USB-C-to-USB-C cable ensures durability and faster charging times.
The iPhone 15 is well-equipped to connect to the future with 5G support. It covers C-band, sub-6GHz, and mmWave, providing versatile and rapid connectivity options. Performance results on AT&T’s 5G network are consistent with Apple’s reputation for stellar network performance.
Wi-Fi 6 support is retained, and while the transition to Wi-Fi 6E is not present, it doesn’t hinder the device’s wireless capabilities. Bluetooth 5.3 support ensures stronger connections and less battery usage, while codec support for AAC, Apple Lossless, and FLAC caters to audiophiles. Additionally, Apple’s spatial audio support enhances your audio experience.
The iPhone 15 supports eSIM, a convenient option for those who need multiple numbers on the same device. The flexibility of provisioning with AT&T makes managing multiple numbers a breeze. However, it’s important to note that the iPhone 15 in the US is eSIM-only, so physical SIM cards are not an option.
The iPhone 15 takes a bold step forward with its camera capabilities. The 48MP main camera provides stunning image quality, with the new image processing pipeline using neural nets to combine detail and light information for incredible results. The enhanced dynamic range and sharpness are evident in every photo taken with this device.
With the adoption of 24-megapixel images as the default output, the iPhone 15 manages to provide rich contrast and impressive results, even in challenging lighting conditions. In our tests, we found that the iPhone 15’s camera excels in auto mode, delivering high-quality images with great color accuracy.
The iPhone 15 also offers an impressive Macro Mode, with fast autofocus that particularly shines when capturing faces in the frame. The larger sensor contributes to exceptional night photography, where the iPhone 15 truly outperforms its competitors.
Both the main and ultra-wide cameras deliver exceptional quality, whether you’re taking selfies, capturing portraits, or exploring the world through the lens of your iPhone 15. The new 12MP ultra-wide camera adds versatility to your photography, allowing you to capture wider scenes with ease.
Unfortunately, the absence of optical telephoto and macro photography on the iPhone 15 may disappoint some users, especially those looking for more varied photography options. However, the iPhone 15 manages to make the most out of its central 12MP sensor area and software enhancements, delivering clear 2x pictures.
Video enthusiasts will be delighted with the iPhone 15’s video capture capabilities. With features like Action mode, Cinematic mode, and Dolby Vision, Apple maintains its reputation for exceptional video recording. Shooting in Log mode allows for more information and dynamic range, and Apple’s transformation LUT for SDR and HDR or manual grading provides further creative control.
The Log setting can be found within the Settings app, and it opens up possibilities for cinematic video production. While there may be some challenges, such as haloing from point light sources, the iPhone 15 excels in delivering high-quality video content.
The iPhone 15 comes preloaded with iOS 17, offering a plethora of new features and enhancements. One noteworthy addition is Standby mode, which transforms your iPhone into a smart display when it’s idle. Supported widgets in Standby mode include batteries, calendar, clock, news, reading list, reminders, and weather, allowing you to stay updated at a glance.
Apple’s commitment to providing software and security updates for at least five years is a significant advantage over many Android smartphones, which typically receive two to four years of updates. This longevity makes the iPhone 15 a compelling choice for those looking for a device that will age gracefully.
Is iPhone 15 Worth the Upgrade?
With the release of the iPhone 15, the question on many users’ minds is whether it’s worth the upgrade from their current smartphones, including earlier iPhone models. To answer this question, we’ll consider various factors and scenarios to help you determine if the iPhone 15 is a worthwhile investment.
Upgrading from an Older iPhone
Performance Boost: If you’re using an older iPhone, such as the iPhone 12 or earlier, the iPhone 15’s A16 Bionic chip will provide a significant performance boost. You’ll notice faster app launches, smoother multitasking, and improved gaming experiences.
Enhanced Camera Capabilities: The iPhone 15’s camera improvements are substantial. Upgrading from an older model will grant you access to better low-light photography, advanced video features, and enhanced overall camera performance.
Battery Life: The larger battery in the iPhone 15 means you’ll experience longer battery life compared to older models. This is particularly beneficial if your current phone struggles to last a full day.
5G Connectivity: If your older iPhone lacks 5G support, the iPhone 15’s comprehensive 5G connectivity will provide faster download speeds and better network performance.
Cost: The price of a brand-new iPhone 15 can be a significant investment. You’ll need to consider whether the performance and features justify the cost, especially if your current phone still serves you well.
Software Updates: While the iPhone 15 will receive software updates for several years, older iPhones may still be receiving updates. If your current iPhone is supported and receiving updates, this might not be a compelling reason to upgrade.
Personal Preferences: Your current iPhone may still meet your needs, and you might prefer its design or features over the iPhone 15. Personal preference plays a significant role in deciding whether an upgrade is worth it.
Upgrading from a Recent iPhone
Camera Enhancements: While recent iPhones like the iPhone 14 offer solid camera performance, the iPhone 15 takes it up a notch with its 48MP main camera. If photography is a priority for you, this upgrade can be justified.
Performance: The A16 Bionic chip in the iPhone 15 is powerful. If you use your phone for demanding tasks, such as mobile gaming or video editing, the improved performance can make a difference.
Longer Battery Life: Even if your current iPhone is relatively new, the iPhone 15’s larger battery can still provide extended usage, making it a practical choice for heavy smartphone users.
Cost: Upgrading from a recent iPhone to the iPhone 15 may not yield substantial benefits, and the cost of the new device may not be justifiable. Consider your budget and whether the improvements are worth the expense.
Diminishing Returns: Recent iPhone models are already highly capable devices. The incremental improvements in the iPhone 15 may not be significant enough to warrant the expense if your current phone meets your needs.
Switching from Another Smartphone Brand
Apple Ecosystem: If you’re switching from another smartphone brand to the iPhone 15, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Apple ecosystem. Seamless integration with other Apple devices like Macs and iPads can be a compelling reason to make the switch.
Reliable Software Updates: Apple is known for providing software updates for its devices for several years. If you’re tired of dealing with the uncertainty of Android updates on other brands, the iPhone’s reliability in this regard can be a significant advantage.
Camera Quality: The iPhone 15’s camera capabilities are top-notch, and the quality of photos and videos can be a persuasive reason to switch, especially if you value photography and videography.
Adjustment Period: If you’re accustomed to the Android ecosystem, there will be a learning curve when switching to the iPhone and iOS. You’ll need to adapt to a new operating system and interface.
Cost: The iPhone 15 may come at a premium compared to some Android devices. Consider whether the additional expense aligns with the features and benefits you seek.
In the end, the iPhone 15 is undeniably a powerful and feature-rich smartphone, but its worthiness as an upgrade depends on your unique needs and circumstances. Careful consideration of the factors mentioned above will help you make an informed decision about whether the iPhone 15 is the right choice for you.
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