iPhone 15 Pro Max Review: the Most Well-Rounded iPhone Ever Comes as a Quiet Revolution

iPhone 15 Pro Max Review: the Most Well-Rounded iPhone Ever Comes as a Quiet Revolution

  • First iPhone made of titanium and with a USB-C port.

  • The camera has undergone significant–although not immediately apparent–changes.

  • The heat issue is not a big deal, or is it?

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iPhone 15 Pro Ultra

One of the most complex evolutions in the history of the iPhone. This is how I would describe the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Its tech specs may not suggest major changes, but a thorough test and analysis reveal that this iPhone is charting a new path for Apple.

If you’re interested in knowing everything about the 15 Pro Max’s camera, processor and other differences over its previous generation, the iPhone 14 Pro Max, this review is complex yet interesting. So, sit back and relax as there is a lot to discus.

Table of Contents (9)

iPhone 15 Pro Max Specs


size and weight

6.29 x 3.02 x 0.32 in

7.81 oz


6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display

ProMotion 1-120Hz

2796x1290-pixel resolution

460 ppi

2000 nits peak brightness

2,000,000:1 contrast ratio


Apple A17 Pro


8 GB


256 GB/512 GB/1 TB


48 MP, f/1.78

12 MP ultra-wide, f/2.2

12 MP 5x telephoto, f/2.8


12 MP, f/2.2


4,442 mAH


iOS 17


5G (sub‑6 GHz and mmWave)

Gigabit LTE with 4x4 MIMO and LAA

Wi‑Fi 6E

Wi‑Fi 802.11ax (6th  gen.) with 2x2 MIMO

Bluetooth 5.3

Ultra-wideband chip


Thread compatibility



Stereo sound

Face ID

Action button


From $1,199

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max, 256GB, Natural Titanium - Verizon

Design: iPhones Could Get Even Tougher

Iphone 15 Pro Max

Apple is betting on titanium for this and, reportedly, the next iPhone generations. The iPhone 15 Pro Max says goodbye to the stainless steel and introduces a polished, aerospace-grade titanium. This is how Apple is refereeing to the metals that can also be found on spacecrafts. Beyond the obvious marketing strategy, real life shows its presence is not so remarkable.

Apple claims the internal structure is still made of 100% recycled aluminum and comes with an internal redesign to relocate new components such as the telephoto’s tetraprism design. iPhone 15 Pro Max teardowns show that the titanium’s role is to cover the aluminum chassis with a thin layer, so its presence–compared to that of the aluminum–is not that high. Whatever the titanium’s prominence might be, what stands out here are the benefits that this new material brings to the table.

Stronger and lighter. These are the two main advantages of using titanium over stainless steel.

But how does that translate in real life? This material stands for its better resistance-weight ratio, resulting in a weight reduction of 0.66 ounces. Being used to the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the iPhone 14 Pro, this new model feels closer to the smaller iPhone when you hold it with your own hands rather than the Max.

Iphone 15 Pro Max

The new manufacturing process also makes it easier to remove the glass from the back, reducing the cost of repairing a broken glass from $549 for the iPhone 14 Pro Max to $199, which is a $350 difference.

We review the Natural Titanium unit here, which is this generation’s best finish both for being aesthetically pleasing and clean. It has been claimed on social media that titanium attracts fingerprints, but this has not been the case with this unit. The iPhone 14 Pro’s bright frame attracted as many fingerprints (at least in this color).

In fact, it’s somewhat more discreet than my white iPhone 14 Pro, with a very, very dirty silver stainless steel. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t attract any fingertips or oils at all, since you’ll need to wipe it down from time to time, but this should suffice.

Iphone 15 Pro Max

The front of the device has also been changed, with the bezels now being narrower, resulting in a screen-body ratio close to 90% (89.8% against last generation’s 88.3%), according to GSMArena. The reduction in bezels is noticeable but not in a radical way. Side-by-side, it’s easy to notice the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s narrower frame compared to the older generation.

Iphone 15 Pro Max iPhone 15 Pro Max | iPhone 14 Pro.

It should be said, though, that Apple still manufactures devices with completely symmetrical bezels, without the annoying lower chin that can still be found in most of today’s flagships.

The corners and the most superficial layer of the front glass have been refined, making the iPhone 15 Pro Max a more rounded phone in the edges. The glass has a much smoother transition to the frame than before, which makes it a more pleasant phone to hold in one hand.

Iphone 15 Pro Max

The bottom of the device still maintains the same structure consisting of speakers, microphone, and port. The new USB-C port uses USB 3.2 technology, which we will go into detail later on. The titanium keypad now has an even more solid touch and above it is this generation’s main protagonist: the Action button.

The Mute Switch Dies for a Good Cause

Iphone 15 Pro Max

Apple says goodbye to the mute switch that has been a part of our iPhones since 2007. Will I miss it? No. It’s been replaced by the Action button. Although it’s much smaller and discreet than the one on the Apple Watch Ultra, it follows a similar philosophy. The button is programmable and can perform a total of eight actions:

  • Silent mode
  • Focus
  • Camera (photo, selfie, video, portrait, portrait selfie)
  • Flashlight
  • Voice memo
  • Magnifier
  • Shortcut
  • Accessibility
  • No action

The only new button’s downside is that it requires you to hold it down instead of just pressing it. It’s always more comfortable to press a button than to hold it down. However, Apple likely implemented this feature to avoid accidental presses that might open apps or functions by mistake. Due to the button’s location, hardness, and travel, it’s almost impossible to press it unintentionally.

It’s inconvenient to have to apply extra force and time to a button that could do the same thing (launch the camera, mute the iPhone or open a shortcut) with a single press. Hopefully, Apple will offer a software option to activate the button with a single press in the future.

Iphone 15 Pro Max

In terms of the action button interface, it’s well-designed and perfectly integrated with the system. You might’ve read/heard that “it looks like Apple didn’t design this”. It’s quite the opposite: only Apple could design a menu with this aesthetic. The integration within the system is almost perfect. And, while it clashes with the flat and minimalist aesthetics of iOS 17, inexplicably, it perfectly fits with the software. Tilting the iPhone triggers an animation that rotates the Action button preview. The programmable actions are colored and have the corresponding system icon, making it easy to use.

A More Environmentally Friendly… and Lesser-Quality Case

Iphone 15 Pro Max The case edges are already a bit dirty after just a week of use and there is some noticeable wear.

In the design department, we should also talk about Apple’s new line of cases. Apple has moved away from leather and are now using MagSafe-compatible FineWoven cases.

These are made from microtwill, a fabric widely used in uniforms and overalls. It’s a high-quality fabric characterized by its weaving technique: a braid in which three threads are interwoven to make it strong and durable. This change was made to reduce carbon emissions and be more environmentally friendly.

However, the quality of the case is not up to the mark. After just a week of use, the edges of the case have worn out, the fabric has peeled away, and there are marks on it. The case is not built to last, and considering it costs $59, there are better and more economical alternatives available in the market.

Display: No Change in Sight

Iphone 15 Pro Max

In my view, the screen is where Apple remains too conservative. At a technical level, it’s exactly the same display, with the same resolution, size and brightness. Compared to my 14 Pro and using a luxmeter to measure its brightness, the HDR and peak brightness levels are exactly identical to the previous generation.

Apple is one of the few companies that offers a 2,000 nits brightness, which is sustained as long as the mobile doesn’t overheat. Although some phones technically reach up to 2,500 or 2,600 nits, these are shown in HDR content and only in small white areas of the display. This means that, in full sunlight, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will still be one of the best.

Despite all this, and given the phone’s powerful processor, I would’ve liked for Apple to go for a higher resolution and brightness. It’s still shocking that the only noticeable difference in the display compared to the iPhone 15 Plus is ProMotion.

Once again, it’s important to highlight the calibration efforts, thanks to the 6.7-inch display with 2778x1284-pixel resolution and adaptive refresh rate of up to 120 Hz.

ProMotion is still the most effective method of adapting the refresh rate.

Always on Display Gets a Second Chance With iOs 17

Iphone 15 Pro Max

The iPhone 14 Pro introduced the Always On Display feature. It allows users to keep the display on while showing an interface that’s identical to the lock screen and without the screen going completely black.

As with the previous generation, the AOD feature is dependent on the brightness sensor, which means that the display will shine brighter when the brightness is set to high and vice versa.

I am still not an advocate of the Always On Display feature. It leads to high battery usage despite its efficiency compared to its rivals.

Although the iPhone is capable of going down to 1Hz while AOD is enabled, the battery usage is still high. Activating it all day long can result in a 15% extra battery loss, which is equivalent to about 1% per hour. With that additional 15%, you could easily get an hour of screen time, which I’m not willing to lose. If we want to minimize battery usage, we can always set the AOD to be completely black without any wallpaper or notifications.

One of the new iOS 17 features is the StandBy mode, which is enabled by default. This mode is activated when the iPhone is charging and in landscape position, showing widgets, clocks and other information. While this is a very visual feature, it may be unfriendly to the aging OLED panel as charging an iPhone takes almost two hours, and leaving it charging with the screen on displaying static content is not recommended.

The Dynamic Island, a Year Later

Iphone 15 Pro Max

The iPhone 15 family has finally replaced the notch with the Dynamic Island on all models. It was one of the most notable changes last year and made the home of the Face ID sensors more functional and dynamic. The size of the Island remains the same, which means it’s as distinctive as it’s obtrusive. Its slightly lower position from the bottom of the notch makes it more noticeable while viewing content.

Iphone 15 Pro Max

Above is a frame from ‘Ashoka’, in which you can perfectly see how the Dynamic Island breaks the symmetry of images by not matching perfectly with the format (the upper and lower black stripes are due to the format of the series itself, not the iPhone). In video games, it’s not particularly annoying, and in web browsing, although it moves the contents slightly, it’s not too noticeable.

Iphone 15 Pro Max

But what about the benefits of the Dynamic Island? To make the most of it, iOS integrates some native features such as charging alerts, pause/resume of voice and screen recordings, and real-time map directions. These are some of its features:

  • Incoming calls
  • Connected AirPods
  • Face ID
  • AirDrop
  • Low battery
  • On/off mute switch
  • AirPlay
  • Airplane Mode/No Service
  • Ongoing call
  • Music apps
  • Timer
  • Maps directions
  • Voice notes
  • Screen recordings

The growing list of compatible apps includes Uber, Flighty, Spotify, Citymapper, Nike Run Club, and Audible. While not revolutionary, the Dynamic Island is a valuable feature that turns a necessary evil into a useful tool for the most advanced biometric system.

Sound: Paving the Way

Iphone 15 Pro Max

The audio quality of the iPhone 15 Pro Max is still one of the best (if not the best) we’ve tested in a high-end phone. The sound is crisp, clear, and has rich low frequencies, while the high frequencies are clean and without distortion, even at very high volumes. In this generation, the official Apple headphones are also compatible with USB-C, which is a new standard for this product.

With iOS 17, the ringtones have been updated, and there’s an option to customize the spatial audio using the iPhone camera. This creates a personalized profile based on the size and shape of our ears, so that headphones with spatial audio, like the new AirPods, can adapt to our anatomy.

Performance: Equal Parts Heat and Power

Iphone 15 Pro Max

The Apple A17 Pro is the industry’s first processor manufactured using a three-nanometer process. It’s designed based on the Apple A16 Bionic, but with new extreme ultraviolet (UVE) lithography technology. The microarchitecture of the processor has been improved, resulting in a 10% increase in CPU performance compared to the previous generation, and a 20% increase in GPU performance, with six cores in this generation.

According to Apple, the processor’s high-efficiency cores have a better performance per watt ratio, up to three times better than its competitors. Moreover, this processor is the first in the company to feature native ray tracing support.

The new ray tracing support will enable the iPhone 15 Pro to run console games such as ‘Resident Evil Village’, ‘Resident Evil 4’, ‘Death Stranding’, or ‘Assassin’s Creed Mirage’ at a stable 30 fps. These games were not originally developed for mobile devices. The collaboration agreement with the video game giants will come hand in hand with lower-resolution console covers.

The A17 Pro is capable of delivering better performance by consuming more power, but this should only occur during peak demand periods.

The Apple A17 Pro has shown a significant improvement in performance over its predecessor, the Apple A16 Bionic. This leap has been achieved by increasing the clock frequency, which now runs at 3.78 GHz for the A17 Pro, up from 3.46 GHz for the A16 Bionic. Additionally, the high-efficiency cores have been bumped up from 2.02 GHz to 2.11 GHz. To put this into perspective, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 runs at up to 3.36 GHz, and the MediaTek Dimensity 9200+ at 3.35 GHz.

However, this increase in clock frequency comes with a downside: Apple’s A17 Pro consumes more power than the A16 Bionic during high-demand tasks. However, this extra usage only occurs at specific times when the phone reaches its peak performance. After warming up and settling down, power consumption stabilizes. Therefore, the processor performs better by consuming more power at specific times, which is one of the reasons why Apple promises the same hours of use as the iPhone 14 Pro, despite the increase in milliamp hours and the three nanometers.

On the other hand, the high-efficiency cores of the A17 Pro consume much less power compared to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Tests such as Spec 2017 have shown that this processor consumes almost half of the Gen 2 cores. This means that, in everyday use, such as social networks, browsing, daily apps, etc., the A17 Pro’s power consumption is contained.

Iphone 15 Pro Max Performance drops a few minutes into the test, but remains stable.

The 3DMark stress test is a great way to assess the performance of a processor. In this case, the iPhone 15 Pro Max achieved a stability rating of 59.6%, which is lower than the 65.8% achieved by the iPhone 14 Pro. At first glance, this might seem like a poor result, but it’s important to look at the bigger picture. The iPhone 15 Pro Max has a very high peak performance of 15,375 points compared to 12,463 points for the iPhone 14 Pro. However, this level of performance cannot be sustained for long and drops dramatically after a few minutes.

Despite this drop, the sustained performance of the iPhone 15 Pro Max is still better than that of the Apple A16 Bionic, with a score of 9,170 points at the lowest loop compared to 8,195 on the iPhone 14 Pro. In other words, this processor is more powerful than the previous model, both in terms of peak and sustained performance. The drop in performance reflects the fact that the peak point consumption is not sustained for long, and once the phone warms up, its performance stabilizes.

However, the stability of the Qualcomm Snapdragon Gen 2 is even better, with a rating above 80%. Although its peak performance is lower, it has a more balanced sustain. In the table below, you can see that the drop in high-end phones with Gen 2 is much more gradual. That being said, it’s important to note that benchmarks don’t always translate into real-world use. In ‘Genshin Impact’, for example, the Apple A17 Pro achieves the same fps rate while consuming 2.5 W less than Gen 2, which is almost negligible.







Apple A17 Pro

Apple A16 Bionic

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (for Galaxy)


8 GB

6 GB

16 GB

16 GB

8 GB


2,637 / 7,103 (6)

2,508 / 6,306 (6)

1,982 / 5,492 (6)

1,176 / 4,960 (5)

2,019 / 5,308 (6)








15,375 / 9,170

12,463 / 8,195

13,926 / 12,788

14,250 / 11,186

14,018 / 13,968







The iPhone 15 Pro Max boasts impressive numbers when it comes to performance, particularly in the Geekbench tests. It scored 2,834 points in single-core, which is on par with Apple’s M1 processor, and 7,103 points in multi-core. These figures are significantly ahead of high-end Android devices. In short, a processor with incredible muscle and better performance over the previous generation, but it may not be quite as outstanding as you’d expect from the first processor with a three-nanometer manufacturing process.

In terms of real-world use, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is incredibly fast and responsive. The 8 GB of RAM make the phone run smoothly without any crashes. There’s no app this phone can’t handle, and most games (such as ‘Genshin Impact’) run at a higher resolution than on Android.

Finally, there are two additional improvements from previous generations: Pro Max’s basic storage is now 256 GB, while the phone’s mobile signal has gotten better. As well as faster download speeds, the Snapdragon X70 modem ensures better connectivity overall. Compared to the previous generation, there’s less frequent signal issues with the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Apple, We Need to Talk About Cooling

Iphone 15 Pro Max I’ve never seen this message on an iPhone before.

The issue of thermal management remains unsolved despite the new titanium body and revamped structure of the iPhone, which according to Apple, should help with heat dissipation. However, our tests indicate that it’s not that effective. The phone tends to get very hot, especially during the summer when the temperature is high. It’s surprising that a phone with a body of this size has not yet found a solution to these temperature problems.

Interestingly, the phone heats up more during simple tasks rather than demanding ones. For instance, while using Instagram for about 10 minutes and playing music in the background, the phone’s temperature surged to over 104ºF, as measured by a laser. However, playing a high-demanding game like ‘PUBG: Mobile’ in HDR with maximum graphics, the temperature did not exceed 100ºF.

The cause of this issue is not straightforward and clear. It could be due to the peak power of the processor and its incredibly high usage, lack of optimization in the early iOS versions, a CPU that activates high-performance cores when it should not, decreased dissipation area in the phone’s body, or inability of the body to dissipate heat efficiently. There are several factors that seem to be beyond control and make this iPhone susceptible to overheating.

This generation has a more powerful processor, less dissipation area and the same temperature problems as last year (but not more).

Other rivals use vapor chambers, but the iPhone still encounters the same temperature problems, which becomes especially problematic during summer months. This includes charging, screen brightness and performance issues.

To address this, Apple needs to consider introducing additional temperature management support instead of relying solely on the device’s own body to dissipate heat. If not, the CPU improvements will be limited, as the chassis (although it has been redesigned for the 15 Pro generation) does not seem equipped to handle heat dissipation well. While the only foreseeable solution is an upgrade, it’s unclear whether Apple will be able to balance this issue in the coming weeks.

It’s important to note that the same overheating issues were present in the iPhone 14 Pro. In the last two years, iPhones have been experiencing more serious overheating issues than their rivals, resulting in brightness reduction and performance problems. For some reason, there hasn’t been so much fuss about it.

Despite this, the phone’s tendency to overheat is not as dramatic as it might seem. Other high-end phones heat up more and faster than the iPhone 15 Pro Max. However, this does not excuse Apple from urgently finding a solution to the issue.


Iphone 15 Pro Max

The generation has finally made the leap to USB-C. The iPhone 15 comes with USB 2.0, while the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max come with USB 3.2. The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with a USB 2.0 cable in the box. This could definitely be improved, but all Android manufacturers are following the same trend.

Although some phones like the Xiaomi 13 Pro or the OnePlus 11 don’t support the USB 3.2 standard, it’s now a requirement for Apple to follow European legislation and to adopt this standard. This move will finally enable users to charge their iPads, Macs, and iPhones with the same cable. We will clarify how this works later on.

The main difference between USB 2.0 and USB 3.2 is the data transfer speed:

  • iPhone 15/Plus: USB-C (USB 2.0, up to 480 Mbps)
  • iPhone 15 Pro/Max: USB-C (USB 3.2, up to 10 Gbps)

The iPhone 15 Pro Max has an incredibly fast data transfer rate of up to 10 Gbps when used with the appropriate cable. This is particularly useful since the device can record 4K in ProRes HDR. However, if you don’t have a USB 3.2 cable (such as in my case), I have bad news for you: the original cable is slower than AirDrop.

It’s worth noting that the iPhone’s USB-C supports video output, so using a USB to HDMI adapter, you can display the content on monitors or TVs. This is a great option for gamers who want to enjoy iPhone displays on large screens.

It was about time to end Lightning. Thanks to the introduction of USB-C, you no longer have to worry about finding an iPhone cable or connecting external hard drives, USB flash drives and a wide range of peripherals. The end of Lightning means you can now access all the devices that were previously left out due to compatibility issues.


We’ll go straight to the point: as far as biometrics are concerned, we have the same features as last year. Face ID continues to be the most effective facial recognition system available, and its integration with the operating system is complete. It can be used for various purposes such as identification for payments, unlocking applications, identification for passwords, and much more. You can even set up an alternative face so that two individuals can unlock the same iPhone. Additionally, it’s possible to unlock the phone using Face ID while wearing a mask.

Software: iOS 17 is the Definition of Stability

Iphone 15 Pro Max

iOS 17 is the latest operating system version for the iPhone 15 Pro Max. After experiencing some issues with battery life and performance during the beta versions, the final version runs smoothly. Here, we’re using iOS 17.0.2, which is a minor update with improved security and stability. As usual in iOS, the changes are quite minor compared to the previous generation, although the system is, again, somewhat more mature and polished.

The changes in this version are mostly visual. The call interface now allows us to see custom posters we create for our contacts. These posters can be images or Memojis of the contacts, all customizable from the contacts app.

iOS 17 also introduces NameDrop function. This allows us to create a contact tab with our own poster and share it via AirDrop by simply bringing the iPhone close to us. Speaking of AirDrop, it’s now possible to transfer files between iPhones even when they move away from each other. If the other person moves away while transferring a file, the transfer will continue over the Internet.

Iphone 15 Pro Max

The Photos app has also received some improvements. It’s now able to recognize pets and group their photos, similar to how it already works with people. Additionally, you can easily turn your photos into stickers by tapping on them. This feature works in apps like iMessage and WhatsApp.

One of the most convincing features, however, is how AI has been integrated into the app, similar to Google Photos. The app is now capable of recognizing places of interest, recipes, clothing tags, and even automatically creating depth maps of photos (which will discuss later on). The Camera app has become much smarter, analyzing photos in detail and providing valuable information.

The Health app has also received new mental health features. Users will be able to keep a record of how they feel throughout the day to gain a better understanding of their overall mental health. Although this feature is currently limited, it’s great to see Apple taking into account the importance of mental health alongside physical monitoring, which is already available through the iPhone and accessories like the Apple Watch.

Battery Life: No More, No Less

Iphone 15 Pro Max More than five hours of screen time with 5G enabled and battery still at over 30%.

Despite the three nanometers upgrade and a slightly larger battery, the phone did not show a significant improvement in terms of battery life compared to the previous generation. However, we used the phone extensively on 5G networks and with heavy camera usage, which is not typical in normal circumstances.

We weren’t at home while reviewing the iPhone 15 Pro Max, so the battery use was more than intensive. The battery life was excellent

The phone lasted for days with no issues. It was almost impossible to go below six hours of extreme usage, and the phone could exceed eight to nine hours of screen time with moderate brightness, Wi-Fi usage, and minimal gaming. The iPhone 15 Pro Max has one of the best battery life for high-end phones, but there’s a suspicion that the chassis could accommodate a larger battery.

When it comes to charging, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has similar charging figures as the previous generation: around 29.9 W, which is close to the 27 W maximum for this phone. One important feature is the compatibility with the Power Delivery standard. Therefore, any charger that follows this protocol can charge the iPhone at maximum power.

We’ve conducted some tests to address concerns raised on social media regarding temperature ranges when charging with different cables and chargers. Both the original Apple cable and the 61 W USB-C Power Adapter, and a GaN charger were used.

Here’s what we found when using the original Apple charger and cable:

· Up to 50% - temperature peaked at 98ºF

· 50-80% - temperature peaked at 93ºF

· 80-100% - temperature peaked at 89ºF

And here are the results using Xiaomi’s cable and adapter:

· Up to 50% - temperature peaked at 93ºF

· 50-80% - temperature peaked at 91ºF

· 80-100% - temperature peaked at 86ºF

Interestingly, the original Apple charger and cable caused higher temperatures than the Xiaomi cable. We also tested both cables with the same GaN adapter, and the results were consistent. Regardless of the charger used, the charging standard is Power Delivery. While the quality of the cable may affect the temperature, the figures obtained were not alarming.

Iphone 15 Pro Max

There are a few important things to note about the new generation of iPhones. Firstly, we can now check the charge cycles from the Settings, which is a useful feature to monitor the battery usage and determine if any degradation is occurring.

Additionally, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has a new feature that has been seen on many Android phones - the ability to limit the charge level to 80%. This is because charging a phone between 20% and 80% puts the least amount of stress on the battery and can help increase its lifespan. However, this may not be as relevant for smaller iPhones as they may need the extra 20% charge.

The full charge time for the iPhone 15 Pro Max is two hours and two minutes, with 50% charge being reached in just 30 minutes. The charging speed slows down after the halfway point. While this may not be as fast as other competitors, it’s clear that Apple prioritizes the longevity of their devices.

Cameras: One of the Most Complex Systems in the Industry

Iphone 15 Pro Max

Describing the cameras of the iPhone 15 Pro Max can be quite tricky, not because of the hardware itself, which is similar to its competitors, but because of the software and processing changes that come with this generation. To simplify things, we’ll start with the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s hardware.

  • Main sensor: 48 MP, f/1.78, 24 mm, 1/1.28", 1.22 µm, dual pixel PDAF, sensor-shift OIS
  • Ultra-wide: 12 MP, f/2.2, 13 mm, 120˚, 1/2.55", 1.4 µm, dual pixel PDAF
  • Tetraprism telephoto: 12 MP, f/2.8, 120 mm, 1.12 µm, dual pixel PDAF, 3D sensor-shift OIS, 5x optical zoom
  • Selfie camera: 12 MP, f/1.9, Autofocus
  • Video: 4K at 24/25/30/60 fps, 1080p at 25/30/60/120/240 fps, 4K HDR Cinematic mode at 30 fps, macro video, slo-mo, time-lapse, ProRes LOG video, action mode, spatial audio

The iPhone 15 Pro Max’s hardware is nearly identical to that of the iPhone 14 Pro Max. However, the 3x optical zoom has been replaced with a 5x “tetraprism” telephoto with an aperture of f/2.8. Additionally, the lens coating has been enhanced to prevent reflections. But what exactly does Apple mean by “tetraprism”?

Iphone 15 Pro Max How the tetrapism works.

Apple has developed a unique design for their telephoto lens that uses a glass structure which folds just below the lens. This structure reflects four times the light rays, allowing the light to travel over the same space for a longer period of time, thus extending the focal length to 120 mm. Essentially, Apple has created a 5x zoom that doesn’t require a physically larger sensor.

To ensure image stability, an optical image shift stabilization module has been added to the system. This module has 10,000 micro-adjustments per second, similar to the one found in the main sensor.

Although the iPhone 15 Pro Max has only three cameras, Apple claims that using it is like using seven cameras because it can shoot at a variety of focal lengths.

  • Macro
  • 13mm (ultra-wide)
  • 24mm (1x)
  • 28mm (1.2x)
  • 35mm (1.5x)
  • 48mm (2x)
  • 120mm (5x)

This range of focal lengths is not typically found in other phones and, with the exception of macro photography, all of them offer “optical” quality. This means that instead of using digital zoom, which can degrade image quality, Apple crops different areas of the sensor to achieve the desired focal length.

It can be difficult to understand the difference between cropping the sensor and digital zoom. Digital zoom enlarges an image that has already been taken, which results in an irremediable loss of quality since we are simply enlarging digitally.

Iphone 15 Pro Max Using a sensor crop, you’re not digitally enlarging. You’re simply keeping the information you want, which usually comes from the sharpest area. Image: Camera M.

The iPhone camera uses a technique where it crops the sharpest areas (in the center) of the sensor to shoot at 48 MP. This technique involves using the groups of pixels that capture the most detail. This way, we’re not digitally enlarging the area, but simply cropping part of the sensor. This allows the iPhone to shoot at various focal lengths, such as 24, 28, 35 and 48mm, all from the main sensor.

However, Apple’s explanation of this process is not entirely clear, and it’s unclear whether the 28mm and 35mm shots are direct crops from the sensor. In the case of the 35mm, it seems to be the case that a shot at this focal length occupies the central area of the sensor, and therefore follows the same process as the 48mm (2x).

With the 1.2x and 0.2x jumps from the full sensor size, it’s not as clear. It’s likely that Apple is cropping the image already taken at 48 MP and then rescaling it to 24 MP.

In summary, the iPhone camera has a new 5x telephoto lens stabilized from the sensor, a better lens coating to avoid reflections, and the ability to shoot at different focal ranges thanks to sensor cropping. This represents a historical change in the way images are processed.

24 MP

In order to better understand this camera, it’s important to know how shooting works on an iPhone. By default, photographs are taken at 24 MP. This is the first phone that can natively shoot in this way. The great news is that this has been achieved with zero shutter lag, so the shutter speed will not be affected when taking pictures. The speed is the same as in previous generations, which shot at 12 MP.

Photos now take up more space, but since HEIF is the default format, a 24 MP photo takes up the same (or even less) than a 12 MP JPEG photo from one of its rivals.

It’s worth noting that photos now take up more space, more than twice as much space. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem, though, as the default format is still HEIF rather than JPEG. If, for some reason, you prefer to shoot in JPEG, it’s still possible to do so.

HEIF 12/24 MP

JPEG 12/24 MP



2 MB / 3 MB

3 MB / 4,8 MB

25 MB / 75 MB

But why 24 MP? We wouldn’t be wrong to think this might be because it captures images in more detail. But things are not that simple. Jon McCormack, VP Software at Apple, talked to PetaPixel about this.

“So what you end up with in the 24, it’s a bit of a ‘Goldilocks moment’ of you get all the extra dynamic range that comes from the 12 and the detail transfer that comes in from the 48.”

The 24 MP camera is the sweet spot for Apple in terms of detail and dynamic range. The phone combines 12 MP photos in medium and low light with 12 MP photos in bright light when set to 24 (auto) mode. Deep Fusion then generates a richer HDR without losing detail from the 48 MP sensor. Processing a 24 MP photo is also easier than processing a 48 MP photo.

The explanation doesn’t go into detail on how many pictures the phone takes, how they’re combined, and how the Smart HDR algorithms have changed. This information is essential to understand the decisions behind the phone’s features. However, it’s clear that Apple has prioritized dynamic range in this generation, reducing the burns that have been present in previous models (though not eliminating them entirely).

Camera App

Iphone 15 Pro Max

The iPhone Camera app has two different areas: the Camera app itself and the camera settings in the Settings app (Apple things). I find the former to be satisfactory, but the latter, not so much.

In iOS 17, the Camera app is almost the same as it was before. However, there’s now an indicator in the upper right corner that says ‘HEIF Max’. This will activate the high-resolution mode at 48 MP. If we want to activate ProRAW in different resolutions, we need to press and hold the HEIF Max button.

In my opinion, it would make more sense to have a separate button for HEIF/HEIF Max and another for RAW/RAW Max, instead of requiring the user to hold down a button that seems unrelated to RAW. I also realize this is a minor issue.

The Camera app also now allows Log video recording in Apple ProRes format up to 4K at 30 fps. However, recording at higher frame rates requires an external hard drive connected to the USB-C port. This is because Log video recording in ProRes at 4K @ 60 fps takes up a significant amount of storage space - 6 GB per minute, to be exact.

Iphone 15 Pro Max Look at that the sky. The preview is not able to process the HDR.

One interesting feature of this camera is its Preview function. Only Apple and Google are capable of showing a preview that includes HDR effects before taking the picture. Other camera apps tend to display overexposed highlights, leaving users unsure if any correction will be applied later.

Apple appears to have put significant effort into HDR capabilities in this latest generation, but the app preview may not always show the final result with 100% accuracy. This could be due to the complexity of processing 24 MP images with extensive HDR information. However, the A17 Pro should be powerful enough to handle this processing, even in complex scenarios.

It’s worth noting that the Preview issue only occurs in instances where HDR effects are pushed to their maximum. For most photographs, the Preview will be a faithful representation of the final image, including highlights.

Main Lens Photography

Iphone 15 Pro Max iPhone 15 Pro Max | iPhone 14 Pro. 1x.
Iphone 15 Pro Max Cropping to 200%, we can see how the image at 12 MP starts to pixelate. Differences in color and highlights are also noticeable.

Let’s get straight to the point - how does photos taken by the iPhone 15 Pro Max look like and what are the differences compared to the previous generation? There are some noticeable improvements. The first one is the fifth-generation Smart HDR feature, which finally makes the camera reliable when capturing shots with highlights that are prone to burn-in. In the previous generations, burn-in was practically guaranteed.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max has a much better dynamic range for highlights. However, it still tends to blow out shadows more than it should, and the improvement is not always noticeable. In fact, in some photos, it can even overexpose shadows when compared to the iPhone 14 Pro.

Iphone 15 Pro Max Bright areas completely burned out on the iPhone 14 Pro.

It’s not just a matter of Smart HDR: the iPhone 15 Pro Max has better metering than previous models when it comes to exposing scenes. This means that you can get a better balance between high and low lights without having to manually adjust the exposure.

While the iPhone 14 Pro camera has improved with iOS 17, the processing of the iPhone 15 Pro is even better. It offers higher-resolution photos with greater dynamic range, even at 24 MP.

Iphone 15 Pro Max iPhone 15 Pro Max | iPhone 14 Pro.

This second scene is the perfect example of the importance of enlarging and analyzing the scenes to the millimeter. At first glance, two images may look similar, but zooming in can reveal important differences.

Iphone 15 Pro Max iPhone 15 Pro Max | iPhone 14 Pro.

Again, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has better highlight preservation, resulting in warmer tones during sunset photography. This was not the case with the iPhone 14 Pro, as it lost the sunset’s warm hues. The iPhone 14 Pro also had some artifacts present at the edges of the building, which are absent in the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Iphone 15 Pro Max iPhone 15 Pro Max | iPhone 14 Pro.

Furthermore, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has better sharpness, as seen in the texture of the helicopter rivets, which are diluted in the iPhone 14 Pro. Additionally, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has less artificial sharpening at the edges of the numbers.

This improvement is due to better overall image processing, and when shooting at 24 MP (auto), the images are look more natural than in the previous generation, with less distortion and washout. Although the iPhone 15 Pro Max still has some room for improvement, the camera has made a remarkable leap compared to its predecessor. It remains to be seen how it stacks up against other high-end rivals in automatic mode.

Iphone 15 Pro Max 1x | 2x.
Iphone 15 Pro Max Very high detail in hair and fine elements. Virtually perfect color rendition.

The iPhone has an exceptional skin rendition technology. It accurately represents both light (some phones turn them into yellow) and dark (some phones turn them into lighter tones) skin tones and retains an impressive level of detail.

Iphone 15 Pro Max iPhone 15 Pro Max | iPhone 14 Pro. Improved highlights, highlights and color.

The latest generation has improved both lens flaring and lens glare. Glare is the scattering of light, which can make it hard to see an image. That is, the diffuse light that completely soaks the image and detracts from its visibility.

Flares are tiny specks and reflections that have been a problem with iPhones for a long time. Though they haven’t disappeared completely, the improved lens coating is noticeable. This is especially evident in night photography in artificial light and in direct sunlight during the day.

Iphone 15 Pro Max Auto x1.

In terms of low light or night photography, the results are similar to those taken during the day. The camera is still very bright, so the Night mode is not usually necessary unless lighting conditions are extremely poor. If enabled, the shooting will be done at 12 MP. The Photonic Engine implementation provides additional sharpness and brightness, although the improvement is not significant.

What I noticed the most has to do, again, with the processing. The new HDR can retain highlights in artificial light, which is essential when shooting artificial light at night. As the examples show, there is no burn, and the light balance is outstanding.

Iphone 15 Pro Max Night mode disabled | Night mode enabled.

The Night mode is still a tool that can be used to bring the maximum luminosity by merging photographs and using long exposure. It’s a useful resource when lighting conditions prevent information from being captured in a natural way, although the results (as it happens with all Night modes) are far from looking like the real scene.

24 MP, 48 MP and ProRAW

We’ve already discussed how 24 MP photography is a sweet spot between the details in the 48 MP shots and the dynamic range in the 12 MP shooting. Here, we’ll compare all shooting options. There’s a clear winner.

Iphone 15 Pro Max 24 vs 48 MP. Lights completely burned out when using 48 MP.
Iphone 15 Pro Max Slight additional detail in 48 MP.

Shooting at 48 MP has several drawbacks. The first is that photos take longer to shoot, about the same as shooting in ProRAW. The second issue has to do with dynamic range: 48 MP photos have a serious problem with highlights, which are almost burned out by default. In this particular example, even the color is worse than in the photo taken at 24 MP.

In this example, we’re comparing the same photograph at 24 MP, 48 MP, and ProRAW. The differences are very interesting.

Iphone 15 Pro Max 24 MP (auto) vs 48 MP (HEIF Max) vs 48 MP PNG shot from Photoshop’s Camera Raw (ProRaw Max).
Iphone 15 Pro Max 48 MP ProRaw vs 24 MP HEIF. More natural in ProRAW.

It’s important to understand what the phone is doing when shooting in RAW to understand its physical limits. Compared to automatic shooting at 24 MP, we appreciate a distinctly greater naturalness throughout the scene in ProRAW shooting, easy to appreciate in the lip area.

Iphone 15 Pro Max 48 MP ProRaw vs 48 MP HEIF. More natural in RAW, although not by that much.

In the case of 48 MP HEIF vs 48 MP ProRAW, there is a difference, although it’s not as significant. You’ll get more detail in the 48 MP shoots over the 24 MP photos, at the cost of losing some highlights that are often impossible to recover. The reward is not worth it.

The bottom line of this very complex camera is clear: 24 MP is not perfect, but it’s a great balance for most scenes. So it’s best to leave the camera on automatic.

The bottom line? Apple got it right with the 24 MP. They offer an excellent dynamic range point, in terms sharpness they are very close to the 48 MP, and we have no compromises beyond the 3/4 MB of space that the photographs now take.

Despite all the successes when using the automatic mode (which you’ll be using to take 90% of your pictures), we are somewhat disappointed with the results at 48 MP. While we still need to compare it with direct rivals, this camera is far from being the sharpest when shooting in high-resolution mode.

Ultra-wide and zoom photography

Iphone 15 Pro Max Auto 0.5x.

I will start by quickly mentioning the ultra-wide camera, which is similar to the previous generation. However, the improvements in processing also apply to this sensor, resulting in slightly better images than the 14 Pro. Nevertheless, it’s still not enough to replace a camera with more power in this type of photography.

Iphone 15 Pro Max Zoom ranges from ultra-wide to 5x (13mm, 26mm, 28mm, 35mm, 48mm and 120mm).

On the zoom side of things, there are five focal lengths available: 26mm, 28mm, 35mm, 48mm, and 120mm. When shooting at 28mm (1.2x) and 35mm (1.5x) you will be getting a cropped image, as it’s limited to 24 MP. However, you won’t notice any loss of quality, and it’s great to have four focal lengths with the same sensor.

Iphone 15 Pro Max 5x. Natural bokeh.
Iphone 15 Pro Max The 5x will probably be the camera you'll use the most and have the most fun with on this phone.

There’s only one way to describe the 120mm telephoto lens: wow. It’s the one that I used most during this review. The shots with this lens yield excellent results, thanks to Apple’s impressive work with this sensor. The compression, natural bokeh, and processing are all top-notch. Practically everything looks good with this sensor.

The digital zoom is also remarkable, going up to 25x, and decent even at this magnification. If we go down to 10x, we see that the images are also still relatively well processed. However, the image quality starts to degrade beyond 5x. It’s worth mentioning that a small Samsung-style box appears from 8x onwards to help us frame.

Iphone 15 Pro Max For no apparent reason (very good light), the 5x struggles in this image.

Like any mobile camera, forcing the HDR can create some over-processing, and there’s more noise than expected at low ISO ranges. It would be great if Apple could start using large high-resolution sensors for their secondary cameras in the future (which is both expensive and complex to implement), although this is a good first step.

The only drawback of the telephoto lens is that it doesn’t activate sometimes when the subject is too close or light conditions are not ideal, and instead, it switches to 5x digital zoom.

Portrait Mode Photography

24 MP camera aside, the iPhone 15 Pro’s Portrait mode is the biggest improvement in this generation. It can be safely said that it’s the best Portrait mode implementation seen in a smartphone. The phone can automatically detect when we want to capture a photo in portrait mode, not only for people or animals but also for other elements in the picture.

We can tap on any element in the picture, and the iPhone will understand that we want to blur the background and create a portrait effect. In the preview, you’ll see the ‘f’ icon which indicates that the photo can be edited later in the gallery.

Iphone 15 Pro Max Auto x5 photography. Different focus points were modified in the gallery.

For instance, in this picture, the tree is located at a certain distance from the building behind it. It might be a bit difficult to notice this given the image compression generated by the 120mm. Nevertheless, we pointed at the building to tell the iPhone that we wanted to blur the trees.

As you can see, the depth math generated is practically perfect: it allows you to set the building as the main element, but also the tree. This type of mapping is technically complex. In the high-end range, it’s usually common to be able to control people and animals in the portrait mode, but to distinguish depth in objects (even more so in shots like this), is not that easy.

Iphone 15 Pro Max

When it comes to taking photos of people, the iPhone makes it very easy. The camera automatically generates a map without requiring the user to tap on the screen to focus. This changes the way we take photos with the phone. We no longer need to open Portrait mode and wait for it to activate. We can simply open the camera, focus, check that the ‘f’ is active and take the picture. In editing, we can adjust the photo to our liking.

The iPhone is also very good at identifying and capturing fine details of the scene, such as the hair of a person in a portrait. In my opinion, the iPhone’s Portrait mode is the best due to its consistency, natural color, and bokeh effect.

Interestingly, the iPhone’s settings state that Portrait mode always shoots at 12 MP, but this is not entirely accurate. The only portraits that are shot at 12 MP are those taken with the 2x lens (as it crops the picture) or with the 5x lens (as it has a 12 MP sensor). All other portraits are taken at 24 MP, except when shooting in Night mode.

However, the iPhone can capture so much light that Night mode is not always necessary. Even in scenes with poor lighting, the telephoto lens can be used to take a good photo.


Iphone 15 Pro Max Selfie at sunset. A little low on shadows, but good job with bright lights.

Regarding the selfie camera, it’s better than the iPhone 14 Pro. I’ve noticed significant improvements in areas such as HDR, colorimetry, and reflections. There was less glare in some scenes, which suggests an improvement in reflection management. However, in some situations, burn-in can still occur, although it’s not as severe as before.


In terms of video, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has two exciting new features. Firstly, users can now switch cameras and record at 4K @ 60 fps. Secondly, the ability to record in logarithmic format is one of the most significant innovations in Apple’s history.

Log recording produces a flat recording profile that makes it simpler to bring more out of the image and enhance color during post-editing. I compared the differences between recording in 4K at 24 fps (my preferred format for cinematic recording), HDR Dolby Vision format, without Dolby Vision, and Log. The results were akin to my first experience using RAW on the iPhone.

Iphone 15 Pro Max (4K 24) Dolby Vision HDR | Apple ProRes HDR LOG converted to rec.709 | Standard 4K.

Dolby Vision enhances the dynamic range but if you’re proficient in editing, you can extract additional information from the raw files. However, what we noticed in Log recording is remarkable. It removes the excess of artificial sharpness in videos and allows for an incredible final result in just a few seconds. You only need to apply a conversion profile to rec.709, adjust it to your preference, and you’re done.

With the introduction of high-quality Log, Dolby Vision HDR, 2.8K Action mode on all lenses (especially useful in 5x), and overall image improvement, similar to last year, the iPhone remains the best recording phone, by far.

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Xataka’s Take

Iphone 15 Pro Max

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is a significant evolution, despite its technical specs. The transition to USB-C is one of the most important changes in the history of the iPhone, even though it came late. The titanium finish, which has been subject to some controversy regarding its durability, provides the best aesthetic and ergonomic finish on an iPhone in recent years. This is a surprise and a welcome one that we will only appreciate when we have the device in our hands.

The camera improvements are noteworthy. Smart HDR has finally received the expected improvements, and the 24 MP shooting mode is one of the best we’ve seen in automatic mode. Although the 48 MP mode is not as convincing, it’s still a useful feature. The 5x telephoto lens offers more than decent optical and digital performance, placing the iPhone on par with its competitors in terms of zoom.

Furthermore, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has the most support, the best Log profile, the most powerful CPU on the market, and one of the highest battery lives in the high-end mobile market. Choosing the iPhone 15 Pro Max is like having a life insurance policy for the flagship range.


Diseño 9,25
Pantalla 9,5
Rendimiento 9,5
Cámara 9,75
Software 9,5
Autonomía 9


  • The new 24 MP camera is a small leap forward.
  • Battery life is still incredible.
  • iOS 17 has taken a leap forward and it feels a bit more mature.


  • No on-screen improvements of any kind.
  • The heat issue is as random as it is worrying.
  • Fast charging still lags behind its direct rivals.

The device has been loaned for testing by Apple.

Related | I’ve Tested All the iPhone 15 Models: This is the One to Buy

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