The iPhone 15 Plus has a big screen, a big battery, and a great camera. That’s enough iPhone for most people.
- Beautiful 6.7in OLED display
- Long lasting battery life
- USB-C is finally here
- Still a 60Hz display
- Lacks an optical telephoto camera
- Charging is slow
Last year’s Plus fought an uphill battle, with its pricing placing it so close to the Pro that most would have been better off just buying the Pro anyway, with the lack of features like the Dynamic Island, a high-resolution camera and faster processor seriously undermined its appeal.
This year, those features have made the transition to the iPhone 15 Plus, along with the new USB-C connector and it’s a far more appealing handset as a result.
Apple iPhone 15 Plus review: What you need to know
The iPhone 15 Plus is the sixth Plus iPhone from Apple and the second since its revival last year. It is equipped with a big and beautiful 6.7in OLED display, new colour-infused glass that feels soft to the touch. It also drops the old bath-tub notch for the now-no-longer-novel Dynamic Island Apple introduced with the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max last year.
Most importantly, Apple has introduced three major upgrades to the iPhone 15 Plus: USB-C, a high-resolution 48-megapixel main camera, and processor update to the Apple A16 Bionic. These three changes make the iPhone 15 Plus a much more attractive phone than the iPhone 14 Plus, which didn’t bring much in the way of serious upgrades (aside from its larger size) over the previous year’s iPhone 13.
Apple iPhone 15 Plus review: Price and competition
The starting price for the iPhone 15 Plus is £899 for the 128GB model, which is cheaper than the iPhone 14 Plus was when it launched, but still expensive. Should you want a more comfortable 256GB or 512GB of storage, you’re looking at £999 or £1,199.
Of course, the iPhone 14 Plus is also the iPhone 15 Plus’s greatest rival, at least on paper. It’s still available to buy and is now £100 cheaper for the same tier of storage. At this price differential, though, I think the iPhone 15 Plus is still your best choice as that gets you a better main camera and USB-C.
You might also want to consider the iPhone 15 Pro, which gets you faster performance and a 3x telephoto camera, although this phone will cost you £100 more.
On the Android side of things, if you can bear to take yourself there, you might be surprised to find that you can get more phone for your money among the best Android phones. For example, Android flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus (£900), the OnePlus 11 (£730), and the Motorola Edge 40 Pro (£800) all come with triple-camera arrays (or more), 120Hz displays, and ultra-fast charging.
Those are genuinely useful features that we’d really love to see Apple bring over to the non-Pro iPhones.
Apple iPhone 15 Plus review: Design and key features
Unlike last year’s iPhone 14 Plus, the iPhone 15 Plus is meaningfully different from the iPhone 13 in ways other than size. The Dynamic Island, for example, finally makes its way over, and it’s more than just a gimmick.
You use it to view notifications, change music, and even track things like Uber Eats orders without having to open the full app or go to the lock screen, as you would on an iPhone that doesn’t have Dynamic Island. It isn’t a life-changing feature but it’s certainly nice to have, and when you’re paying iPhone prices, the more nice-to-have features you have, the better.
The size of the phone is 78 x 7.8 x 161mm (WDH), which is more or less the same as the iPhone 14 Plus. It’s a little bit lighter than the 14 Plus, and by little I mean imperceptibly so at a couple of grammes. Compared to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, it is a fair bit lighter at 201g than the 221g of the bigger smartphone, and the bezels are also thinner, giving the appearance of an all-encompassing display.
As usual, the camera housing perches in the top-left corner on the rear with a pair of lenses peering out from a square glass surround, arranged diagonally opposite each other. It looks pretty much the same as the iPhone 14 Plus, until you get to that colour-infused matte glass, which is soft to the touch compared to the smoothness of the older glossy models.
The phone is available in five colours. There’s boring old black plus a series of very pale pastel shades: pink, yellow, blue, and green. My review unit was the black model, and it’s worth noting that it looks distinct from the Midnight that’s available on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus; it comes across as a dark grey instead of solid black.
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The other major design change is that the edges are more softly profiled than before, which means that the phone doesn’t dig into your hands quite as much. And as is the norm with modern iPhones, it is IP68-rated for resistance to dust and water.
Wrapping this section up, USB-C is a genuinely useful addition. Unless the only device you own is an iPhone – no MacBook, no iPad, no laptops, no tablets – then you’ll have a lot of USB-C cables hanging around your house. You’re now able to charge your phone with any and all of these cables.
Granted, there will be some confusion when you ask for an iPhone charger on an Uber or at a social event for the first year or so of the USB-C transition but it’s here and it is a lot more convenient than you’d think. You can even use USB-C to reverse charge other devices like your AirPods or another phone.
Apple iPhone 15 Plus review: Display
Apple is keeping the same panel as the iPhone 14 Plus, which means we’re getting a 60Hz, 2,778 x 1,284 resolution Super XDR OLED display here. It’s a great display for media and photo viewing but Apple is falling behind what Android phones offer for the same price.
I talked about the iPhone having nice things but this is one nice thing that the iPhone doesn’t have. The iPhone display is good, but at this price it could and should have a 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rate.
Delving into the other technical aspects of the display, it has pretty good colour performance with the panel producing 90.17% of the P3 colour space in our testing, and accuracy within the sRGB colour space is also excellent – the Delta E colour variance score is low at 1.13 (the lower the better).
Apple also says the iPhone 15 Plus can reach a peak brightness of up to 2,000 nits, and that’s great for reading in bright sunlight, especially in the summer or sunnier months when outdoors. You’ll only see it peaking at those sorts of levels in regular viewing, though, and in very bright ambient conditions. In our testing, we measured peak brightness at 1,545 nits for HDR video playback (roughly the same as Apple’s quoted 1,600 nits for HDR).
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Apple iPhone 15 Plus review: Cameras
Apple has powered up the iPhone 15’s camera with a new 48-megapixel sensor. This comes with a brighter f/1.6 aperture than the f/1.8 aperture on the iPhone 14 Pro Max. There’s also a secondary 12MP ultrawide camera with an f/2.4 aperture.
Another big difference with the iPhone 15 Plus over the 14 Plus is that the main camera produces 24MP photographs by default now – double the resolution all iPhones have produced previously. You can switch back to 12MP if you want – indeed, in Night Mode, the camera does this automatically anyway – but I’d recommend sticking with 24MP. It provides a good balance between sharpness, image noise and file size and in my testing, I found the resulting photographs to be crisp, full of detail, and pleasing to the eye.
One further benefit of the 48MP sensor is that the iPhone 15 Plus can do digital zoom better than the older non-Pro iPhones since it has more megapixels to play with. It is cropping from the middle pixels, as Apple would describe it, and this gives you usable 2x zoom images, allowing for more creative photo framing.
Apple is sticking to the standard iPhone colour science here, although now Night Mode photos use the Photonic Engine where they didn’t before, so low light imagery looks more vibrant than it did before. Photographic styles make a return, too, so you can choose to have more constrasty or vibrant images than the default, if you prefer.
Video is better, too, benefitting from the new sensor to produce more vivid, contrasty footage than the 14 Plus, although there’s no improvement in capabilities. You can still record in 4K Dolby Vision at up to 60fps fully stabilised. You still get Cinematic mode, which applies portrait style background bokeh to video at 4K and 30fps, and Action mode applies even steadier action-camera smoothing for 2.8K 60fps video.
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In all, the new camera on the iPhone 15 Plus is a triumph. It’s a major step forwards from the camera in the iPhone 14 line and, aside from the lack of optical telephoto lens, it’s closer to the Pro camera than it has ever been.
Apple iPhone 15 Plus review: Performance and battery life
The iPhone 15 Plus is powered by the same A16 Bionic chip as the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. This means that it is slower than the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max but still handily outperforms most of the best Android phones on GFX Bench. Even those phones it doesn’t beat, it’s still on par with.
It doesn’t have support for Ray Tracing like the A17 Pro chip but that isn’t a huge issue. I tested out Marvel Future Fight with this and the processor was able to handle the 3D game with ease and without lag.
With light use, I found I was able to comfortably get two days of use out of the iPhone 15 Plus before needing to charge the battery. And even bumping up the workload doesn’t faze it too much. It can handle a standard work day while constantly streaming music, sending messages and watching videos at lunchtime, and will end the day with 60% to 70% capacity remaining. In our battery benchmark, it lasted 23hrs 41mins, it matched the iPhone 14 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro Max at just under a full day. In other words, it is excellent.
Charging, however, is another story. It’s slow at a maximum of 27W wired, 15W over MagSafe and 7.5W over Qi wireless, and reaches only 50% in around half an hour. This is another area where Apple falls behind compared with Android rivals. I can charge a Motorola Edge 40 to full in less than an hour, while this iPhone only gets to around 60%. Yes, the iPhone’s battery life is very good but being able to get up and running in that moment when you have little time and low battery is useful and it’s something the iPhone lacks.
Apple iPhone 15 Plus review: Verdict
When it comes to smartphones, most people like getting the biggest phones they can get, and the market reflects that. Budget and mid-range phones from Xiaomi, Motorola, and Samsung are all around and about the 6.5-6.7in size range and Apple has to have something in that market for those who want the biggest phone they can buy without paying the biggest premium.
Apple’s iPhone 15 Plus is that phone for Apple buyers and, where last year we weren’t sure about the Plus, this model cements its place in the range. It’s a major upgrade over the iPhone 14 Plus and provides a distinct alternative to both the standard 15 and the Pro models above it with a great camera, nippy performance and a larger screen. Moreover, battery life is superb.
The iPhone 15 Plus still has some flaws. Its lack of telephoto lens means it will always fall short compared to Android phones around the same price and charging speeds are slow. However, despite that, it’s a compelling upgrade over last year’s phone and kudos is due to Apple for that alone.