Up Close with the Apple iPhone 15 Pro

Apple is continuously attempting to one-up itself by introducing flashy features to the iPhone. Granted, the company is under pressure to roll out a new flagship line each fall and naturally, some releases are more promising than others. For instance, the iPhone 11 was celebrated for its massively increased battery life, while its succeeding release lacked the same scale of technological improvement. Thankfully, with the iPhone 15 Pro powered by the new A17 bionic chip, Apple has raised the bar for what buyers can expect from a yearly upgrade — particularly in comparison to the subtler passage from the iPhone 13 to the iPhone 14.

It’s immediately obvious upon picking up the iPhone 15 Pro that it’s lighter than its predecessors. Apple has swapped out its standard aluminum frame for “aerospace-grade” titanium, which lends itself to a roughly 10% decrease in the device’s weight while increasing durability, and also slightly reducing the phone’s thickness. Though 10% may not sound like much, the lighter weight can be especially appreciated when one opts for the larger version of the Pro, which measures 6.7 inches over the standard Pro’s 6.1-inch screen. Those scoping out iPhone 15 models should note that the standard and Plus versions are made with the usual aluminum — it’s only the Pro that’s titanium — and due to the curved effect of the Pro’s borders, the Pro and Pro Max editions will also require a new case.

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Looking closer at the iPhone 15 Pro, one will notice two main physical changes: a USB-C port and an Action Button. The former addition was introduced in order to comply with European regulations that all new hardware includes the port. The Action Button, meanwhile, serves to replace the ringer toggle and is designed to be programmed by users to fit their personal needs. The Action Button is natively equipped to mute the ringer, flash pics when the camera is open and begin recording a Voice Memo but beyond that, it’s up to the user to set their preferences. A double or triple tap can lead to Shortcuts such as opening apps. Given that opening an app takes only a few seconds, it’s hard to see why a whole new button was warranted as the average user may not make use of its programmable capabilities.

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Apple does wholly deliver, however, on its powerful new camera. The iPhone 15 Pro comes with three 24-megapixel cameras and the ability to switch between 24 mm, 28 mm and 35 mm focal lengths, which translates to 1x, 1.2x, and 1.5x zoom, respectively. Users can choose their desired zoom scale to set as an automatic focal length standard. The caveat of these high-definition flicks, however, is that since the resolution is twice as high, the file size is nearly doubled too, negating the doubled storage space, with the Pro starting at a baseline 256 GB. Those who are constantly snapping should be wary of storage space, though an issue like that can be solved relatively easily by plugging in a USB-C and offloading images onto an SD card.

Adding to the appeal of the camera is an expanded version of Apple’s Telephoto zoom. The Pro features a Telephoto at 3x optical zoom, while the Pro Max has an impressive 5x zoom, both of which render crisp detail across photo and video. For the first time, users can also take portraits without having to actually switch to Portrait mode. The camera now logs the depth of an image, so that the subject-focused effect of Portrait mode can simply be recreated post-capture.

To round it off, Apple is billing the iPhone 15 Pro as its big leap into the arena of mobile gaming, timed with the anticipation of some major titles – such as 2024’s Assasin’s Creed Mirage – coming to iOS. A demo of Diablo Immortal yielded crisp, colorful graphics, impressively packing quite a bit of detail onto the screen. In conjunction with the faster, more efficient A17 processor, Apple has engineered a smartphone that can support console-level titles.

At $999 USD, the iPhone 15 Pro doesn’t come cheap but may be worth it for those who are already eyeing an upgrade and appreciate either camera quality or portable gaming. As for the Pro Max, which tacks on an additional $200 USD, buyers who were previously repelled by its bulkiness could be finally convinced thanks to its lighter, slimmer titanium build.

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