Review of the iPhone 15 Pro Max: almost perfect

I phone 15 Pro Max

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is a fantastic phone with three great cameras – we only wish there were four.

iPhone 15 Pro Max
(Image: © Basil Kronfli)

We’ve been using the iPhone 15 Pro Max for two weeks now. Despite complaints of specific devices heating up – including a friend’s phone, which we verified ran hot when performing basic chores – ours remained cool to warm even after an hour of gaming. 

We believe you’ll enjoy this phone unless you happen to get one of the faulty handsets. After all, the 15 Pro Max was a powerhouse in our time with it because to Apple’s integrated environment and 2023-grade performance, but the camera has a few limits.

We weren’t sure the 15 Pro Max would be the greatest iPhone for photography when we initially saw its features.

The optical reach of Apple’s 15 Pro Max has been increased to a 5x zoom equivalent vs the 15 Pro’s 3x zoom. The Pro Max debuts Apple’s tetra-prism periscope zoom camera, the most powerful zoom ever seen on an iPhone. Is it, nevertheless, the most useful?

While a 5x zoom is equivalent to roughly 120mm in full-frame focal length terms, with only three cameras, Apple’s most expensive iPhone also leaves a vast lack in optical coverage between 1-5x. 

A 1-2.5x reach, up to roughly 60mm, should still look amazing thanks to the Pro Max’s strong main sensor, but above 60-120, we’d expect quality to start disintegrating based on the specs and our experience.

That’s a lot of speculation– but how does the iPhone 15 Pro Max feel to use as a phone and a camera?



iPhone 15 Pro Max
(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

While the new iPhone 15 Pro Max may appear to be an exact clone of last year’s iPhone 14 Pro Max at first glance, a closer look uncovers a handful of significant upgrades that result in a more pleasant feeling design. The phone’s frame is the most visible of these changes.

Unlike previous iPhones, the 15 Pro Max has a matte titanium frame that doesn’t gather fingerprints as readily as the highly polished steel rims of old. When compared to the sharp angles employed in the Pro series, the frame’s edges curve in to meet the glass, making for a far more comfortable hold.

The new design gives the phone an almost unibody feel, despite the fact that the back is glass with a subtly contrasting frosted texture.


 iPhone 15 Pro Max
(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is now available in Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, Black Titanium, and White Titanium, the latter of which we tried. The front of the phone is protected by Apple’s Ceramic Shield glass, which is dust and water resistant to IP68 standards.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max weighs 221g, which is somewhat less than the 240g iPhone 14 Pro Max. This is significant because the Pro Max was formerly the heaviest phone on the market – but not any longer.

Both the 15 Pro and Pro Max receive a few of crucial improvements to their frames. The first is a USB-C port at the bottom, which is a much-welcome, and some would argue, long-overdue, departure from Apple’s exclusive Lightning Port.

The alert slider, or lack thereof, for Apple’s 2023 Pro range is the next big distinction between the 15 Pro Max and the 14 Pro Max. This year, it’s been replaced by a programmable Action Button that may switch between focus modes, launch the camera, torch, Voice Memo app, Magnifier, an accessibility feature, or activate silent mode.

Finally, the design upgrades to the iPhone 15 Pro Max are minor, but they all work together to provide a more delightful experience.


I phone 15 Pro Max
(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

According to some sources, the back panel of the iPhone 15 Pro is more prone to breakage. Than previous iPhones due to the way it is attached to the phone’s frame. We can’t comment on this because our phone still looks excellent after a week of case-free use and a week in a case.

You’ll most likely be using your Pro Max for a year or longer. So you’ll want to get both a case and a screen protector to safeguard your iPhone and its resale value. Which is higher for iPhones than any other smartphone.


We chose the Limitless 5.0 – Carbon Fiber case in our second week with the 15 Pro Max because of its clean, matte, straightforward styling.

I phone 15 Pro Max
Mous Limitless 5.0 – Carbon Fibre case(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

We also tried a few iPhone screen protectors before settling on the Belkin Ultra Glass 2. 

Prior to purchasing the Belkin protection. We purchased a lower-cost 15 Pro Max protector with a visible gap around the edges when fitted. The store clerk told us that this was typical due to the slightly curved glass on the new iPhone screens. We contacted Belkin immediately after and discovered that this was not the case.

As a result, we proceeded to an Apple Store. Where a staff member used a dedicated equipment to flawlessly apply the Ultra Glass 2 protector to our 15 Pro Max. While it is more expensive than cheaper alternatives. The precise fit and promise of a better-shielded display make it worthwhile. Made us understand that a high-quality solution like the Ultra Glass 2 should have been our initial choice.



I phone 15 Pro Max
(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

With its 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display, the Pro Max sports the largest screen on an Apple smartphone and the highest-quality panel with its OLED screen technology and display credentials are as lengthy as the top Android phones on the scene.

It has a 120Hz panel, HDR compatibility, a DCI-P3 broad color gamut, and Apple’s True Tone display technology, which increases warmth to adjust for whatever the ambient light is happening where you are.

The 15 Pro Max, like the 14 Pro series, features a Dynamic Island for the front camera system and supports Apple’s Always-on Display feature.


The screen on the Iphone 15 Pro Max is extremely bright, with a peak brightness of 2,000 nits outdoors, 1,600 nits in other bright situations, and a usual max brightness of 1,000 nits.

The 15 Pro is also the first iPhone to offer USB-C to HDMI projection, allowing you to connect it to a TV or monitor for big-screen YouTube viewing or photo sharing.

Unsurprisingly, the Pro Max has a fantastic-looking display, whether viewed from the front or from an angle; colors retain their integrity, and visibility is superb indoors and outdoors. We used it on a boat in direct sunshine and at night, reading before bed, and it performed admirably at both ends of the spectrum.



The iPhone 15 Pro retains the same camera technology as the 14 Pro, but the 15 Pro Max improves the telephoto lens and incorporates Apple’s innovative 5x zoom tetra prism periscope system.

Iphone 15 Pro Max
(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

The primary camera includes a 48MP resolution, a 1/1.29-inch sensor, and a 24mm f/1.78 lens. It mixes familiar hardware with a couple of 2023 enhancements, including Apple’s second-generation sensor-shift OIS and the ability to capture 48MP and 24MP images.

The 12MP ultra-wide camera has a 13mm focal length and an f/2.2 aperture, while the 12MP telephoto camera has a 5x equivalent 120mm reach with an f/2.8 aperture.

Apple suggests a 12MP telephoto lens with a 48mm f/1.78 lens on the iPhone’s product page, however this is only a reference to the primary camera and a digital crop. Because of this, it can take a native 12MP image at 48mm.

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.

Finally, the telephoto camera has a 12MP sensor, a 120mm focal length, with an aperture of f/2.2. This can be captured with a 5x equivalent optical zoom and a 25x digital zoom.

The cameras also come with new software enhancements that function flawlessly. You can, for example, retroactively activate Portrait Mode and change your default focal length when you launch the camera, with options including 24mm (1x), 28mm (1.2x), and 35mm (1.5x), avoiding potential lens distortion and edge softness.



With Apple’s main selling point for the iPhone 15 Pro Max camera being its zoom, it’s encouraging to see the phone provide such impressive results in well-lit conditions at a 120mm/5x zoom equivalent range.

Two shots obtained in comparable settings show the shallow depth of field possible with the 15 Pro Max’s native 120mm lens.

Iphone 15 Pro Max
(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

The telescopic camera on the 15 Pro Max isn’t the most versatile on the market by a long shot. It has a minimum focus distance of one meter. So it isn’t a tele macro camera like the remarkable Huawei P60 Pro’s periscope camera or the excellent 3.5x telephoto of the Honor Magic 5 Pro. It works well in well-lit scenes with distant objects.

Apple isn’t as afraid of noise as Samsung and other smartphone manufacturers. Its smaller telephoto sensor against the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s primary camera. There’s more noise when zooming past 5x. However, detail is strong, and as seen in the shot below, this extends to intermediate and even low light.

If you don’t plan on shooting at 120mm or higher, the 15 Pro is a better option than the 15 Pro Max. The range between 24mm and 120mm employs the primary camera’s 48 MP sensor entirely with its 120mm periscope lens.

As shown in the example below. The 15 Pro Max has the lowest 4.9x zoom quality of any of the competitors we tested, including the 15 Pro. This isn’t surprising given that Honor and Huawei’s phones have a maximum optical zoom of roughly 3.5x – around 70mm – a standard focal length for portraiture. Whereas the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, Xperia 5 V, and Xiaomi 13 Ultra all have optical coverage between their main cameras and farthest reach zooms.

Now that Apple has added reach to the mix. If it wants to compete and win in the smartphone camera battles, particularly in terms of optical versatility. The iPhone 16 Pro Max, which is due in 2024, should feature a 50-60mm fourth camera to cover all the bases.



How does the new iPhone 15 Pro Max camera fare outside of zoom? Very good. However, this isn’t the revelation that the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max were with their larger sensors compared to the 13 Pro. Instead, the 15 Pro Max offers a marginally improved photography experience.

In bright situations, as shown below, detail is abundant across all three cameras. Colors are well-balanced, the dynamic range is wide, and Apple adds a satisfying amount of punch to photographs.

Traditionalists may find Apple’s processing too harsh, but with 48MP RAW capture, there’s plenty of room to tweak images to excellent effect.

Iphone 15 Pro Max
iPhone 15 Pro Max ultra-wide camera(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

The main camera produces the cleanest low-light images, with the ultra-wide occasionally producing a slightly muddy-looking image. The telephoto performed admirably in a handful of scenarios, as shown below, minimizing noise while retaining detail.

Iphone 15 Pro Max
iPhone 15 Pro Max ultra-wide camera(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

Portrait mode is wonderful during the day and absolutely usable at night. But it struggles when the lighting becomes more difficult. Backlit subjects, in particular, throw off the wide view.  When cropped into a 2x portrait view, detail

suffers a bit too much. If you enjoy zooming in on distant things or, like us, use your camera phone to cover launch events when you can’t have your dedicated camera in time. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is a good choice. That said, it can’t compete with the Galaxy S23 Ultra. So it’s not the best in class, but it’s a step up in the iPhone camp. 

Unlike other Android competitors. Apple does not extract all of the detail from shadows, and this is true across the zoom range. As a result, you can take photos with confidence without concern of them looking unrealistic 90% of the time.

The 15 Pro Max’s adjacent photos have an appealing, shallow depth due to its huge sensor. When you are close to a topic, the camera switches to the ultra-wide mode. But this feature may be disabled in the settings.

Video from the new iPhone also looks great, whether it’s of nearby or distant subjects. When using the primary camera, the addition of a periscope takes things up a notch for zoomers, effectively stabilizing footage.

The ability to shoot Progress, 4K footage across all three cameras expands filmmakers’ options significantly.



The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max run iOS 17. Which includes the most recent improvements such. As near-field Airdrop, auto-transcribed voice notes in chats. Photo stickers (which are more fun than they sound), and much, much more.

The iOS UI is without a doubt the most refined available. And while it initially stood for limiting simplicity. It is now more complicated than most users will require. The Apple A17 Pro chipset powers the experience. Which is the first to benefit from a 3nm manufacturing process. Which should result in overall efficiencies.

Face ID unlocks the phone and restores utilities such as Apple Pay. The LIDAR scanner for sophisticated depth mapping, Siri. All of Apple’s pre-loaded apps such as FaceTime, Pages, Keynote, iMovie, and more.


Iphone 15 pro Max
(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

The USB-C port’s most significant benefit. For photo and video fans is the faster transfer speeds for the 15 Pro and Pro Max. With USB-3 capability (though a slower adapter is included). The new iPhones can wirelessly transport data at up to 10GB/s. Which is a bonus for anyone planning to film in Progress.

For video fans, the USB-C port offers another superpower. If you’re okay with plugging in external storage and shooting to an SSD. It can capture Progress at up to 4K 60fps. This function is fantastic since. It allows an iPhone 15 Pro Max with limited storage (256GB) to capture hours of Progress footage. Circumventing its limited internal memory. Previously, people who wished to use Progress needed the highest-capacity choice available. Now is the time to be kinder to your money account.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with 256GB, 512GB. And 1TB of storage, with prices matching last year’s comparable storage option. Apple has dropped the 128GB storage.

Capacity from the Max, raising the barrier to entry to its 256GB price. However the smaller iPhone 15 Pro can still be bought at the 128GB, more affordable price point.

Apple has slightly improved the Max’s battery capacity over last year. The 15 Pro Max maintains the 14 Pro Max’s great performance. However, internet reviews have been mixed, with some reporting overheating and low battery life.

It’s unsurprising after two weeks with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. That it’s a nice phone – at its price, it has to be – but the amount of polish it provided throughout. The UI and hardware is impressive.

Some early iPhone owners reported overheating. But we did not, and everything from gaming performance to battery life has been fantastic.

The camera is also quite fantastic, and most of the time it is brilliant. The 15 Pro Max issues when zooming between 1-5x and, in some low-light circumstances, increasing shadows without suppressing enough noise. It’s quickly becoming the case that four or five optical ranges are more popular in Android competition than ever before

If Apple wants to compete and win, it must follow suit and include a midrange portrait camera in the mix.

If you don’t think you need the 15 Pro Max. Magnification or more than a day’s battery life. The iPhone 15 Pro or 14 Pro Max are excellent options. If you can’t rationalize spending so much money on a smartphone. Check out our list of the best phones for photography for some less expensive Android possibilities.

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