Apple iPhone 15 review: It’s time to upgrade


Once every few years, Apple brings some big, meaningful changes to its hardware products. And in the years it doesn’t, we get some funny memes. However, 2023 is not a meme year for the iPhone, as the standard iPhone models are once again exciting. We’ve seen this shift before with some older models as well iPhone 12, which was the first non-Pro model to get an OLED screen. This year is iPhone 15 is the most exciting iPhone for me as it finally gets some big boy upgrades and all those with an iPhone 12 (or older) waiting for something better can finally take the plunge.

The new model may not look that different from the last two generations, but the new additions borrowed from last year’s 14 Pro make the iPhone 15 (and by extension 15 Plus) worth considering. Here’s why.

Apple iPhone 15 Price in India

The iPhone 15 starts at the same price as what the iPhone 14 launched at, which is Rs. 79,900 for the 128GB variant. You can choose 256GB or 512GB variants and the price increases by Rs. 10,000 for each level. New pastel colors have also arrived, which look really nice, but unfortunately no product RED variant this time. The iPhone 14 and iPhone 13 are still officially sold by Apple, and they start at Rs. 69,900 and Rs. 59,900 or The included accessories are still minimal, but this time it’s a color-matched braided USB Type-C cable in the box instead of Lightning, since all iPhones have finally ditched Apple’s proprietary connector this year.

Apple sent us the top-end variant in blue, which officially costs Rs. 1,09,900. You’ll pay a premium for the number models from Apple as usual, but luckily you’ll most likely never actually pay that sticker price as there are always bank and credit card offers to take advantage of if you buy online.

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iPhone 15 looks like 14 and 13 from the back

Apple iPhone 15 design

The iPhone 15 has almost the same dimensions as the 14, except for the height, which is now slightly more. It’s a tad lighter at 171g, and this regular-sized model has an excellent feel in the hand. The rounded edges and soft finish of the frame and glass back give it a calming effect. Personally, after coming from a iPhone 13 Pro Maxthis size and weight of 15 felt toy-like at first, but I quickly appreciated the smaller form factor.

The display on the iPhone 15 is still a 6.1-inch OLED panel, but it now gets Apple’s Dynamic Island from the 14 Pro series. That in itself makes the 15 look modern and on par with Apple’s more expensive phones. Unfortunately, ProMotion doesn’t go up to 15, which means the screen still runs at 60Hz and not 120Hz. The always-on function is also still reserved only for the Pro models. The 15’s display is now brighter than the iPhone 14, with 1,000 nits typical brightness and up to 2,000 nits maximum brightness when outdoors, under sunlight.

Apple iPhone 15 specifications and software

Another ‘Pro’ feature given to the iPhone 15 is the SoC. It is Apple’s A16 Bionic, which was used in the iPhone 14 Pro models. It has the same number of CPU and GPU cores as last year’s iPhone 14, but it’s built on a 4nm process (vs 5nm), meaning it packs a billion more transistors into the equivalent surface area. The iPhone 15 still has the same amount of RAM (6GB) as the iPhone 14. Other features include stereo speakers, an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, a second-generation Ultra Wideband (UWB) chip, and a TrueDepth camera in the display for Face ID.

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Dynamic Island is coming to the non-Pro range for the first time with the iPhone 15 models

The iPhone 15 ships with iOS 17 and should easily get new iOS versions for at least the next five years. iOS 17 is also available for many older iPhone models, and the experience is largely the same across the board. Some of new functions include personalized contact posters for people in your phone book, the ability to record and send messages over FaceTime if the person doesn’t answer, and many more. Apple has even rolled out subversion updates to iOS to address the issue known problems with overheating with the 15 Pro models, and most recentnew features for AirDrop and general bug fixes.

Apple iPhone 15 performance and battery life

The day-to-day performance of the iPhone 15 has been nothing short of amazing. Apps load quickly, the screen is rich and vibrant, and I never felt like it was running out of power. Notifications piled around the dynamic island are fun to see and interact with. The 15 ran cool for the most part, but there were times when using wireless CarPlay that the rear heated up. Games looked great and ran smoothly, especially those from Apple Arcade.

HDR videos looked great, especially those shot with Dolby Vision. The stereo speakers also get quite loud and the sound quality is pleasant. Benchmark numbers are solid and are generally higher than most Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Android phones. The iPhone 15 scored 13,77,284 points in AnTuTu and 2,500 and 6,209 points in Geekbench 6’s single and multicore CPU tests, respectively.

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iPhone 15 now supports USB Type-C, making it compatible with a range of Type-C accessories

iPhones generally deliver good battery life, and the iPhone 15 is no different. Apple promises up to 20 hours of video playback, and our HD video test managed to get somewhat close to that number, running for 16.5 hours. Under normal circumstances, I easily got a full day of driving time on a single charge, and some days a little more with lighter use. Fast charging is supported, but you need to purchase the charger separately. Apple claims the 15 can charge up to 50 percent in half an hour with the optional 20W power adapter. Wireless charging is also present.

Apple iPhone 15 cameras

The iPhone 15 still lacks a telephoto camera, and the ultra-wide cannot take macro photos and video, as these functions are still reserved for the Pro models. But the main one now gets a 48-megapixel sensor from the 14 Pro. There’s sensor-shift stabilization as before, and thanks to the higher resolution, the 2X zoom level is said to offer “optical” quality magnification as it simply uses a smaller crop of the sensor. The ultra-wide is still the same 12-megapixel sensor, as is the front-facing 12-megapixel camera. All cameras can record up to 4K 60fps videos in Dolby Vision, and there’s a new Smart HDR 5 photo processing engine for a better balance between shadows and highlights.

iPhone 15 main camera example

iPhone 15 ultra-wide camera example

iPhone 15 close-ups from the main camera

By default, the iPhone 15 takes 24-megapixel pixel native photos. You can also change this to 12 megapixels from Settings, similar to how most Android phones with 48 megapixel cameras work. To be able to shoot at the full 48 megapixels, you need to enable a toggle in Settings, after which you will see a ‘JPEG Max’ option in the viewfinder. Keep in mind that shooting at native resolution introduces shutter lag, so you won’t be able to do fast shots as effectively.

The image quality in daylight is very good. You get plenty of detail and colors are well balanced even when shooting under harsh sunlight. The ultra-wide camera is also quite competent in good lighting. Detail is decent and barrel distortion is minimal. The camera app can now also recognize animals such as dogs and cats, and will automatically suggest the option to activate background blur in the camera app. The Photos app will also register photos of pets you may have taken in the past and allow you to convert it into a portrait photo.

iPhone 15 zoom examples

iPhone 15 camera tests in low light

iPhone 15 selfie camera example

Photos taken in low light with the main camera look very good. Noise is handled well, detail is plentiful and colors look natural. If you magnify the image more than 2X, however, a large drop in image quality is seen. The ultra-wide is also decent, but details are weaker compared to the main camera. The selfie camera does a good job in daylight and low light.

iPhones have long been the gold standard when it comes to video recording. The iPhone 15 takes rock-solid footage in good light, with no visible jitter and excellent detail. Slight shaking is visible when shooting under artificial lighting at night, but only when walking while shooting.

Judgment

The biggest downside for the iPhone 15 is its pricing in India. At nearly Rs. 80,000 for the base model, it is quite expensive. Even if you factor in bank offers, we’re still looking at a price upwards of Rs. 70,000, given that most would opt for the 256GB variant. But if you’re someone who’s willing to put that kind of money down, then you definitely won’t be disappointed. Unlike the iPhone 14, which wasn’t that different from the 13, the iPhone 15 takes a bigger leap forward by incorporating many of the advanced features from the 14 Pro models. A high refresh rate and a telephoto camera are two things I’m personally still waiting to see on the standard models, and we’ll no doubt get there in a few more generations.

Right now you should buy the iPhone 15 if you want some of the ‘Pro’ features off iPhone 14 Pro but don’t want to use a premium. Although Apple has officially discontinued last year’s Pro models, it is still ridiculously priced in India. If you’ve been waiting to trade in your iPhone 12 (or older) for something worthwhile, I’d recommend getting the 15. On the other hand, if you just want an iPhone and don’t care about the new features of the 15, this is a good time to buy iPhone 13 at a heavily discounted price during festive sales.


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