iPhone 15 Pro Review: 4 Powerful Features
You know what’s funny? When there are not that many changes, it puts a magnifying glass on the few changes that there are.
You might think, “Oh, last year’s phone is barely different from this year’s phone; it’s not worth upgrading.” But we’re looking for a change in anything wrong or bad.
Finally, they find clever ways to get better every year. This means that over a long time, over a bunch of improvements, it adds up to a bigger, more significant change.
That’s what’s happening here with this iPhone 15 Pro. I’ve been using it for about a week now. They’ve made some improvements, but now I see possible problems and new issues.
Let’s talk about it.
Four New Features in iPhone 15 Pro
It’s time to dive deep into the stuff unique to the iPhone 15 Pro, the professional stuff. This comes with four new features: the build, the chip, the cameras, and the Action Button.
Apple updated the build and the materials of the iPhone 15 Pro. They softened the corners a little bit, though still a boxy design. Instead of a completely flat glass at the front, there’s this gentle little curve at the edges.
The screen sizes are the same, but the bezels are slimmer all the way around. The phone is one millimeter smaller diagonally, and the rails have switched from that shiny stainless steel to a lighter, coated, and brushed titanium.
The result, it’s funny because I’ve always associated a heavy phone with an expensive feeling. But I understand why people want it to be lighter.
This phone is noticeably lighter than the previous Pro. It’s 10% on paper but feels more than 10%.
The real highlight of this build here is a new port at the bottom. The USB type C.
This makes a big difference to people like me who have other gadgets like computers, headphones, mouse, and keyboards. It’s like bringing one charger that works with everything.
The thing is, the EU (European Union) forced Apple into doing this. So, shout out to the EU for that.
Now, we have a USB iPhone. One cable for everything. That’s it.
iPhone users can now take advantage of the U in USB-C. You can also plug in other things, plug in a keyboard, and type with it, plug in a monitor. It’ll mirror your screen at up to 4K 60.
The Pro phone now supports USB 3.0 data transfer speeds so that you can get that ProRes footage off the phone noticeably faster, and you can actually, for the first time, shoot video directly onto an external drive.
Here’s this new, more powerful chip in the highest-end phones. This is the first one with the Pro name A17 Pro.
This is their first three-nanometer chip, actually, the first three-nanometer chip in any phone that we’ll probably see for at least another year or two. I ran some benchmarks.
It’s approaching M1 chip levels of synthetic benchmark scores. Compared to last year, it’s 10 to 20% more powerful on the CPU and the respectable GPU.
But more power is like more horsepower in a car. It’s only useful or noticeable if it lets you do more things with it. The only place you’d notice the extra performance is where it does what only a PC is designed to do.
For me and many other people, the more impactful things you’ll notice about this new chip are its dedicated parts for specific tasks. For instance, the new image signal processor lets you constantly take fast, lag-free photos.
Also, the new neural engine automatically recognizes Portrait Mode subjects, like people’s faces and dogs and cats. It lets you return in time and set a regular photo to a Portrait Mode photo. The USB 3 controller on the chip enables faster data transfer speeds.
We can talk all we want about what Pro means in a smartphone. With iPhones, that has mostly meant cameras.
A lot is happening with these similar-looking cameras on the new iPhone 15 Pro (both in hardware and software). So you’re looking at a new bigger megapixel primary camera.
There’s also an improved ultra-wide with a closer-up macro capability and a telephoto situation. With software, there is a new intricate image processing pipeline happening.
Most smartphones today have 48-megapixel cameras down to 12 megapixels. They give you 12-megapixel shots.
Previous iPhones did this, but the iPhone 15 Pro spits 24-megapixel images instead of 12 by default. This new Pro takes a 48-megapixel full-sensor shot for detailed information and a full-sensor 12-megapixel shot.
And then, it’s using the neural net to combine them to do a detailed transfer to get you this hybrid 24-megapixel image. It’s complicated and clever, and the result is slightly better.
If you just generally look at photos shot on this camera, they look pretty great. They’re awesome, with dynamic range and sharpness across the board.
The improved Macro Mode is also really good. With the primary camera, you can get blurred backgrounds with this natural fall-off without needing Portrait Mode. It’s awesome.
Autofocus is also fast when there’s a face in the scene. This thing loves seeing faces. The benefit of the bigger sensor shows itself at night, too, with even longer handheld captures.
It’s not magic. It’s just physics.
It doesn’t shoot 8K, which it’s capable of with the 48-megapixels (I wish they would let us). They’re all world-class at 4K 30 in full auto, the detail, the autofocus, the slight depth, the dynamic range, and the stabilization.
Shout out to the new AV1 Codec support on the chip this year. You can also shoot Log, which is annoyingly buried deep in the separate Settings app (really not very Pro).
If you find the time to get into Log, the iPhone will shoot with way more information, that classic flat Log look, dynamic range, everything. And you don’t have to deal with what Apple would do with over-sharpening, saturation, and processing.
You can fully grade it yourself to get the most out of the iPhone’s video. It looks, like, really, really good.
The Action Button
This new Pro phone has an Action Button only because only pros need customization. I love the Action Button, but it is either overrated or underrated. It depends on who you are.
On one hand, it’s a customizable button. Who even saw this coming?
It replaces the least-used button on previous iPhones because your phone should always be on mute anyway. You can map this Action Button to anything you want.
You can keep it as a mute switch. It has the same strong app ticks, so you can tell if it’s muted or unmuted in your pocket without looking.
There’s also a bunch of other cool functions you can pick from. From launching your camera to a voice recorder to just literally any app on your phone, you want through a Serial Shortcut.
But on the other hand, for many people, this will be one of those things they play with for a few days and never use again. I mostly think that’s because it’s not super reachable.
It’s not a one-hand button where your fingers usually rest for everyone, especially on the Pro Max. It’s way up there on the corner above the volume buttons.
It could be a cool shutter button for the camera, but the volume buttons already do that. So yeah. You might as well end up setting it back to a mute switch and forgetting about it after a few weeks.
But that’s fine, too. It’s one of those things that you’ll figure out which user you are.
Call for Concern in iPhone 15 Pro
Now, there’s a cable that comes in the box. But it’s only USB 2.0 transfer speeds. It’s a slow cable.
Do you need a faster separate cable if you have a Pro phone? That seemed weird to people, but it’s not. That’s very normal.
Most smartphones come with just a USB-C cable to charge. It’s a charging cable. If you wanted a data cable, you’d have to buy a thicker, more robust cable that looks the same but is a data cable. It’s confusing and annoying.
What I’m more concerned with at the moment is battery life. We have to figure out two main issues. These are battery life and overheating issues.
So, I figured out what was going on with the battery. Objectively speaking, the iPhone 15 Pro has slightly bigger batteries than last year and a new three-nanometer chip.
In a controlled environment, they do better and last longer on simple phone use. That’s good news.
But the other side is that because the A17 Pro is a more powerful chip, it can quickly drain power. This happens more often in high-intensity settings, like gaming, etc.
I’m expecting battery life to basically even out to be the same as last year, which is a boring answer, but that’s kind of what I expect.
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The most important thing about these new phones is their video cameras. The iPhone’s video capabilities are far ahead of the rest of the smartphone world.
The iPhone 15 Pro is one of the best cameras for pointing and shooting in full auto. It gives good results, even if it doesn’t look the most like real life.
It does the classic relighting, tone mapping, and everything we’re used to from all this smart HDR. It’s all here, and many people like it and it looks.
The iPhone 15 Pro is swift and can do what previous iPhones couldn’t achieve. Thanks to its Chip features. Besides the battery being a problem while using it for high-intensity activity, you will enjoy the four added features.