In virtually every respect, the iPhone 15 Pro Max raises the bar not only for the iPhone family but for smartphones in general. From the new materials to some of the best smartphone cameras we've ever used, Apple's big flagship ticks box after box. It falls marginally short of perfection thanks to a slightly higher price tag than the last model, the lack of true fast charging, and Apple's frustrating insistence on presenting 5x optical zoom as the apex of smartphone telephoto technology. Still, these end up being minor quibbles that don't detract meaningfully from what is a broadly exceptional iPhone experience.
Gorgeous albeit subtle redesign
Fantastic performance & gaming
Pricier baseline (but more storage)
If you want big zoom capabilities, look elsewhere
Charging should be faster
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iPhone 15 Pro Max: Two-minute review
Leave it to Apple to make titanium sound sexy, while also putting me in mind of my somewhat aging joints.
I know, Apple enthusiastically told us how the iPhone 15 Pro Max (and Pro) uses the same titanium as was used by NASA on the Mars rover. I buy that, and it sounds impressive; but when I think of titanium, I usually think of hip or knee replacements. The low-corrosion, lightweight, and high-strength material is favored by surgeons for those properties, and it's for those same reasons that it makes perfect sense as the new frame material for the iPhone.
Patients sporting new titanium knees and hips will likely never get to touch the metal, but if you buy an iPhone 15 Pro Max or – as I did – test it, you'll find that it's smooth yet solid, with a brushed surface that feels cool but not cold. Holding the 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Pro Max is a distinctly different experience compared to handling the iPhone 14 Pro Max; it's lighter, and the titanium feels a little warmer than the polished steel of its predecessor.
It's not just the titanium, though; Apple has made a small yet subtle change to the frame, removing just enough metal to add contoured edges all around. It's one of the smallest yet most impactful changes I've seen a smartphone manufacturer make to a design, and it truly changes how the phone feels in the hand.
Staying with the frame, Apple's retirement of the silence / ring button is one of the most welcome and useful changes. It takes a dull, one-trick-pony analog feature and transforms it into a sleek, customizable button that can be almost anything you want it to be.
The biggest change for some iPhone fans, though, will be the introduction of the USB-C port in place of Lightning. I know there's a fair amount of frustration over the change (all those now-useless cords in your home, office, and car) but it doesn't change the operation of the phone, and at least Apple supplies you with a woven USB-C-to-USB-C cable. I will miss the old port, but believe we'll all soon forget it.
Naturally, if those external changes were the only differences between this phone and its predecessor, the iPhone 15 Pro Max might be a disappointment. However, this is a significantly more powerful phone than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, with Apple's all-new A17 Pro silicon that, for the first time ever, brings console-quality gaming to the iPhone line. Granted, console games like Resident Evil: Village were not designed for a 6.7-inch display, even Apple's high-definition Super Retina XDR OLED panel, although at least that display now benefits from the smallest iPhone bezels I've seen.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max's triple-camera array looks unchanged from the iPhone 14 Pro Max's, but looks can be deceiving – there are upgrades both inside and out that help to deliver one of the best photography experiences you'll find on any phone.
While Apple appears to have used the same 48MP primary camera sensor as in last year's Pro Max, it's basically rebuilt its image processing pipeline.
There's a new 24MP default image size that cannily combines 12MP of pixel-binned image data with full-sensor 48MP information for images that are, in almost all instances, true-to-life (Apple may be over-blueing the sky a little).
The new setup is more versatile too. I never had to decide if I wanted to shoot portrait mode now or later – in most instances, if the iPhone 15 Pro Max could read depth information, it stored all the detail I'd need to change a photo to portrait mode and choose the focus subject post-shoot.
If you were hoping for 10x optical zoom on an iPhone, though, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will disappoint you (though not as much as the 3x optical iPhone 15 Pro). I was frustrated when Apple announced that it had only raised the maximum optical zoom on its largest smartphone to 5x; after all, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has an excellent 10x optical zoom, plus the wild, AI-assisted 100x Space Zoom (which may add too much 'artificial' information for my taste, but it's an option if you need it). Apple does do a remarkably good job of competing with just half that zoom range, largely because the image quality at that extended focal length is simply excellent, rivaling and sometimes beating Samsung's best camera.
The combination of its new 3nm chipset, a display that can stop down to a power-sipping 1Hz, and smart power management may account for excellent full-day-plus battery life; though your experience will depend on how you use the iPhone.
In short (this is my two-minute review, after all), this is my favorite iPhone ever. I usually don't like Apple's largest iPhone, but the iPhone 15 Pro Max is lighter (and a tiny bit smaller) than the iPhone 14 Pro Max which – along with the new contoured edges – makes it feel comfortable in my hand. Add to all that excellent photography, fast performance, and seemingly unlimited potential and you've got a lock for a place at or near the top of our best phone list.
iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Specs
|Header Cell - Column 1|
|Dimensions:||159.9mm x 76.7mm x 8.25mm|
|Resolution:||2796 x 1290 pixels|
|Refresh rate:||Adaptive 1-120Hz|
|Chipset:||Apple A17 Pro|
|Storage:||256GB, 512GB, 1TB|
|Rear Cameras:||48MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP telephoto w/ 5x optical zoom|
iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Price and availability
- Starts at $1,199 / £1,199 / AU$2,199
- You now pay more for Apple's best iPhone
- There's more starting storage (and memory)
Apple unveiled the iPhone 15 Pro Max alongside the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, and iPhone 15 Pro at its 'Wonderlust' event on September 12. Since then I've been putting all the new handsets through their paces, so when you're done here be sure to check out my iPhone 15 review, iPhone 15 Plus review, and iPhone 15 Pro review.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at $1,199 / £1,199 / AU$2,199 , which is a price hike over its predecessor – the iPhone 14 Pro Max – but you do get twice the storage in the base model: 256GB. This also puts the iPhone 15 Pro Max in line with the starting price of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (both now start at 256GB).
The iPhone 15 Pro Max became available to buy in-store and online on September 22, and if you're interesting in picking one up, head over to our iPhone 15 Pro Max deals page for a roundup of all the best offers available now.
|Storage||US price||UK price||AU price|
It's not entirely accurate to say Apple raised the price of the iPhone 15 Pro Max (from the iPhone 14 Pro Max base price) because what it actually did was remove a tier and settle on the 256GB storage and $1,119 as the new base model. This makes the iPhone 15 Pro Max a little less affordable (no less so than the similarly configured Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra) but, as I see it, 256GB should really be the base storage on all smartphones nowadays, especially as we continue to shoot higher resolution photos and videos (and manage our lives on them).
If storage is your jam, you can pack the iPhone 15 Pro Max (or iPhone 15 Pro) with up to 1TB of storage and pay $1,599 / £1,599 / AU$2,899 for the privilege. What you won't get for that price, though, is more memory. While the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra raises the RAM level to 12GB – starting with its 512GB model, the iPhone 15 Pro Max seemingly sticks with 8GB through all tiers.
There's no getting around that this is Apple's most expensive iPhone, but at least there are numerous payment options, including those from Apple which can start as low as $33 a month in the US. As for whether or not the iPhone 15 Pro Max is worth the money, its design, build, quality, and exceptional capabilities convince me it is. Even at this price, I suspect it will be Apple's best-seller.
- Value score: 4.5 / 5
iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Design
- Contoured edges make it a pleasure to hold
- It's lighter and slightly smaller
- Exquisite build
In case you haven't heard, Apple's 2023 Pro-level iPhone has traded in its shiny stainless steel frame for a brushed titanium one. It's tough (though not necessarily harder than steel), corrosion-resistant, and – perhaps most importantly for your hands, pockets, and bags – a lighter material.
Apple made a handful of other changes that give the phone a new look and feel beyond changing up the outer metalwork, however. First are the new contoured edges. It's true that this iPhone can, at a glance, look almost exactly the same as the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but close inspection reveals rounding along the sides that give the phone a softer look and make it – especially at this size – much more comfortable to hold. Additionally, the Super Retina XDR display looks larger (and the Dynamic Island looks smaller), thanks to a noticeably thinner bezel.
The phone feels different because the dimensions and weight are different. Where the iPhone 14 Pro Max was 77.6 x 160.7 x 7.85mm, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is 76.7 x 159.9 x 8.25mm. That means it's just a hair smaller than the last model, a fact I confirmed when I tried slipping the iPhone 15 Pro Max into an iPhone 14 Pro Max leather case (Apple is no longer selling leather accessories) and it was loose inside it. It is worth noting that the new phone is almost a millimeter thicker than the last model.
However, thanks to the titanium body and new recycled aluminum frame, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is 19 grams lighter than the iPhone 14 Pro Max (221g vs. 240g). That's a noticeable difference.
Another major design change is actually a functional one: the new USB-C port. It's a little bit larger than the departed Lighting port but will – if you have the right cable – bring some 10Gbps high-speed data transfer capabilities (the cable Apple ships with the iPhone is not a high-speed one).
The body is covered on the front and back with what Apple calls "tough glass-based materials", and on the front is also their Ceramic Shield, designed to protect the glass from damage. I'm not in the business of dropping my phones, so I could not tell you much about the strength of these glass materials. I did, though subject the phone to a dunk in a water fountain. The IP68-rated phone handled it just fine. That was just for a moment, but the phone is rated to handle swimming in up to six feet of fresh water for 30 minutes. If you dunk your phone, just remember that you can't plug it into a charger again until it's completely dry.
Apple didn't mess with the power/sleep/Siri button or the pair of volume buttons but right above that is Apple's other big design/functionality change: the new Action button, which is only available on the iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro.
This tiny little button replaces the long-surviving silence/ring switch (still available on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus). Instead of a single-function switch, the Action button is programmable via one of Apple's most high-designed utility interfaces ever.
The Action button defaults to ring/silence control but instead of a switch, it takes a press to check the status of your phone (ring or silent) and a long press to change it. Many people may leave well enough alone here, but then they'd be missing out on all the hidden utility. Action button can enable a preferred Focus Mode (with detailed controls inside the Action button settings page), turn the flashlight on and off, launch voice memos, turn your phone into a digital magnifying glass, run your favorite Shortcut, offer instant access to accessibility features, launch the camera, or even turn off all Action button features (a waste, really). If you miss the ring/silent control you can still find it under the updated Control Center too.