iPhone 15 Pro Max review: The ultimate upgrade

iPhone 15 Pro Max review
Image: © Tom's Guide

iPhone 15 Pro Max Review: Major Upgrades

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is an absolute beast of a flagship phone, packing some seriously cool features. With its tougher yet lighter titanium design, more powerful zoom, the stellar A17 Pro chip, and the nifty Action button, this phone is really something.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is a robust flagship that brings a bunch of worthwhile upgrades to the table. It boasts a sleek and compact titanium design, a whopping 5x zoom, and a handy Action button. The A17 Pro chip is lightning-fast and allows for console-quality gaming, and the battery can keep up for up to 14 hours. Our only gripes are the slow USB-C charging and not-so-great digital zoom.

  • Sturdy and lightweight titanium design
  • 5x longer zoom
  • The action button adds flexibility
  • A17 Pro chip is class-leading
  • Super long battery life

  • $100 higher starting price
  • Slower charging compared to other phones
  • The action button can only do one thing at a time

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the first new iPhone I've bought in ages, and it left me saying "wow." It's all thanks to the new titanium design that makes this 6.7-inch flagship phone incredibly lightweight. Apple also managed to trim the bezels and make the phone shorter and slimmer, resulting in a big screen that doesn't feel overly massive.

There are many other improvements with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, including the practical Action button that lets you perform all sorts of shortcuts. You also get the world's first 3nm processor with the A17 Pro, delivering console-like graphics. Finally, there's the larger 5x telephoto zoom to get you closer to your subjects, which starts narrowing the gap with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Not everything about the iPhone 15 Pro Max is sunshine and rainbows, though. At $1,199, it comes with a $100 higher starting price than the previous model. And while it's nice to see a USB-C port – bidding farewell to the Lightning – charging is still relatively sluggish. So, is the iPhone 15 Pro Max the best phone? I'll delve into all the pros and cons in this in-depth review of the iPhone 15 Pro Max.


Here are the nitty-gritty details on the iPhone 15 Pro Max:Price: $1,199
Display: 6.7-inch OLED
Refresh rate: 120Hz adaptive
CPU: A17 Pro
Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Rear Cameras: 48MP main/12MP ultrawide/12MP telephoto with 5x zoom
Front Camera: 12MP
Battery: 4,422 mAh (rumored)
Battery Life: 14 hours and 2 minutes
Charging Port: USB-C
Size: 6.29 x 3.02 x 0.32 inches
Weight: 7.8 ounces
Colors: Black, white, blue, gray


The iPhone 15 Pro Max hit the market on September 22. However, it comes with a hefty price tag, starting at $1,199. That's $100 more expensive than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, making it the most expensive iPhone to date. The good news is that the base model now offers 256GB of storage, double the previous standard.

If you need even more storage, you can opt for the 512GB model at $1,399 or the 1TB version at $1,599. For the latest info on iPhone 15 Pro Max discounts and deals, you can check our iPhone 15 deals page.


The iPhone 15 Pro Max takes a significant leap in design. It ditches the stainless steel sides for a titanium build, and that's a big deal. This grade 5 titanium is both stronger and lighter, the same stuff used in the Mars Rover – pretty cool, right?

You can get the iPhone 15 Pro Max in various colors, including Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, Silver Titanium, and Black Titanium.

Compared to its predecessor, this new Pro Max model weighs 7.8 ounces, down from 8.5 ounces. You can really feel the difference in your hand and pocket. The device is also more compact, measuring 6.29 x 3.02 x 0.32 inches versus 6.33 x 3.05 x 0.31 inches for the previous model. This means it's slightly thicker but much easier to handle with one hand, breaking the big-screen iPhone stereotype.

Furthermore, the contoured design and rounded edges make it feel better in the hand. The bottom edge houses the long-overdue USB-C port, allowing you to charge your iPhone, iPad, and MacBook with the same cable.


The Action button, which replaces the ringer switch, is one of the most intriguing features of the iPhone 15 Pro Max. It comes with its ups and downs. On the plus side, the button can still silence calls with a long press if you've set Silent Mode. In the settings, you can configure the Action button to perform various actions, including launching the camera, voice recorder, flashlight, translation, and more. You can even select specific actions within an app, like quickly switching to a selfie mode with the Camera app.

However, the catch is that the Action button can only perform one function at a time. So, if you want it to launch the camera, you can't use it to mute calls simultaneously. It would be great if Apple allowed app shortcuts with a double press and reserved the long press for silent mode.


The iPhone 15 Pro Max finally makes the switch to USB-C for charging, which is a long-awaited change. Apple has said goodbye to the Lightning port after over a decade, mainly due to EU regulations. The good news is you no longer need to carry around an extra cable just for charging your iPhone, as many of your daily devices probably use USB-C too. You can also use this port to charge other Apple devices, like the updated AirPods Pro with a USB-C charging case. It also supports USB 3 for faster photo and video transfer to your Mac or external drive, although it's not the latest 3.2 standard.


The iPhone 15 Pro Max doesn't bring massive changes to its display, except for thinner bezels around the 6.7-inch OLED screen. It still delivers a peak brightness of 1,600 nits and 2,000 nits outdoors, and retains the 120Hz ProMotion display for smooth scrolling and animations. The always-on display feature allows you to check notifications, the time, and more without unlocking your iPhone.

In terms of performance, the Pro Max achieves 1,550 nits when playing HDR content, similar to its predecessor, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra reaches 1,444 nits. The color reproduction remains strong, with the iPhone 15 Pro Max scoring well in color gamut and offering more accurate colors with a Delta-E score of 0.14, outperforming the Galaxy S23 Ultra in this aspect.


One of the significant camera upgrades in the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the improved zoom capabilities. It features a larger 48MP main sensor that can shoot 24MP photos by default, but you can also choose 48MP HEIF or ProRAW for greater creative control. The main camera offers three shooting options: 24mm, 28mm, and 25mm, and you can switch between them with the 1x button. The camera can sense depth information, eliminating the need for portrait mode for taking portraits, and you can adjust the focus point after taking a shot.

The most notable camera upgrade is the 5x optical zoom, a significant improvement over the 3x zoom in the previous model. It also offers up to 25x digital zoom, an increase from the 15x digital zoom on the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

In terms of night mode performance, the iPhone 15 Pro Max excels, delivering detailed and well-exposed images. It also performs well in daylight shots, offering sharp and vibrant results. The device's portrait mode and selfie performance are commendable, with better dynamic range thanks to Apple's improved Smart HDR technology.

In summary, the iPhone 15 Pro Max's camera upgrades bring it in line with the competition, with better zoom capabilities and impressive night mode performance. The camera quality is top-notch, making it a strong contender among the best camera phones.


The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with some exciting video upgrades. Cinematic mode now supports digital zoom up to 3x, and for the pros out there, you can export ProRes footage via USB-C at up to 4K and 60 frames per second.

In my testing, the video quality from the iPhone 15 Pro Max is nothing short of breathtaking. The 5x zoom allows you to get closer to the action, and it really shows in the results. For instance, in a 4K clip of a yacht on the Hudson River, as I zoom in, you can see the reflection of the rippling water on the back window and the swaying reeds in the foreground.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max also impressively captures crisp footage of a giant St. Bernard in Madison Square Park, even with varying lighting conditions. The video maintains clear quality with even exposure.

In another clip of a fountain, the video quality is movie-like, capturing birds flying without any blur, a woman's dress flowing in the breeze, and the sound of a band off to the left transitioning to the soothing trickling water. Truly impressive.


The iPhone 15 Pro Max has the potential to be the ultimate gaming phone, thanks to the new A17 Pro chip. With a 10% increase in CPU speed and twice the machine learning performance, this latest chip offers significant improvements. However, the real star is the brand-new 6-core GPU.

This means you can now play console-quality games with ray-tracing technology, delivering the most realistic lighting effects on a phone. Games like Diablo Immortal demonstrate fluid gameplay with stunning graphics and lifelike reflections. Even the Resident Evil Village demo, while immersive, takes some getting used to due to the touch controls.

In benchmark tests, the iPhone 15 Pro Max shows its muscle with a Geekbench single-core score of 2,783 and a multi-core score of 6,945, far surpassing the Galaxy S23 Ultra's scores. The graphics performance is even more impressive, as it outpaces the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Video editing is also a breeze on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, with it outperforming the previous model and the Samsung phone in transcoding a 4K video to 1080p.


The iPhone 15 Pro Max manages to exceed the already impressive battery life of the iPhone 14 Pro Max. In a continuous web surfing test over 5G, it lasts for a remarkable 14 hours and 2 minutes, compared to the previous model's 13 hours and 39 minutes.

This performance even surpasses the Galaxy S23 Ultra, making it one of the top phones in terms of battery life. However, the charging speed remains at 20W, which means it can reach 50% in 30 minutes, slightly falling short of the competition. For example, the Galaxy S23 Ultra reaches 57% in the same amount of time with its 45W charger.


iOS 17 brings several enhancements to the iPhone 15 Pro Max. It introduces StandBy Mode for the always-on display, allowing your iPhone to function as an alarm clock and pseudo-smart display with rotating photos. NameDrop lets you share your contact info with a tap, provided the recipient also has iOS 17. Live Voicemail transcribes incoming voicemails in real time, allowing you to decide whether it's worth answering.


If you're deciding between the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Galaxy S23 Ultra, the iPhone offers advantages like a brighter display, faster performance, longer battery life, the unique Action button, and Dynamic Island.

On the other hand, the Galaxy S23 Ultra boasts a more colorful screen, more powerful zoom cameras, faster 45W charging, and a main camera that can go up to 200MP.


The iPhone 15 Pro Max isn't just an incremental upgrade. It features a stronger and lighter titanium design, a clever Action button, and impressive camera upgrades. In terms of photo quality, especially in low light, it arguably leads the pack, and the 5x zoom is a long-awaited improvement. Add the A17 Pro chip for gaming, USB-C port, and outstanding battery life, and you have the best iPhone money can buy. While the iPhone 15 Pro is excellent, the Pro Max's longer endurance, larger screen, and extended zoom make it the preferable choice.

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