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The iPhone 15 Pro Max is my favorite smartphone. Here’s why.

The back of the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

When I bought the iPhone 15 Pro Max in 2023, it was my return to Apple’s largest iPhone after several years of only living with the smaller Pro model. I made the decision based on its feature upgrades and a wish to try life with a big-screen iPhone again.

Now, eight months after doing so, have I regretted it? No, quite the opposite.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is superb

The iPhone 15 Pro Max's screen.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I’m not going to beat around the bush here. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is my favorite smartphone I’ve used since its release, and I couldn’t be happier with it. While it’s not perfect, and I have used two other phones that have superior cameras since it was released — the Xiaomi 14 Ultra and the Huawei Pura 70 Ultra — the package as a whole is superb and close to unbeatable in its category.

Big statements need plenty of justification, and with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, the reasons behind it being a firm favorite are numerous and easy to list. The large screen is flawless, with high brightness and bold natural colors, along with the deliciously smooth ProMotion 120Hz refresh rate that I think should be standard on all Apple phones and tablets at this stage. I’ve never wanted more performance from the A17 Pro processor, either.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max with Standby mode on the Anker MagGo Wireless Charging Station.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Every app I want is available, and I rarely have any reliability problems with them. I use my iPhone for Apple Pay mobile payments, which is so simple and convenient I never think twice about using it. The phone is continually linked to my Oura Ring using Bluetooth, and it has not failed to connect over the past year. It’s the same situation with headphones I use, whether it’s my AirPods Pro, Sony WH-1000XM4, or Nothing Ear 2. I use the iPhone to connect to my Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses, and like the Oura Ring, the connection and app have been faultless.

Then there’s the Apple Watch Series 9, which is the best smartwatch you can buy at the moment, and it also connects and interacts with the iPhone 15 Pro Max without issue. From the always-fast AirDrop to my recent love for StandBy mode, the iPhone neatly fits into my life and never adds stress or requires sudden problem-solving to spoil my day.

I review Android phones all the time, but I choose to use my iPhone for the many essential everyday apps — from banking to paying for car parks by app — because it’s so fuss-free. I swap my other SIM card into different Android phones usually multiple times per month, and cannot say the same thing about some of them. I rely on my iPhone, and it repays me with ultimate reliability and peace of mind.

A great phone, but not a perfect phone

The Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max's camera.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I realize that’s a lot of gushing about the iPhone 15 Pro Max, but I’m also the first to admit it’s not perfect. The battery life is often less than optimal, although I’m currently going through a period where it’s working very well indeed. Over the last week as I experiment with an AI chatbot app, the battery has returned a screen time of up to and a little beyond six hours on a single charge, and that’s fantastic performance. However, it doesn’t always do this, and I’m wary that a future software update (I’m currently on iOS 17.5.1) may change everything again.

I placed my trust in Apple’s own Ceramic Shield glass to protect the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s screen after getting the phone new, and in hindsight, this was the wrong decision. Within weeks, the screen had picked up a noticeable scratch across the top, and although very few have joined it since, I do catch sight of the original and quite deep scratch glinting in the sun, where it reminds me I really should have used a separate screen protector too.

I’m also disappointed with the camera. It’s certainly not terrible, and a lot of the time it takes good photos. But when the newest Apple iPad Air has the ability to take more pleasing photos than the iPhone 15 Pro Max in some situations, you know there’s something wrong. Its shortcomings were harshly highlighted after using the brilliant Xiaomi 14 Ultra’s camera, which is full of character, and the astonishing technical prowess of the Huawei Pura 70 Ultra. It seems Apple has been less concerned with making its still camera the best out there recently and has concentrated on video features. I’d really like this to change for the iPhone 16 series.

Will I continue with the Pro Max model?

The side of the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I’m struggling to find much else that I find a specific downside. Yes, it’s a big, heavy phone, but I knew that going in. And it is expensive too. But for once, it’s actually cheaper than Samsung’s top S-series Ultra phone of the year, so it’s not the priciest option out there. I also find a great deal of the benefits come from being deep inside Apple’s ecosystem, and it adds considerable value and convenience to the iPhone. If you don’t want to primarily use Apple products — whether it’s a MacBook, Apple TV, iPad, or Apple Watch — then it may not always work so seamlessly, and it is something you should consider before buying.

Although the summer isn’t over yet, which means the iPhone 16 series isn’t close to being announced, how do I feel about continuing with another Pro Max iPhone model when the time comes, or will I return to the smaller Pro? Choosing the iPhone 15 Pro Max was the right decision. I accept it’s more of a handful, but the bigger screen is such a winner for video, editing photos, and reading that it’s worth the tradeoff. It would be difficult to go back to the smaller size.

However, this is dependent on Apple’s decision around the specification, as I may think differently if there’s no feature advantage outside of the screen size to get the Pro Max model. The 5x optical zoom swung the decision for me in 2023, and the iPhone 16 Pro Max will need to offer a similar benefit to tempt me into paying the additional cost for the phone in 2024. But leaving aside future plans and the downsides mentioned, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is easily my favorite smartphone released since late 2023. Considering the competition, this is extremely high praise.

Andy Boxall
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
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