Monday, May 20, 2024
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I’m going to do something crazy with my iPhone 15 Pro Max


Action button on the iPhone 15 Pro.
Apple

I’m going to make a controversial suggestion: Don’t put your iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max in a case — use it naked instead.

I know it’ll go against everything we’ve learned about smartphones (usually the hard way) and how to protect them, but there are some really fascinating changes to Apple’s top smartphones this year, and not feeling them with your own hands would be a crime.

Titanium really is a big deal

Apple promotional image of the titanium iPhone 15 Pro.
Apple

The iPhone 15 Pro models have a titanium band, whereas the iPhone 14 Pro and earlier models have all used stainless steel. It’s a significant alteration that has multiple benefits, the most obvious will be a reduction in weight. The iPhone 15 Pro weighs 187 grams, almost 20 grams less than the iPhone 14 Pro. You really notice when a phone weighs less than 200 grams, as it can reasonably be described as light.

The small Pro models have become much heavier over the past few generations, but the 15 Pro has returned to its lightweight beginnings and compares to the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is also much lighter than before at 221 grams. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the lightest Pro Max model yet, and only a little heavier than the old iPhone XS Max, which had a smaller screen. A phone’s weight isn’t just about how it feels in your pocket or bag — it’s about ergonomics and the level of fatigue that sets in during extended use, holding the phone with one hand, or using it in awkward positions. Lighter, but not too light, is always good.

The side of the Apple Watch Ultra with the Solo Loop band.
The Apple Watch Ultra is also made of titanium Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

But the use of titanium isn’t just about weight — it’s also about strength and tactility. Titanium doesn’t conduct heat in the same way as stainless steel, and in the case of titanium watches like the Apple Watch Ultra, they don’t get too warm or too cold, so they are pleasant to have against your skin. Titanium is hypoallergenic, so it shouldn’t cause any skin irritation, and it won’t corrode either. Titanium is light, but it’s also a lovely metal to hold, and it’s just as strong as stainless steel.

Apple has chosen Grade 5 titanium for the iPhone’s chassis, which means it’s an alloy with a percentage of another metal mixed in, making it harder than pure titanium. It has a physical vapor deposition (PVD) coating to give the titanium its color and beautiful brushed appearance, but this should also help add scratch protection to the metal to address one of the often quoted weaker points of titanium.

Curvier and more comfortable

Apple promotional image of the iPhone 15 Pro's curvier sides.
Apple

Putting your new iPhone 15 Pro in a case would add weight and mean you miss out on the wonderful tactility and stylish appearance of the titanium itself. The metal is hard and strong, and the PVD coating should stop it from scratching too easily. But this is only the first part of why I don’t think you need to use a case, as Apple has addressed one of the biggest pain points of its most recent phone designs — the flat, angled, and sharp edges.

“New contoured edges and the thinnest borders ever on iPhone make it even more comfortable to hold in your hand,” are the words on Apple’s website about the shape of the phone. And looking at the photos, you can see it’s so much curvier than the iPhone 14 Pro’s chassis — and that means it won’t dig into your palm. It should feel more natural and more comfortable. One of the main reasons I use a case on my iPhone 14 Pro (currently an excellent Nomad Sport case) is because it’s so uncomfortable to hold without one.

Apple promotional image of the iPhone 15 Pro's camera and curved chassis.
Apple

At the time of writing, I have not held an iPhone 15 Pro nor an iPhone 15 Pro Max, so I don’t personally know how effective Apple’s efforts have been yet. But based on its words, the images of the phone, and the opinion of those who have already held it (YouTube technology reviewer Mr. Mobile seemed particularly taken with the shape), I have high hopes for it not needing a case simply because it will increase in-hand comfort.

Why not give it a try?

View of the iPhone 15 Pro's camera module.
Apple

These are strong arguments for using your iPhone 15 Pro naked, just as Apple intended. Cases add weight and bulk, can ruin the shape and in-hand feel, and don’t always reflect the quality of materials and design they hide. I hate using them, but usually feel I have to use them, if only to add protection to what is an otherwise fragile gadget. This is the drawback of my crackpot suggestion. The iPhone 15 Pro may have a titanium band around it, but the front and back are still made of glass, and if you drop it without a case … well, it’ll probably be expensive.

I know how this sounds, and that I’m suggesting taking a very big risk with your brand new $1,000-plus smartphone. But when Apple has put effort into lowering the weight and improving feel and ergonomics, why destroy all that by putting it in a plastic case? Yes, I also understand the argument that the Pro model’s colors are uninspiring, and you can show your own individual style with a case, but at the very least, use your new iPhone 15 Pro without one, just for a bit, to see and feel how it has changed. I think you’ll get a greater appreciation of the phone’s design, which would be lost if it came straight out of the box and into a case.

I have preordered an iPhone 15 Pro Max, and to put my money where my mouth is, I’m committing to using it without a case for as long as I can. Perhaps that will turn out to be days, but it could also be months as I become used to enjoying the shape of the phone, the light weight, and the feel of titanium. Hopefully, I won’t regret it.

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