The biggest iPhone 15 Pro news from today's Apple event might be design-related, with the introduction of grade 5 titanium for the iPhone's casing. But the insides don't disappoint either. Most notably, Apple's finally given us a reason to pay extra for the Pro Max that isn't just about size and battery life.
The largest iPhone will have a longer optical zoom than the standard iPhone Pro 15. That means it should more readily stand up against the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in the main area where it had been lacking. We'll need to test it but, it's very likely to earn a place in our pick of the best camera phones.
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Some will be surprised that neither the iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max offer an increase in megapixels, sporting a 48MP camera like last year's 14 Pro. But the camera has been updated with a larger quad-pixel sensor and offers high resolution in more focal lengths. Both have the equivalent of 7 lenses and provide high-resolution photos at 24mm, 28mm and 35mm. There's an option to customise the default lens, and the phone can now shoot 48MP HEIF as well as Apple Raw.
The biggest change is that Apple's taken advantage of the larger phone's size to give the iPhone 15 Pro Max a 12MP 5x optical zoom (120mm equivalent). That still doesn't match the Galaxy S23 Ultra's 10x, but it has a wider f2.8 aperture compared to f4.5 on the Galaxy. Combine it with Apple's 2x crop, and Apple claims you effectively have a 10x optical zoom. No, that's not the same thing, but I'll be interested to see the results.
It's worth noting that the zoom isn't variable, so there's no more 3x optical zoom on the Pro Max, which some people may miss (the iPhone 15 Pro sticks with the 3x, f.2.8 aperture for a 77m focal length). But a 5x optical zoom could be more practical than 10x, and it fills in a gap in the iPhone camera's capabilities. Add in the camera's other features, including the macro capabilities on the ultrawide lens on both phones, and overall the iPhone Pro 15 Max could well be the best camera phone on the market.
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Beyond the zoom, what looks most exciting in both the iPhone 15 Pro camera and the 15 Pro Max is the amount of detail and realism in colours that appear to be possible in Night Mode, the improved dynamic range and the focus and depth control for portraits (see the images above) Other additions include a nanoscale coating for reduced lens flare.
Another late but welcome change is the introduction of USB-C, the lack of which was something that has put me off the iPhone. Put all of this together, and I might not only be tempted away from the Galaxy Ultra – I might end up going for the Pro Max, a phone I had seen little point in before.
The cost of that move? The iPhone 15 Pro will start at $999 / £999 in line with the 14 Pro last year. The iPhone 15 Pro Max will start at $1,199 / £1,199. That's a bump for the US starting price, but the base mode now comes with 256GB storage, which you would get for the same price with the 14 Pro Max. Preorders are due to open on the Apple website.
iPhone 15 Pro specs
In terms of design, both the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max come in a new grade 5 titanium case, with a brushed texture finish in four colours: black and white, blue and natural. New features include a customisable action button that can be used to quickly launch different functions and a new full-screen standby mode when the phone is turned on its side. The phones sport a new A17 Pro, a 3 nanometer chip, with new 6-core CPU and 6-core pro-class GPU that Apple says is up to 20 per cent faster.