Apple has finally relented and swapped out its Lightning connectivity for USB-C on its new iPhone 15 series, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max and 15 Pro sport the nippiest USB-C ports of the lot. The benefit this port swap-out brings for photo and video enthusiasts can't be overstated.
Now, you can use one charger for all your gadgets – laptop, camera, tablet and phone – and enjoy easy SD card file transfers with a dongle you probably already own, as well as take advantage of much faster file transfers. The new iPhone 15 Pro can even record ProRes video at up to 4K resolution directly to an external storage drive.
While this USB-C port sounds revolutionary for iPhone owners, the best Android phones have had USB-C ports for years. The new iPhone 15 Pro doesn't actually seem to do anything truly new hardware-wise, at least when it comes to the camera specs. It brings back the 48MP sensor introduced on the 14 Pro, and its 12MP ultra-wide, and 12MP, 77mm (3x zoom) equivalent focal length telephoto.
So, are the iPhone 15 Pro's refined design, improved features, and coveted USB-C port enough to justify an upgrade, or should you just save some money and pick up a iPhone 14 Pro?
iPhone 15 Pro: Design
While there aren't many compact Android powerhouses – the Asus Zenfone 10 and Sony Xperia 5 V are two of the few, and the Xperia isn't even that compact – Apple's Pro line has always kept things palm-friendly. The 15 Pro is no exception; with its 6.1-inch screen and lightweight 187g body, it's comfortable to use with one hand, and even with a case, it isn't unwieldy.
Unlike past iPhones, the 15 Pro has a stronger and lighter (according to Apple) titanium frame that's better at fending off fingerprints than polished iPhone rims of old. The edges of the Pro's frame also curve in to meet the glass back and front, making for a much more comfortable hold when compared to the stark angles we're used to from Apple.
Image 1 of 3
Image 2 of 3
Image 3 of 3
The 15 Pro and Pro Max are available in four color options: Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, Black Titanium – the option we tested, and White Titanium. Apple's Ceramic Shield glass protects the front of the phone, and all Apple's 15-series is IP68 dust and water-resistant.
Around the back of the iPhone 15 Pro is a glass panel that curves up to form the camera surround with three large rings framing each lens. With smaller bezels than last year's Pro, the 15 Pro has less border than any iPhone before it, and this makes for a more immersive canvas for your content.
We've mentioned the new USB-C port – one of two major differences between the 15 Pro and past iPhones – and the other switch-up is the customizable Action Button. This replaces the alert slider on the left side, and you can choose what happens when you press it, with options including changing focus mode, launching the camera, torch, Voice Memo app, Magnifier, an accessibility feature, or firing up silent mode.
iPhone 15 Pro: Screen
The 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display on the Pro won't be as immersive as the 6.7-inch panel on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, but it still enjoys the best quality display tech of any iPhone. At the heart of the viewing experience is OLED screen technology, and as you might expect, blacks are inky, and colors pop with panache.
The iPhone 15 Pro has a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling, and features HDR support with a DCI-P3 wide color gamut, as well as Apple's True Tone display tech, so it dials warmth up or down based on ambient lighting.
Like the 14 Pro series, the 15 Pro has a Dynamic Island, which plays host to the front camera system, Face ID technology, and the screen supports Apple's Always-on Display feature too.
Smartphone screens really have hit an excellent standard at the premium end, and the iPhone 15 Pro is no exception. It gets super bright with up to 2,000 nits peak brightness outdoors, 1,600 nits in other environments, and a 1,000 nits typical max manual brightness.
If you want a bigger view of your content, you can also project your iPhone 15 Pro to a TV or monitor using the USB-C port, and we tested our review unit with a standard USB-C to HDMI dongle to great effect.
iPhone 15 Pro: Camera specs
The iPhone 15 Pro's primary camera has a 48MP resolution matched with a 1/1.28-inch sensor, and a 24mm f/1.78 aperture lens. Using Apple's second-generation sensor-shift OIS and capturing 48MP and 24MP photos, it's clear that Apple's switched up its computational photography even if the harware specs look familiar.
The 12MP ultra-wide camera has a 13mm focal length and an f/2.2 aperture lens, while the 12MP 3x telephoto camera has a handy 77mm focal length and a fast f/2.8 aperture.
The telephoto camera has the smallest sensor of the three around the back, and it isn't a periscope module like the Pro, or other phones, including the Honor Magic 5 Pro or Huawei P60 Pro. As a result we're not expecting class-leading reach or noise handling, but in a specific focal range in abundant light, having a 77mm camera is a very handy addition. This is illustrated in the grid below, which demonstrates the iPhone 15 Pro Max's weakest focal length – 4.9x zoom – just before the periscope camera is engaged. The 15 Pro clearly outperforms the Pro max before its telephoto camera kicks in.
Image 1 of 9
Image 2 of 9
Image 3 of 9
Image 4 of 9
Image 5 of 9
Image 6 of 9
Image 7 of 9
Image 8 of 9
Image 9 of 9
In the specs on the iPhone's product page, Apple cheekily suggests there's a 12MP telephoto lens with a 48mm f/1.78 lens, but this is just a reference to the primary camera and a digital crop. Yes, it can capture a native 12MP image at 48mm owing to the high-resolution sensor, but it wouldn't deliver the optical performance of a dedicated, high-quality 48mm camera, so don't let Apple's optimistic marketing suggest otherwise.
One area the iPhone 15 Pro camera looks set to best its predecessor, though, is video capture. Specifically, thanks to the new USB-C port, it's now possible to capture ProRes video at up to 4K resolution, 60fps recording directly to an external drive. This is potentially game-changing for mobile filmmakers.
iPhone 15 Pro: Additional features
The iPhone 15 Pro runs the latest version of iOS out of the box, and being an iPhone, it's guaranteed for an excellent seven years of software updates. Compared to phone makers like Sony with two years of software updates and three years of security updates, this bodes well for anyone thinking of picking up an Apple phone as a long-term investment.
If you've used an iPhone, you'll know what to expect from iOS 17, the core navigation is familiar, but some flourishes help to make personalization and day-to-day use a bit more seamless. This includes making a sticker for messaging from any photo in your gallery – a really fun feature – AirDrop with a tap, and more.
The phone unlocks with Face ID and brings back tools like Apple Pay, the LIDAR scanner for advanced depth mapping, Siri, and all of Apple's pre-loaded apps like FaceTime, Pages, Keynote, iMovie, to name a few, leaving you with a relatively complete app suite before you even fire up the app store, though many services like Apple Music, News, and TV's full functionality live behind a subscription paywall.
Running with an Apple A17 Pro chip, the 15 Pro should have more grunt than any other smartphone around, and it's the first phone to benefit from a 3nm manufacturing process.
As for storage, the 15 Pro has a 128GB starting capacity, or you can pick it up with 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB. This could sway some in favor of the 15 Pro versus the Pro Max given the Max misses out on a lower cost 128GB version.
It's generally been the Pro Max and the Plus lines that pack exceptional battery life, so we're looking forward to finding out if the new processor helps the vanilla 15 Pro become a battery champ.
The phone brings back MagSafe wireless charging, and powers up with any Qi wireless charger like the Mous modular charging system pictured below. The new USB-C port doesn't result in faster charging, unfortunately, so expect roughly 30W speeds and a charging time of 100 minutes.
iPhone 15 Pro: Early verdict
The iPhone 15 Pro looks set to be the most sensible of Apple's Pros on first impression. Yes, its camera zoom isn't quite as specced out as the Pro Max, its battery probably won't last quite as long, and the screen isn't as immersive. But it still seems like a brilliant compact flagship phone and, we'd think, the right choice for many.
The first thing that helps the 15 Pro shine is its lightweight design – it has top-tier power without weighing you down – and it's also easy to use one-handed.
Unlike the 15 Pro Max, the Pro starts at a much cheaper 128GB, which will be enough for casual users who don't game or record a lot of 4K footage.
For some, the iPhone 15 Pro's camera will also be a superior system when compared to the Pro Max owing to its nearer telephoto camera. While the Max's 5x zoom equivalent 120mm periscope lens is mighty for faraway objects, between 24mm and 120mm, the vanilla Pro enjoys better optical coverage.
We're looking forward to putting the iPhone 15 Pro through its paces over the coming weeks and thoroughly testing out the camera system. Check back for the full review, which will be loaded with photos taken on the phone, and if you haven't already, see what we think of the iPhone 15 Pro Max's zoom in a bit more detail in our hands-on review.