Feature Articles

Hands-on with Apple's new iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max

By Kenny Yeo - 17 Sep 2023

Hands-on with Apple's new iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max

Note: This article was first published on 13 September 2023.

Like clockwork, we have two new Pro iPhones this year. This is the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The new iPhone 15 Pro Max and 15 Pro may look similar to its predecessors, but it’s actually the biggest update to the iPhone in years, featuring new materials, thinner bezels, improved connectivity, a brand new chip, and an improved camera system (for the iPhone 15 Pro Max). 

You can read more about the improvements here, I'm here to tell you how they look in person and feel in the hand.

Blue Titanium on the left, Natural Titanium on the right.

One of the highlights of this year’s iPhone 15 Pro Max and 15 Pro is that it ditches its stainless steel frame for a more high-tech titanium one. The key benefits of titanium are that it's lighter, stronger, and more resistant to corrosion. 

There are four finishes at launch and they are Black Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium, and Natural Titanium. My pick is Natural Titanium because black and blue look quite similar and white doesn't really bring out the texture of the titanium finish.

@hwztech Your very first look at the iPhone 15 Pro in all four finishes. #hwz #hwzsg #iphone15pro #apple #wonderlust #iphone ♬ original sound - HardwareZone

And the thing you’ll notice when you handle either the iPhone 15 Pro Max or 15 Pro for the first time is how much lighter is it. Having used an iPhone 14 Pro Max as my daily for the past year, I can confirm that the iPhone 15 Pro Max feels noticeably lighter. The second thing you'll notice is the new contoured edges. Apple says it makes the phone easier to hold and I concur. It's less squared off at the edges and feels more comfortable in the hands. What's important is that the finish looks top notch and these new phones feel like high-end luxury items. However, I must also warn you that they are quite prone to fingerprint smudges.

Are the bezels truly thinner? I can't really tell.

Another improvement to these new Pro iPhones is thinner bezels. Now, I can't say I noticed that. To my eyes, it looks about the same as my iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Gone is the ringer switch on the side of the phone and in its place is a button that Apple calls the Action Button. Given the name, I would expect it to be a bit more conspicuous because it feels a tad small to me. It's customisable and can be used to activate the camera, turn on the flashlight, change Focus modes, and more. I think it's a much more useful button because I always put my phone in silent anyway.

Despite the dramatic-sounding name, the Action Button is actually quite petite.

It won't be a Pro iPhone if the camera system isn't improved and we have some notable updates this year. The main 48MP camera has a larger sensor and you'll now have the ability to switch between 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm focal lengths for the main camera. That's big news if you are like me and always felt that the main camera was far too wide. 

But the huge news on the camera side of things is that the iPhone 15 Pro Max is getting a new telephoto camera with a tetraprism lens system for up to 5x optical zoom or 120mm focal length. Note that this is only on the larger iPhone 15 Pro Max, the smaller iPhone 15 Pro is still getting a 3x optical zoom telephoto camera. I had a quick go at the new 5x telephoto camera and it works well and I can definitely see it opening up new photo opportunities.

Sadly, only the larger iPhone 15 Pro Max is getting the 5x optical zoom telephoto camera.

The other big change is that the Lightning port is gone and in its place, we have a USB-C port. Some users are going to complain about having to buy new charging cables, but the upsides to having a USB-C port are far too numerous to ignore. 

It means much faster data transfer – up to 10Gbps for the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. It also means you now only need a single charging cable to charge most of your Apple devices. Most Apple products, from iPads to MacBooks, are charged via USB-C.

Say bye to Lightning and hello to USB-C.

The iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max are also powered by the new A17 Pro chip – the first mass-production 3nm chip. Apple claims dramatic performance improvements but I wasn't able to really experience or test it out. These phones feel fast, but that can be said for every new iPhone. We'll need to run more detailed tests to know for sure.

As I said, these year's Pro iPhones are the biggest updates we've had in a long time. The changes, though not entirely ground-breaking, are significant. I'm not sure if you should upgrade if you have last year's phones – I'll need more time to mull over this – but you certainly should if you are using anything older. 

Pricing and availability

Unsurprisingly, these are very expensive phones with the iPhone 15 Pro starting at S$1,649 and the iPhone 15 Pro Max starting at S$1,999

Pre-orders start this Friday and the phones will be available in retail on 22 September.

Check out our pricing article for full details on the prices of the various configurations.


Join HWZ's Telegram channel here and catch all the latest tech news!
Our articles may contain affiliate links. If you buy through these links, we may earn a small commission.