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iPhone 15 Plus review: Great performance without the Pro price tag

Published Dec 20th, 2023 1:50PM EST
iPhone 15 Plus Main
Christian de Looper for BGR

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iPhone 15 Plus

Rating: 4 Stars

The iPhone 15 Plus offers a nice big screen, a solid camera, and a good battery.

Pros

  • Improved design
  • Solid camera
  • Good performance
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Dynamic Island

Cons

  • No Action Button
  • Last year’s processor
  • Low refresh rate
Buy FromList PriceSale Price
Best Buy$899.99$899.99See It

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max got a series of impressive upgrades compared to last year’s models. Action Button? Check. USB 3.0? Check. A super-powerful new chipset? Check. But those features are… largely limited to the pro models.

Thankfully, there are still some nice upgrades to the standard iPhone 15 and 15 Plus too. The new devices get some handy design tweaks, a port upgrade, and more. The iPhone 15 Plus is the larger of the standard iPhone 15 models.

I already reviewed the standard iPhone 15 when the devices came out, but now it’s the iPhone 15 Plus’ turn. Is it worth the premium over the standard iPhone 15?

iPhone 15 Plus specs

Dimensions160.9 x 77.8 x 7.8 mm
IP ratingIP68
Display resolution1290 x 2796 pixels
Display size6.7 inches
Display typeOLED
Display refresh rate60Hz
Display brightness2000 nits (peak)
ChipsetApple A16 Bionic
Memory6GB
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Rear camerasWide: 48MP, f/1.6, sensor-shift OIS
Ultrawide: 12MP, f/2.4, 120-degrees
Video4K at 60fps, 1080p at 240fps
Front camera12MP, f/1.9
PortsUSB-C 2.0
Battery size4,383mAh
Charging20W wired, 15W MagSafe, 7.5 Qi Wireless
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 6, 5G
ColorsBlack, Blue, Green, Yellow, Pink
Price$929.99

iPhone 15 Plus design

At first glance, the iPhone 15 Plus looks pretty similar to the iPhone 14 Plus before it, but there are a few differences in the design.

For starters, the edges on the device are a little software — which is a touch that I really appreciate. It means that the edges are a little more rounded on both the front and the back, and it feels great.

An even bigger design change can be seen at the bottom of the phone. The entire iPhone 15 series has a USB-C port at the bottom, meaning that you can use the same cables to charge the iPhone that you use to charge other devices. It’s a huge improvement, and well overdue.

iPhone 15 Plus SwitchImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Unlike the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus stick with USB 2.0 data transfer speeds instead of USB 3.0. For most people who only use that port for charging, this isn’t a huge deal — but some will miss the faster speeds.

On top of the USB-C port, there’s a design tweak on the front of the phone too — the non-pro iPhones now have a Dynamic Island. This basically brings the devices in line with the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, and it adds some helpful features that take advantage of the Dynamic Island, like Live Activity integration, and more. I don’t mind the Dynamic Island — and while I would prefer a completely uninterrupted screen, you’ll get used to the Dynamic Island pretty quickly.

The device is available in a number of fun colors, too — which I also like. The device now comes in Black, Blue, Green, Yellow, and Pink, and I’m reviewing the Green model. It’s a very soft green, but it still looks quite nice.

iPhone 15 Plus display

The Pro iPhones have been slowly getting improvements when it comes to display quality, to the point where the screens on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are among the best out there right now. Unfortunately for a device in this price range, the iPhone 15 Plus is lagging a little.

iPhone 15 Plus DisplayImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

To be clear, there are plenty of good things about the display on the iPhone 15 Plus. The resolution is high enough, at 1290 x 2796 pixels, and it’s an OLED display, meaning that you’ll get deep black levels and a good amount of contrast. Speaking of contrast, the display gets relatively bright — at a peak brightness of 2000 nits. That’s always helpful.

The big area in which the device lags behind the more expensive iPhones is the fact that it still doesn’t support a high refresh rate. The iPhone 15 Plus has a fixed refresh rate of 60Hz, in a world where most phones over $600 or so support at least 90Hz. We’re hoping the next year’s standard iPhones will get a boost in refresh rate.

iPhone 15 Plus performance

While the iPhone 15 Pro gets Apple’s new A17 Pro chip that powers console-quality video games, the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus get last year’s Pro chip, the A16. I’m not a huge fan of Apple’s new approach to iPhone chipsets. It was nice when every iPhone got the same performance boost each year.

iPhone 15 Plus Dynamic IslandImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Either way, the iPhone 15 Plus is a very powerful phone. The device is easily powerful enough to handle everything you can throw at it in 2023, except, apparently, the console-quality games that will be coming to A17 Pro-powered phones later this year and early next year.

Here are the benchmark results we achieved with the iPhone 15 Plus:

  • GeekBench 6: 2,629 single-core, 6,195 multi-core
  • 3DMark Wild Life Extreme: 2,791

These results are very good, and they beat most Android phones out there. That may change as phones start rolling out with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 — but you should still expect excellent performance from the iPhone 15 Plus.

iPhone 15 Plus battery and charging

One of the biggest reasons to buy the iPhone 15 Plus over the iPhone 15 is the larger battery — and indeed, the device is able to last quite a bit longer on a single charge than the iPhone 15.

The iPhone 15 Plus has a 4,383mAh, and Apple rates the device as being able to offer 26 hours of video playback. Most won’t use their phone for video playback alone — but in day-to-day life, I found that the device relatively easily got me through a full day of use. At the end of a heavier day of use, I usually ended the day with around 30% or so.

iPhone 15 Plus USB-CImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The battery still isn’t as great as some Android phones out there, but most users should expect to get by just fine by charging during the night.

Speaking of charging, unfortunately, the device charges a little slowly. Apple doesn’t advertise the charging speed of the iPhone 15 Plus, but it doesn’t charge much faster than 20W or so, which is relatively slow in a world of phones that can charge at up to 240W. I hope Apple steps things up to at least 40W or so for next year.

It can charge wirelessly relatively quickly though. The phone supports 15W wireless charging with MagSafe or using Qi2, and that’s the fastest standardized wireless charging you can get right now.

iPhone 15 Plus camera

The iPhone 15 Plus has a dual camera system, made up of a 48-megapixel main camera and a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera. I wish the device had the triple camera system you can get on the Pro models, but I certainly didn’t expect to see it here.

There are some upgrades to the camera though. Thanks to the new 48-megapixel sensor in the main camera, the device can now output images at 24 megapixels, which will help make them look more crisp on higher-resolution displays and in large prints, if you ever need that.

iPhone 15 Plus CameraImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

On top of outputting images at 24 megapixels, the device can apply a sensor crop to deliver lossless 2x zoom images, which helps alleviate the lack of a telephoto camera a little.

In general, photos taken with the iPhone 15 Plus look great. In well-lit environments, images were vibrant and bright, and offered good detail in any image zoomed to up to 3x or so. In low-light situations, the phone still delivered pretty good shots too. Like with previous iPhone models, the iPhone 15 Plus’ video quality is excellent, and the device stabilizes video better than any Android phone I’ve tested.

Like with any phone, it’s possible to push the device to a point where it won’t take great photos — like in very dark environments or at extreme levels of zoom.

Conclusions

The iPhone 15 Plus is a solid phone. There are some updates that I really appreciate — like the addition of USB-C and the improvements to the camera. Sometimes, it can feel like the “Plus” model is forgotten — but the iPhone 15 Plus represents an excellent choice for those who want a larger iPhone, but who don’t want to spend the cash for the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The competition

If you’re considering the iPhone 15 Plus, you’re likely deciding between it and the other iPhone 15 models. The iPhone 15 Plus is really for those who care about a larger screen. If you don’t care about a bigger screen, it’s a good idea to either save your cash and go for the iPhone 15, which is very similar, or raise your budget for the iPhone 15 Pro, which is better in almost every way, with better performance, a better camera, and the new Action Button.

Should I buy the iPhone 15 Plus?

Yes. It’s a great phone for those who want a big-screen iPhone.

Christian de Looper Senior Reviews Editor

Christian de Looper is based in sunny Santa Cruz, California. He has been expertly reviewing tech products for more than 8 years, and brings experience in deep technical analysis of consumer electronics devices to BGR's reviews channel.

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