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Why you should buy the iPhone 15 Pro instead of the iPhone 15 Pro Max

Natural Titanium iPhone 15 Pro with Chopper and BD-1 droids around it.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Apple releases multiple iPhones every year, offering folks choice in terms of size and features. In 2024, the iPhone 15 lineup includes four distinct models.

The regular iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus are great for those who don’t need a telephoto lens and don’t care about the Action button or the 1TB of storage. But anyone who wants a more “pro” experience has the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max.

You may be thinking, “Well, if I want the best iPhone 15 model, just get the iPhone 15 Pro Max,” right? While it’s considered the “top-tier” iPhone 15 model, it’s not for everyone. Here’s why you should consider the smaller iPhone 15 Pro instead.

Not everyone likes gigantic phones

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

The biggest difference, at least on the surface, between the iPhone 15 Pro and the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the size. The iPhone 15 Pro only has a 6.1-inch display, while the iPhone 15 Pro Max is larger with a 6.7-inch display.

They are both Super Retina XDR OLED screens with ProMotion 120Hz refresh rates. And they have always-on technology, though you can turn that off if you prefer.

So why go for the smaller iPhone 15 Pro? Well, even though it seems that everyone is buying giant phones, it’s almost impossible to use them comfortably one-handed, especially if you have smaller hands.

My hands are fairly petite, and I have trouble already when using large Android phones for work; I pretty much need to use two hands all the time. At least with my iPhone 15 Pro, even though it’s still larger than I’d like, I can manage to use it with one hand without too much trouble, and having a MagSafe PopSocket definitely helps out.

iPhone 15 Pro in Natural Titanium held in hand in front of a wooden gate.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Want another reason why smaller is better? The iPhone 15 Pro is easier to fit in pockets and bags. As a female, it’s already hard enough to find clothing with pockets, and when there are pockets, they’re usually small and barely usable. I have the same problem with purses, as the inner compartments and pockets can also be a little slim, making it hard to fit a very large phone. Sure, I could just toss it in the large main compartment, but I also have my keys in there, and I don’t want to scratch my phone up.

Among my circle of family and friends, I am typically the only one who gets the smaller phone. I’m always questioned why I didn’t get the larger one. It’s annoying, but I always give the same answer: I simply value having a more compact phone that’s comfortable to use and easier to carry around.

You don’t really need the 5x zoom camera

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

For the past few years, Apple had made the regular iPhone Pro equal to the iPhone Pro Max in terms of cameras, but that changed with the iPhone 15 Pro. Only the iPhone 15 Pro Max has the new tetraprism telephoto lens that can do 5x optical zoom, while the regular iPhone 15 Pro still just has 3x optical zoom capabilities. The reason for this is due to size, but it looks like the iPhone 16 Pro will be slightly larger this year and able to fit a better telephoto lens.

While I was annoyed with this change at first, it hasn’t actually bothered me too much. Though I take a lot of photos on a daily basis, I don’t frequently come across situations where I need to zoom in that much. Aside from taking photos of a cute animal off in the distance, I just don’t use the telephoto lens too often.

I suppose having the 5x optical zoom would be better if you go to a lot of concerts or shows, but that’s not really something I do a lot of these days. And it’s not like zooming in beyond the 3x optical zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro is bad — even if it’s digital zoom quality, most of the detail is still there, and it’s pretty clear — especially if you’re just sharing to social media. We put this to the test in our iPhone 15 Pro Max camera test, and the results were pretty shocking. The 5x zoom is technically better, but it’s not a night and day difference.

It’s slightly cheaper

A natural and blue titanium iPhone 15 Pro side-by-side.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I’m the kind of person who prefers getting the largest amount of storage possible. That way, I never really have to worry about running out of space.

With my iPhone 15 Pro, I bought the 1TB version, which has a retail price of $1,499, not including taxes. If I were to get the 1TB version of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, the cost would jump up to $1,599.

That doesn’t seem like a big difference, right? If you’re already going to pay that much, is $100 more really something to worry about? To that, I would say every penny counts. I’m already satisfied with the size and camera capabilities, so if I save myself a little bit of cash, that’s just icing on the cake.

Smaller but still mighty

Blue Titanium iPhone 15 Pro in hand.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I feel like there isn’t as much love for small phones these days, but I much prefer them as they’re easier for me to use. And sure, while having the 5x optical telephoto lens would be nice, it isn’t a necessity, as the regular iPhone 15 Pro still takes damn good photos.

Plus, you still get the A17 Pro chip, a Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion, the Dynamic Island, the Action button, and USB-C charging — all for a slightly lower price tag. Of course, the battery life is slightly less, too, but that’s a problem that can be easily solved with a portable power bank (my daily driver is the Anker Nano 30W).

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is a great choice for some people, but for everyone else, the smaller iPhone 15 Pro is the way to go.

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Christine Romero-Chan
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade. She graduated from California…
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