It’s that time of year again—we saw a whole slew of iPhone 15 announcements made. We got two new iPhone 15 Pro models, and two regular iPhones 15 out in the market now. I was given the iPhone 15 Plus to review. The new “standard” iPhone comes in a multitude of colours, and the phone is pretty competent as a whole.
Coming in as a long-time Android user, it will be an interesting experience for me. My last iPhone was the iPhone 4, so there will be some discrepancy in features between my iPhone and the latest model from 2023. My current phone is the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, so it would be interesting to see how the standard iPhone 15 compares to the competitor’s flagship.
Looks are important, right?
The iPhone 15 Plus shares the same design as the iPhone 14 Plus, which shares similarities with the previous generation. There is a slight change to the design however – the sharp edge around the screen and the back is now curved slightly to make it more comfortable in the hands.
The Plus has a big 6.7-inch AMOLED screen—still with a piffling 60Hz refresh rate—to ensure all the content will be displayed as big as possible on the screen. The 2796 x 1290-pixel resolution delivers 460 ppi to your eyes, and you will be hard-pressed to see the pixels even from up close.
The screen has a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, a typical 1,000 nits max brightness that can go up to 1,600 with HDR, and a boosted mode up to 2,000 nits peak when used outdoors.
On the back, Apple has infused colour into the glass so that the whole back has a consistent colour throughout. We got the pink version, and it is not a hot pink as I feared. It is more of a pastel pink, so it should easily fit with your OOTD.
Apple said that the back glass is now easier to replace when needed, and based on testing by famous YouTuber JerryRigEverything, the back glass is sturdier than the iPhone 15 Pro Max—so that is something to celebrate.
Another notable design that was retained is the mute slider which, according to rumours, may be the last time we will see it on an iPhone. According to rumours, the iPhone 16 is set to see the introduction of the Action Button in the vanilla iPhone 16-line next year. So, for physical button fans, enjoy it while it lasts.
The Dynamic Island is now officially on the ‘standard’ iPhone with the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus. As an Android user, it doesn’t really offer any additional benefits, but when it works, it works nicely. But it is not a big deal, at least for me.
USB-C is finally on an iPhone
The main feature that everyone and their editors are talking about this year is the inclusion of USB-C in iPhones. Praise be! Apple is finally following the trend instead of starting them. Of course, this inclusion is mainly due to the EU forcing everyone to change to USB-C for data/charging connection (though Apple and its super fans will be loath to admit that was the reason).
That USB-C port is a letdown though. While the iPhone 15 Pro gets a full-fat USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, the standard iPhone 15s, the Plus included, only gets USB 2 speeds. That is 480Mbps of transfer speed. Transferring big files will take some time – thankfully there is AirDrop for Apple users.
The main reason this phone only gets the slow USB is that the controller for high-speed USB is not included in the SoC of the phone. It is only available with the A17 Pro chips in the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max.
Flagship performance for everyone
Speaking of performance, the A16 Bionic is the same processor that Apple used in their iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max from last year, so you know you are getting some performance out of the park with the new iPhone 15 Plus.
We ran some Geekbench tests to see how fast the phone is, and suffice to say, it even beat last year’s iPhone 14 Pro Max. Apple made some magic to push up the performance comparable to flagship levels – and it shows.
While playing Genshin Impact, the phone never stuttered even with the graphic performance turned up to High all the way. Genshin Impact can draw the world some distance away, and the phone handles it like a champ. Of course, you should have something to help to cool down the phone as having everything set to high, and running at 60fps will overheat the phone.
Suffice it to say, it should be able to do just about anything you throw at it. You can easily edit 4K footage on the phone, or even on an external drive thanks to the USB-C port. Just be ready for slow access speeds. Speaking of performance, we didn’t see any decrease after applying the patch that was designed to fix the overheating problem.
Just two cameras on a RM4,899 phone!
At the back of the camera sits two camera modules – a 48MP main sensor with a f/1.6 aperture lens and a 12MP ultra-wide sensor with a f/2.4 aperture lens. It is refreshing that Apple is sticking with only two lenses for their imaging on the iPhone 15 Plus, unlike some Android manufacturers sticking on a 2MP macro lens and calling their phone a triple-camera setup. One note is that this sensor is not a direct copy of last year’s iPhone 14 Pro sensor – it has smaller pixels (2.4μm vs 2.0μm)
Unfortunately, even Apple can’t get away with this particular gimmick. The 48MP sensor can be cropped to achieve a 2x digital zoom. Apple calls this ‘2x Telephoto’. What Apple is doing is binning the 48MP sensor i.e. combining four pixels to make one super pixel to catch more light. The image is then cropped for a 2x zoom effect. While it is not as good as a sensor with a physical 2x optical lens, it is good enough for most users out there.
Selfie camera (Portrait mode)Selfie camera0.6x lens1x lens2x crop
What I can say is that the images from the camera is more than adequate for social media use. The images from the main camera should pass muster to be printed to larger sizes – like poster size at the very least. The quality of the images from the main sensor is that good.
0.6x lens100% crop1x lens100% crop
Of course, because this is an iPhone, the video capabilities are above what Android phones can achieve these days. Yes, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is a flagship, but even it pales in comparison to how uncannily the iPhone can capture the right exposure for videos. The iPhone 15 Plus, while a standard model, more than meets the requirements for capturing great-looking videos right out of the box.
You can also expect more than decent low-light images from both cameras, although the wide angle will be a bit more grainy because of the 12MP sensor, as you can see in the comparison shots above. Otherwise, expect the main camera to deliver good camera thanks to the 48MP sensor. You will not see too much of a difference in quality between the 24MP and 48MP modes. Just as a reminder, the 48MP mode will eat more into your storage as the file size will be bigger.
Battery life is pretty decent
Living with the iPhone 15 was pretty nice as on a single charge I can easily last for the full day, and then some. Thanks to battery optimization, using the phone as a heavy social media user is no problem. At the end of the day, I still have about 20% of the battery left at 10 p.m., and that 20% can last until the next day at 8 p.m., losing only about 6% before I plug the phone into the charger.
Speaking of charging, I plugged the phone into a 100W charger (remember, there is no charger included in the box) and it took me about 35 minutes to get from 0-50%. Pretty decent right there.
Other small niggles
The quirks of iOS are baffling, as someone who has used Android for the past five years. While useful, I find fingerprint biometrics is far superior to Face ID biometrics. I am just too used to either tapping on the screen or a power button to unlock my phone and authenticate my secure apps.
There is also the problem of file access. When will iOS give users full access to files on their phones? I can’t even transfer my screenshots out of the phone without jumping through hoops—especially to anything other than an Apple device.
Should you buy this?
At a starting price of RM 4,899 for the 128GB model, it is on the higher side when one compares it to other “standard” models by other companies – Samsung’s S23+ is only RM 4,899 while the OnePlus 11 is RM 3,599. The latter two can be bought for cheaper too if you can catch one of the many deals on ecommerce websites.
I can dare say though that if you are an Android user looking to switch, an iPhone user looking to upgrade from an older model, or even just contemplating a replacement for your three-year-old phone, the iPhone 15 Plus is a worthy contender for consideration. Can recommend.