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I was wrong about the iPhone 15 Pro

iPhone 14 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro on leaves.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The iPhone 13 Pro Max was my first big iPhone ever, and I enjoyed the experience so much that I called it my favorite phone of 2022. That was primarily due to the exceptional battery life, which overshadowed my minor grievances with the camera. But the following year, shifting to the iPhone 14 Pro Max was a not-so-fun experience. Apple dropped the ball on battery life, the Dynamic Island wasn’t very useful for the first four months, the heavier design was unergonomic, and the cameras had issues as well.

This year, I decided to opt for the non-Max variant and go for the smaller iPhone 15 Pro. A month later, I can confidently say that this is the best Pro iPhone I’ve ever used. And that’s because of the number of ways it’s improved over its predecessor.

The iPhone 15 Pro is the perfect size

iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max edges.
iPhone 15 Pro’s slightly curved edges (left) compared to the sharp edges of the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

I was assuming I’d not like the iPhone 15 Pro and shift to the iPhone 15 Pro Max within a couple of weeks, similar to my experience last year with the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. But that didn’t happen because of the massive improvements in design, battery life, and cameras.

Using the iPhone 14 Pro Max as my primary was a pain in the … wrist. Coming from the iPhone 13 Pro Max, I expected it to be unergonomic due to the sharp edges, but the added weight made it the most uncomfortable phone I’ve used in years. And that was one of the reasons I opted for the smaller iPhone this year.

I was glad to see the sentence “Apple’s lightest Pro models ever” on the iPhone 15 Pro press release and expected it to be more comfortable to hold than the iPhone 14 Pro. But I had the uncertainty factor weighing on me.

That is until I held the device in my hand and started to actually use it. Fast-forward to a month later, and the titanium design and slightly curved edges make a lot of difference in day-to-day use. It no longer puts a temporary dent on my pinky finger after a long video call or browsing session. And I don’t feel the need to adjust my grip every time I need to click a landscape picture.

Battery life isn’t as bad as I feared

iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max in hand.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

I expected the move from a 240-gram phone to a 187-gram device to be pleasant, but I didn’t expect it to be this enjoyable. And it’s been this way because I’m getting iPhone 14 Pro Max-like battery life on my smaller iPhone 15 Pro. It’s still not at the iPhone 13 Pro Max-level, but it’s better than I expected.

The iPhone 15 Pro lasts me a day if I’m using it at home. This includes my ideal workday that looks like this: jumping between Instagram and Twitter (X) for entertainment, using Safari for browsing, and using messaging and video calls on WhatsApp, Gmail, Teams, and Slack for work. If I’m out and navigating for 30 minutes with my MacBook Air connected to the hotspot, the battery drains by 5 p.m., so I have to carry a battery pack with me.

But this is still solid battery life for a phone with a 6.1-inch display. It is easily on par with my iPhone 14 Pro Max, and it made shifting to the smaller Pro iPhone a breeze.

Apple’s new cameras impress

The back of a blue iPhone 15 Pro.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

My third annoyance with the previous iPhones was with the camera, which had bad lens flare and bad HDR, and produced not-so-good-looking portraits. While lens flare remains a problem, the other two issues have been fixed. The photos below do a good job of showing off these improvements:

As you can see, the highlights are blown out in the iPhone 14 Pro’s image, but the second selfie shot on the iPhone 15 Pro was able to keep the details despite focusing on the faces. The third and fourth images are also shot on the iPhone 15 Pro, and I’m sure the background would have suffered had I clicked these on my iPhone 14 Pro Max. I love the colors, dynamic range, and details in these images.

Secondly, the portrait shots on the iPhone 15 Pro have better bokeh and edge detection than before. Plus, it is able to focus faster and more efficiently. The ability to click photos in normal mode and then being able to add the bokeh later in the Photos app is great, but it doesn’t work all the time. However, I’m happy switching to the portrait mode and getting shots like those above.

Why I’m sticking with the iPhone 15 Pro

iPhone 15 Pro display with iPhone 15 Pro Max in background.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

I like big phones because of the more area I get to interact with apps and the improved productivity (specifically on Android phones). I was skeptical about shifting to a 6.1-inch display phone for two reasons. First, battery life, and second, productivity. As mentioned above, the battery situation is solved.

Regarding productivity, iOS doesn’t let me take advantage of the bigger screen on the Pro Max iPhones. As I’ve written before, iOS feels limiting, especially on a big screen, because you’re only getting a blown-out version of an operating system that still works the same way on a 4.7-inch iPhone SE.

If I’m opting for a 6.7-inch iPhone, I want to be able to interact with multiple apps at once with multi-window or popup window support – both of which are available on Android phones, but not on iOS. The 6.1-inch display size also works for me because I don’t watch TV shows or movies on my iPhone (I have a good setup for that in my living room). My use case involves text-based apps more than video apps unless I’m watching Instagram Reels for hours before bed.

The iPhone 15 Pro gives me the iPhone 14 Pro Max-level battery life in a form factor that’s 53 grams lighter and so much more comfortable to hold. It fixes my two big issues with the camera and offers a reliable performance. This is, for me, the most significant iPhone upgrade in years.

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Prakhar Khanna
Prakhar writes news, reviews and features for Digital Trends. He is an independent tech journalist who has been a part of the…
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