For the first time in a while, Apple's most affordable new iPhone doesn't feel miles away from the flagship. Apple finally waves goodbye to the notch in favor of the Dynamic Island on all phones in its new lineup, and on the iPhone 15 that versatile screen technology is paired with new materials, lovely contoured edges, a powerful A16 Bionic CPU, and, yes, the new USB-C port. Even the photography has been leveled up, with a 48MP camera and new portrait processing capabilities. If you want a fresh iPhone model, this is your most affordable and best option – and you won't feel like you're missing out on much.
Dynamic Island arrives to retire the notch
Smoother design and soft-feel, color-infused rear glass
A16 Bionic chip
48MP image sensor
No zoom lens
No macro capabilities
Can run a little hot
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iPhone 15: Two-minute review
Welcome to the more modern 'standard' iPhone 15, or at least a standard iPhone that now seems more in step with its higher-end siblings.
The iPhone 15 has last year's best chipset (the A16 Bionic) and last year's best 48MP image sensor, but Apple has also finally dropped the beleaguered notch in favor of the same Dynamic Island as all the other iPhone 15 models, and last year's iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max.
That new, more modern screen also matches that of the best iPhone, the new iPhone 15 Pro Max (and Pro) with sunshine-beating 2,000-nit brightness. Even the design essentially matches the best of the iPhone 15 lineup, with newly contoured edges for a more ergonomic feel, and the now-obligatory (thanks to European regulators) USB-C port (though not one that supports USB 3.0 10Gbps speeds).
The iPhone 15 even has something that it can consider all its own: color-infused back glass that's now brushed rather than shiny. It looks great and feels even better, making this iPhone 15 just a little less slippery than its predecessor.
The main camera gets a nice bump over last year's, and the iPhone 15 only suffers in direct comparison to the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max (you can find out more about this year's top of the line iPhone in my full iPhone 15 Pro Max review), which also have a 48MP sensor, but one that's larger and thus produces even better images.
Still, the iPhone 15's new 48MP main camera, with the sensor inherited from the iPhone 14 Pro handsets, is nothing to sniff at, and it now shoots at a default 24MP, with the processing stitching together the best of a pixel-binned 12MP image and all the data from the 48MP image.
There is zoom, of a sort, on the iPhone 15. You get 2x zoom, but this is accomplished by cropping into the center 12MP of the 48MP sensor. That's optical, but it doesn't quite compare to the dedicated 3x optical zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro or the Pro Max's 5x optical, let alone the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra's 10x optical zoom.
The iPhone 15 remains one of Apple's most pocketable phones (especially with Apple having discontinued the iPhone mini) and it now demands fewer compromises. You get the brightest, notch-free screen, a very able last-generation mobile CPU, and a lot of megapixels to play with for all your smartphone photography needs.
If you'd prefer what is essentially the same phone but with a larger body and screen, check out our iPhone 15 Plus review; and if you want to go Pro but can't quite stretch to the Max, read our iPhone 15 Pro review. But if you want to join the iPhone family, and not pay a lot of money for the privilege, the iPhone 15 is the best palm-sized choice.
iPhone 15 review: Price and availability
- Priced from $799 / £799 / AU$1,499
Apple unveiled the iPhone 15 alongside the iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max at its 'Wonderlust' event on September 12. The phone became available to buy in-store and online on September 22.
Although there was talk of a range-wide price rise this year, the iPhone 15 price (along with the Plus and Pro) is the same as that of the iPhone 14 in the US, with the standard 128GB model starting at $799.
In the UK, the iPhone 14 saw a notable increase in price compared to its predecessor, and the welcome news is that the iPhone 15 gets a similarly notable price cut, starting at £799 where the iPhone 14 started at £849. Australian pricing is marginally higher year-on-year. Full iPhone 15 pricing is as follows:
If you're already sold on the promise of the iPhone 15, head over to our iPhone 15 deals page for a roundup of all the best offers available now.
- Value score: 4.5 / 5
iPhone 15 review: Specs
Here's how the iPhone 15 compares specs-wise to the rest of the iPhone 15 lineup:
|iPhone 15||iPhone 15 Plus||iPhone 15 Pro||iPhone 15 Pro Max|
|Dimensions:||147.6 x 71.6 x 7.80mm||160.9 x 77.8 x 7.80mm||146.6 x 70.6 x 8.25mm||159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25mm|
|Display:||6.1-inch OLED||6.7-inch OLED||6.1-inch OLED||6.7-inch OLED|
|Resolution:||2556 x 1179 pixels||2796 x 1290 pixels||2556 x 1179 pixels||2796 x 1290 pixels|
|Refresh rate:||60Hz||60Hz||Adaptive 1-120Hz||Adaptive 1-120Hz|
|Chipset:||A16 Bionic||A16 Bionic||A17 Pro||A17 Pro|
|Rear cameras:||48MP main, 12MP ultrawide||48MP main, 12MP ultrawide||48MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom||48MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP telephoto with 5x optical zoom|
|Storage:||128GB, 256GB, 512GB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB||256GB, 512GB, 1TB|
iPhone 15 review: Design
- Smooth edges for a softer look and feel
- Color-infused back glass
- Right-sized for pockets and palms
Like the rest of the models in the new range, the iPhone 15 is instantly recognizable as an iPhone. Its dimensions, 146.7 x 71.6 x 7.8mm, virtually match those of the iPhone 14 (and are quite close to those of Samsung's comparable Galaxy S23, which is slightly lighter).
Importantly, though, the iPhone 15 does what the iPhone 14 did not: it moves the base model forward with a refreshed chassis design, a brand-new way of making the phone's glass back, and, of course, the Dynamic Island, which replaces the notch with something more attractive and versatile.
Between that, the contoured edges, and the new USB-C port, there is, design-wise, a lot more alignment between the iPhone 15 and the rest of the new lineup.
The new color-infused glass back is a nice upgrade. I really like the way it looks, and how it perfectly compliments the newly contoured smartphone edges; it has an overall warmer look and feel.
I'm not sure I'm sold on the pastel hues available across all the iPhone 15 phones, though. The yellow of my review unit looks far more muted than the yellow in which the iPhone 14 is available. Your other color options are Blue, Pink, Green, and Black, none of which goes any stronger than relatively muted pastel hues. If you like your colors bold, your best option is Pink – I handled that model backstage at the launch event and I really liked it.
The iPhone's front screen is still protected by the ceramic shield, and the body is made of 75% recycled aluminum. There are other partially recycled materials inside the iPhone 15, too, including cobalt in the battery, and copper through a number of the components.
Aside from the contoured edges, Apple has left the body mostly untouched since the iPhone 14. The power / sleep / Siri button is still in the same spot on the right side, and the dual volume buttons are in their usual spots on the left. While the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max get the nifty new Action button, the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus still have the classic ring / silence switch, and while there's nothing wrong with this analog switch, if you see a friend with the iPhone 15 Pro you may start pining for your own more versatile button.
The bottom of the iPhone 15 looks like the bottom the iPhone 14 at first glance, but there's one very significant change here: the slightly larger, new, USB-C port. It's the same as the ones on all the iPhone 15 models, though the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus will not support high-speed USB 3 connections.
As you already surmised, your old Lighting cables won't work with this port, but Apple does include a USB-C-to-USB-C cable in the box.
Overall, I consider the iPhone 15 to be a design upgrade. It's not an overhaul, but it is a refresh that makes the phone look and feel better than its predecessor.