Apple iPhone 15 and 15 Plus review: mainstream crossovers

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There astir apt isn’t overmuch you don’t cognize astir the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus. Much similar the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus, the iPhone 15 models repackage many, but not all, of the features recovered successful past year’s Pro lineup astatine a little price. There’s the Dynamic Island alternatively of a notch, a higher-resolution 48-megapixel camera, the A16 Bionic processor pulled from the iPhone 14 Pro, and an all-new USB-C larboard successful spot of the Lightning connector.

But the $799 iPhone 15 oregon $899 iPhone 15 Plus isn’t for the idiosyncratic who is cataloging each spec and diagnostic quality twelvemonth aft year. It’s not for the idiosyncratic demanding the implicit champion camera, astir cutting-edge processor, and fanciest design; that idiosyncratic should conscionable bargain the iPhone 15 Pro oregon 15 Pro Max. 

The regular iPhone 15 (or 15 Plus if you privation a bigger screen) is the telephone for you if you person a three- oregon four-year-old iPhone 12 oregon 11 (or adjacent older) that isn’t keeping up anymore oregon has a brutally cracked screen. Or possibly you’re a teen getting your archetypal telephone that’s not a hand-me-down from your parents oregon older siblings. You usage your telephone arsenic a instrumentality for communication, for entertainment, for societal media, for taking photos, and for each of the different things successful modern beingness that dictate we request a smartphone, but you don’t request the astir costly instrumentality to bash those things. You are going to find a batch of caller things and a batch to similar successful the iPhone 15 oregon 15 Plus.

I won’t accidental the iPhone 15 oregon 15 Plus are the close phones for most radical — Apple continues to merchantability a batch of Pro models each year, adjacent astatine their higher prices. There are reasons for that: I was hoping to spot Apple bring its Pro-level show features similar precocious refresh rates and always-on screens to the modular enactment this year, and that didn’t happen. 

Complicating the substance is the information that Apple is inactive selling the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus for $100 little than the iPhone 15 models. Contrary to past year, I deliberation determination are capable improvements present implicit the iPhone 14 procreation to warrant springing for the iPhone 15 — you get a amended camera, the Dynamic Island, and much convenient charging. But I cognize determination are a batch of radical who volition conscionable spell for the cheapest iPhone they tin get and beryllium perfectly blessed with it. (Apple volition besides merchantability you an iPhone 13 from 2 years agone if you privation to prevention adjacent much money.)

Overall, and obviously, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are good, if not excellent, phones. (That’s benignant of inevitable erstwhile we’re connected the 15th procreation of a device, but I digress.) But they aren’t absorbing oregon pushing the envelope successful immoderate way, and I don’t deliberation Apple volition ever usage this exemplary for that purpose. Instead, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are dependable, reliable phones with immoderate modern features thrown successful the mix.

iPhone 15 design

A bluish  iPhone 15 look   down   adjacent  to a pinkish  iPhone 15 Plus look   down.

The colour options are profoundly uninspired this year. Fortunately, you’re going to conscionable usage a case, right?

The plan of the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus isn’t radically antithetic from each the models dating backmost to the iPhone 12, erstwhile Apple debuted the existent iPhone plan language. It’s inactive solid connected the beforehand and backmost with a squared-off aluminum frame. 

But Apple did marque immoderate tweaks, and the effect is simply a much comfy instrumentality to clasp successful your hand. The hard edges of the aluminum framework person been somewhat rounded, and the glossy backmost solid has been swapped for “color-infused” solid with a satin oregon matte finish. The edges of the telephone don’t chopped into my manus similar the older models did, and these tweaks adjacent marque it somewhat comfy to clasp the ample iPhone 15 Plus without the assistance of a PopSocket oregon different grip. The full happening conscionable feels somewhat softened and nicer to clasp than the anterior models. Aside from the quality successful surface size and artillery capacity, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are identical.

Of course, if you’re similar the vast bulk of radical who volition bargain the iPhone 15 oregon 15 Plus and instantly enactment a lawsuit connected it, you tin spell up and hide each astir that past paragraph. Matte solid tends to beryllium much slippery than glossy solid successful my experience, truthful it’s a omniscient thought to usage a lawsuit anyway. The iPhone 15 models bash inherit the easier repairability of past year’s generation, truthful if it does break, it should beryllium reasonably straightforward to get repaired either by Apple, a 3rd party, oregon even yourself.

The different happening you tin disregard erstwhile you usage a lawsuit is the iPhone 15’s colour options. There are 5 colors this year, including modular black, and frankly, they suck. Apple talked a large crippled astir the infusion of colour successful the backmost solid during its lawsuit announcing the iPhone 15, but successful person, it’s truly hard to appreciate. They are truthful desaturated, peculiarly connected the bluish model, that it feels similar a transgression to adjacent telephone them colored. The champion colour of the radical is possibly the pinkish one, but adjacent that is excessively pastel and millennial pink-y — I’d emotion to spot immoderate much saturation successful the colors of adjacent year’s phones.

Apple didn’t usage immoderate corny selling names for the iPhone 15’s colors, truthful here’s what I came up with during an interminable layover fever imagination astatine an airport:

  • Yup, it’s black
  • Barely bluish (Google’s not utilizing it anymore, seems just crippled to me)
  • Almost green
  • Maybe yellow
  • Millennial pink

Colors aside, the happening I astir admit astir the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus is their value or, much accurately, deficiency of it. Coming from my ain idiosyncratic iPhone 13 Pro that feels similar an implicit brick, the 15 and 15 Plus are overmuch much manageable. The 15 Plus is 201g, 1 gram lighter than my 13 Pro, contempt its overmuch larger screen, and the iPhone 15, astatine 171g, is 23 grams lighter than an iPhone 11. Given that Apple no longer sells an iPhone Mini model, if you privation a tiny and airy modern iPhone, the iPhone 15 is your champion option.

Close up   of the USB-C larboard  connected  the iPhone 15

Oh my word, it’s a USB-C larboard connected an iPhone.

The different large hardware alteration this twelvemonth is the swap from Lightning to USB-C for charging and information transfer. This alteration has been a agelong clip coming, and I applaud it, adjacent if Apple is virtually years precocious to doing so. It does mean that the piles of Lightning cables and accessories you’ve accumulated are obsolete present (Apple gives you a caller braided cablegram successful the container with the phone), but it besides means you don’t person to transportation aggregate charging cables for your iPhone, iPad, laptop, and different accessories. And hey, you tin present usage the aforesaid charging cablegram arsenic your Android-toting friends and loved ones, which volition surely travel successful useful astatine immoderate point.

The USB-C larboard supports wired charging up to 27W and tin output to a show astatine 4K60 resolution. But it’s constricted to USB 2.0 information transfers: conscionable 480Mbps, 20 times slower than the USB 3 information speeds disposable connected an iPhone Pro oregon an iPad Air and 80 times slower than what comes connected each Macs astatine this point. Most radical volition ne'er plug their telephone into a machine to transportation information disconnected of it, but the regulation shows up successful different areas, similar erstwhile I plugged a USB-C ethernet adapter into the iPhone 15 and lone got fractional of my gigabit net speed. Or erstwhile switching to a caller telephone and utilizing a cablegram to determination your information implicit and having to hold arsenic gigabytes of information are squeezed done the USB 2 connection. It conscionable feels similar a stingy regulation connected an $800-plus telephone considering faster USB speeds person been retired for 15 years.

Wireless charging is here, too, astatine the acquainted 15W for MagSafe-certified chargers oregon 7.5W for regular Qi charging, including “MagSafe-compatible” magnetic Qi chargers. The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus should enactment the caller Qi2 standard whenever that gets certified, which presumably volition unlock 15W magnetic wireless charging without a charger needing MagSafe certification (and its associated outgo premium).

Another happening to beryllium alert of erstwhile upgrading from an older iPhone is the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus lone enactment with eSIM and don’t person a slot for a accepted SIM paper (at slightest present successful the US). This volition beryllium a mostly painless power for astir radical — Apple’s setup process does a bully occupation of getting your enactment switched implicit to an eSIM with your carrier, and then, erstwhile you upgrade this telephone successful 3 oregon 4 years, your eSIM tin beryllium easy transferred to the caller one. Nothing has changed astir the iPhone 15’s eSIM enactment compared to the iPhone 14, truthful cheque retired Allison Johnson’s reappraisal from past year for much info connected it. But for astir people, it’s not thing to interest about.

iPhone 15 display

The Dynamic Island connected  the iPhone 15 showing a presently  playing podcast

The island, it’s dynamic.

As with past year’s iPhone 14 and 14 Plus, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus person 6.1-inch oregon 6.7-inch OLED screens. They’re present susceptible of hitting a higher highest brightness of 2,000 nits outdoors, which should marque them easier to work successful nonstop sunlight. Unfortunately, my trial play has been bedeviled by chill weather, clouds, and rain, truthful I haven’t been capable to trial however agelong the iPhone 15 tin support that highest brightness earlier aggressively throttling it back. Personal acquisition with my ain iPhone 13 Pro and galore different phones tells maine that it doesn’t instrumentality agelong for the surface to go unreadably dim connected a blistery and sunny summertime day.

Both displays look great, with close yet vibrant colors and large viewing angles. But Apple is inactive utilizing 60Hz screens here, which feels progressively dated, particularly astatine these prices. A faster refreshing screen, similar the 120Hz show connected the iPhone Pro oregon countless Android phones, is nicer to interact with and look at. That’s important for a instrumentality you walk literal hours utilizing each time — it’s not conscionable thing for “techies” to obsess over. Scrolling is smoother, animations are nicer, and everything astir the instrumentality feels much fluid with a faster refreshing screen. We’re astatine the constituent wherever it’s inexcusable for Apple to beryllium putting a 60Hz surface connected an $800 oregon $900 phone, and it’s thing that would support maine from buying either exemplary myself.

The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus bash not person the always-on show capableness Apple includes connected caller Pro models, and I deliberation that’s besides a miss. One of the champion features of iOS 17 is the caller StandBy mode, which lets you usage your iPhone arsenic a tiny astute show oregon alarm timepiece erstwhile it’s charging connected a stand. But without the quality for the surface to ever beryllium on, you person to pat the telephone to aftermath it up each clip you privation to presumption it, which severely limits its usability successful this mode. I was truly hoping Apple would marque always-on modular crossed the enactment this year, but it didn’t.

The iPhone 15 Plus’ Dynamic Island showing the presumption    of a formation  successful  the Flighty app.

The Dynamic Island is large for keeping tabs connected your inevitable formation hold astatine the airport. Love to question successful 2023! (Apple’s silicone cases really bash person immoderate colour to them, which is what you spot here.)

As portion of the remixing of the iPhone 14 Pro’s features, some the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus person the Dynamic Island show cutout successful spot of the long-standing notch. It works precisely the aforesaid arsenic it does connected the iPhone Pro models that person it, providing a caller abstraction for strategy alerts similar Face ID authentication oregon Bluetooth headphone connections and ongoing accusation similar presently playing euphony oregon the presumption of your indefinitely delayed flight. It’s afloat of whimsical and informative animations that inject immoderate beingness into a spot of the telephone that astir radical are accustomed to ignoring entirely, and arsenic idiosyncratic who doesn’t person it connected their idiosyncratic phone, I’ve enjoyed utilizing it a lot.

Because the Dynamic Island was constricted to the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max past year, adoption by developers has been alternatively slow, with lone a fistful of apps truly making usage of it successful clever ways. But present that the Dynamic Island is modular crossed the iPhone 15 lineup, I’m hopeful that we’ll get much apps taking vantage of it.

iPhone 15 camera

The camera module connected  the iPhone 15 Plus

The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus instrumentality with a two-camera setup: main and ultrawide.

Another diagnostic inherited from the iPhone 14 Pro is simply a 48-megapixel main camera resolution, a important measurement up from the 12-megapixel cameras that person been connected iPhones since 2015’s iPhone 6S. The iPhone 15’s 48-megapixel camera is not the aforesaid 1 from the iPhone 14 Pro oregon 15 Pro, nevertheless — Apple claims it’s an “all-new” sensor designed specifically for the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus. Translation: it’s not arsenic bully arsenic what you get successful the Pro models. It’s a smaller carnal sensor and has a antithetic lens with a 26mm equivalent tract of view.

By default, the iPhone 15 captures a 24-megapixel image, which it builds utilizing information from some 12-megapixel and 48-megapixel captures. This caller solution provides much country for cropping oregon blowing up a representation successful a people than the 12 megapixels did before, without severely impacting record sizes. A emblematic 12-megapixel representation utilizing Apple’s HEIF format is astir 2 megabytes; a 24-megapixel changeable is astir 3 megabytes. You tin opt to lone seizure 12-megapixel images if you’re moving debased connected space, too.

You tin besides opt to seizure full-resolution 48-megapixel images successful either HEIF oregon JPEG formats. This does springiness you the afloat solution of the sensor, but I don’t deliberation astir radical should ever usage this diagnostic — comparing 24-megapixel and 48-megapixel images broadside by broadside shows akin amounts of detail. The downside to capturing shots astatine 48 megapixels is they are treble the record size of 24-megapixel images; that will devour up your phone’s interior retention successful a hurry.

Images captured by this caller high-resolution sensor are instantly recognizable arsenic iPhone shots, but Apple has tweaked its HDR algorithms to let brighter highlights than successful years past. That has the effect of making images consciousness little “flattened” and much dynamic than with older iPhones. Colors are besides vibrant and saturated — not arsenic overmuch arsenic Samsung tends to do, but much than shots from a mirrorless camera volition beryllium — and look large connected the mobile screens they are typically viewed on.

The different happening the 48-megapixel sensor allows for is simply a software-defined 2x lens that punches into the halfway rectangle of the sensor and outputs a 12-megapixel shot. The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus inactive don’t person a dedicated telephoto camera (for that, you’ll request to bargain a Pro model), truthful this enactment provides a mode to get somewhat person to your subject, adjacent if it’s small much than a integer crop. I similar it for representation shots much than thing else, but I inactive would person preferred to person a dedicated telephoto camera with much reach. Maybe adjacent year, but I’m not holding my breath.

As champion arsenic I tin tell, the iPhone 15’s ultrawide camera is unchanged from the iPhone 14’s, which is simply a small disappointing. It’s 12 megapixels, has a 120-degree tract of presumption (13mm equivalent), and lacks autofocus, which means it can’t bash immoderate of the amusive macro close-up tricks the Pro models offer. Colors from the camera are akin to the main sensor, truthful things mostly match, but the wide prime isn’t there. It’s bully erstwhile you request to seizure everyone successful a ample radical shot, but astir radical should instrumentality with the main camera whenever possible.

Portrait detection successful  the main   camera app connected  the iPhone 15.

When a person, dog, oregon feline is detected, oregon if you pat to focus, you tin seizure representation mode shots without having to power to the existent representation mode.

By acold the biggest camera betterment doesn’t impact the hardware astatine all: it’s the quality of the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus to seizure representation mode shots adjacent if you don’t power to the dedicated representation mode successful the camera app. Anytime the camera detects a person, dog, oregon cat, oregon if you pat to absorption connected a circumstantial spot, it volition seizure extent accusation that tin beryllium utilized to person the representation to a representation changeable successful the Photos app aft the fact. You tin pat the small “f” icon that appears successful the lower-left country of the viewfinder to preview what the representation volition look similar earlier you instrumentality it, and you tin adjacent alteration the absorption constituent of the changeable erstwhile editing afterward.

This allows you to enactment successful the infinitesimal and absorption connected capturing the changeable alternatively of fiddling astir with camera modes. I deliberation it volition beryllium precise adjuvant to a batch of radical who often hide to (or ne'er adjacent knew they could) power their iPhone to representation mode to marque shots of their loved ones oregon java cups basal retired much portion editing. It adjacent preserves enactment for Live Photos and works with the different unchanged front-facing selfie camera. There’s truly nary downside to this.

You tin pat to alteration absorption points aft a photograph has been taken.

Video signaling is mostly the aforesaid — up to 4K60, including Dolby Vision HDR — but you tin present smoothly zoom to the 2x mounting portion shooting. The Cinematic mode lets you sprout successful up to 4K30 and zoom successful to 3x. I’ve ne'er erstwhile utilized this mode to sprout video successful the 2 years it’s been retired and don’t cognize anyone that does, but hey, it’s there. 

iPhone 15 performance

The past happening the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus inherit from the iPhone 14 Pro is the A16 Bionic processor. This spot has a six-core CPU, five-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine and provided large show for thing I did connected the phone, from multitasking to gaming and snapping tons of photos and video. It’s not Apple’s latest and top A17 Pro spot (again, you’ll request to bargain a Pro telephone to get that), but it’s inactive an fantabulous performer — and should beryllium for years to come. Storage tiers are 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB this year. If you’re upgrading from a base-model telephone from a fewer years agone that had 64GB of storage, you’ll get astatine slightest doubly arsenic overmuch abstraction with an iPhone 15.

If artillery beingness is what you’re after, the iPhone 15 Plus is what you seek

There’s besides a caller second-generation ultra wideband spot that works successful conjunction with the latest Series 9 and Ultra 2 Apple Watch models for improved Find My abilities and much close Find My Friends locating erstwhile you can’t find your buddy successful a crowd. The satellite connectivity for exigency situations that debuted connected the iPhone 14 is present again, though we inactive don’t cognize however overmuch the work volition outgo extracurricular of the 2 years you get included erstwhile you bargain the phone.

If artillery beingness is much important to you than different things, you’ll privation to outpouring for the iPhone 15 Plus. Its larger size affords a bigger battery, and successful my testing, the 15 Plus had nary occupation lasting done a afloat time of dense usage and good into the next. It’s easy a two-day telephone for my mean usage, adjacent if I’m going to beryllium charging it each nighttime anyway. The regular iPhone 15 tin past a time without concern, too, but it’s not going to agelong into the 2nd time astir arsenic well.

An iPhone 15 Plus held successful  a hand.

It’s a small nicer to clasp the iPhone 15 Plus acknowledgment to its softened edges. But this doesn’t substance if you usage a lawsuit similar astir radical do.

It’s go a communal refrain among the tech pundit people to notation to smartphones arsenic appliances, things we request and bargain erstwhile the aged 1 breaks oregon needs replacement, similar ovens and refrigerators. I deliberation a much close metaphor for phones is simply a car.

Most radical bash not bargain caller cars precise often. When they do, it’s due to the fact that their aged car nary longer serves their needs: possibly it’s excessively tiny for their increasing household oregon it’s gotten excessively tally down oregon it’s consuming excessively overmuch substance arsenic state prices proceed to rise. It’s a large purchase, 1 that is breathtaking for the archetypal fewer weeks oregon months you person it — you test-drive a fewer models, find the 1 that champion fits your needs and your budget, and prime out  the colour that you like. After a fewer months, the caller car is nary longer exciting; it’s conscionable a happening you request to usage to get to work, to school, to the store, oregon wherever other you request to go.

The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are capable, reliable, and applicable phones that volition person nary occupation lasting 4 oregon much years of use

Smartphones are a batch similar that. A caller telephone is simply a large acquisition for a batch of people, and getting a caller 1 tin beryllium an breathtaking lawsuit (especially if you’re a teen and you’re yet getting the telephone you’ve spent years begging your parents for). But aft a while, it’s conscionable a means to an end, a happening you usage to support successful interaction with friends oregon family, support yourself entertained, oregon bash your job. 

In this metaphor, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus punctual maine a batch of a mainstream crossover, similar a Honda CR-V oregon Toyota RAV4. (If you’re funny what the Pro models would be, I’d spot them arsenic a much cutting-edge EV.) They are not the slightest costly phones connected the market, their processor isn’t the fastest you tin buy, and the plan isn’t going to crook heads oregon marque anyone accidental wow. These aren’t the level to showcase Apple’s latest and top ideas and technologies. 

But they are capable, practical, reliable, and accessible capable that a batch of radical are going to find these phones precise suitable for their needs. And they volition bash a large occupation arsenic their telephone for the adjacent 3 to 4 years until they are acceptable to get a caller one.

Photography by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Correction, September 19th, 2023, 9:25AM ET: An earlier mentation of this reappraisal stated that you tin seizure 48-megapixel images successful RAW format. The 48-megapixel shots are constricted to HEIF and JPEG record formats. We regret the error.

Agree to continue: Apple iPhone 15, 15 Plus, 15 Pro, and 15 Pro Max

Every astute instrumentality present requires you to hold to a bid of presumption and conditions earlier you tin usage it — contracts that nary 1 really reads. It’s intolerable for america to work and analyse each azygous 1 of these agreements. But we’re going to commencement counting precisely however galore times you person to deed “agree” to usage devices erstwhile we reappraisal them since these are agreements astir radical don’t work and decidedly can’t negotiate. 

To usage immoderate of the iPhone 15 models, you person to hold to:

  • The iOS presumption and conditions, which you tin person sent to you by email
  • Apple’s warranty agreement, which you tin person sent to you by email

These agreements are nonnegotiable, and you cannot usage the telephone astatine each if you don’t hold to them.

The iPhone besides prompts you to acceptable up Apple Cash and Apple Pay astatine setup, which further means you person to hold to:

  • The Apple Cash agreement, which specifies that services are really provided by Green Dot Bank and Apple Payments Inc. and further consists of the pursuing agreements:
  • The Apple Cash presumption and conditions
  • The physics communications agreement
  • The Green Dot Bank privateness policy
  • Direct payments presumption and conditions
  • Direct payments privateness notice
  • Apple Payments Inc. license

If you adhd a recognition paper to Apple Pay, you person to hold to:

  • The presumption from your recognition paper provider, which bash not person an enactment to beryllium emailed

Final tally: 2 mandatory agreements, six optional agreements for Apple Cash, and 1 optional statement for Apple Pay.


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