The iPhone 15 Pro squeezes in a new Action button, powerful camera and a new A17 Pro chip into a smaller titanium frame
- Beautiful 6.1in OLED display
- USB-C is finally here
- A17 Pro is powerful
- It’s expensive
- Dull colour options
- Average battery
Unsurprisingly, the iPhone 15 Pro is the best Pro-branded iPhone Apple has ever made. With a new titanium chassis, revamped Action button and a chip so powerful Apple swears your iPhone will be able to replace your gaming console with real console-quality games – what’s not to like?
Well, despite looking amazing on paper, the iPhone 15 Pro has a few practical problems that are hard to overlook. Not to mention that other iPhones are either simply better in one area or the other, and in some cases cost much less.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro review: What you need to know
The Pro iPhone 15s are the definitive flagship iPhones of the year. Both models are manufactured with a new titanium chassis, which not only looks pretty swish but also comes with the added benefit of being one of the lightest generations of iPhone in recent years. The 6.1in iPhone 15 Pro is the most compact and affordable of the two, and it’s the same as the iPhone 15 Pro Max in all but size, battery, and camera.
The iPhone 15 Pro also drops the iconic mute switch for something a little more flexible: the Action Button. This is taken from the Apple Watch Ultra and allows you to map any action, giving it more flexibility than ever before.
Finally, a killer feature that’s here is the new Apple A17 Pro processor. Sure, smartphones have gotten more and more powerful over the years, to the level that we can’t quite say how much of that power we need, but Apple has an answer with what it describes as “console-level” gaming performance.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro review: Price and competition
The iPhone 15 Pro is a very expensive phone at £999 for the base 128GB model, yet it also comes in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB configurations for £1,099, £1,299, and £1,499 respectively.
Apple’s most direct competitors at this size are the Samsung Galaxy S23 (£899), Xiaomi 13 (£849), and Google Pixel 8 (£699). These premium handsets also focus on cameras and high-end performance but they’re also less expensive – especially the Pixel 8.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro review: Design and key features
Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro is one of two new iPhones this year to come with the company’s biggest physical changes: a titanium chassis and the configurable Action button.
The titanium frame means that the iPhone 15 Pro is the lightest Pro-branded model Apple has released since the iPhone XS, at 187g. It comes in Black Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium, and Natural Titanium colours, which all look rather staid and professional looking, including the Blue Titanium model we tested.
The Action Button, on the other hand, reminds me of my experiences with 3D Touch on the iPhone 7 Plus. Some killer use cases for it may emerge eventually, but it doesn’t feel like a must-have right now, considering the actions you can link to it are limited, which are mostly duplicated by the drop-down Control Center. I set the Action Button to link to the camera app, but you can set it to other features including triggering a Focus mode, the flashlight, magnifier, and of course, the mute button.
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The size of the phone is 71 x 8.3 x 147mm (WDH), which is a little smaller than the iPhone 14 Pro (72 x 7.9 x 148mm) and the bezels are slimmer as well. Around the back, you’ll find the square camera housing, which incorporates three big camera lenses.
Alongside the new titanium construction, the addition of USB-C is genuinely useful. With every mainstream computing device equipped with a USB-C port these days, this now means you can use the same charging cable for absolutely everything. You can even output the iPhone’s display to a monitor, though it lacks productivity features akin to Samsung’s DeX to make it a worthwhile activity.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro review: Display
Apple is keeping the same broad display tech as the iPhone 14 Pro, which means we’re getting a 6.1in 2,556 x 1,179 resolution 120Hz Super XDR OLED screen as before. It’s a brilliantly sharp display, too, with 460 pixels per inch (PPI) and is also protected by a layer of Apple’s Ceramic Shield tech.
In our display testing, the iPhone 15 Pro reproduced 98.1% of the sRGB colour gamut, with an average Delta E score of 1.5 (the lower, the better). It should also get plenty bright, with a recorded peak brightness of around 1,600cd/m2. In other words, it’s going to be an excellent display.
Apple’s Always-On display feature makes a return here, and it gets a small power up with the new StandBy mode introduced in iOS 17. You’re now able to use your iPhone as a desk clock at night, provided you have a Magsafe charger on hand.
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro review: Cameras
The iPhone 15 Pro’s camera hardware is pretty much the same as last year. This is a triple-camera layout with a 48MP (f/1.8) main sensor, a 12MP (f/2.8) 3x telephoto lens, and a 12MP (f/2.2) 120-degree ultrawide lens. Around the front, there’s a 12MP (f/1.9) camera for selfies and video calls.
Though many of these images are the same as those taken on the iPhone 14 Pro, the A17 chip improves image capture by a slight degree, in speeding up the image processing, and 24MP images are captured by default.
The pictures that come out of this camera are crisp and filled with intricate details. Walking around the Old Street in London, you can see how the brickwork can be made out even on images captured with the 12MP telephoto lens. The colours are flat and natural, as iPhones tend to produce, but if you want a little more punch out of the gate, you can turn on photographic styles to produce more vibrant or contrast rich photos right out of the camera.
A few new software tricks have been added to the camera app. For example, you can now retroactively tweak the focus of photos and turn images into portraits after the fact. And Apple has also taken a leaf from Google’s playbook in improving the capture of skin tones, which should, in theory, make the iPhone a better camera for people of colour. In practice, I didn’t see much difference from the iPhone 14 Plus, and Google’s Real Tone is still more accurate to my eyes. Apple’s Photonic Engine, which powers this feature, is also present in the iPhone 14 Pro.
There’s also an enhanced night mode that allows for more details in low-light scenes. You can still make out plenty of detail in dark spaces such as bars with tinted lights, and even night shots in neutral light can present with plenty of colour. Details will fall into smudginess if you zoom in close enough, but that’s a problem that plagues all modern smartphones.
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In videography, Apple continues to provide the same features as before. There are a few new additions such as a dedicated night video mode, but the broad gamut of features from the Portrait mode-style Cinematic video with a new Cinematic zoom, slow motion recording up to 4K60fps, and 3D video, remain.The video colour grading resembles that of still images, the sound capture is good, and the quality is overall good enough for filming your family vacations or even an amateur short film.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro review: Performance and battery life
The iPhone 15 Pro is powered by the same brand-new A17 Pro chip as the iPhone 15 Pro Max and is backed by 8GB of RAM. It’s a six-core CPU built on a 3nm process which means it should be more power efficient than the 4nm A16 processor, with a speed boost of around 10%.
This new processor also adds support for ray tracing and mesh shading, which Apple says enables “console-level” gaming on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. I tested out a demo version of Resident Evil Village on the iPhone 15 Pro Max which looked great and played well. The performance should be identical on both devices. Of course, it will still be great for other, non-console level mobile games. I tested out Marvel’s Future Fight and Contest of Champions, and the processor was able to handle them with relative ease.
In our Geekbench 6 tests, the iPhone 15 Pro was second to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, followed closely by the iPhone 15 Plus. Top Android phones, including the S23 and Xiaomi 13, lagged behind in both single and multi-core performance. The picture was not so rosy with GFXBench, however, with the iPhone 15 Pro underperforming against the iPhone 15 with a 102fps average in the on-screen Car Chase benchmark.
The battery life provided by the 3,247mAh cell is rather average in day-to-day use. It can handle a standard workday while streaming music, replying to Slack messages, and a TikTok session at lunchtime, but it’ll be gasping for the charger by the time you get home. The new USB-C charging really helps here, however, and throwing it on a 65W-rated charger meant the full 27W charging speeds could be hit, taking it to 50% in around half an hour and full in just over an hour. And in our video playback test, the iPhone 15 Pro performed excellently compared to the iPhone 14 Pro, so you will certainly see better battery performance than the previous iteration, as well as the iPhone 15.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro review: Verdict
This year, the iPhone 15 Pro feels like a perfunctory update. Where the non-Pro iPhone 15 models picked up meaningful changes and the 15 Pro Max got a powerful new camera, the iPhone 15 Pro, compared to its direct predecessor, got a mere spec bump.
However, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of refinement when the base is good. Indeed, the cameras are still great, the titanium construction is fantastic, the display is one of the best around and the performance is streets ahead of the average handset in this price range.
As far as iPhones go, the iPhone 15 Pro is the Johannes Factotum of this year’s lineup. It’s certainly not a bad phone, just an unremarkable one by comparison.