Apple iPhone 15 Pro Review: Premium in 2023

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Review: Premium Powerhouse in 2023

Apple’s latest lineup of iPhones may sport familiar names, but this time, the Pro and Pro Max versions offer more than differences in display size. While the Apple iPhone 15 Pro lacks the 5x optical zoom telephoto camera found in its larger counterpart (retaining a 3x optical zoom), it still stands as Apple’s semi-flagship phone of 2023, packed with flagship-level features.

Indeed, the gap between the Apple iPhone 15 Pro and the standard Apple iPhone 15 remains significant. Every model in this year’s Apple iPhone lineup has benefited from a design refresh that splits the difference between the curvy iPhone 11 and last year’s iPhone 14 Pro. Still, the Apple iPhone 15 Pro gets a titanium frame that’s lighter and more durable than the stainless steel you’ll find on other Apple iPhone 15 models (and every Apple iPhone that’s come before).

Apple iPhone 15 Pro

USB-C ports feature across the board, too, and Apple’s newest Pro models also boast an Apple Watch Ultra-style Action button in place of the traditional mute switch (a simple but surprisingly helpful substitution). This new toggle can trigger various actions through short and long presses, offering a fast way to access your favourite apps and tools without swiping through home screens and menus.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro

Other upgrades to the Apple iPhone 15 Pro include an exciting A17 Pro chipset, USB-C, a thinner screen bezel, and the new Action button, which should ensure that Apple’s latest 6.1-inch wonder dethrones its predecessor on our list of the best phones money can buy. We’ll need to spend more time with the device before coming to a complete verdict.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Review: Price and Availability

The Apple iPhone 15 Pro was officially unveiled alongside the Apple iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, and iPhone 15 Pro Max at Apple’s September 2023 Event on Tuesday, September 12. Pre-orders commence Friday, September 15, with shipping dates set to follow a week later, on September 22.

The Apple iPhone 15 Pro is available in four storage variants – 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. No other Apple iPhone 15 has this much storage variety. Even the Pro Max dropped the 128GB option, making that model about $100 more expensive.

In the US, the Apple iPhone 15 Pro starts at $999 (for the 128BG version), $1,099 for the 256GB option, $1,299 for the 512GB build, and $1,499 for the top 1TB capacity model.

After a painful price hike last year, UK pricing has dropped back down slightly, mirroring the US prices numerically, with the four storage variants costing £999, £1,099, £1,299, and £1,499 respectively. Australian pricing is, unfortunately, a little higher this year, at AU$1,849, AU$2,049, AU$2,399, and AU$2,749.

For context, the 256GB model of the Apple iPhone 14 Pro retailed for $1,099 / £1,209 / AU$1,899 at launch, while the base 128GB version retailed for $999 / £1,099 / AU$1,749.


Apple iPhone 15 Pro Review: Species

Check out the iPhone 15 Pro’s full specs below:

Dimensions: 146.6 mm x 70.6 mm x 8.25 mm
Weight: 187g
OS: iOS 17
Screen size: 6.1 inches
Resolution: 2556 x 1179 pixels
Chipset: A17 Pro
RAM 8GB (according to the Xcode 15 Release Candidate via MacRumors)
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Rear Cameras: 48MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP telephoto w/ 3x optical zoom
Front Camera: 12MP


Apple iPhone 15 Pro Review: Design

Aesthetically speaking, the Apple iPhone 14 Pro was a near-replica of the iPhone 13 Pro. However, Apple has reinvented the Apple iPhone design language with the Apple iPhone 15 Pro – for reasons in and out of control.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro

Chief among the visual changes is the burnishing away of all those edges on the new frame. The Apple iPhone 15 Pro (and all others in the Apple iPhone 15 lineup) still has flat sides that wrap around the phone, but the sharp edges are all gone. More importantly, the Pro line features a new titanium frame that makes the Apple iPhone 15 Pro stronger and lighter than its stainless steel predecessor (Apple’s latest flagship weighs 187g, whereas the Apple iPhone 14 Pro clocks in at 206g).

My brief time with the new phone feels lighter and kinder in the hand. For those who have complained to me about the Apple iPhone 14 Pro edges, you’re in for a treat.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro

Another significant change is on the all-important Super Retina XDR OLED screen. The 2556 x 1179 resolution is unchanged from the Apple iPhone 14 Pro, but Apple has managed to shrink the black bezel around the net. It appears at least half as thick and is now becoming virtually unnoticeable. Apple’s dream of a bezel-less Apple iPhone is slowly becoming real.

Both the Dynamic Island and brushed glass rear panel return from last year’s device, and the latter is once again protected by Apple’s Ceramic Shield, a transparent material containing ceramic crystals for extra protection.

Beyond these primarily visual, arguably superficial design upgrades, Apple has also introduced a handful of updates that dramatically alter the functionality of the Apple iPhone 15 Pro versus its predecessor.

The first is an Apple Watch Ultra-style Action button, replacing the traditional, physical mute switch on the Apple iPhone 15 Pro (and iPhone 15 Pro Max). This customizable button lets you trigger up to nine different actions. First, even though it’s replacing the venerable silence/ring switch, the Action button looks perfectly at home on the Apple iPhone 15 Pro.

I got a chance to try out the button and was immediately smitten. It takes a quick press to see which mode it’s in – yes, even to know if you’re in silent or ring mode – and a long press to change methods to activate, say, the camera, and then another long press to take the photo, or maybe to start, for instance, the flash. You can even assign custom Shortcuts to the Action button.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro

The second is a USB-C port, which replaces Apple’s proprietary Lightning port on every model in the Apple iPhone 15 lineup. USB-C is the latest universal standard for the wired connection of smart devices. If you buy a smart device in 2023 – be it one of the best Android phones, best laptops, or best smart speakers – it’ll likely feature a pill-shaped port to support USB-C charging and data transfer and Apple has opted to adorn its latest crop of iPhones with these ports following a recent EU regulation.


Apple iPhone 15 Pro Review: Display

The Apple iPhone 15 Pro retains its predecessor’s excellent 6.1-inch Super XDR OLED screen, with Apple’s ProMotion technology – which varies the refresh rate between 10Hz and 120Hz, depending on the content displayed – returning, too.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro

As mentioned, the Dynamic Island digital cutout returns – though this notch is now a feature of every model in the lineup – and the Apple iPhone 15 Pro’s bezels are mainly non-existent.

It is still a gorgeous and responsive screen (also bright, reaching a max of 2,000 nits). The tinier bezel instantly makes it a more immersive display. It only suffers when placed next to the larger, equally pretty Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max’s 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display.

But this is the sort of display you’d expect to find strapped to one of the best phones on the market, and Apple hasn’t messed with a winning formula here and improved it just a tiny bit.


Apple iPhone 15 Pro Review: Cameras

Regarding cameras, the Apple iPhone 15 Pro stays within its predecessor’s (admittedly excellent) triple-sensor setup. The phone boasts three lenses: a 48MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, and 12MP 3x telephoto.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro

By reserving the 5x optical zoom telephoto camera for the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple has, for the first time, created a considerable technological gap between its latest Pro and Pro Max Apple iPhones – but that doesn’t mean the Apple iPhone 15 Pro isn’t one of the best camera phones around.

On the front, the Apple iPhone 15 Pro boasts the same 12MP TrueDepth camera as the iPhone 14 Pro.

I didn’t get much time to try out this camera array, but I expect performance that is at least in line with what I found with the Apple iPhone 14 Pro. However, there are some interesting new image processing tricks – including the latest, default 24MP shooting mode that uses a combination of the best-fused 12MP and the full 48MP of the primary camera to add what appears to be impressive detail and image truth (actual environment, fabric, and skin tones). In addition, the Apple iPhone 15 Pro will now recognize image depth on any photo and let you convert it to Portrait Mode. You can quickly switch the focus point from one subject to another. I’m not sure why anyone would shoot directly in Portrait Mode anymore.

I wonder how the lack of the more powerful 5x optical zoom I saw (and tried) on the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max will impact the Apple iPhone 15 Pro’s appeal. It’s a shame that Apple couldn’t have spread that much-needed tech just a little down the line.


Apple iPhone 15 Pro Review: Performance and Software

Under the hood, the Apple iPhone 15 Pro is powered by the latest version of Apple’s silicon – the A17 Pro – making it one of the fastest (if not the quickest phones) money can buy now.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro

The A17 Pro is more than a simple upgrade (and upgraded clock speed) of the A16 Bionic (still powerful and now resident on the Apple iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus). Inside the A17 Pro is a new CPU, GPU, and 2x-faster Neural Engine.

We don’t have benchmarks yet, but I expect them to be surprising, especially regarding graphics scores. Apple demonstrated how the chip can run console-quality games on the Apple iPhone 15 Pro’s 6.1-inch display at a smooth 30FPS. Titles like Resident Evil: Village and the remastered Resident Evil 4 are ported directly to the iOS platform to run on A17 Pro-equipped Apple iPhones.

I didn’t have much time to play with the phone, but everything I did see indicates that the Apple iPhone 15 Pro will be a performance winner.


Apple iPhone 15 Pro Review: Battery Life

Apple hasn’t publicly revealed the Apple iPhone 15 Pro’s battery capacity. Still, the company has quoted 23 hours of video playback for the device, which aligns it with the Apple iPhone 14 Pro.

The Apple iPhone 15 Pro still supports MagSafe wireless and Qi charging. Its fast charging is unchanged from the previous model, which is slower than you can get with a comparable Android flagship.

As I mentioned earlier, USB-C doesn’t bring any charge speed improvements.


Apple iPhone 15 Pro Review: Early Verdict

The Apple iPhone 15 Pro now sits in the unenviable position of being just one step behind its big brother, the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Sure, that phone always had the more prominent display, but that was usually the extent of the differences. The lack of a refreshed and more powerful zoom lens will mean something to some users.

The good news is that this phone does have Apple’s newest and, I assume, most powerful-ever silicon in the A17 Pro chip. For those who don’t like their phones big and hefty-ish but want the freshness of ultra-hard titanium with smoother curves, USB-C, flagship-class performance, and that handy Action button, the Apple iPhone 15 Pro will be a welcome and desirable update from the Apple iPhone 14 Pro.


Read: 7 New Features of the iPhone 15