It’s that month when every tech website, magazine and YouTube page gets more eyeballs than Rajnikant’s latest banger. Just like the annual festivities of the Indian culture, Apple believers flock in numbers to reconcile with their bank balance, peek at the possibility of an upgrade or simply indulge. We’re here to cull the herd with a factual evaluation of Apple’s latest blowers.
Apple iPhone 15 review
Pineapple under the C
128GB, ₹89,900 for 256GB & ₹1,09,900 for 512GB
It sits in your palm nicer this time. Apple’s boxy design has caused a pinky-cutting ruckus in my life and I am all for the rounded-edge smartphones of yore. The Apple iPhone 15 won’t seduce your palms but it does a better job than the 14. The display, frame and back glass do not have Rubik's cube-like sharp edges. There’s an itsy-bitsy curve around the edges which makes it tolerable to hold. The matte finish frame and matte finish back glass feel a lot better than the previous iPhone as well. A matte finish on the frame brings slip resistance and confidence to your grip. It’s quite similar to the Apple iPhone 11 if you remember. However, this is much, much more committed to the matte finish. While you don’t get the lightweight benefits of the Titanium finish like the Pro versions, the Apple iPhone 15 is less slippery than before. The Stuff HQ thinks the matte finish glass at the back on the base model feels better than the Pros. The newer colours are not as loud as before. It’s a more muted approach this time. We have the pink version for review and it’s a good shade of pink.
Do you want a 120Hz display or the Dynamic Island? If your answer is ‘both’ then go read our Apple iPhone 15 Pro review but if you care little for how fast you can scroll past Elon Musk’s tweets then the 15 is pretty much like last year’s Pro model minus the 120Hz refresh rate. Dynamic Island is here and for those who lust for an envious gaze from others, the Dynamic Island will be your admittance to Apple’s front-row seats. As someone who’s been stuck with the base iPhone 14 model for a year, my daily life hasn’t been affected in advantageous ways besides the lovely animations. However, I do have access to a lot more information just by looking at the screen and how Apple’s own apps display information around the Dynamic Island. It’s… wonderful and I quite like it. My Uber ETA, Swiggy deliveries and Apple Music are neatly organised around Apple’s Dynamic Island when I use these apps. It’s a brilliant use of space, information and aesthetics.
As a techie and gamer who looks for 120Hz in TVs and monitors where it actually matters the most, I think the Dynamic Island on the base iPhone is a better deal as opposed to having a 120Hz refresh rate and no Dynamic Island (if that was the case). I would love to have both but it’s Apple’s world so we’ll move on to more pressing matters of this review.
Everything else about the display is pretty much the same as the Apple iPhone 14. It’s a 6.1-inch display with the same contrast, resolution and colour gamut. Although, the Apple iPhone 15 has a brighter display now. It’s as bright as the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max at 1,000 nits max brightness, 1,600 nits peak brightness for HDR content and 2,000 nits peak brightness when you’re sitting under harsh sunlight. We tested it against the Pixel 7 and the iPhone 15 display is astonishingly brighter and more importantly, more legible than the Google Pixel 7 display.
Watching Netflix, YouTube or Amazon Prime is going to be fun as long as you enjoy watching content on a 6.1-inch display. The stereo speakers are great as well. The 15 doesn’t sound as expansive as the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra but it does a good job of stereo separation and has a detailed midrange.
The 48MP main camera seems like it’s snatched from the Apple iPhone 14 Pro models of last year and plonked here but that’s not entirely true. The Apple iPhone 15 might have a better main camera because it has a wider ƒ/1.6 aperture than the ƒ/1.78 aperture of the Apple iPhone 14 Pro model. This means you’re likely to get wonderful low-light shots here. You also have the option to get 24MP and 48MP high-resolution shots from the main camera. Even though you still get dual rear cameras, the 48MP main cameras will let you do 2x optical zoom without making a porridge of the textures in your shots. It’s essentially sensor cropping into the 48MP to get a 12MP 2x shot. There are some interesting changes to Portrait mode as well. You can shift the focus from a subject to the background or to another subject in the frame after taking a Portrait shot. It’s available in the edit options in the Photos app. Apple will also let you apply the portrait effect to non-portrait shots in the Photos app.
Apple’s saturation balance, colour and HDR have improved beyond the competition. It’s consistent and getting increasingly dependable. As soon as you point the camera at anything, you know what the output is going to be and it’s fantastic within the limits of its hardware. Low-light portraits have also been given some spit polish. That wider aperture for lowlight portraits is as good as older Pro models with LiDAR sensors if not better. It does subject detection very intelligently and even manages to capture the contrast without washing out or oversaturating anything. At 2x telephoto in low light, the iPhone tends to have a slightly noisier shot but in exchange for more detail and better colour compared to an Android camera smartphone with a 3x or 2x telephoto lens (and no sensor cropping).
Between the main camera and the 12MP ultrawide camera, there’s barely any distinction in colour, sharpness and exposure qualities. Apple has added software smarts to make the ultrawide better this time but if you’re sitting to nitpick then this is pretty much the same as last time with minor adjustments to the sharpness and tones.
Surprisingly, Apple’s image processing is a bit slow compared to the previous generations. We reckon it’s all the computation doodahs Apple’s doing to the photos. Video still remains untouched by the competition and Apple’s video chops are in a league of its own. If you use iPhones for recording Reels or something for work, you can now plug in a USB Type-C microphone and get clearer audio.
If you’re more like a vlogger and are constantly moving with the camera, the Action mode on the iPhone 15 is as good as a GoPro or a DJI. We don’t recommend sticking on to your forehead and paragliding off a cliff, but if you do, the iPhone 15 will capture a smoother shot than you’d expect.
Starting last year, Apple’s new strategy has been to put a year-old iPhone Pro processor in the base iPhone as a consolation. This makes each year’s base iPhone feel better than before but with FOMO. The Apple A16 Bionic chip inside the 15 was previously sitting inside the Apple iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max last year. You can read more about the processor here in our iPhone 14 Pro Max review. Does this mean the iPhone 15 is any less than its Android competitors? Not at all. The Apple Bionic chips are vastly superior to anything else in the market in terms of processing. Our one-year-old iPhone 14 with a two-year-old Apple A15 Bionic processor can give the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy inside the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra a run for its money. Things will only get faster and better on the A16 Bionic.
USB Type-C and Battery
Ah, here’s an upgrade which everyone but Apple wanted. After being arm-twisted by the EU to have USB Type-C as standard in smartphones to sell in the region, Apple has finally delivered but with caveats. The USB Type-C used on the Apple iPhone 15 is as fast as the Apple iPhone 14’s Lightning Port. The charging speed and data transfer speeds are the same as before. However, with the inclusion of a standard port, there are a great many things you can do. Got an OTG pen drive? It will connect to the iPhone 15 directly and let you access it from the Files app. External microphone? That’s easy. Got a headset dongle? It works. Got a USB Type-C DAC? WORKS! You can also connect the iPhone 15 to Android smartphones and suck away their charging if you’re on a lower charge status than the Android smartphone. If the Android has a lower charge, the iPhone 15 will charge it.
We charged the Apple iPhone 15 from 1% at 12:47 PM to 80% by 1:44 PM. After which it started slow charging to manage the heat. You will see a snail's speed in charging from 80% to 100%. The iPhone 15 also heats up a fair bit while charging with a cable so it’s best to avoid touching the smartphone while it’s charging with a 20W or more adapter. We consistently got 6 to 7 hours of screen on-time with a full battery on the Apple iPhone 15. If you opt for the Plus model, expect a few hours more.
We can’t help but feel that the Apple iPhone 15 is deliberately soft-locked to make the Apple iPhone Pros look better. There is a ton of stuff here that will make the iPhone 13 and earlier users make the switch but more importantly, the USB Type-C will convince everyone to jump on the 15. However, the 48MP camera still doesn’t have ProRes RAW and Macro mode, two of which should’ve been here since it’s the same processor as the Pro models of last year and the camera hardware to match.
With each passing year, the non-Pro iPhones get easier to recommend for anyone who simply wants a smartphone that will never falter and for those folks the Apple iPhone base models have a history of giving what you want and nothing more. Apple iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are also assembled in India now so there’s more reason for everyone to hop on board and encourage local make. However, as much as we want Macro shots, ProRes RAW and lowlight Portraits (using LiDAR), the Apple iPhone 15 still has a lot to offer.
The cameras are a serious upgrade, the processor is better and the USB Type-C port is by far the most exciting thing about an iPhone in ages!
Upgrade or indulge, the base 15 is probably the best value in Apple’s world
|Display:||6.1inch Super Retina XDR display, OLED, 2556x1179-pixel resolution at 460 ppi|
|Processor:||A16 Bionic chip|
|Camera:||48MP Main (super-high-resolution photos at 24MP and 48MP), 12MP Ultra Wide 120° field of view, 12MP 2x Telephoto (enabled by quad-pixel sensor)|
|Port:||USB-C with support for Charging, DisplayPort, USB 2 (up to 480 Mbps)|