iPhone 15 Pro Max Review: A True ‘Pro’ Vision

It’s been a few weeks since the Apple iPhone 15 series launch, and this time, unlike previous years, instead of being a part of positive publicity, the Pro models are surrounded by negative controversies. Keep all the controversies aside; I have been using the iPhone 15 Pro Max as my daily driver for quite some time now, and yes, I did experience some heating issues, but the phone still left me impressed most of the time. Thanks to the new Titanium design, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is almost 20 grams lighter than the previous Pro Max and it refreshes the overall usage experience. And while Apple was literally forced to adopt the USB C port, the change is still quite welcoming. The overall design aesthetic of the phone remains unchanged for the straight third year, except for the new Action button, which is not so useful as of now. Read my in-depth review of the iPhone 15 Pro Max to find out if Apple’s 2023 flagship is worth shelling out so much money.

iPhone 15 Pro Max Key Specs

SpecificationsiPhone 15 Pro Max
Display6.7 inch, Super Retina XDR OLED Screen, 120Hz
ChipsetA17 Pro Chip
RAM8GB
Storage256GB/512GB/1TB
Rear Camera48MP + 12MP + 12MP Triple Rear Camera with OIS
Front Camera12MP with AF
Operating SystemiOS 17
Water/Dust ResistanceYes, IP68
Battery4422 mAh
Charging27W Wired, up to 15W Wireless
Dimensions6.29 x 3.02 x 0.32 inches
Weight221 g
PriceStarting at Rs. $1199 (Rs 1,59,000)

iPhone 15 Pro Max: What’s in the Box

Ever since Apple let go of the in-box charger to reduce its carbon footprint, the box contents have been limited, and the same goes with the iPhone 15 Pro Max as well. You get the iPhone, a SIM ejector tool, the instruction manual, the signature Apple logo stickers, and a USB-C to C braided cable, similar to what you get with iPad Pro models. If you are a new Apple user, you will need to buy the 20W adapter, which retails at $19 or Rs 1,900.

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Design and Build

At first glance, the design language of the iPhone 15 Pro Max looks similar to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which is to say, looks a lot similar to the iPhone 13 Pro Max While it’s uncommon for brands to stick to the same general design, the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s true and tested design offers little to no scope for complaints.

The all-new Titanium frame gives a luxurious in-hand feel, the textured back finish looks and feels incredible, and small details — like the buttons and haptic feedback — are as exquisite as you’d expect from a $1200 flagship phone.

While the design of the iPhone 15 Pro Max looks reasonably equivalent to previous iterations, there are a few characteristics that set the iPhone 15 Pro apart. If you look at the bottom of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, you will be surprised to see that Apple has finally ditched its beloved Lightning port for the USB-C port, a universal standard for charging and data transfer. While this is a welcoming step, the truth is Apple was literally forced by the EU legislation to make this change.

Action Button

Another new thing the iPhone 15 Pro models got is the Action Button, which replaces the mute slider above the volume rockers and can be customized to perform several actions with a press and hold of the button.

By default, the new Action Button on the iPhone 15 Pro Max still allows you to toggle between the ring and silent mode. All you need to do is just press and hold the Action Button until you feel haptic feedback to change between the two modes.

However, you can use the new Action Button settings present exclusively on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max to customize what the Action Button can do, like launching your camera to take a photo, opening your voice memos to record audio, or launching an accessibility feature. While Apple only added eight preset actions to the functionality of the Action Button, I used the shortcut app on my iPhone 15 Pro Max to extend its functionality beyond those preset actions. You can use multiple shortcuts with the Action Button to make the most out of it.

I think the new Action Button feels more like a gimmick than of actual use, and I still prefer the mute slider over it any time.

Titanium Frame

As someone who prefers smaller phones and has spent the past year using an iPhone 12 Pro, the jump to the iPhone 15 Pro Max initially seemed quite intimidating. But all thanks to the Titanium frame, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is much more comfortable to hold in the hand than the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is 19 grams lighter than the 14 Pro Max, and the more comfortable contoured edges have now replaced the previous sharp edges.

Apple replaced Stainless Steel with Titanium to make the Pro and Pro Max models lighter and stronger than their predecessors; a recent video from the famous YouTuber JerryRigEverything shows that the titanium body of the iPhone can not hold up to a bend as well as the stainless steel build of the iPhone 14 Pro Max did.

Also, many drop test videos have revealed that the iPhone 15 Pro Max glass panels, especially the back one, break far easier than on the previous model. In fact, one drop from a short distance can destroy the back immediately. So, I guess I would want Apple to retrospect if the decision to go with the titanium was right. On the positive side, the iPhone 15 Pro Max teardowns have revealed that it is easier to repair than the 14 Pro Max. But then again, with every component requiring Apple’s digital signature to work properly, this is pointless.

The Apple phone is IP68 certified, meaning it is dust and water-resistant. Additionally, it complies with the IEC 60529 standard, which means the phone can be submerged in water up to a depth of six meters for at least 30 minutes with no issues.

After living with this phone for over two weeks as my go-to handset, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the transition hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I thought. Yes, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is still a large and heavy smartphone. For some people, it’ll always be too big to use comfortably. But I’m at a point where I’m used to its weight and have found ways to maneuver it with one hand. The phone also has dual stereo speakers, with one speaker at the bottom and the earpiece as the second speaker. The speakers are loud enough with no issue, even at full volume. The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes in 4 colorways, Black Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium, Natural Titanium, I got my hands on the Natural Titanium unit, and while the color felt nice, in my opinion, this time the color options for the iPhone 15 Pro Max are a bit boring. In comparison, the standard iPhone 15 has exciting color options. Check out our iPhone 15 review to know everything about the non-Pro iPhone.

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Display

This is one of the reasons many people would be attracted to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, even after knowing its hefty price. Industry-leading displays are Apple’s thing, and the same is true with iPhone 15 Pro Max. The iPhone 15 Pro Max sports an impressive 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display. The display is an OLED one with a resolution of 2796 x 1290 — working out to the same 460ppi pixel density as the smaller iPhone 15 Pro.

Like the iPhone 14 Pro Max, the display quality of the iPhone 15 Pro Max is simply outstanding. You get vivid colors, can read the text easily, and have the brightest display than any other smartphone. The phone’s peak 2000 nits pixel brightness never fell short in real-world usage, as the display remains very much visible even in direct sunlight. And one thing I like the most about the iPhone 15 Pro Max display is that it has even narrower bezels than the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the bezels are symmetrical overall.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max also retains the 120Hz ProMotion display, first introduced with the iPhone 13 Pro lineup, which offers ultra-smooth animations every time you interact with the display. And combined with the smooth and fluid nature of the iOS 17, the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s display is the snappiest one you can get.

While the Dynamic Island is now something you can get with a non-pro iPhone 15 model, Apple has again kept the Always On display for the iPhone 15 Pro series only. Once you press the side button, you see a dimmed version of your iPhone 15 Pro Max lock screen, complete with notifications, lock screen widgets, and the full color of your wallpaper.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is gorgeous enough to stream Netflix, play display-intensive games, or simply scroll through the Instagram feed all day. It was my first time with an iPhone with such a big display, and it took me some time to get the hang of it; now that I have, switching back to a 6.1-inch iPhone won’t be easy. While the industry-leading Ceramic Shield protects the display, it is still prone to fingerprints and scratches; I highly recommend applying a good-quality screen protector for iPhone 15 Pro Max.

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Performance

The iPhone 15 Pro Max boasts an impressive performance with Apple’s A17 Pro chipset, a significant improvement over the A16 Bionic chipset found on its predecessor, the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Also, this is the first time Apple has let go of the Bionic moniker and chosen the Pro as the new chipset name for the Pro models.

The all-new A17 Pro chipset relies on a 3nm architecture and has a new 6‑core CPU architecture with 2 performance and four efficiency cores, which makes the A17 Pro work 10% faster than the A16 bionic. The A17 Pro also features a new six-core GPU that is 20% faster than the A16 Bionic and a 16-core Neural Engine that’s twice as fast at machine learning tasks. Apple says that the new A17 Pro chipset will improve significant performance for graphic-intensive mobile games combined with hardware-accelerated ray tracing. While Apple never provides clock speed details for its chipsets, the GeekBench 6 benchmark suggests that the high-end iPhone has a maximum clock speed of 3.7GHz.

Starting from the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple has dropped the axe on the 128GB variant of the Pro lineup (thus raising the price of the base variant of the Pro Max lineup by $100). The iPhone 15 Pro Max is available in three different storage options -256GB/512GB/1TB. And while Apple is known for keeping secrecy on available RAM on the iPhones, benchmarking apps have revealed that the iPhone 15 Pro Max has 8GB RAM. Yes, I agree that the Android counterparts come with 12GB or 16GB RAM options nowadays, but the iOS operating system does not require as much memory as the Android thanks to Apple’s efficient optimization, so 8GB RAM should be plenty. And based on my testing so far, it really is.

Day-to-Day Usage

Not only are these hardware credentials impressive on paper, but the iPhone delivers a fast and smooth performance consistently well, except for the camera performance, as I did experience overheating issues on the iPhone 15 Pro Max every time I used the Camera app for an extended period.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max easily crosses the 40°C mark every time I use it to record 4K 60 fps videos in a mere 5 minutes of recording. Also, I would highly recommend not using the Camera in direct sunlight, as the iPhone 15 Pro Max becomes really hot and even gives the popular “iPhone needs to cool down warning” message.

Thankfully, Apple has released iOS 17.0.3 to sort out overheating issues. However, if you have not yet received the update, we have prepared a detailed troubleshooting guide to fix iPhone 15 Pro overheating issues.

I have been using the iPhone 15 Pro Max for over two weeks as my daily driver, and other than the heating issues with the camera app, the iPhone 15 Pro Max performed exceptionally well and seamlessly without any sign of thermal throttling.

Gaming

Surprisingly, unlike the overheating issue I faced with the camera in my day-to-day usage, the iPhone 15 Pro Max delivers seamless performance in terms of gaming. Apple claims that the new A17 Pro chipset is capable of console-level gaming and announced that AAA titles like Resident Evil are coming to the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Well, we’ll have to wait until the games arrive to test Apple’s claim.

To test out the A17 Pro’s gaming capability, I threw the most demanding games available currently at the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Genshin Impact, and BGMI at max settings, which proved to be no problem with smooth, consistent frame rates the whole time to my eye. I also played Asphalt 9 (which Apple says is one of the apps causing the popular overheating issue) at the maximum possible graphics settings, and as expected, the game worked great and didn’t even experience any heating issues, unlike others.

Yes, the iPhone 15 Pro Max gets a little warm during intense gaming sessions, but to call it an overheating issue would be exaggerated, as the gaming performance never deteriorates, and the phone did not feel uncomfortable to hold.

Benchmarks

The iPhone 15 Pro Max showed commendable resilience during our usual benchmarking tests, with little to no complications, and the benchmark scores clearly demonstrate the phone’s ability to withstand any demanding usage. Yes, the device did overheat when I ran back-to-back benchmarks on it, but that is okay, as every phone would do the same in the particular scenario.

I know comparing the iPhone benchmarks with Androids is something of an apples-to-oranges comparison. However, it still can provide us with the knowledge of how well the iPhone 15 Pro Max performs against its peers and predecessor.

Starting with the Geekbench 6 test to calculate the phone’s CPU power, the iPhone 15 Pro Max notched up to 2,897 on the single-core test and 7,154 on the multi-core test. That easily trounces the scores of its biggest competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, at 2050 & 5404 for single-core and multi-core scores respectively, and the iPhone 14 Pro at 2,696 and 6,692. To provide you with a little more information: the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor while the iPhone 14 Pro runs on Apple’s A16 Bionic chipset.

Next, I ran the 3D Mark Wild Life Extreme Stress Test, one of the most intense benchmarks to test graphics power, and here also, the iPhone 15 Pro Max passes with flying colors. The iPhone 15 Pro Max averaged 22 FPS across 22 loops, and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra averaged 19 FPS across the same number of loops.

I also ran the Antutu Benchmark, in which the iPhone 15 Pro Max scored a whopping 1628672.

BenchmarkiPhone 15 Pro MaxSamsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Processor A17 ProSnapdragon 8 Gen 2
Geekbench 6 (single-core / multicore)2897/72612050/5404
3D Mark Wild Life Extreme Stress Test2820/41102428/3766

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Cameras

Unlike previous years, Apple has done something different this year and added an all-new 5x telephoto lens with a tetraprism design that reflects the light four times within the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s camera module and allows you to click beautiful shots at 120mm focal length. The iPhone 15 Pro, on the other hand, retains the 3X zoom at 77mm focal length.

Another different thing that Apple has done with the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s camera is that, unlike other smartphone manufacturers that usually bin a 12MP sensor down by a factor of 4 to create bright 48MP shots, Apple combines a binned 12MP shot with a full 48MP frame into a single 24MP image on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. That means the primary 48MP camera sensor on the iPhone 15 Pro Max captures more detail while retaining good low-light performance. You can even capture full-resolution photos in HEIF and ProRAW on the iPhone 15 series.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max allows you to tweak the camera even further. You can now choose 7 different focal lengths – a 0.5x Ultrawide at 13mm for landscape mode, a usual 1X at 24mm for regular shots, a 1.2X aka 28mm, a 1.5x aka 35mm, 2X aka 48mm, and lastly, a 5X aka 120mm. These are the same focal lengths you would get in a full-frame camera.

To give you a better idea, we shot a photo with all these different focal lengths in the same location with different focal lengths.

1 / 7

Now, take a separate look at all these photos, and you will realize that each photo they all have a different frame and a different story. While most photography enthusiasts would not like Apple calling these different focal lengths “seven different lenses”, it is quite evident that photos retain the detail even in 25x shots. To better understand which focal length is for which camera mode, check out our iPhone 15 Pro Max’s YouTube video.


Another great thing Apple has added to the cameras of the iPhone 15 Pro Max is that now the cameras automatically capture depth information in every captured shot, allowing you to edit the background blur later in the photos app, so you won’t have to shift to the portrait mode just to add bokeh in your shots. All this is done with the help of Photonic Engine. This new camera feature is pretty impressive for someone like me who heavily relies on Portrait mode for most of my photos of food, animals, and people. Here’s an image comparison before and after adding bokeh:

Both iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max this year have a 12MP Ultra-Wide angle camera at f/2.2 aperture that produces superb 0.5x wide angle shots and also doubles as a macro camera for extreme close-ups (~2cm) of subjects.

In clear daylight conditions, the iPhone 15 Pro Max captures bright and clear photos with plenty of details and warmth. The captured photos have a sharp focus, accurate white balance, and colors across the board. The tonal highlights and shadow detail are pleasing as well. The camera produces accurate color with all three ultra-wide, main, or telephoto lenses.

On the front, the iPhone 15 Pro Max packs a 12MP camera lens that, as usual, delivers well. The difference between the regular and portrait mode selfies is clearly evident. The regular selfie mode gives a wider field of view with plenty of background depth, while the portrait selfie mode provides a nice degree of bokeh with plenty of details as well.

The night mode is where the iPhone 15 Pro Max camera takes a leap and clearly takes a win over the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. The iPhone 15 Pro Max camera handles the lights much better than the S23 Ultra while maintaining details and picture quality.

As far as video is concerned, Apple’s iPhones have been the king of this department, and the same is true with the iPhone 15 Pro Max as well. While the ability to capture 4K 60fps videos was always there, the iPhone 15 Pro Max takes things further; you can now record 4k 60fps in ProRes directly to an external SSD using the USB C port. Not only this, the iPhone 15 Pro Max also supports 1x to 3x cinematic zoom, the Academy Color Encoding System, and Log encoding for custom post-processing color correction.

I never expected myself to go so in-depth on the cameras when I was preparing to write this review, but I suppose that’s a testament to how outstanding the iPhone 15 Pro Max is in the camera department. It’s one of those camera systems that makes me want to travel more and capture more photos, and that’s perhaps the best compliment I can give it.

You can check out the full-res photos and videos via the link here!

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Network and Connectivity

You won’t be able to find any flaw on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, even if you want to, in terms of Network and connectivity. I have been using the phone with my physical Airtel sim card for the last few weeks and have experienced no issues so far. Also, the network reception was way better than my regular iPhone 12 Pro, which it should be. The iPhone 15 Pro Max has a whopping 30 5G bands, which ensures excellent 5G connectivity at almost all feasible locations, and I was easily getting ~1Gbps download speed on Airtel at the Beebom office and my home.

In terms of Wi-Fi, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has Wi-Fi 6E support, which offers greater wireless performance, including up to 2x faster speeds. To put it in simple words, none of my phones, be it Android or iPhone, were ever able to connect to my home’s Wi-Fi when I moved to the first floor, but to my surprise, the iPhone 15 Pro Max, not only stayed connected to the Wi-Fi signal, the network speed was also good.

On the Bluetooth front as well, the iPhone 15 Pro Max does not disappoint, as it has the latest Bluetooth 5.3 support. I used the phone with many Bluetooth earphones, such as AirPods Pro (my daily driver), Oppo Enco M32, and my car’s Bluetooth stereo, and didn’t face any connection drops or glitches when listening to music or taking calls.

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Software

iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with iOS 17 out of the box, which is the latest iteration of Apple’s mobile OS. And as one would expect, it is a smooth runner. The latest iOS 17 features like the Standby Mode, NameDrop, Contact Posters, and more add to the increasingly convenient usage. And Yes, you may experience a few bugs here and there, like the most prominent issue for me was the contact poster not working.

In my opinion, I really like the all-new StandBy Mode feature, which turns my iPhone into a smart display when I place it sideways on a Magsafe charging dock. The feature allows you to configure your iPhone to show the clock, calendar, photos, and more. Other than the new settings option to control the all-new Action button, other settings, and features are more or less the same on other iPhones that support iOS 17 as well.

In terms of software updates, the iPhone 15 Pro Max, or even the standard iPhone 15, will receive security and software updates for a long time. Ideally, every iPhone model receives about five years of both software and security upgrades.

If you have been using an iPhone for quite some time now, the software experience on the iPhone 15 Pro Max will feel more or less similar to you. But if you want to transition from Android to iPhone, it will take you a little time to get the hang of the iOS 17.

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Battery and Charging

For the first time, Apple has replaced its beloved Lightning port with a much more common USB-C port (thanks to the EU legislation) to charge the iPhone, which many iPhone users like me have been anticipating for a long time. Guess it’s better to be late than never.

While Apple finally did something we wanted, the tech giant still kept the tradition of not disclosing the battery capacity of its iPhones. I was assuming that the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s battery would be bigger than what is found on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and guess what? I was right, but the difference between the battery capacity of both devices is not even 100 mAh. With the new A17 Pro chipset, battery efficiency has improved it seems.

During my testing, I was easily able to get almost 12 hours of screen-on time with intense to moderate usage combined, including social media scrolling (most of the time Instagram Reels), streaming videos on YouTube and Netflix, gaming, and some photography. Based on my observation, the iPhone 15 Pro Max can easily last 2 days even with heavy usage, as no one would use their phone for 12 straight hours a day.

Moving to the charging aspect, the iPhone 15 Pro Max supports a maximum of 27W of fast charging support, but in my testing, the charging power did not go beyond 25.5W when I charged the phone with my 61W MacBook’s charger. Also, this 27W fast charging support is still lower than what we get on its Android counterparts. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra supports 45W fast charging, and even the much lower-priced Pixel 7 Pro supports 30W fast charging.

Apple says the iPhone 15 Pro Max can charge 50% in 30 minutes with an optional 20W USB-C adapter. Mine charged to about 55% in 30 minutes and took around 1 hour to reach the 90% mark, then took another 30 minutes to charge fully.

Since Apple introduced the USB-C port with the iPhone 15 series, the port also brings the reverse charging feature to the iPhones for the first time. But sadly, the reverse charging speed is merely 4.5W. Also, Apple has played a little trick with the wired reverse charging; every time you connect your iPhone to other phones with the USB C cable, the phone with a lower battery level will start charging. That means even the standard iPhone 15 can charge the iPhone 15 Pro Max if the battery level on the latter is lower.

Also, as you can notice, the USB-C cable that Apple has added to the box is now woven, similar to what we get with iPads and MacBooks. But yes, the standard white braided cable does get dirty easily. The lack of a charging brick in the box hurts the bank, though. 

As for wireless charging, the iPhone 15 Pro Max still has 15W Qi and MagSafe charging support.

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Stunning large displayFast charging not available yet
Excellent camera performanceHeating issues
Fast performanceLess durable than the previous model
Long-lasting battery

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Is It Worth Buying?

There is no question that 2023 is an interesting year for Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Max model. With the new Action Button, USB C port, considerable camera upgrades, and A17 Pro chipset, there’s a lot to sink into with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Also, the all-new Titanium frame makes the device look refreshed, and the new Apple A17 Pro chipset, along with the second-gen ultra-wideband chip, makes the day-to-day operations a lot smoother than ever. While all these new features on their own may not feel too much to some users, when combined together, all these features make the iPhone 15 Pro Max a ‘Pro’ phone. With rumors of iPhone Ultra looming, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is quite close to being the Ultra iPhone. Apple’s vision of offering the perfect iPhone is on its track and the improvements that are being offered this year are not entirely groundbreaking but a stopgap towards the end goal.

Yes, the non-pro models this year are also worth considering as they also have a new 48MP camera, dynamic island, USB C port, and pretty colors, making them a compelling lower-cost alternative to the iPhone 15 Pro Max. But if you have always been a Pro user and want faster data transfer speed, an excellent set of cameras, and much more, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is something that will certainly satisfy you.

Pros and Cons
Final Verdict
8
Design and Build
9
Display
8.5
Performance
9
Camera
8.5
Battery
9
Software
The iPhone 15 Pro Max brings a major upgrade to cameras this year, bringing it quite close to an ultra smartphone that excels in performance and camera department. An embodiment of a truly 'Pro' iPhone, the iPhone 15 Pro Max exudes suave with its Titanium frame. Coupled with the Action Button and USB-C port, it is well on its way to be the flagship winner.
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