Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Smart Phones

iPhone 15 Plus review: Closing the gap with the Pro Max model


What’s new in the iPhone 15 Plus?

  • 48MP main camera
  • Dynamic Island
  • A16 Bionic chipset
  • USB-C
  • 2000 nits peak outdoor brightness
  • Optical-quality 2x telephoto
  • Five new colors

Table of contents:

iPhone 15 Plus Unboxing

The iPhone 15 Plus arrives in the same slim retail box as its predecessor. Apple ditched the charging brick a couple generations ago, so at this point we’re not surprised by the lack of a charging brick inside the retail box. However, there’s another surprise inside. This year, all iPhone 15 series models sports a USB-C port, so the cable included in the box features USB-C connectors on both ends.

iPhone 15 Plus Specs

Check out the iPhone 15 Plus specs in the table below.

 

iPhone 15 Plus Design and Colors

Last year, Apple decided to go big or go home and… ditched the iPhone mini for the other extreme, a Plus-sized model! This absolutely intentional pun brought us the iPhone 14 Plus, a 6.7-inch slab of metal and glass. There are no huge changes in the design of the new iPhone 15 Plus, but there are still some welcome tweaks including slimmer bezels around the screen and a new matte glass back that no longer catches fingerprint smudges like crazy!One big change that could be viewed as a design upgrade is the transformation of the notch into a pill-shaped cutout. With the Dynamic Island onboard, the iPhone 15 Plus now looks much more similar to the Pro models!

The same flat display design from last year’s 14 Plus is still present, along with the same aluminum frame. Of course, a USB-C port now takes the place of the Lightning port on the phone’s bottom, and while this might seem like a mundane thing, it promises to make your life much easier in the long run.

As far as colors are concerned, all the iPhone 15 Plus colors are way more muted and different.

iPhone 15 Plus colors:

iPhone 15 Plus Display

There’s some bad news and some good news, as the proverbial story begins. The good news is that we now have the Dynamic Island cutout with its full functionality and glory. The bad news? The display of the iPhone 15 Plus is more or less the same panel used on its predecessor. Which means no ProMotion and no always on mode.

Display Benchmarks

Despite the lack of fast refresh rate, we are very happy to see the Plus can get so much brighter. In fact, its brightness level is now on par with the Pro Max. Closing that gap indeed!

Regarding the size, we have the same 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display with a 60Hz refresh rate, a 2796×1290 pixel resolution, and a pixel density of 460 PPI (pixels per inch).

iPhone 15 Plus Camera

The iPhone 15 Plus sports a dual camera setup on the back, with one main lens and a secondary ultrawide camera. The big difference is the new 48MP sensor for the main camera, but while this is the same megapixel count as on the Pro models, the sensor itself is not quite the same.

Appel has also completely changed its imaging pipeline and instead of 12MP photos as before, you get much more detailed 24MP shots. That’s a big change.

You also get 2X sensor crop zoom. Apple calls it optical-quality 2X telephoto, and while we expected this to be a bit of an exaggeration, the level of detail is indeed very close to that of a dedicated 2X lens.

Sadly, the iPhone 15 Plus is not able to shoot in 48MP ProRaw, as this feature is reserved for the Pro models. 

The ultrawide camera is the same as the one found on the iPhone 14 Plus, no big surprises here. The selfie camera is again the same as the one in the previous model, а 12-megapixel snapper that supports Portrait mode, Night mode and 4K, 60FPS video recording.

When it comes to zoom quality, the quality has improved and especially at 2X zoom when you have the sensor crop and you can definitely notice a lot more detail. However, this is not a zoom phone camera and you can see that when you go to 5X zoom, 10X zoom, or further.

Selfies have improved a bit, mostly thanks to better skin tones and overall color, but these are very subtle changes and the level of detail is essentially the same.

Low Light Photo Quality

The main camera on the iPhone 15 Plus can take night mode pictures quite fast, and it captures a good amount of detail and pleasing color. The improvements from the previous model are here, but they are subtle.

The ultra-wide camera also receives very minor improvements.

Video Quality

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In terms of video quality, the iPhone 15 Plus is absolutely top notch with clean, crisp 4K video that you can record at up to 4K60 quality.

This is still a better video camera than most, if not all, Android phones out there with a cleaner detail and an excellent video stabilization on top of that.
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Do not forget, though, that you don’t have a real zoom camera here, so the zoom quality is not quite on par with the best.

Those who care about professional quality video, however, should keep in mind that features like ProRes are only available on the Pro iPhones and not on the iPhone 15 Plus.

iPhone 15 Plus Performance

Apple decided to segregate the Plus model from the Pros by giving it the one-generation old A16 Bionic chipset.

Sure, it’s not as fast as the Pro models, but that’s nothing to worry about as the A16 is still a very impressive chip that is faster than the latest Qualcomm, Exynos, and MediaTek offerings (although the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 outperforms the A16 in some gaming benchmarks).

Performance Benchmarks:

In benchmarks, you notice a 20% boost in CPU speeds, but interestingly, for gaming the newer iPhone 15 Plus throttles in a big way and for prolonged gaming sessions with the most intense games you might notice an even lower performance than the previous model.

There are no changes in RAM or storage capacity. The new iPhone 15 Plus sports the same 6GB of RAM and three storage options – 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB.

iPhone 15 Plus Software

Apple recently announced iOS 17 during the annual WWDC developer’s forum, and there are some really cool new features in this version. Of course, the new mobile OS just flies on the wings of the iPhone 15 series, the iPhone 15 Plus included.

On the list of new iOS 17 features are the new Contact Poster, which lets you choose your image that will now pop up on a full screen in calls. You also have Live Voicemail, Better location sharing in iMessage, Live Stickers for iMessage, and a new Journal app for memorabilia and mental wellness (but that one is coming later this year).

We also love the new Standby feature where your iPhone becomes a sort of a smart clock, but this works much better with the Always-on screen of the Pro models.

iPhone 15 Plus Battery and Charging

The iPhone 15 Plus features a 4,383 mAh battery, a very tiny upgrade compared to the 4,323 mAh cell on the iPhone 14 Plus.

But what about battery life? Apple’s official numbers say there are no changes whatsoever from the previous model, but we had to investigate with our own set of battery life tests to check those claims!

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:

And interestingly, the 15 Plus scored practically the same as the 14 Plus on our more intense YouTube video streaming test, but outperformed its predecessor in the less demanding web browsing test. So we might have a slight improvement in battery life in certain use cases after all!

As far as charging is concerned, the USB-C switch hasn’t brought any change to charging (or transfer) speeds. Apple lists 50% in 30 minutes with a 20W wired fast charger, so the only thing that’s changed is the end of the connector cable.

The iPhone 15 Plus also uses slower USB 2.0 speeds (the USB 3.0 standard is reserved for the Pro models).

The MagSafe and wireless charging are still present on the iPhone 15 Plus, and they are backward compatible with all accessories released since the introduction of the system back with iPhone 12 series.

Audio Quality

The bigger size of the iPhone 15 Plus surely contributes to the deep bass and resonance, but comparatively speaking, the changes from the previous model are very subtle.

And as for haptics, we still have the same Taptic Engine that delivers the same excellent vibration feedback as on previous models.

Summary

Should you buy the iPhone 15 Plus? Well, like most things in life, the answer is: it depends. If you already own an iPhone 14 Plus, then there’s little reason to upgrade. 

However, if you’re coming from an older generation and want that bigger size and longer battery life, the iPhone 15 Plus definitely delivers and at a price that is $300 less than that of a Pro Max. We really appreciate the camera upgrades this year and USB-C is a bigger deal than you might think.If you’re an Android user and looking for a gateway into Apple’s ecosystem, the iPhone 15 Plus could be a great choice, given the USB-C transition, which will most likely save you some cables and chargers.



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