Monday, May 20, 2024
Smart Phones

iPhone 15 preview: Big camera upgrade, but still no ProMotion

iPhone 15 Intro

The iPhone 15 is official, and the new base flagship from Apple is looking like a much bigger treat compared to the iPhone 14 from last year! With a new chip, a much better main camera, the Dynamic Island, the long awaited-implementation of a USB-C port, and more, the iPhone 15 leaves us with plenty of upgrades to talk about.
It is not all sunshine and rainbows, however, as there are some choices Apple has made with the iPhone 15 which we are not too happy about. Let’s dive in and and go through everything together.

What’s new about the iPhone 15?

  • 48MP main camera
  • 2x high-quality zoom
  • Improved camera features
  • A16 Bionic chipset
  • Dynamic Island
  • USB-C
  • Higher peak brightness
  • A textured matte back panel

Table of contents:

iPhone 15 Unboxing

We can’t know for sure until we get the phone here at the office, but we know that the unboxing experience should be at least a little different with the iPhone 15 compared to all other iPhones before it. Why? Because this is the first generation of iPhones to come with a USB-C port, and therefore the first one to include a USB-C to USB-C cable inside its box.

Whether it is an effort to sweeten this long-awaited change and the fact that the company was basically pushed to do it, Apple has utilized a simple design strategy with the new USB-C cables that come with the iPhone 15, making them color-match the phone they come with. The tech giant did something similar with the 2021 iMacs.

Other than that, not much else has changed about the unboxing experience or the box itself.

iPhone 15 Specs

Check out the iPhone 15 specs in the table below.


iPhone 15 Design and Colors

It’s been a while since the last time Apple made any visible changes to its entry-level flagship, but the iPhone 15 is different in that regard too. The first thing you notice is that the notch has been replaced with the Dynamic Island which debuted with last year’s Pro models, so now all of the lineup looks the same at the front.

The overall shape has mostly remained the same, meaning the iPhone 15 has flat sides and a flat display, resulting in a boxy look. Apple has gone a little fancy with the back panel this year though, boasting the first color-infused back glass panel with a new matte finish, and a slightly curved edge where the glass meets the aluminum frame. Hopefully, the matte finish helps with reducing fingerprints on the back.

There’s also the new USB-C port at the bottom of the phone, which we will talk about more a bit later.

Colors-wise, we have a green and pink variants, as well as others similar to those the iPhone 14 came in.

iPhone 15 Display

The display of the iPhone 15 is a bit of a mixed bag. The previously Pro-exclusive Dynamic Island has now trickled down to the less expensive models alongside all of its software functionality and features, such as Live Activities which show live real-time information from apps. This could be your next direction in Maps, the amount of time you have until your flight starts boarding, your food delivery status, and more.

Sadly, Apple has decided to keep the screen refresh rate capped at 60Hz on the iPhone 15, most likely to push more people into buying one of the more premium models. This is probably the biggest let-down which was foreseen, but still feels like bad to see it is true.

Most other phones on the Android side in this price category have been offering a higher refresh rate display for years now, so it is hard to not see this as an obvious flaw in the iPhone 15. Of course, if you are coming from an older non-Pro iPhone you might not register this as an issue or deal-breaker, but if you eyes have every experienced the glory that is a smooth 120Hz or even a 90Hz screen refresh rate, then you definitely know what a letdown this is.

Display Benchmarks

Everything else about the display remains the same, meaning a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED panel with a pixel resolution of 2532 x 1170 and a pixel density of 457 PPI (pixels per inch). Add to that the higher 1600 nits peak HDR brightness and 2000 nits peak outdoor brightness (2x more than iPhone 14), and you have a really good-looking display in your hands, despite its one obvious flaw.

iPhone 15 Camera

Probably the most exciting upgrade the iPhone 15 comes with (that is if you like shooting photos and videos with your phone) is its new camera system and the improvements in some of the camera features.

New 48MP main camera

For starters, there is the new 48MP main camera which can shoot full 48MP images resulting in highly-detailed shots. By default, however, the camera uses pixel binning technology (which combines multiple pixels into larger ones to capture more light) to produce more storage-efficient 24MP photos, while still offering double the detail compared to the last generation.

Not much has changed with the ultra-wide camera, however, and it still shoots 12-megapixel photos with an extra wide field of view.

When it comes to zoom quality, the iPhone 15 can now zoom further with a 2X sensor crop mode with very good quality, but look closer and you would notice that at 5X and especially at 10X and further the quality really deteriorates. To shoot good photos at those ranges you would need to get one of the Pro models.

There are slight tweaks to the quality of pictures coming from the front camera, but they mostly look similar to before.

High-quality 2x zoom

The higher megapixel count also allows the iPhone 15 to crop in on the image sensor and achieve a high-quality 2x zoom without the need of a dedicated telephoto camera (which the iPhone 15 lacks just like its predecessors). What’s cool about this 2x sensor crop is that it enables continuous zoom, meaning that while you zoom in and out from 1x to 2x the movement stays smooth and seamless.

A more comprehensive Portrait mode

Portrait mode has been improved too. With iPhone 15, even if you don’t switch to Portrait mode, the phone will automatically detect if there is a person or pet and capture the required depth information automatically. Users can then go to the Photos app and turn the photo into a portrait after it has already been taken, as well as switch the focus from one subject to another.

Better low-light performance

Apple briefly mentioned improvements in Night mode on the iPhone 15, stating that details should be sharper and colors should appear more vivid than before.

Improved HDR

The high dynamic range on iPhones can often make images appear washed out with weird-looking colors. It seems Apple has tackled this issue, claiming that with the iPhone 15, HDR can capture more true-to-life colors (especially skin tones). It also sounds like the balance between highlights, midtones, and shadows should be much more natural now too, and the best part is that this change applies to all the cameras.

Video Quality

Video Thumbnail

When it comes to video quality, the iPhone 15 remains one of the best devices in the industry beating most of the Android competition with cleaner, crisper video and top-notch video stabilization. And we should add that the video quality between the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro series is actually not all that big.
There is only one real downside you should consider: it uses digital zoom, so it’s not the best for zooming.

Those who really care about super high quality video and editing in post, however, should know that the vanilla iPhone 15 does not support ProRES recording, and you only get that feature on the Pro iPhones.

iPhone 15 Performance

Last year Apple decided to equip its non-Pro iPhones with identical chipsets to those featured in the iPhone 13 series. The iPhone 15, however, comes with the A16 Bionic (4 nm) that debuted with the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max in 2022.

Performance Benchmarks:

Compared to the A15, the A16 chipset offers 18% increased graphics performance and 7-11% increased processing speeds. It is also slightly more power-efficient. The RAM is still be 6GB, but now it is the faster LPDDR5 type, which should mean apps and features working quicker than before.

iPhone 15 Connectivity

The iPhone 15 is equipped with a second generation Ultra Wideband chip letting it connect to other devices using the same chip at up to a 3 times longer distance than before. Apple showcased this upgrade by combining Precision Finding with the Find My friends feature, allowing users to find exactly where someone who’s shared their location with them is.

A new connectivity-related feature coming with the iPhone 15 is something Apple aptly calls Roadside Assistance via satellite, and it is exactly what it sounds like — an extension of SOS via Satellite that’s meant for situations where your trusted vehicle has left you stranded somewhere on the road. The feature is first launching in the U.S. with AAA, and it will be free for 2 years with an iPhone 15 purchase.

iPhone 15 Software

The iPhone 15 comes with the latest update, iOS 17 , which brings a set of new features, apps, and design changes. This year there is a big focus on improving the way you communicate and connect both with others and yourself.

One of the cooler new features of iOS 17 that is bound to be loved by many users is the ability to customize how you appear on a recipient’s call screen. Speaking of calls, sharing your contact information is now easier too, thanks to NameDrop, a new feature that brings out a Contact Poster with your phone number when you get your phone really close to someone else’s.

Apple also announced a brand new app coming with the iOS 17  update called Journal. It is exactly what it sounds like — a dedicated place for journaling your daily life and experiences. Journal uses the places you’ve traveled to, photos you’ve taken, music that you’ve listened to, to offer you suggestions for some reflection.

iPhone 15 Battery and Charging

Battery life on the iPhone has been top notch since the iPhone 13 series, with the iPhone 14 bringing small improvements on that front. Unfortunately, the iPhone 15 doesn’t seem to have anything new to offer on this front, so we don’t expect it to do too differently in comparison to its predecessor during our independent testing.

Now, one would think the iPhone 15 charging speed to increase given the new USB-C port but, unfortunately, it remains capped at the same 20W wired charging. The 15W MagSafe wireless charging is also unchanged.

Audio Quality

Apple did not mention anything related to the audio quality or speakers on the iPhone 15, but we expect the same stellar audio quality that the iPhone 14 has. We are talking S-tier phone stereo speakers here, so nothing to worry about. The same should also remain for the amazing haptics delivered by Apple’s TapTic engine.

However, Apple did speak of improved audio quality during calls thanks to a Voice Isolation feature.


Compared to the iPhone 14 from last year, the iPhone 15 is somewhat more worthy of being called a “new generation”. It has a significantly better main compared compared to its latest predecessors, has the overall more powerful and power-efficient A16 bionic chipset, and finally gets rid of the outdated notch.

But when we factor in the lack of a higher display refresh rate and the fact that there is zero utilization of the USB-C port, the iPhone 15 leaves us wanting more. It almost feels like a slightly worse version of the iPhone 14 Pro, which can be the better purchase if found refurbished or second-hand for the same price tag as the iPhone 15, which is $799.
Of course, you can wait for Google’s Pixel 8 to see if that tickles your fancy, or take a look at Samsung’s Galaxy S23 which does have a 120Hz screen refresh rate and is often enjoying healthy discounts, unlike Apple’s iPhones.

Stay tuned for our review to get a better perspective on the iPhone 15.


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