Apple announced the iPhone 15 on September 12 in various variants and with surprises. Read everything about all models of the iPhone 15 and our purchasing advice here.

Bert van Dijk

On Tuesday, September 12, Apple presented many new devices in a keynote, including the iPhone 15, the new AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and the Apple Watch Ultra 2. In this article you can read everything you want to know about all the new models and we provide your purchasing advice for the iPhone 15.

iPhone 15 with surprises
For a number of years, Apple has presented the latest iPhones and other devices in September. Apple immediately came up with a surprise, because the new iPhone 15 models come without the expected price increase. In the Netherlands, the iPhone 15 and the Plus version will be 50 euros cheaper and the iPhone 15 Pro is even 100 euros cheaper than the previous model. Due to the first fast, economical 3nm mobile processors and faster USB-C connections that Apple only puts in the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, it is extra important to choose the right iPhone 15 version. Apple is now using the less fast and economical A16 processor from the iPhone 14 Pro in the iPhone 15.
Just like with the iPhone 14, with the iPhone 15 you are once again a processor generation behind the Pro models. The iPhone 15 also gets the dynamic island notifications that previously made the camera button on the screen less noticeable on the iPhone 14 Pro. The screen dimensions are unchanged at 6.1 inches for the iPhone 15 (Pro) and 6.7 inches for the iPhone Plus and Pro Max. Furthermore, the brightness of the screens of the iPhone 15 (Plus) is the same as the Pro models and they now also have an extra high peak brightness of 2000 nits for outdoor viewing. According to Apple, the battery of the iPhone 15 (pro) allows you to play 20 hours of video. The larger batteries of the iPhone 15 Plus and the iPhone 15 Pro Max are said to last no less than 26 and 25 hours.

A matte finish layer makes the colors of the iPhone 15 look a bit more chic. Apple now uses titanium for the Pro models. Because this material is much stronger and lighter, the iPhone Pro and Max are 9% and 8% lighter than their predecessors and also slightly more compact due to the thinner screen edges. It is nice that it is now easier to replace a broken back on both Pro models, which will hopefully also reduce costs.

Apple iPhone 15 colors
All colors of the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro at a glance

Is a telephoto lens with 5x zoom always better?
Because the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the only one with 5x optical zoom and the price difference with the smaller iPhone 15 Pro is so small, the Pro Max version will probably be the best seller again. It was expected that Apple would use an additional periscope lens with a larger sensor for a greater zoom range, just like Samsung. However, to achieve 5x optical zoom, Apple uses additional lenses and mirrors to match the focal length to the effect of a 120mm lens (see image). As an extra, the iPhone 15 Pro Max also has 25x digital zoom.

Apple iPhone 15
With additional lenses and mirrors, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has 5x optical zoom

If you often have to take photos of sports or animals, you will of course benefit from the larger zoom range. But because most photos are taken with lenses between 40 and 80 mm, several photographers expect that most users would be better off opting for the iPhone 15 Pro with 3x zoom and 15x digital zoom. A good improvement is that the iPhone 15 (Plus) now also has an optical 2x zoom. Due to all these changes, it seems wise to wait until extensive tests are available in which the cameras of the different models are compared in depth.

HEIF Max and image stabilization
A big improvement is that on all new iPhone 15 models (and the iPhone 14 Pro) with iOS 17, you can also save 48 MP and 24 MP photos in the much more compact HEIF format with the Photonic engine. Where you previously needed 75 MB for uncompressed photos, with HEIF Max you only need 5 MB and you benefit from less noise and more details than in a regular 12MP photo. A disadvantage is that HEIF Max recording is not yet possible for live photos.
According to Apple, the image stabilization of the Pro models is 2x greater than the iPhone 14 Pro with 10,000 micro adjustments. That improvement can certainly come in handy when using the telephoto lens. Another news is that the iPhone 15 Pro models allow you to record 3D videos for a spatial display in the new Apple Vision Pro headset that will be released in 2024. Also new is that iOS 17 allows you to subsequently determine the focus on photos in which a face has been recognized with the new Pro models (and the iPhone 14 Pro). This way you can easily blur the background so that the person you want to have in focus stands out better in the photo. You can see this as an automatic portrait mode that you no longer have to set in advance.

Major differences with USB-C connection
A big change is that all iPhone 15 models are equipped with a USB-C connection. Only the iPhone 15 Pro models have a USB3 chip on the new A17 Pro processor, which increases the speed of exchanging large files by 20x, up to a maximum of 10 Gbps. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus work at the USB2 speed of 480 Mbps, which is no faster than was the case with Lightning. To benefit from the higher speed with an iPhone 15 Pro model, you will need to purchase a Thunderbolt 3 cable yourself. Apple supplies the same braided white USB-C cable with every device as standard, which is less likely to break. If you have a USB-C to DisplayPort cable, you can stream movies in 4K to an external screen with any iPhone 15. Because the transfer of those images is controlled via a different chip, many Gbit/s also run over the slower USB-C connection on the iPhone 15 (Plus).

For wireless charging via the Qi-2 standard, a speed of 15 watts is expected. An additional advantage of the Thunderbolt 3 cable is that with the iPhone 15 Pro models you can also write large photo and movie files directly to a Mac (see image) or an external SSD while recording. Also due to the hefty surcharges for extra storage space, it is better to purchase a Pro model with 256 GB than to buy an iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Plus with 512 GB!

IMG 5240
With the iPhone 15 Pro (Max) you can save recordings directly to your Mac or external SSD

Powerful and economical A17 Pro processor
This first mobile 3nm processor has 19 billion transistors and a 6 core CPU that is 10% faster! The 6-core graphics processor is even 20% faster and, thanks to hardware acceleration, is suitable for graphically demanding games that were previously only suitable for fast game consoles.
The four efficiency cores are now 2x faster with 35 million actions per second, making the machine learning even 2x faster. During the keynote, someone called from a noisy environment and after switching on voice isolation you no longer heard any of those noises. If this works this well in practice, it will be enormous progress.

Programmable action button
Following the Apple Watch Ultra, the iPhone Pro has a programmable action button on the side instead of the slider to turn off the ringer sounds of your iPhone. If you hold down that action button for a long time, you still switch the ringer sounds on or off. By briefly pressing the action button you can optionally start the camera app, dictate or execute a shortcut command, which means the number of options is enormous.

Purchase advice
You can pre-order one of the new iPhones from Friday, September 15 at 2:00 PM. You will probably receive your order fastest if you order via Apple’s own website or Apple store app. The versions with 128 GB can be purchased from Apple for 969, 1,119 and 1,229 euros respectively. Sales start in stores on Friday, September 22, and in principle as many pre-orders as possible will be delivered on that day. Only the cheapest iPhone 15 Pro Max remains the same in price at 1,479 euros, but you now get twice as much storage space with 256 GB. With 256 GB, the iPhone 15, the Plus version and the iPhone 15 Pro are 380, 230 and 120 euros cheaper respectively.

Apple iPhone 15 recommended retail price
Recommended retail prices of all iPhone 15 models

The versions with 512 GB and 1 TB are, as always, very expensive at Apple. The additional cost of the 256GB versions is not too bad in comparison. And within that 256 GB column, the iPhone 15 Pro is only 110 euros more expensive than the iPhone 15 Plus. The iPhone 15 Pro has so many extra benefits for that extra price that you should forget about the larger screen of the iPhone 15 Plus. And from the iPhone 15 Pro, the additional cost to the Pro Max version is not very large either. The question is whether the new zoom lens with 5x optical zoom is a better purchase for everyone. With the iPhone 15 Pro models, in many cases it is not necessary to spend more money for a version with 512 GB or 1 TB. With those models you can now easily store large recordings on an SSD or a Mac thanks to USB 3.

Bert van Dijk