Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max Review: More Than A Customary Upgrade

With each iPhone launch, the inevitable question always pops up – What’s new? Over the last few years that question has been usually reserved for Apple’s ‘Pro’ devices that started with the debut of the iPhone 11 Pro back in 2019. Five iPhone launches later, it’s fair to say that the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max represent the biggest overhaul of the iPhone Pro series.  



Customer expectations have been tempered in the 2020s with a growing realisation that those radical annual smartphone upgrades are no longer a thing. We live in a time of ‘incremental upgrades’ in the smartphone space and although we’ve seen foldables carve a niche they still haven’t hit critical mass. That’s one reason we’re excited (a word we don’t use much in the smartphone space these days) about the iPhone 15 Pro twins. There are some meaningful updates and yet this is by no means a complete shake up of the iPhone as we know it.  


You have to feel it. 


Smartphone brands and marketers put a lot of thought into the first moment a customer or a prospect holds a new smartphone. It’s a moment that the iPhone 15 Pro Max aces. There’s one thing saying that the iPhone 15 Pro Max is about 10% lighter than its predecessor but holding the 2023 Pro Max in your hand is a completely new experience, especially if you’ve been using any of the recent Pro Max devices as your daily driver. The secret to this is titanium.  Apple has switched the stainless-steel chassis for a lightweight titanium design that encases a new substructure that’s crafted with 100% recycled aluminium. We checked out the natural titanium variant that’s probably the pick of the four colour ways. That’s not the only change; Apple has shrunk the borders for a more immersive screen experience. Just like the recycled aluminium, Apple has incorporated multiple design changes to reduce its carbon footprint. The battery is 100% recycled cobalt, we also like the new woven fabric case that eclipses Apple’s leather back cases for all the 2023 iPhones.  



Ready for action 


When we checked out the 2022 Apple Watch Ultra, one of our favourite features was the ‘Action button’, a customisable hot key for the app of your choice. It might seem like a basic feature but it’s mighty useful. The new Pro twins feature a handy Action Button that replaces the mute switch, an iPhone constant for years. You can use this key to mute the device, although we’d recommend setting this as a camera hot key especially if you’re a photography buff (who isn’t?). It’s a handy key for a device that’s riding heavily on its camera creds.  



Apple gives the iPhone 15 Pro Max a slight edge over the iPhone 15 Pro with a 5x telephoto zoom backed by a unique ‘tetraprism’ that bends the light path four times before it hits the sensor. Apple contends that light travels longer on this lens than a conventional periscope lens that we’ve seen on most smartphone cams with zoom capabilities. The results in our initial tests gives images shot on the 15 Pro Max (on 5x mode) a discernible advantage over its rivals. Videos get even better on the new Pro Max; the new shooting modes aim to replicate the experience of shooting with seven pro lenses. The default resolution now is 24MP while Portrait mode gets a leg up with more focus and depth controls even after you shoot the images. It all adds up, the triple rear cam (that includes a 48MP primary lens, a 12MP ultra-wide lens and a 12MP zoom lens) is probably the smartphone cam to beat.  


Raw power 


The Pro devices have become the showcase of the brand’s hardware process. One of the biggest updates is under the hood. The A17 Pro chip is the first 3-nanometer chip to power a smartphone. The pro-class GPU is up to 20% faster. While most average users moving up from last year’s iPhone 14 Pro twins may not notice the change, this is an update that serious gamers and power users will appreciate. Apple is playing up the fact that this year’s Pro twins will see the debut of console titles (like Resident Evil 4) for the first time on a smartphone. The 15 Pro Max slayed everything we threw at it, from gaming to multi-tasking. No surprises here.  



One more thing  


This was a moment most of us have been waiting for. To be able to finally ditch that extra cable when you travel or charge multiple devices at home. The iPhone 15 series become the first iPhones (about time too) with USB-C charging. I will miss the lightning cable just like I would miss an old friend but the sheer convenience of Apple adopting a more global standard cannot be overstated. The biggest advantage is faster data transfer speeds (Apple pegs this at 20x with support for USB 3) that make it much easier to move heavy files among your devices.  



Now to the obvious question. Should you upgrade and pay top dollar for the most expensive smartphone your money can buy? You can skip this if you already own an iPhone 14 Pro Max unless you live on the cutting edge and like to be spotted with the newest gadgets in town. The choice gets more complex if you own a 13 Pro / Pro Max, given that you get a whole bunch of new experiences including Dynamic Island, a new build and an improved camera. The other thing to keep in mind is this year’s iPhone 15 twins that see significant upgrades over last year’s iPhone 14 including an improved rear camera and Dynamic Island. The iPhone 15 Pro Max certainly deserves to be on your festive shopping list if you’re looking for the best iPhone that also offers a Pro camera experience. Thankfully this one’s more than just an incremental upgrade.  


The iPhone 15 Pro starts at Rs 1,34,900 (128GB) while the 15 Pro Max starts at Rs 1,59,900 (256GB). Both phones are available in Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, Black Titanium and White Titanium. There’s an instant cashback of Rs 6,000 on HDFC Bank credit cards.

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