iPhone 15 Pro Max review – a subtle shift into the future

2 weeks ago 58

Early Verdict

While not a reinvention of the smartphone genre, Apple's iPhone 15 Pro Max is an breathtaking update with charismatic curves, a bigger screen, a caller Action Button, and what appears to beryllium an industry-crushing mobile CPU. There's a spot of a stumble connected giving america each we wanted successful telephoto photography, but the operation of a bigger sensor, 5x optical zoom and the backing of amended representation processing means this is inactive the flagship to watch.


  • +

    5x zoom

  • +

    Removing the edges goes a agelong way

  • +

    Action Button FTW

  • +

    A17 Pro could beryllium a crippled changer


  • -

    Why nary 10x zoom?

  • -

    Maybe springiness america much megapixels

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    A small much expensive

Why you tin spot TechRadar We walk hours investigating each merchandise oregon work we review, truthful you tin beryllium definite you’re buying the best. Find retired much astir however we test.

iPhone 15 Pro Max: One-minute preview

The iPhone 15 Pro Max represents the biggest and champion of Apple phones, with the instrumentality sporting a caller 5x optical zoom telephoto camera that promises to springiness the rear camera array much flexibility than ever before. 

With the caller 3 nanometer A17 Pro astatine its core, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has a chipset that not lone promises 19 cardinal transistors of blazing performance, but besides uses its neural processing powers to transportation retired adjacent smarter functions than we've travel to expect from Apple processors successful the past.

Speaking of which, the caller Action Button that replaces the alert slider connected erstwhile iPhones tin trigger a fig of apps and features done a bid of speedy and agelong presses, offering a accelerated mode to entree your favourite apps and tools without swiping done location screens and menus.  

The USB-C larboard makes its long-awaited iPhone debut too, and completing the iPhone 15 Pro Max upgrade look is simply a caller rounded plan that harkens backmost to the iPhone 11 series, but 1 that offers a lighter and much durable telephone acknowledgment to the usage of a titanium frame.

In short, the iPhone 15 Pro Max looks acceptable to beryllium a contender for a earnestly precocious spot connected our best phones list. But we'll request much clip to enactment Apple's latest flagship done its paces to cognize for sure. 

In the meantime, I spent immoderate precious moments with the iPhone 15 Pro Max astatine Apple's headquarters, touching that luxurious titanium, marveling astatine the so-thin bezel, pressing that Action Button and mostly examining each that's caller (hey, 5x optical zoom!) and what's not (48MP, still?). 

iPhone 15 Pro Max held successful  a hand

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Price and availability

The iPhone 15 Pro Max starts astatine $1,199 / £1,399 / AU$2,099 , which is simply a terms hike implicit its predecessor the iPhone 14 Pro Max (but you bash get doubly the storage: 256GB). This besides puts the iPhone 15 Pro Max astatine a higher terms than the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, which is simply a hard spot to be. 

Pre-orders for the iPhone 15 Pro Max commencement contiguous (September 12) and the telephone volition beryllium shipped from September 22. 

People looking astatine  displays of the iPhone 15 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Specs

Check retired the iPhone 15 Pro Max's afloat specs below:

Swipe to scroll horizontally

iPhone 15 Pro Max specsHeader Cell - Column 1
Dimensions:77.6mm x 160.7mm x 7.85mm
OS:iOS 17
Screen size:6.7 inches
Resolution:1290 x 2796 pixels
Chipset:A17 Pro
Storage:256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Rear Cameras:48MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP telephoto with 5x adaptable zoom
Front Camera:12MP

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Design

There tin beryllium a large quality betwixt what you privation and privation for and what you get, and depending connected the chasm betwixt the two, you whitethorn consciousness cheated oregon conscionable somewhat disgruntled. However, sometimes, you get capable different worldly that the things you mislaid are each but forgotten. Apple's flagship iPhone 15 Pro Max, the 6.7-inch giant, brings with it capable breathtaking updates that chopped crossed prime of life, innovation and invited plan changes that, yes, I astir forgot the things Apple didn't springiness us.

Let's commencement with the design, and yes, immoderate but surely not each of this is reflected successful the remainder of the iPhone 15 lineup.

With its latest flagship, Apple divided the quality betwixt the classical curved borderline plan of, say, the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the last-generation iPhone 14 Pro Max with a hybrid plan that smooths the edges but leaves much than capable of a level flat astir the perimeter of the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The assemblage is present a operation of ceramic shield-covered solid connected the front, ultra-hard solid connected the back, and the caller titanium frame. The payment of this new-to-Apple worldly is that is it's beardown and airy – overmuch lighter, successful fact, than the stainless alloy recovered connected the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. In my hand, the iPhone 15 Pro Max felt noticeably lighter than the iPhone 14 Pro Max  (the erstwhile weighs 221g, whereas the iPhone 14 Pro Max clocks successful astatine 240g). It truly is simply a shame that everyone volition transportation these phones successful cases and ne'er consciousness the brushed elegance of this metallic and recently softened edges. I enjoyed holding the phone.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max besides boasts ace bladed show bezels that measurement conscionable 1.5mm and are, rather frankly, astir invisible to the bare oculus (at this rate, we wouldn't beryllium amazed if Apple manages to bash distant with surface bezels wholly connected the iPhone 16 Pro Max). 

The astir important plan upgrades to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, however, are much functional than aesthetic. The archetypal is an Apple Watch Ultra-style Action Button, which arrives successful spot of the carnal mute power utilized connected each iPhone model, well, ever. 

The broadside  buttons connected  the iPhone 15 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

In essence, the Action Button is customizable and tin beryllium configured to trigger a wide assortment of actions (up to nine). It makes the iPhone 15 Pro a overmuch much versatile instrumentality than its predecessor, and we're gladsome to spot Apple yet ditch a power that has go redundant for galore users.

As you know, I was nary instrumentality of the silent/ring slider button. I mean, I didn't hatred it, but recovered it mostly useless, similar a vestigial but nary longer utile organ.

iPhone 15 Pro Max enactment   fastener  control

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The caller Action Button, which looks perfectly astatine location connected the broadside of the iPhone 15 Pro Max is simply a fantastic addition. It's casual to usage and configure. I pressed erstwhile to spot successful the Dynamic Island that I was not successful soundless mode. A agelong property enactment maine successful soundless mode. Better yet, I could spell into Settings and take the superior Action Button function, including flashlight, dependable connection and camera shutter. It's a genuinely invited small update.

There are small haptic bumps each clip you usage the enactment button, which I felt rather clearly. In the lawsuit of silent/ring, those bumps mimic the ones nonmigratory connected your iPhone 14 Pro, which means in-pocket switching is possible.

USB-C larboard  connected  the iPhone 15 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The 2nd large plan alteration is simply a USB-C port, which replaces Apple’s proprietary Lightning larboard connected the iPhone 15 Pro Max (and so each exemplary successful the iPhone 15 lineup). This pill-shaped larboard is the latest cosmopolitan modular for the wired transportation of astute devices, meaning Apple's iPhone 15 phones are instantly much compatible than erstwhile iPhones (though it's worthy remembering that Apple has lone opted to adorn its latest harvest of iPhones with these ports following a caller EU regulation).

As for however this modulation from Lightning to USB-C affects the functionality of the iPhone 15 Pro Max it's hard to accidental without really investigating the phone. I cognize intuitively that it volition judge virtually immoderate of my USB-C cables for charging. Apple made a large woody astir the USB 3 compatibility, which translates to overmuch higher information transportation speeds (up to 10GBps). This should mean you'll beryllium capable to download ProRes video to your Mac overmuch much rapidly and, if you link the iPhone 15 Pro Max with a high-speed USB 3 cablegram to a Mac, spot high-res photos astir instantly connected the Mac screen. Again, I'd person to trial to cognize for sure.

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Display

iPhone 15 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The iPhone 15 Pro Max sticks with its predecessor’s (beautiful) 6.7-inch Super XDR OLED screen, which uses Apple’s ProMotion exertion to alteration the refresh complaint betwixt 10Hz and 120Hz, depending connected the contented displayed connected screen.

The Dynamic Island integer cutout besides returns from iPhone 15 Pro Max – though this notch is nary longer a Pro-exclusive feature, having made its mode onto the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus excessively – and, arsenic mentioned, the phone's show bezels are mostly non-existent. In my comparatively little hands-on clip with the phone, I didn't find that Dynamic Island worked immoderate otherwise than earlier but it remains the champion spot for each sorts of at-a-glance info astir the authorities of your phone, directions, calls, and more.

As for the tightened bezels, I deliberation it simply makes Apple's biggest iPhone that overmuch much immersive. When I utilized it for photography oregon to presumption photos, I didn't adjacent spot the ultra-thin achromatic bezel betwixt the representation and the existent borderline of immoderate photo. It's different lawsuit of a tiny alteration that, I think, volition construe to large benefits.

The surface looks arsenic agleam (still 2,000 nits max brightness) and color-rich arsenic ever – each photograph I looked astatine connected the large show popped connected the screen.

In short, I deliberation that by not messing with a winning look and giving america conscionable a tiny spot much screen, the iPhone 15 Pro Max's show volition stay 1 of the champion successful the smartphone business.

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Cameras

The camera array connected  the rear of the iPhone 15 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

If determination is immoderate vexation successful my archetypal appraisal of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, it's that Apple fell abbreviated of my photography expectations. I genuinely believed this was the twelvemonth of the Apple iPhone periscope camera. We did not get that, exactly. More connected that successful a bit.

Apple did not beryllium inactive successful the camera space; acold from it. In fact, it's the archetypal clip successful a portion that the Pro Max variation would outstrip adjacent its 6.1-inch Pro sibling. 

Specifically, the iPhone 15 Pro Max yet has a 5x optical zoom. No, it's not the 10x periscope-driven 10x optical zoom you'll find connected the stellar Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Still, this is simply a 12MP 5x zoom backed by optical representation stabilization and a prism plan that, alternatively of 1 periscope crook done a azygous prism seemingly bounces the representation four times betwixt the lens and sensor. I'm not wide connected wherefore this didn't effect successful a higher zoom, but determination is simply a accidental that we get higher prime retired of the little effectual zoom.

In my little clip with the 5x zoom camera, I did find that it could get you into the enactment – I'm looking guardant to spending much clip with it. The iPhone 15 Pro, by the way, sticks with past year's 3x optical zoom. There's a calculation present connected Apple's part. It knows that Pro Max models merchantability similar hotcakes, possibly much adjacent than the Pro, truthful wherefore not propulsion each your camera eggs successful your bestselling basket?

iPhone 15 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The phone's Sony IMX903 sensor besides marks the biggest camera sensor ever utilized successful an iPhone (the sensor is bigger than the 1 recovered connected the iPhone 15). Had that been paired with a 10x optical zoom, the iPhone 15 Pro Max would've stood a bully accidental of dethroning the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra arsenic the best camera phone connected the marketplace successful 2023. As it is, it whitethorn travel down to a spot of a toss-up.

Outside of the phone's 5x telephoto lens, the iPhone 15 Pro Max boasts a 48MP quad-pixel main camera and a 12MP ultra-wide. On the beforehand is simply a 12MP front-facing TrueDepth camera, which Apple has carried implicit from the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Apple's iPhone 15 Pro Max (and each the different iPhone 15 models) volition sprout 24MP photos by default that usage a operation of the champion 12MP and the item from the afloat 48MP sensor. There are besides caller Pro-level settings to sprout successful a wide assortment of focal magnitude settings (13mm macro, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm). I fishy astir consumers volition disregard these somewhat buried controls.

On paper, the iPhone 15 Pro Max camera specs are not wildly antithetic than the iPhone 14 Pro Max (aside from the telephoto change) but with the amended lenses, representation processing, and that almighty A17 Pro Apple Silicon, it's a fastener that the iPhone 15 Pro Max volition negociate galore awesome photography feats.

iPhone 15 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Performance and software

I person galore questions astir Apple's caller A17 Pro silicon. It's evidently a interruption from the Bionic nomenclature of the past, but it's much than that. The driblet from the A16 Bionic's 4nm processor to the A 17 Pro's 3nm should mean important powerfulness savings. Naturally, erstwhile paired with 19 cardinal transistors and a load of different features connected the graphics side, including hardware-based ray-tracing, the A17 Pro should beryllium a beast of a mobile CPU.

No smartphone CPU I've tested successful the past fewer years has bested Apple silicon, and the A17 Pro looks to widen Apple's pb significantly. While the velocity volition beryllium formidable, it's the graphics capabilities that whitethorn crook the mobile manufacture connected its head. Apple demonstrated console-level gaming connected the iPhone 15 Pro Max (and 15 Pro). having seen it successful person, I tin accidental it's impressive. I can't hold to amusement immoderate of the existent gamers I unrecorded with.

Naturally, close now, I can't archer you each that overmuch astir real-world show due to the fact that I spent little than an hr with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. I'll request benchmarking and immoderate hardcore gaming tests to find retired the truth. 

All I tin accidental is that astir of the fewer things I did bash connected the iPhone 15 Pro Max were creaseless and trouble-free, and it volition surely outperform the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

This is besides the archetypal iPhone to enactment Wi-Fi 6E, which is bully to cognize for erstwhile you get that caller router oregon are successful a caller bureau with upgraded Wi-Fi.

The iPhone 15 Pro besides ships with iOS 17 installed arsenic standard.

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Battery life

As usual, Apple hasn’t revealed the authoritative size of the artillery powering the iPhone 15 Pro Max, but we're softly assured that the telephone is rocking an 18% larger compartment than the 1 utilized successful the iPhone 14 Pro Max (4,852mAh versus 4,323mAh). 

In theory, then, the iPhone 15 Pro Max should boast superior artillery beingness implicit its predecessor, but we'll person to hold until we've tally afloat artillery tests earlier confirming arsenic much. Apple, for its part, claims that you'll get "all-day artillery life" from the iPhone 15 Pro Max and, successful the specs, quotes 29 hours of video playback.  I privation my iPhone to past from the infinitesimal I aftermath up until I spell to sleep, immoderate clip that is. I should person the champion accidental of that happening with the larger iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Naturally, the iPhone 15 Pro Max inactive supports wireless MagSafe charging and, now, tin beryllium charged with a USB-C cable. I expect that to vessel successful the container but you'll apt beryllium utilizing your past USB-C Apple complaint adapter oregon different 1 you person lying around.

At slightest you cognize you tin get those accelerated USB 3 information speeds (assuming you person the close cable).

Apple made nary notation of accelerated charging (wired oregon wireless) and has near the telephone with the quality to complaint 50% successful 30 minutes from a 28W charger, fundamentally the aforesaid arsenic the iPhone 14 Pro Max. For immoderate reason, Apple inactive isn't prioritizing genuinely accelerated charging.

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Early verdict

Apple didn't reinvent the iPhone, but it made a fistful of large changes successful its iPhone 15 Pro Max that I deliberation volition adhd up to what whitethorn beryllium the astir almighty smartphone connected the market, portion besides being the astir utile and fun.

The smoother titanium plan is, adjacent astatine this aboriginal stage, is simply a wide victor for benignant and feel. The Action Button is instantly 8 times much utile than the aged silent/ring switch. The USB-C larboard volition beryllium considered a large triumph successful the end, adjacent if it perchance causes immoderate short-term vexation erstwhile you can't usage aged cables. The A17 Pro spot is breathtaking to deliberation astir and I can't adjacent ideate the graphic benchmark numbers we're astir to see. A 5x optical zoom is welcome, if not each that I wished for.

In all, I deliberation this is simply a much breathtaking iPhone update than radical realize. I stake it joins our champion phones database and becomes a bestseller for Apple.

First tested August 2023

Lance Ulanoff

A 35-year manufacture seasoned and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered exertion since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a erstwhile Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, earlier that, Editor successful Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He besides wrote a popular, play tech file for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes predominant appearances connected national, international, and section quality programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, Fox News, Fox Business, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC. 

With contributions from

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