Apple iPhone 15 and 15 Pro series buying guide: which iPhone 15 model best suits you?
Note: This feature was first published on 15 Sept 2023 and is republished now because today's the day the phones go on sale.
Would the new iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Pro fit your needs better? Are you curious about the tangible improvements you’d get from upgrading to these new devices?
We’ve compiled a handy buying guide to help you consolidate your buying decisions, highlighting which differences matter and how likely the changes will affect you.
Apple iPhone 15 and 15 Pro series pricing details
Starting prices only tell us half the story. We need to know what we are really paying for.
|iPhone 15 Plus
|iPhone 15Pro Max
You can see that Apple has omitted one variant. Unlike the iPhone 14 series launch, the iPhone 15 series does not have a 128GB version of the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Apple fans eyeing a Pro Max model have a starting price of S$1,999 for 256GB, which is also S$30 higher than the iPhone 14 Pro Max (256GB) launch price.
What’s new to the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus?
To summarise our original reporting here, the new iPhone 15 and 15 Plus inherited a handful of headlining features available on last year’s Pro models, along with a change to USB Type-C port (bye, Lightning). Inherited features include:
The Apple silicon chipset, now A16, like last year’s iPhone 14 Pro seriesThe 48MP main camera, up from 12MPThe Dynamic Island cutout surrounding the front camera, which debuted on iPhone 14 Pro series
Compared to the regular iPhone 14 series (14 and 14 Plus), it also has these improvements:
Massively higher HDR peak brightness at 2,000 nits (up from 1,200 nits before)Additional 2x in-sensor zoom and 10x digital zoom in, which the iPhone 14 series did not haveUpgrade to its HDR photography software with Smart HDR 5 (up from Smart HDR 4, on par with iPhone 15 Pro series' Smart HDR tech)6x digital zoom for videography (up from 3x digital zoom)
Finally, these features saw no changes between last year’s and this year’s non-Pro models:
Same Super Retina XDR display type, with a peak 60Hz refresh rateSame display sizes for both models (regular at 6.1-inches, Plus version at 6.7-inches)No Always-on Display (that’s still reserved for Pro models)Same IP68 water and dust resistance across both generationsSame 12MP front camera, along with all its software and recording perksSame battery uptime in hours for video playback (up to 20 hours for on-device clips, 16 hours for streamed footage)Same MagSafe and Qi wireless charging speeds (15W and 7.5W, respectively)Same dual SIM support (one physical nano-SIM, one digital eSIM)
Finally, because the new iPhone 15 series lineup is so similar to the iPhone 14 Pro series, Apple has removed the latter from retail since the 12 September 2023 keynote.
What’s new to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max?
With the non-Pro models following the same upgrade strategy as last year (moving old Pro features down to new non-Pros), it stands to reason that this year’s Pro models, like iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max get more love from Apple.
Material change to Grade 5 titanium alloy (previously stainless steel)A new chipset built on a 3nm-manufacturing process, A17 ProA tactile Action Button with haptic feedback that’s customisable beyond classic silencing (used to be a silence hard-toggle)iPhone 15 Pro Max gets 5x optical zoom via a “tetraprism” lens design (previously up to 3x optical zoom only, like the current iPhone 15 Pro)A main camera with a largersensor than the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus' main camera, allowing more light into your captures
A notable change is the use of Grade 5 titanium alloy for its body. It’s the same titanium grade used in making aircraft, spacecraft, certain prosthetic limbs, and some military equipment, so there’s no question that you’re paying a premium for the materials used to make your Pro-grade iPhones. Fortunately, Apple didn't increase the price of the iPhone 15 Pro models, which means you're getting more for the same price.Another added benefit of introducing titanium is the 19-20g reduction in weight without drastic changes to its dimensions, which makes both Pro models almost 10% lighter than before. Another perk is titanium's natural resistance to corrosion and temperature tolerance, so folks who like iPhones for their ability to retain secondhand market value would appreciate these additions.
What do I get if I choose a Pro model over a non-Pro variant?
If you’re deciding between non-Pro and Pro iPhone 15 models, you can factor in the following differences that might make or break your choices:
|iPhone 15 Plus
|iPhone 15 Pro
|iPhone 15 Pro Max
|Grade 5 Titanium Alloy
|Textured matte glass
|Standard silencing hard switch, no custom shortcuts
|48MP, first-gen sensor-shift stabilisation
|48MP,larger sensor, second-gen sensor-shift stabilisation
|3x Optical Telephoto
|5x Optical Telephoto with 3D sensor-shift andtetraprism design
|Macro photo and video shooting
|Yes, including slow motion and time lapse
|100% Focus Pixels
|Main camera only
|All three rear cameras
|Maximum digital zoom range (photos)
|Maximum digital zoom range (videos)
|LiDAR Scanner for Night Mode Portraits
|Video recording features
|4K60FPS, Cinematic Mode 4K30FPS, HDR with Dolby Vision 4K60FPS
|All that, plus Academy Colour Encoding System, and Macro videography
|128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB
|USB 2 profile, maximum 480Mbps transfers
|USB 3 profile, maximum 10Gbps transfers
|DisplayPort for USB-C
|All support this
|Identical (MagSafe wireless 15W, Qi wireless 7.5W, and 50% in 30 minutes with 20W wired)
|Dual SIM (one physical nanoSIM, one digital eSIM, dual SIM support)
|Black, Blue, Green, Yellow, Pink
|Black Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium, Natural Titanium
Among its many notable differences are the USB transfer speeds for the USB-C ports between both categories. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus have a USB 2 profile, with a maximum data transfer rate of 480Mbps. iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max have USB 3, with 10Gbps (10,000Mbps) maximum transfer rates. That’s a difference of 20.8x in speed. If you’re somebody who moves large files via cable regularly (for example, content creators and professionals), the USB profile difference may be a crucial factor in your purchasing decision.
You will also need to buy an appropriately rated USB-C cable to support your desired speeds. Apple mentioned “optional USB 3 speeds” for the Pro model’s keynote segment, which implies that the provided USB-C cable in the box is not rated for 10Gbps.So you're only going to get a USB2.0-compliantUSB-C cable in the box.
Pro models have the extra perk of a Telephoto rear camera and an Always-on Display with ProMotion’s 10-120Hz refresh rate. Thanks to the new Action Button, you also get an extra shortcut customisation. The other differences listed above are less pronounced.
Other new perks are catered to professional creative niches, like 4K60FPS ProRes recording and Log-format encoding.
What also did not change was the size treatment of its four variants. The iPhone 15 and 15 Pro share the same display size (6.1-inch), while the iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro Max share the larger display size (6.7-inch). So, a user looking at iPhone 15 would likely prefer the iPhone 15 Pro for its handling and size, paying more for those extra Pro perks.
Which iPhone 15 is best suited for you?
The change to USB-C ports across all non-Pro and Pro models of iPhone 15 will likely present a greater lifestyle change for longtime iPhone users. We welcome the change since most modern devices already use USB-C ports and cables. It helps to reduce cable clutter at home, work, and while travelling. One less cable type to pack for an overseas trip goes a long way, and having to borrow cables and charging points from coworkers or friends during a night’s out is also less annoying now.
You could always buy a Lightning to USB-C adapter-dongle-thingmajig to make your old Lightning cables serve you a little longer. We disagree with the S$45 “premium” on this item, since Apple should’ve included one such dongle in the box to show they kept their longtime users in mind. If you’re removing Lightning cables from your household, please recycle them responsibly.(Here's a full list of such e-waste recycling points in Singapore.)
The change to USB-C also provides less resistance to Android users looking for a good time or reason to switch over to iOS, and vice versa.
The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus offer a value proposition similar to last year’s iPhone 14 series. You’re more likely to see greater mileage if you come from an iPhone or Android phone that’s at least two years old. Upgrading from an iPhone 14 series grants you a series of hand-me-downs from the Pro series, like the Dynamic Island cutout for the front camera (with fancier notifications), a slightly better primary camera, and the previously Pro-only processor. You’d rarely need 2,000-nits peak HDR brightness unless you regularly work under direct sunlight.
iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max at least have one genuinely cutting-edge piece of technology, but it’s primarily naked to the consumer’s eye: an A17 Pro chipset built on the 3-nanometre manufacturing process. That processor and iPhone 15 Pro series would make them the first consumer-facing phone and chipset to carry such a precise manufacturing method. Performance gains and efficiency are typically more pronounced when moving on to new manufacturing processes or technologies, but the actual differences can only be ascertained from benchmarking, real-world testing, and reviews.
At the very least, you’re paying for that shiny new tech on paper. That’s on top of a titanium body, a bigger main camera sensor than iPhone 15 series, and a periscope-style “tetraprism” telephoto lens for 5x optical zoom.Users moving from the iPhone 14 Pro series also see incremental improvements should they pick a 15 Pro model, but at least the upgrades are new to iPhones as a whole.
If you are choosing between Pro and non-Pro (which has a S$200-400 difference for the same display sizes), those three perks above need to be considered with the following differences.
The Pro series also grants you ProMotion for its display (10-120Hz refresh rate, for battery savings and viewing fluidity) on top of Always-on Display, along with faster USB-C transfer speeds (that last one requires you to go out and shop for a properly rated USB-C cable).
We consider the Action Button more of a side-grade than an upgrade — it’s good that Apple gave its classic silence toggle a bit more functionality with customisable shortcuts. Honestly, when was the last time you un-silenced your phone? At least that space is better utilised now, even if that change took time.
We hope this guide has helped you better understand which iPhone 15 suits you. Pre-orders on Apple's official web store begin on 15 September 2023, 8PM Singapore Time (iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro), with retail availability going up from 22 September 2023 onwards.
Hands-on with the iPhone 15 Pro seriesHands-on with the iPhone 15 seriesOur official TikTok channel for checking out the 2023 Apple devices in real lifeTelco contract plans for the new iPhone 15 and 15 Pro seriesKeynote coverage of iPhone 15 series, iPhone 15 Pro series, Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2Pricing, pre-order, and availability details of the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro series
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