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iPhone 15 Pro review: Big steps forward

Published Dec 16th, 2023 9:01AM EST
iPhone 15 Pro Back
Christian de Looper for BGR

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iPhone 15 Pro

Rating: 4.5 Stars

With USB-C, an Action Button, and the A17 Pro, the iPhone 15 Pro represents a big step forward in a series of ways.

Pros

  • Sleek design
  • Action Button
  • USB-C
  • Excellent performance
  • Great camera

Cons

  • Battery is only fine
Buy FromList PriceSale Price
Amazon$999.99$999.99See It

The iPhone 15 Pro represents somewhat of a big step for Apple. Sure, the device looks largely the same as the previous-generation model, but with a huge leap forward in processing power and the addition of USB-C, it’s hard to argue that the top-tier iPhone isn’t more helpful than ever.

The iPhone 15 Pro is the smaller of two Pro-tier iPhones for the 15 series. I’ve been using the larger iPhone 15 Pro Max since launch — and it’s even more advanced. But is the iPhone 15 Pro pro enough?

iPhone 15 Pro specs

Dimensions146.6 x 70.6 x 8.3 mm
IP ratingIP68
Display resolution1179 x 2556 pixels
Display size6.1 inches
Display typeLTPO OLED
Display refresh rate120Hz
Display brightness2000 nits (peak)
ChipsetApple A17 Pro
Memory8GB
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Rear camerasWide: 48MP, f/1.8, sensor-shift OIS
Ultrawide: 12MP, f/2.2, 120-degrees
Telephoto: 12MP, f/2.8 periscope, 3x zoom
Video4K at 60fps, 1080p at 240fps
Front camera12MP, f/1.9
PortsUSB-C 3.0
Battery size3,274mAh
Charging25W wired, 4.5W reverse wired, 15W MagSafe, 7.5 Qi Wireless
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 6E, 5G
ColorsBlack Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium, Natural Titanium
Price$999.99

iPhone 15 Pro design

At first glance, the design of the iPhone 15 Pro is pretty similar to the iPhone 14 Pro. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll see changes ranging from minor to major.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the iPhone 15 Pro’s design and the iPhone 14 Pro’s is the fact that the device is now made from titanium. The result? It’s lighter than the aluminum body that the iPhone 14 Pro had, and instead of a glossy frame, there’s now a brushed metal one, which I really like. The phone comes in four colors, and we’re reviewing the Blue Titanium model, which I quite like.

iPhone 15 Pro Action ButtonImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Turn your gaze to the bottom of the phone, and you’ll see another upgrade. The iPhone 15 series now offers a USB-C port instead of a Lightning port. This is a hugely welcome change — it means that you’ll be able to charge your iPhone with the same cables that you use to charge other devices. On the “Pro” iPhones, this port is a USB 3.0 port, which supports faster data transfer than the USB 2.0 port on the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus.

There’s one more design change on the iPhone 15 Pro in the form of the Action Button. The Action Button is found on the left edge, and it allows you to trigger functions like the camera or flashlight. It also lets you activate Siri Shortcuts, which essentially gives it an unlimited amount of different use cases. The button can only be triggered by holding it down. I get why a quick press doesn’t activate it, but I do wish you could trigger different functions for things like double-presses.

I like all of the changes Apple has made to the iPhone’s design for the iPhone 15 Pro.

iPhone 15 Pro display

iPhone 15 Pro DisplayImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The screen on the iPhone 15 Pro isn’t all that different compared to that on the iPhone 14 Pro — but that’s not a bad thing. It’s still a 6.1-inch LTPO OLED display with a resolution of 1179 x 2556 pixels. It gets bright and vibrant, with excellent detail, and with support for ProMotion, the display is among the best out there.

iPhone 15 Pro performance

Apart from tweaks like USB-C, perhaps the biggest change to the iPhone comes in the form of the A17 Pro chip. The A17 Pro is the first to be built on the TSMC 3nm process, which directly translates to a big improvement in performance.

Apple is quick to point out the graphics improvements in particular. The result? The iPhone can now play console-quality games, with upcoming titles including the likes of Death Stranding and Assassin’s Creed: Mirage. That’s pretty huge, and it could radically change the landscape of gaming — particularly if we start to see more developers create for the iPhone, and see more accessories that make gaming on the iPhone on a TV, for example, possible.

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

In day-to-day life, I didn’t notice a huge difference in overall performance. That, of course, is because of the fact that the iPhone 14 Pro was already an extremely high-performing device, never stuttering or lagging. The same is true of the iPhone 15 Pro.

Unfortunately, I was unable to test the console-quality games that have yet to roll out to the iPhone 15 Pro, but rest assured, the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max are currently the best-performing phones on the market. If performance is important to you, you’ll love what’s on offer here.

iPhone 15 Pro battery and charging

The iPhone 15 Pro has a slightly larger battery, at 3,274mAh, compared to the iPhone 14 Pro. In actual use, it’s unlikely that you’ll see a radically different battery life — and Apple still rates the device as offering up to 23 hours of video playback.

iPhone 15 Pro USB-C PortImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Generally, however, the battery life on the iPhone 15 Pro isn’t bad by any means. It could certainly be better, but even in days of relatively heavy use, I was ending the day with around 20% of the battery remaining. There were days of very heavy use in which I had to charge before the end of the day, and in general, Apple could improve on the battery life in the iPhone. But the battery still isn’t necessarily bad, and most will be able to get through the day.

The charging speed, unfortunately, isn’t great. The iPhone 15 Pro can charge at up to 27 watts, which will get you to 50% in around 30 minutes — and the other 50% in far more time. That’s as long as you use the right charger. Again, this is an area Apple could improve, given the fact that most Android phones offer a charging speed of at least 40W or so.

The wireless charging speed is good, though. The iPhone 15 Pro can charge at up to 15W using a certified MagSafe charger, or up to 7.5W using a Qi-certified charger. There’s no reverse wireless charging here.

iPhone 15 Pro camera

On the back of the iPhone 15 Pro, you’ll find a triple camera array made up of a 48-megapixel main camera, a 12-megapixel telephoto camera with 3x zoom, and a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera.

iPhone 15 Pro CameraImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Unfortunately, the iPhone 15 Pro doesn’t get the same camera upgrades as the iPhone 15 Pro Max — which has a 5x telephoto zoom camera. But there are still some upgrades to speak of. For example, the iPhone 15 Pro can output images from the main sensor at 24 megapixels instead of 12 megapixels, which will make them better for things like large-format prints. You may not notice a huge difference, but it is nice that Apple has made this change.

In day-to-day life, the iPhone 15 Pro captures excellent photos. In well-lit environments, you’ll get plenty of detail and bright, vibrant colors. The phone can handle challenging situations relatively easily compared to many other phones, and while I hope Apple continues improving the iPhone’s camera, the device takes great low-light images.

Zoomed photos don’t look bad, but they aren’t as high-quality as those on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. I wish the two phones offered the same camera tech, as it would allow users to make a purchase decision based on device size instead of features. However, rest assured that even with the 3x telephoto camera, images zoomed up to 5x or so still look great.

Conclusions

The iPhone 15 Pro represents a pretty big step forward for Apple over the iPhone 14 Pro. Even if the performance isn’t much better, the addition of USB-C and the Action Button make the device much more useful. Add in the better performance and camera, and you have a phone that’s better in almost every way.

The competition

If you’re considering the iPhone 15 Pro, you’re likely also considering the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Despite the fact that the iPhone 15 Pro Max has a better camera, I think you should still make your purchase decision based on device size. I personally have grown to like using the larger iPhone — but if you want a smaller device, go for the iPhone 15 Pro instead of the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Should I buy the iPhone 15 Pro?

Yes. It’s a big improvement over the previous generations.

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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