Android Central Verdict
It may not seem like it, but the iPhone 15 Pro Max has a ton of upgrades and quality-of-life improvements that make it a much better phone. The biggest change is the switch to USB-C; Apple hasn't hobbled the connector in any way, and that means all your favorite USB-C accessories now work just as well on the iPhone. The switch to titanium means it is lighter and easier to hold, and the new Action Button unlocks a lot of customizability. You get the fastest mobile platform in the A17 Pro, outstanding cameras across the board, and all the extras you can ask for.
Noticeably lighter than predecessors
Incredibly fast in daily use
Terrific cameras across the board
Action Button is highly customizable
Thinner bezels than before
Amazing battery life
Long-term software updates
Throttles easily in extended gaming sessions
Costlier than last year
No charger in the box
Why you can trust Android Central
I used iPhones for a few years now, but they've always been secondary devices. Don't get me wrong; I always put my main SIM in whatever iPhone I used for the duration of the review window, but I usually had an Android phone alongside, mostly so that I didn't have to switch WhatsApp.
But that changed with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. I transferred my WhatsApp data over from my Android phone and set it up just like I would the dozens of devices I test every year. Once the data was on the iPhone, I switched off my OnePlus Open and left it in a drawer. Although I went back to the Pixel 8 so I could review it, I pretended not to have a few hundred Android phones in the house and relied solely on the iPhone 15 Pro Max for most of the last two months.
And you know what? It's been pretty great. The iPhone 15 Pro Max fixes a lot of the problems from its predecessors; it's lighter and shorter, making it that much more comfortable to hold and use. The battery lasts a smidgen longer, and the biggest differentiator for me — and why I used it as my daily driver for such a long time — is the fact that it charges over USB-C.
While the early conversation around the device was focused on overheating, I didn't run into that particular problem on my device. Sure, the A17 Pro throttled during extended gaming sessions, but it was still in line with what I saw on equivalent Qualcomm or MediaTek hardware.
In fact, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is so good that I almost didn't switch back to Android. I tend to go back to Pixels after I'm usually done with a phone review, but this time, I continued using the iPhone for a lot longer than I initially intended. That's one of the reasons why I'm publishing this review after two months of use and not immediately after launch.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max: Pricing and availability
Apple unveiled the iPhone 15 Pro Max on September 12, and the phone went on sale globally starting September 22. It is sold alongside the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, and the iPhone 15 Pro, and the base variant now starts at 256GB of storage.
You can also pick up the iPhone 15 Pro Max in 512GB and 1TB editions, and I'm using the latter. What's interesting this year is the switch to titanium, and the device is available in four color options: Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, White Titanium, and Black Titanium.
The 256GB model starts off at $1,199 in the U.S., $100 more than its predecessor — that said, you're getting double the storage. Here's what the iPhone 15 Pro Max costs in various regions around the world:
- iPhone 15 Pro Max (256GB): $1,199 / £1,199 / €1,449 / ₹1,59,900
- iPhone 15 Pro Max (512GB): $1,399 / £1,399 / €1,699 / ₹1,79,900
- iPhone 15 Pro Max (1TB): $1,599 / £1,599 / €1,949 / ₹1,99,900
As always, the Phone 15 Pro Max costs a lot more in India than in other regions, with the 256GB model debuting at ₹1,59,900. That comes out to $1,918, or $319 more than what the 1TB version sells for in the U.S. It starts off at €1,449 in Germany and other countries in the region, and while that's the equivalent of $1,575, it is the same price as what the iPhone 14 Pro Max launched for last year, and at least you're getting double the storage.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max: Design
There's a marked difference in the feel of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and that's down to the use of titanium on the sides. The mid-frame is still made out of entirely recycled aluminum, but switching to titanium makes the device noticeably lighter and easier to use. The last two Pro Max releases were among the largest and most unwieldy phones I've used, so it feels refreshing to have an iPhone with a massive screen that isn't cumbersome to hold or use.
Another quality-of-life change is the sides; while you still get flat sides, they have beveled edges this time around, and it makes all the difference in holding the iPhone 15 Pro Max. While I generally don't like using cases, I relented in this case — this is the costliest phone of the 300 or so devices I have in the house, and I didn't want to test out the efficacy of the Ceramic Shield protection. It may be the toughest glass used on a phone, but after a close encounter with a tiled surface, I decided to be sensible and added a leather case.
While the design changes make using the iPhone 15 Pro Max significantly easier than its predecessors, there are other tweaks that are geared toward usability. My favorite addition this year is the Action Button; the side-mounted silent toggle made way for a multifunction button that's highly customizable, and it is incredible. You can customize it to do any action: switch between silent and ring modes, launch DND with a Focus mode preset, launch the camera or the flashlight, set a timer, and so much more.
There's a clear trend of Android brands stealing iPhone features — OxygenOS now has Dynamic Island, after all — and I want to see a facsimile of the Action Button make its way to next year's Android phones.
The switch to titanium reduces the weight of the iPhone 15 Pro Max by 19g over its predecessor, and that is immediately noticeable. Along with being easier to hold, you also get a matte finish on the sides that feels great. While titanium is lighter and has corrosion resistance baked in, it isn't as good with heat conductivity, and that's why manufacturers haven't traditionally used the metal in their devices.
And while it undoubtedly looks a lot better than the stainless steel variants of previous years, it tends to get noticeably warmer in daily use. I didn't see any issues with overheating as such, but even in mundane tasks like browsing and using the camera, the phone would get hotter than its predecessors and most Android phones I used this year.
There are four color variants available this time around — Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, White Titanium, and Black Titanium — and the Natural Titanium variant I'm using looks amazing. The design at the back is no different from last year; you get the same camera housing with three large rings around the individual modules, and the same Corning protection over the glass back.
You get the same matte texture at the back, and MagSafe is intact. While I wasn't sold on the charging standard, having used accessories like the Nexode 2-in-1 charging stand, I'm coming around to its potential.
Also identical is the IP68 ingress protection, so you get adequate protection outdoors. Rounding out the design, you get the power button to the right, the volume rocker on the left, and the charging port is now USB-C. You get the same stereo configuration as last year, and the sound is just as good. Overall, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has welcome changes on the design front, and the switch to USB-C and titanium makes it significantly easier to use.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max: Display
The iPhone 15 Pro Max has the same 6.7-inch 120Hz OLED panel as its predecessor, but as the phone itself is a smidgen shorter and narrower, you get the sense that the screen itself is larger. It has HDR10+ and Dolby Vision and goes up to 2000 nits in HDR content and 1000 nits in daily use — identical to the iPhone 14 Pro Max. You even get the same Ceramic Shield coating at the front.
Last year's Dynamic Island is intact as well, and it is much more useful this time around. While there wasn't much you could do with the pill-sized cutout when it launched, there are plenty of apps that provide actions tailored for the Dynamic Island now, and it is very convenient. While the size of the cutout is larger than Android phones, its usability more than offsets that drawback.
The screen does a great job scaling the refresh rate between 1Hz to 120Hz based on the context, and the panel itself continues to be one of the best for streaming content. HDR content, in particular, looks outstanding on the device, and like previous years, it is a joy to stream Netflix on the device.
Playing games is similarly fun, and that's getting a big update this year thanks to the A17 Pro. While the games that take full advantage of the chipset are yet to launch, that's going to change very soon. Always-on mode is intact, and it's less annoying than last year; you can now disable the background, so all you get is the time and unread notifications — like most Android phones. This is a much better implementation than last year, and I actually used the feature this time around.
Another feature I like in iOS 17 is Screen Distance; it uses the front camera to gauge the distance to your eyes and triggers a notification if you're holding your phone less than 12 inches away from your face. I found that I often did so at night, which is when the notification triggered most of the time. It is designed to reduce eye strain, and is a legitimately great addition — I want to see the same feature in Android next year.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max: Performance
A big talking point this year is the introduction of the A17 Pro. Apple made a huge deal about the upgrades on offer, and while it has clear gains over last year's A16 Bionic, it doesn't deliver the sort of efficiency I was looking for. The A17 Pro has the distinction of being the only mobile platform built on a 3nm node, and that is a sizeable achievement — the best Android phones won't have access to the node for at least another year, so this is a big win for the iPhone.
|iPhone 15 Pro Max
|6.7-inch OLED 120Hz, 2796x1290, Dolby Vision, HDR10, 2000 nits max
|A17 Pro, 3nm
|Rear camera 1
|48MP f/1.8, 1/1.28-inch sensor, PDAF, OIS, 4K at 60fps, Dolby Vision
|Rear camera 2
|12MP f/2.2 wide-angle, 1/2.55-inch sensor, 120-degree FoV
|Rear camera 3
|12MP f/2.8 telephoto, 5x optical zoom, OIS
|12MP f/1.9, PDAF, OIS
|IP68 dust and water resistance, 6m up to 30 minutes
|USB-C, stereo sound
|Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, UWB, 5G, Emergency SOS
|4441mAh, 20W charging, 15W MagSafe
|159.9 x 76.7 x 8.3mm, 221g
|Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, White Titanium, Black Titanium
There are noticeable upgrades across the board from the A16 Bionic, but what stands out the most is the single-core scores — they're double that of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2-toting Galaxy S23 Ultra, and that's a big deal. The multi-core results are also significantly higher than what any Android device can manage at the moment. I'll be getting started with Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 devices in a few weeks, but I don't see any 2024 phones coming close to the scores posted by the iPhone 15 Pro Max — this thing is in a league of its own.
|iPhone 15 Pro Max
|Galaxy S23 Ultra
|iPhone 14 Pro
|Geekbench 6 (single-core)
|Geekbench 6 (multi-core)
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme (score)
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme (FPS)
That said, the A17 Pro has its own share of issues; it tends to get hot while gaming. This was a big enough problem that a hotfix was rolled out to throttle the hardware a little sooner to mitigate any heating issues. I didn't see any issues in daily use, but it had a tendency to get hot while taking 4K videos and playing games. I saw it go up to 43.4 degrees Celsius while gaming and that's considerably hotter than anything else I used in a long time.
And while using the phone has been smooth for the most part, I noticed a lot of errant freezes that weren't there in the past. It mostly involved browsing in Chrome, but I also saw the same issue in Box and when launching a game. There was also a memorable instance a month ago where the device just wouldn't connect to my home Wi-Fi network. A restart didn't make a difference, and I had to ultimately use a static IP to get the phone connected.
These problems largely went away with the iOS 17.1.2 update, but given that I didn't usually run into these sorts of issues on an iPhone, I wanted to point them out. The hardware itself is among the best of any phone today, and while it doesn't have a Wi-Fi 7 modem yet — it's limited to Wi-Fi 6E — you get Bluetooth 5.3 LE, second-gen UWB hardware, NFC, 5G with global bands, Emergency SOS via satellite and Crash Detection.
I'm glad that the USB-C port isn't hobbled; it is based on the USB-C Gen 3.2 standard, and if anything, Apple did a better job in this area than most Android manufacturers (looking at you, Google). You get the full 10Gb/s bandwidth, and it has native DisplayPort output at 4K, something Google still refuses to provide on its Pixels.
Continuing with the positives, you get one of the best haptic motors here, and it is a joy to use. The Action Button works with haptics as well, and it has distinct feedback patterns that let you change modes or trigger an action without looking at the screen. Face ID continues to be great, and it is a little better at recognizing faces with beards this time around.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max: Battery
Battery longevity has been a problem with the iPhone 14 series, so Apple is tackling the problem with a Battery Health feature that's designed to optimize battery longevity. The feature essentially mimics what's been on Android phones for a while now and uses an optimized charging routine when the phone is left on a charger overnight. It charges up to 80%, and then the other 20% charge is delivered just before you take the phone off the charger.
Another nifty addition is the ability to set the charge limit to 80%; doing this basically allows the battery to never cross an 80% threshold, and this prevents degradation in long-term use. And when it comes to battery life, the iPhone 15 Pro Max lasts a smidgen longer than last year even though it has a larger 4441mAh battery. While the A17 Pro has a lot of inherent efficiency gains thanks to the switch to 3nm, it is also much more powerful than last year.
That said, the iPhone 15 Pro Max managed to consistently last a day and a half, even with heavy use, and I never had any battery anxiety in the two months I used the phone. While it uses the same 20W charging standard, it charges slightly faster when connected to a USB PD 3.0 charger that goes up to 30W (or beyond) — you can easily get up to a 50% charge in just over 25 minutes.
Also, StandBy Mode is a fun new feature that comes in handy if you're charging the phone during the day or using a MagSafe charging station. I don't like using wireless charging most of the time, but it made sense in this scenario because of the mode.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max: Cameras
There are considerable upgrades on the camera side of things this year, with the iPhone 15 Pro Max getting new sensors. There's an f/1.8 48MP camera at the back with second-gen sensor-shift stabilization, and what's new this time is the ability to set different focal lengths — you can choose between 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm.
It's joined by an f/2.8 12MP wide-angle lens with a 120-degree field of view, and making its debut this generation is a telephoto lens with 5x optical zoom and OIS. Like last year, the wide-angle lens pulls double duty as a macro shooter, and it is now able to shoot objects just 2cm away. You also get the ability to shoot full-res 48MP shots from the main lens, and Dolby Vision video recording is intact.
The phone does a much better job with portrait shots as well, and you now get the ability to add background blur effects after the fact — a pretty cool inclusion. Overall, there is a lot of versatility when it comes to lens selection and focal lengths, and you can easily choose what style of imagery you want.
The viewfinder itself hasn't changed, and you get all the shooting modes in a ribbon at the bottom. The various lenses are available as toggles, and the macro mode is selected automatically when you're within 10cm of an object. Photographic Styles debuted last year, and they let you choose a default color profile; there's Standard, Vibrant, Warm, Cool, and Rich Contrast — I left this on Standard.
Predictably, photos taken from the 48MP main lens are terrific; there's excellent color balance and dynamic range, and details like foliage are rendered accurately. You get true-to-life colors that aren't overly saturated, but you can switch up the look of your photos by selecting one of the styles. Rich Contrast does a great job mimicking the color balance of Pixels.
And just like the main camera, the wide-angle lens takes photos with good colors and accurate detail rendition, and you get the same color balance. The addition of a 5x zoom lens brings the iPhone 15 Pro Max closer to its Android rivals, and I got a lot of usable shots at 5x. You can go up to 25x digitally, but anything beyond 10x is unusable most of the time if you're shooting handheld.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max manages to do a stellar job in low-light situations as well, with all three lenses delivering vibrant shots with minimal noise levels and plenty of detail. It's still not quite on par with the Pixel 8 Pro when it comes to color rendition at night and getting minute details just right, and it doesn't measure up to the Xiaomi 13 Ultra and its massive 1-inch sensor. That said, it does a much better job than previous iPhones, and that's basically its yardstick.
To round things off, I wanted to talk about video recording. I don't usually shoot many videos, but I ended up doing so with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and it did a phenomenal job. I think Google is doing better in this area with the Pixel 8 Pro, but it still isn't on par with the iPhone.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max: Software
You get iOS 17 out of the box, and just like Android 14, there really isn't a whole lot new that's worth mentioning. StandBy Mode is a nifty addition that makes sense if you want glanceable information while you're charging the device, and widgets are now interactive, so you can change things without having to launch the associated app.
Other than that, it's business as usual. The lock screen is highly customizable, and you can set up different lock screens that you can change as needed. The home screen is unchanged in iOS 17, and the App Library continues to be just as annoying to use — it would just be easier to get a standard app drawer. The Today page is the -1 screen by default, and you can set up widgets, usage stats, and other usable info. And while I'm miffed that there's no way to disable it, you can get some utility out of the page.
Focus modes are handy for managing notifications; you can set up a mode based on time of day or location and configure notifications as needed. What's particularly great is that you can set up a Focus mode with the Action Button, triggering it as and when needed. Spotlight is actually useful, and using it to search for information pulls up relevant results.
There's no shortage of features in iOS, but I don't want to list everything down. Instead, I want to talk about what it's like to use iOS as someone who prefers Android. The best part is that all of Google's services work seamlessly on iOS, and while you need to pull up Gmail to authorize log-in alerts, there are no other shortcomings. Honestly, that goes a long way in making iOS feel familiar, and in recent years, it has picked up a lot of features from Android.
What that ultimately boils down to is that iOS is just as fluid as Android, and it has plenty of privacy-focused features. While Android made a lot of positive strides in this area in the last two years, a lot of apps still play fast and loose with permissions, and that's just not possible in iOS.
The only quibble I have with the software is that notification channels still aren't a thing on iOS, so if I have to disable marketing notifications from an app, I have to go into the app and make changes — Android handles this in a much better way.
As for updates, the iPhone 15 Pro Max should get at least five years of software updates as standard, and while that would have been the standard in years past, Google changed the status quo by guaranteeing seven updates on the Pixels.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max: The competition
The Galaxy S23 Ultra is the only real challenger to the iPhone 15 Pro Max in North America. It has great hardware, good cameras across the board, and gives you a lot of features. But the software isn't anywhere as good; you get plenty of bloatware, and Samsung has an annoying habit of pushing ads to buy its latest products — even if you're using said product.
If you need an Android alternative to take on the iPhone, my suggestion would be the Pixel 8 Pro. The phone has better cameras, and Google's AI additions make a huge difference in daily use. You also get a lot of useful extras that are limited to the Pixel 8 Pro. The software is clean and doesn't have any bloatware, and it will get seven guaranteed Android OS updates — more than the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if:
- You want an iPhone that's great to hold and use
- You need a terrific OLED panel that's great for gaming
- You want a phone with stellar performance
- You need an iPhone that can take great photos and videos
- You need a long-lasting battery
You shouldn't buy this if:
- You want an affordable device
- You need accessories in the box
It may not seem like it, but the iPhone 15 Pro Max is considerably better than its predecessor. Just the fact that the phone has USB-C makes all the difference in daily use; I like listening to music via IEMs, and I have a lot of DACs that plug into a phone. The ability to connect via USB-C without needing to look for the infernal Lightning dongle is one of the biggest reasons why I stuck with the iPhone 15 Pro Max for such a long time.
The design has plenty of positives as well; the titanium chassis is lighter and much more manageable than previous generations, and while it tends to get hotter, you don't notice that with a case. The cameras are better than last year as well, and while they're not on par with the Xiaomi 13 Ultra or the Pixel 8 Pro, they're a noticeable upgrade from other iPhones.
And then there's the software. The biggest compliment I can give iOS 17 is that it's as good as Android. It will never be as customizable, but it is easy to use, and Apple sorted out a lot of annoyances I had with the OS from previous years.
I'm not here to tell you that you should switch from iOS to Android or the other way around — that's something you need to decide for yourself. What I will say, though, is that there are plenty of great options on either side, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max is a stellar choice if you're on an older iPhone and want an upgrade or if you're mulling a switch to iOS to see how it differs to Android.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max has it all: a gorgeous design, the best hardware of any phone today, stellar cameras, and great battery life. You're also paying a premium, but if you're in need of an iPhone upgrade, this is the obvious choice.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
I feel this "opinion piece" should be in iMore.
Well I'll say this I stayed with iPhone 14 pro max didn't see an upgrade to iPhone 15Reply
Why do we need a full review of an IPHONE on "ANDROID CENTRAL"??Reply
It's been pretty clear that a lot of the AC writers would rather us all switch to iPhones so they can stop writing about Android.OhAlfie said:Why do we need a full review of an IPHONE on "ANDROID CENTRAL"??
The ones who don't just need the clicks.
OnePlus. Samsung and epecially Google offer excellent update support. It's a non-issue for most.Reply
The exception being budget iPhones get long upates too. I'll give them that.
Why isn't "Limited Customisation" a negagive?Reply
It's iPhones locke down nature, not just in customisation but in lots of silly ways it locks down the OS why I'm not interested. Appreciate this isn't important to the masses but it's important to enough people.
I wonder how many AC "employees" use iphones full time ?Reply
If I wanted an iPhone I would have bought one years ago. Yeah the audacity to the right Android borrows iPhone features? Are you kidding me how much stuff has Apple stolen from Android over the years?Reply
No one caresReply
To be fair, most Android centred articles don't get this much engagement in the comments.lbccpt said:No one cares