With the iPhone 15, it seems, Apple has yet again seamlessly blended design, functionality, and performance. At first glance, although not radically different from the iPhone 14, this device seems to have an edge, maybe because of its camera system. In this review, we will delve deep into the nuances of the iPhone 15, its upgrades, and cameras and explore why this new Apple device has the potential to become the most popular non-pro iPhone ever.
To be honest, I wasn’t really moved by the new colours on the standard models. At first, I found them to be a bit off. However, a few days later, I got the iPhone 15 in a pastel yellow. An ardent fan of all things black, this has to be the most flashy smartphone that I have ever used. To my utter surprise, I fell in love with the phone after toying around with it for a few hours. The colour, the weightlessness of it (when compared, holding my iPhone 13 Pro now feels like clutching onto a cinder block), and the ergonomics of the durable aerospace-grade aluminium chassis all felt better.
The back of the iPhone is sheer elegance with its textured matte finish. To me, the camera block seemed like a slice of braised pineapple – a fluid confluence of gelatinous meringue yellow merging with yellowish white. I loved the texture of the back panel, especially since it is immune to fingerprints or any sort of sweaty smudges. Beauty aside, the frosted back is bespoke and evokes a sense of luxury. The rounded edges with golden hues add to the premium feel. The phone, when compared to iPhone 13 and iPhone 14, looks thinner and lighter, when it is not so in reality.
Display: Deep blacks and visual dynamism
With the iPhone 15, Apple has pushed the boundaries of display technology as it comes with a sleeker profile and feels premium to the touch. Up front is the ceramic shield flanked by aluminium edges. The Super Retina XDR display flaunts vibrant colours, deep blacks, and impressive brightness.
When it comes to brightness, I am particularly fussy. But the iPhone 15 could reach a max brightness of 2000 nits, a significant bump from the iPhone 14. I could use the phone under direct sunlight during peak traffic hours in Delhi.
The responsiveness of the display is fluid which made all my engagements, be it doom scrolling Twitter or playing ‘BGMI’, feel like a breeze. Everything works well, but the refresh rate. This time too, Apple has limited 120Hz adaptive Pro Motion to the Pro models. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus have been contained at 60Hz, which seems criminal in this day, age, and the price range.
I must admit that I am a first-time user of Dynamic Island. I found it to be a great way to present crucial info. With simple graphics, be it offering the wait time on Zomato or info on tracks playing, I found it to be creative in a non-obtrusive way.
To me, the cameras are the biggest USP of the iPhone 15 as it outshines its predecessors. The Pro models have a bigger sensor that captures more light and works like a third lens offering a 2x zoom by cropping into the larger image. Regardless, for everyday photography, the iPhone 15 comes with significant improvements.
It is to be noted that the device produces 24MP cameras by default with the help of pixel binning (combining multiple pixels to improve photos in any condition). When tested, the images with 2x zoom showed incredible details and greater colour fidelity. If all that was Greek to you, don’t worry, it simply means that the photos are now more detailed than ever, especially if you crop in. It is to be noted that the file sizes are a bit bigger, but only 50 per cent bigger and not double despite having double the resolution.
The phone now has a much nicer focal length for taking brilliant portrait shorts. Also, seeing the Cinematic Mode on the iPhone 15 was refreshing as this was a feature that has been most used on my iPhone 13 Pro. The standout feature that I enjoyed the most has to be the ability to turn any regular photo into superb portraits. The Portraits in Photo Mode feature automatically captures depth information if a person or pet is prominent in the frame allowing users to add Portrait effects at their convenience, even change the intensity of the blur and the focal point.
Although Apple is late to the party, Samsung and Google Pixel have been offering similar features for a while. It’s the first time for Apple and I am glad that all the iPhone 15 models get this upgrade. The mild disappointment here has been the selfie camera, which Apple chose to keep it exactly the same as iPhone 14.
Precision in pixels
Specs aside, when it comes to videos, the iPhone 15 proves to be a nifty device. I could take it out at any moment and capture vlog-like videos almost instantly. Its unmatched stability and true-to-life visuals produce Instagram-ready output. Moreover, the device excels at recording audio emphasising the speaker’s voice—a fantastic feature for content creators. While the front camera isn’t revolutionary, its autofocus and crisp visuals enticed me to snap selfies on the go during my recent UK trip. Videos shot on the iPhone 15 are a delight. One could also spot the change in the white balance.
I captured panoramic shots of Malmesbury Abbey and took tracking shots in 4K, synchronised with the movements of the cars I boarded to get around town. The idyllic views which felt straight out of an 18th-century novel came to life when shot with the iPhone 15 cameras. When it comes to lens quality, I found the wide-angle lens to offer some high-quality shots, especially in high-dynamic range scenes. For video recording, users also get the ability to lock the white balance to prevent colour changes while recording.
Some sample pictures:
Beyond photos and videos, the iPhone 15 also doubled up as my dictaphone which helped me record my interviews. The iOS 17-infused changes to the keyboard, especially text predictions and ease of typing, enabled me to take notes from presentations at lightning speeds.
Performance and battery life
Apple is now powered by the A16 Bionic which debuted last year on the iPhone 14 Pro models. The chipset comes with an enhanced neural engine and GPU that amp the computational power needed to process images quickly. The iPhone 15 comes with improved battery life. I charged the device to 100 per cent at 1:50 pm on a regular working day. I attended regular work as well as WhatsApp calls, listened to music, watched a few YouTube videos, three episodes of ‘Sex Education’ season four, clicked photos, and the next day around 6 pm I was down to 35 per cent. In my experience, the improved batteries mean that you can easily sail through your day-to-day activities.
The iOS 17 and its refined features complement the hardware, making my overall experience intuitive and streamlined. The USB-C, although delayed, is a life-changing upgrade as now I can be carefree on the go. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus come with USB 2.0 connectivity which has similar data transfer speeds as the lightning cables. Despite the widespread claims about heating issues in the iPhone 15 series, I did not encounter any such problems with the unit in the week or so I used it.
Should you buy the iPhone 15?
I feel the smartphone market is saturated making it difficult for companies to stand out. But when it comes to the iPhone 15, Apple has no issues even if the device does not usher in radical changes. And this is because of the significant number of iPhone users who just upgrade to a new phone every year. Unmatched cameras, improved performance, and battery life make this one flagship phone that meets expectations of this set to be current. If you can overlook the 60Hz refresh rate and the rather mediocre selfie shooter when compared to some Android phones, switching to an iPhone 15 could make for a worthy investment.
The stand-out features of the iPhone 15 are the USB-C port, Dynamic Island, a brighter display, improved cameras, full-day battery life, and most importantly a faster A16 bionic chip. It may not come with groundbreaking features, but the subtle enhancements make for a joyful experience. For anyone who is still mulling over upgrading or switching, I would like to say it is worth every penny.