Apple iPhone 15 Pro long-term review

In our Apple iPhone 15 Pro long-term review, Apple's compact flagship showed various strengths, but also some weaknesses.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro

Seven months have passed since Apple’s current smartphones were launched. Since then, the Apple iPhone 15 Pro has been used in our editorial team every day, including the entire ecosystem. Apple’s Pro models continue to be the first choice for various users year after year. Be it because of the design, the software or simply because you have been part of the Apple world for years.

It may also be a combination of several things. After all, Apple’s flagships are usually very good at several things. Our Apple iPhone 15 Pro long-term test is intended to clarify whether the initial fascination still holds up after months of daily use.

Design

The design of the Apple iPhone 15 Pro remains special in one particular respect: its size. In a world where compact smartphones are now on the endangered species list, Apple continues to produce its flagship smartphones in a size that almost everyone would find comfortable. Of course, there are always the Plus or Max models, but the standard iPhone or iPhone Pro always has that compact, accessible size.

For anyone who carries their cell phone in their front pocket, the benefits of a compact phone need not be mentioned. It’s easy to slip into your pocket, doesn’t stick out too much when you’re sitting on it, and there’s even some room left for your AirPods. Even if you put on a case, the entire device is still more compact and easier to use than most other smartphones in this category without a case.

With the iPhone 15 Pro, Apple has pushed accessibility even further than its predecessor by switching to titanium. This resulted in a weight loss of almost 20g compared to the iPhone 14 Pro, which is quite noticeable and noticeable when switching between the two models.

New titanium case

While we’re on the subject of titanium, let’s delve a little deeper. Titanium is exceptionally strong for its weight. However, there have been concerns about the durability of the paint surface on the models where paint is present. After seven months without a case, we can say that the metal and color of our Blue Titanium variant look just as good as when new. The metal shows no signs of damage, nor is the color faded or scratched anywhere.

The camera module is not particularly nice to look at. While the use of a different texture for the glass surrounding the lenses is a nice touch, the three lenses stick out too much. We also find it a bit annoying to have to clean all three lenses individually, as most other phones have a single, easy-to-clean glass covering all lens elements and the design is definitely showing its age.

The flat design, on the other hand, is timeless. While many other smartphones have adopted this form recently, it only really works well with a compact design like the Apple iPhone 15 Pro because you can easily grip the entire phone. On larger devices, however, it feels rather impractical. The way Apple manages to seamlessly merge the two glass panels with the metal frame is also really artistic. There’s no lip or raised edge to be felt here when you slide your finger around the corners. One second your finger is sliding over glass, the next over metal, and over glass again like it’s nothing. It’s not easy to achieve this without compromising the structural integrity of the glass, but Apple manages it somehow.

New action button

The integration of the action button on the side was something new for this generation. After trying out the various preset options and even playing around with the shortcut feature to assign a custom workflow (like starting a new Safari tab), we finally decided to use it the old-fashioned way as a mute switch use. The old alert slider was a legendary feature for a reason, and it’s still a very handy tool that we wish were on more smartphones. While the customizable aspect of the action button is nice, muting still seems to be the best solution.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro with USB-C

The final external feature we want to touch on is the integration of USB-C. After seven months, it’s hard to imagine how much ink has gone into this one aspect before and immediately after the iPhone 15 Pro’s launch. Looking at it now, it just feels like a normal feature found on a regular phone. That’s good because it makes the Apple iPhone 15 Pro feel like a regular smartphone that fits into your life and workflow. You don’t need a special cable and probably already have the right USB-C charger at home anyway.

Display

The display of the Apple iPhone 15 Pro is unchanged compared to the previous model. You get the same 6.1-inch 120Hz OLED panel with a resolution of 2,556 x 1,179 pixels and peak brightness of up to 2,000 nits. The accuracy of the colors and the way the device handles large color spaces and dynamics is something every smartphone manufacturer should learn. There are no color presets to fiddle with. The colors always look as they should if you don’t have True Tone or Night Shift enabled.

Even better is the handling of HDR content, although this may be controversial. HDR content always loads at high brightness. Apple takes advantage of the phone’s display to ensure that the non-video parts of the screen maintain their original SDR brightness levels. This means that you can have an HDR video play in part of the screen in the Instagram app. While the video is searingly bright, the rest of the UI around it maintains the same brightness as non-HDR content. Sometimes it almost looks like the rest of the screen is darkened, but that’s just because your eyes have adjusted to the brighter HDR content on the screen.

The reason this is controversial is because people don’t like being blinded by random HDR videos on their timelines while scrolling through Instagram in bed at night. Instagram supports Apple’s HDR video. And since iPhones capable of recording in Dolby Vision have this feature enabled by default (without most people realizing it), a lot of video content in the app is now unintentionally in Dolby Vision. This can seem very bright when starting up. Currently, neither Instagram nor Apple offer a way to disable viewing this content in HDR, which bothers many people.

The high brightness of the display is quite practical outdoors, as the iPhone 15 Pro offers excellent readability in direct sunlight. It also has the smallest bezels ever on an iPhone. These are some of the thinnest bezels we’ve ever seen, and often it feels like you’re simply holding the screen while the bezels simply blend in with the dark body of our Titanium Blue model.

Dynamic Island

As for the Face ID Dynamic Island above – it quickly becomes self-evident and easy to ignore. It’s only a little annoying in landscape format when watching videos or games. Especially on the smaller iPhone 15 Pro, it takes up more space than the Max model because it is the same size regardless of the variant. If you regularly use your phone for videos or games, this is another reason to go for the larger model.

However, the refresh rate control leaves something to be desired. It seems that Apple is leaving it up to the developer to implement a high refresh rate as they see fit. We’ve come across apps that either don’t support this at all, or where some animations clearly run at 60Hz even though the rest of the app animates at 120Hz. These can be quite distracting and we’ve yet to find anything similar on Android where an app either fully supports high refresh rates or doesn’t support them at all.

However, Apple’s own apps and many of the well-made apps work perfectly. Even the stock camera app refreshes at 120Hz, which you’ll never see on Android. There, the camera app typically runs at 60 Hz, resulting in an inconsistent user experience. Additionally, many more games on iOS support high refresh rates than on Android. Games like Genshin Impact on Android don’t even support high refresh rate on Android, but can go up to 120Hz on iPhone. This is just another reason why you should choose Apple as a serial gamer.

Software

The Apple iPhone 15 Pro shipped with iOS 17 last year and is running iOS 17.4.1 at the time of writing. iOS 17 was not optimal at times during our use. While most problems are best described as minor, their overall frequency was notable. And not appropriate for a cell phone in this price range.

Many of the other issues aren’t necessarily iOS 17 specific, but iOS in general. It’s one thing that the launcher doesn’t allow you to arrange icons with spaces (although we hear that could change soon). But another is how frustrating it is to move icons anywhere. It often seems impossible to move one symbol where another is already located, and then move this symbol to make space.

Instead, the operating system continues to assume that you want to create a new folder. And when you try to move an icon within the folder, the folder simply won’t open. Instead, he moves to make space. It’s as if no one had ever used this basic function before delivery. Because there is no other explanation as to why it is so incredibly frustrating and difficult to use.

Endless animations

The operating system is also full of animations that take far too long to finish. Have you swiped to an image in the Photos app and want to quickly double-tap to zoom? Too bad it doesn’t work as the photo still slowly slides into place even though it looked like it wasn’t moving anymore. Only when the animation stops completely does it accept the double-tap gesture to zoom. And it’s hard to say when exactly it will stop.

Then there is the lock screen. Not to mention, the flashlight and camera icons cannot be removed or replaced. But why does the camera icon even exist? You can swipe left on the lock screen to launch the camera. This gesture is familiar to all iPhone users as you often trigger it accidentally. So why is there a button that needs to be pressed and held to do the exact same thing, but slower?

Maybe this is also a good time to mention how swiping down on the Home screen brings up Spotlight. A gesture that has always been available on the iPhone, but rarely makes sense. Instead, most people prefer to access Notification Center or Control Center instead. To date there is no way to change this gesture. Instead, we had to resort to the double- and triple-tap accessibility gestures on the back of the phone to access notifications and settings. The only problem is that these gestures trigger far too easily when you don’t want them to, and not easily enough when you do.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro third-party apps

We also had issues with many third-party apps for the platform. Apple has several clearly stated user interface guidelines for its developer community. And many developers out there are creating exceptional apps for the platform that are some of the best around. However, many apps on the platform come from regions where Android is dominant. And many developers still don’t seem to understand that navigation works fundamentally differently on iOS.

iOS relies on the app’s swipe-back gesture for navigation. It’s also not the same as the back swipe gesture on Android, which simply emulates the back button press and is managed by the operating system. On Android, an app is not required to have a back navigation gesture as this is handled by the operating system. On iOS, the app must support this gesture, otherwise navigation is not easy. Many developers simply forget this part and think that adding a back button at the top is the way to implement the back navigation gesture in the app. This results in a poor experience for the user as the usual backward swipe gesture doesn’t work. Instead, he has to stretch his thumb every time to press the back button at the top.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro vs Android

It’s not uncommon to come across comments from users complaining that navigation on iOS is worse than on Android because the button is difficult to reach. In reality, this button is just a backup solution. And every good app should have a built-in swipe back gesture on iOS. However, this is not the case with so many apps these days. Either because the developers don’t have this on their radar or are just used to developing for Android. The end result is user frustration and hostility towards the platform as a whole. Apple needs to do better here – either in developing apps or in the operating system itself.

Another amazing thing about iOS is how many interactions and gestures are completely opaque. It could be that you use the smartphone in a certain way for years. Only to find out via a TikTok video that there is an easier way. For example, by doing a gesture that no one knows. Text editing alone offers a dozen different gestures that could make your life easier. But for some reason, Apple rarely talks about it.

The side effect of this is that anyone who switches from Android often immediately has a worse user experience because so many things just feel counter-intuitive. The old adage that iOS is easier to use simply no longer applies. If you’re a long-time user, navigating these quirks and inconveniences may have become second nature. But a user who is completely new to smartphones will likely find stock Android much easier to understand than iOS with all its quirks.

Apps

Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are some things iOS does better than the competition, and many of them are quite ambitious. The focus on security and privacy has been a guiding principle of the company for years, and as far as we can tell, Apple has always walked its talk. Regardless of the bigger picture, it’s incredibly satisfying to simply turn off the app’s tracking every time the popup appears. It’s unlikely you’ll see this on Android anytime soon, as Google itself is keen to track other apps.

Then there is the software update policy. Other companies now promise even longer software support. Apple has never quantified the length of support, but the company’s track record speaks for itself and one thing you’re guaranteed with an iPhone: long-term software support.

The App Store continues to be home to some of the best apps you can find on any platform. But what really sets it apart is the quality of the games. That’s always been the case. But the recent release of top-notch AAA titles like Resident Evil 4 and Death Stranding puts iOS in a completely different league than Android. This is despite the fact that the latter has countless gaming-focused devices. And if you want more, Apple Arcade offers access to a wide selection of excellent titles without ads or in-app purchases. Some of them were even developed specifically for the platform.

So yes, there are still plenty of good reasons to switch to iOS or stay with iOS. Some might even say that the presence of iMessage alone justifies this decision. Additionally, with the EU breathing down Apple’s neck, the company could be forced to make several other changes intended to bring iOS closer to Android. While the company ultimately appears to be fighting this, we think it will be beneficial for both consumers and the platform as a whole.

CPU / Performance

The Apple iPhone 15 Pro is one of the fastest smartphones money can buy. It feels silky smooth when scrolling and responds immediately to all inputs. An app has to be exceptionally poorly built for it to appear choppy on this device. However, there is a need for discussion regarding some aspects of the performance of a particular piece of hardware. Namely the system memory, also known as RAM. Apple has equipped this device with 8GB of storage and no other storage options are available. The system does use a certain amount of memory as virtual memory, but exactly how much is unknown.

The 8 GB storage feels completely sufficient for everyday use. Despite what some people think about multitasking on iOS devices, it usually works much better than on Android. You can open an app on Android, minimize it, and find that it has to start over when you come back to it a few hours later. In the meantime, the device may have decided to close it without further ado. On the iPhone, we often tapped an app icon that we had opened a few days ago. It appeared as if it had just been used. It’s not just about the device opening apps quickly. Instead, they remain in exactly the same condition as you left them. The only exception are apps that explicitly require an update every time they are started.

But as impressive as the memory management is for everyday tasks, the device quickly runs out of memory for more demanding tasks. This can be anything from heavy use of the camera app to editing videos on the device. But it usually happens while playing.

The above AAA titles still impress us by the fact that they even run on a mobile device. After all, they were actually developed for consoles. What usually lets them down, however, is the iPhone 15 Pro’s 8GB storage, which fills up quickly and occasionally causes performance issues. Also, developers have to reduce things like texture settings, since anything higher resolution simply won’t fit in memory. And even though the PS4 also had 8GB of memory, there wasn’t a whole smartphone running in the background.

Battery

You might think that a phone this size wouldn’t have good battery life. But during our seven months of use, the Apple iPhone 15 Pro never once fell short of our expectations. Even on stressful days, it lasted until the evening without recharging and still had some energy left in the tank. After a while we even stopped taking a power bank with us.

But on days when you spent most of your time at home, the 15 Pro was at its best. With a few phone calls and many hours on Instagram and X, the Apple phone managed two full days without charging. This also included listening to podcasts via Bluetooth earphones and taking one or two photos.

As for charging, it’s not quick and remains an activity best done overnight. An hour and a half for a full charge is by no means terrible. But you can’t leave it to the last minute like you can with some other smartphones. This is one area where the iPhone definitely falls far behind the competition. Some manufacturers charge much larger batteries in a third of the time. Additionally, the iPhone tends to get much warmer when charging than these other phones. However, since most people choose to charge overnight, this may not be a problem for them.

Camera

The Apple iPhone 15 Pro’s camera hardware was similar to that of the iPhone 14 Pro, with most of the changes coming through the software. The only notable hardware change was in the iPhone 15 Pro Max with its new 5x optical zoom camera. But the model we’re talking about today sticks with the previous generation’s 3x telephoto lens.

Overall, the image quality is very good. One thing worth highlighting is the level of detail, which is significantly higher than the competition thanks to the use of the full resolution of 24 megapixels. In addition, there is the high-quality lens, so that the very good software can also work with very good source material. You can even shoot 48 megapixel RAW files if you care about every fine detail.

The color reproduction is also very good. The camera prefers warmer tones, particularly fond of highlighting the greens and oranges in the scene. Skin tones also have a warm, lush appearance, especially with darker tones, which can often be very flattering. Other than that, the camera generally respects all the colors present in the scene. The white balance is also generally quite reliable.

The 3x telephoto camera is a powerful tool in the iPhone 15 Pro’s arsenal and one that we used the most. It has a great perspective that perfectly isolates the subject with good background compression. And if you want to go even further, the 5x and even 6x zoom will give you perfectly usable results. In fact, many of the telephoto examples here are at 5x or higher.

In this sense, the iPhone 15 Pro’s telephoto camera may be better than that of the iPhone 15 Pro Max. While the latter has to use a digital zoom in the 1-5x range, the iPhone 15 Pro can switch to optical at just 3x. This means you get superior image quality at the more commonly used 3x factor while also getting perfectly good 5x images.

Verdict

9.1Expert Score
Verdict Apple iPhone 15 Pro long-term review

In our long-term review, the Apple iPhone 15 Pro scored points with an excellent display, excellent cameras and the fastest chipset on the market.

Design
9
Display
9
CPU / Benchmarks
9.5
Battery
9
Camera photos
9
Camera videos
9
Pros
  • excellent OLED display – super bright, color accurate, Dolby Vision
  • excellent day and night photos from all cameras
  • best-in-class video capture and stabilization, impressive Pro modes
  • fastest chipset on the market
  • stylish design, waterproof up to 6 meters
  • very good sound quality, very loud
Cons
  • much more expensive than corresponding Android alternatives
  • no charger included, charging slow
  • iOS is clearly showing its age

Seven months with the Apple iPhone 15 Pro and it’s easy to see why Apple is where it is. Great design meets high-quality materials with excellent workmanship. There is also first-class software and support for many years. This extends to several other aspects such as: B. some of the best displays on the market. Add to that perhaps the most comprehensive camera system on the market and some of the best apps and games on any platform.

Unfortunately, where there is a lot of light, there is also shadow. Apple wants iOS to be this simple, easy-to-use interface that everyone can use. But beneath that façade of simplicity lies an operating system that has changed significantly since its launch over a decade ago. The result is software that is harder to use because it obscures the features it needs to maintain this charade of simplicity. Unfortunately, iOS now lags behind Android when it comes to actual simplicity and useful functions.

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