Once again, the iPhone Pros come in two sizes, only this year it’s one of those instances when it’s seemingly a bit more that sets them apart than just the matters of dimensions and capacities. We’re talking about the different telephoto cameras – the iPhone 15 Pro Max gets the new tetraprism 5x zoom unit, while the 15 Pro sticks to the proven 3x module from before.
But while that does appear to be a principal difference, the two models remain more or less differentiated by size and the byproducts of it. So we’ll try to look at the numbers and the test results in hopes of helping you decide whether the 15 Pro Max is best suited for you or the regular Pro will do.
For starters, you can compare the complete specs sheets here or directly continue with our editor’s assessment below.
Indeed, the main difference is in the dimensions and weight of the two. Apple has kept the display sizes the same this year, and even though the bezels have been trimmed ever so slightly, the 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max maintain the same overall sizes as last year.
More importantly, however, changes in the materials (from stainless steel to aluminum and titanium) have resulted in each of the two handsets losing 19g of weight. It has made the two Pros much more easier tio handle. The behemoth of a smartphone that is the 15 Pro Max remains quite hefty at 221g, but the 15 Pro, at 187g, is now not just compact but also quite lightweight.
The new titanium frames are arguably not as premium feeling as those on the old models, but their rounded edges do make for a more pleasant tactile experience, to which the newly-introduced faint curvature of the display glass (Ceramic Shield Apple calls it) also contributes.
We’d say that the new subtle design touches, alongside the weight loss, make the Pro Max less unwieldy and the Pro a truly pocketable flagship.
The two models are available in the same colorways, so there’s not much to choose here. Similarly, both come with dust and water resistance to Apple’s higher-than-IP68 standard (30 minutes down to 6m underwater, as opposed to the required 1.5m).
One of the main differentiators between the Pro and Pro Max is display size, quite obviously. The Pro Max’s 6.7-inch panel gives it roughly 20% more screen estate than what the Pro’s 6.1-inch unit does. So if you are routinely using your phone for stuff that benefits from a big screen (like watching videos, for example, or maybe gaming), the Max is the logical answer. It’s not like the small one will have you feeling cramped – Apple does scaling really well, but in areas where more is simply more, the Max wins.
Other than sheer size (and resolution), there’s nothing really splitting the two. Both offer essentially the same pixel density (hence the size-resolution relationship), and both are spectacularly bright, at just under 1,800nits in our testing.
As we’ve come to expect from Apple, both displays are color-calibrated and are impressively accurate. HDR10+ and Dolby Vision streaming are supported as well.
Both iPhones offer supposedly impressive adaptive refresh rates, but since Apple is not transparent in its implementation, we are left to rely only on the advertised numbers. For what it’s worth, the smoothness in the user experience is undeniable – but again, it’s the same on both models.
Circling back to the ‘more is more’ narrative, the 15 Pro Max’s battery capacity of 4,441mAh does promise it an edge in endurance over the 15 Pro’s 3,274mAh cell – it’s a 36-ish percent advantage that overcompensates for that 20% larger screen.
Indeed, the Pro Max scores an easy win here, with significantly higher numbers in all disciplines. Now, bear in mind that just because the larger phone may be capable of lasting more, that doesn’t mean the small one will leave you stranded in the middle of the day. Still, the Max would make more sense if longevity on a single charge is a top priority.
The flip side of that coin is that the 15 Pro Max isn’t too fast to charge. In our testing with an Apple 20W adapter, we got 46% in 30 minutes on the large phone and 57% on the small one, with a full charge taking 16 more minutes on the Pro Max than the already sluggish 93 minutes on the Pro.
It’s worth pointing out that charging curves are now dictated by the software more so than by hardware limitations, so they could be subject to change with an iOS update. Additionally, Apple is among those manufacturers that don’t particularly favor fast charging, and that’s one of our long-standing complaints with iPhones.
Both phones support wireless charging, whether it’s using Apple’s own MagSafe puck (at up to 15W) or a generic Qi-compliant pad (up to 7.5W).
Another manifestation of the ‘more is more’ principle, if not quite as evident, can be seen in the speaker department. Here, the 15 Pro Max scores a ‘Very Good’ rating for loudness in our test, next to a merely ‘Good’ 15 Pro.
The Max does have a bit more pronounced presence in the mids (which probably explains the loudness advantage, since ‘the midrange is where loudness mostly lives’), but in any case, both iPhones have wonderful hybrid stereo speakers, some of the best on the market.
You can compare how the two iPhones sound in controlled acoustic conditions with the samples below. Just make sure you have your headphones on and the volume is at max level.
Both the iPhone 15 Pro and the 15 Pro Max are powered by the same Apple A17 Pro chip. It’s an entirely custom design with a 6-core CPU and a 6-core GPU. One significant difference between the two is the fact that the 15 Pro’s base version comes with just 128GB of storage – the 15 Pro Max starts at a way more reasonable 256GB. Either size can be specced all the way up to 1TB, while the RAM is 8GB on all versions.
Unlike in some previous years, we saw no meaningful difference in performance between the two sizes, meaning you’ll get essentially the same performance. It’s industry-leading performance too. What’s not so great is the relatively heavy throttling, particularly in GPU-intense applications, but even then, we did not observe a significant difference between the two models.
iPhone 15 Pro
The one major principal difference between the two sizes of iPhone Pros this year is the telephoto camera – the 15 Pro Max gets the new tetraprism 5x module, while the 15 Pro keeps the 3x unit of the 14 Pro. Other than that, the two share the same hardware and feature the same new 24MP mode on the main camera as well as the intermediate 1.2x and 1.5x zoom levels (28mm and 35mm equivalent focal lengths.
So if we focus our attention on those telephotos first, we’ll notice that in good light, the Max’s native 5x output isn’t that much better than the non-Max’s digitally zoomed-in 5x – if at all.
Then again, at the 3x zoom level, the 15 Pro’s 3x telephoto camera results are substantially superior to the 15 Pro Max’s output, which stretches the main camera’s capabilities beyond what you can call a sharp image.
Daylight camera samples, 5x: iPhone 15 Pro • iPhone 15 Pro Max
Daylight camera samples, 3x: iPhone 15 Pro • iPhone 15 Pro Max
The main and ultrawide cameras are the same between the two models and produce the same images – those would be some great images, albeit with Apple’s default processing leaving colors a little dull and random detail not quite as natural-looking as we’d like. Either way, nothing to set the Pro and Pro Max apart, really.
iPhone 15 Pro daylight camera samples: 0.5x • 1x • 2x • 3x
iPhone 15 Pro Max daylight camera samples: 0.5x • 1x • 2x • 5x
Similarly, in low light, the two phones behave identically, and you’ll be getting the same shots with the main and ultrawide cameras. It’s here that the 3x telephoto of the Pro can’t quite match the Pro Max’s 5x camera at 5x in darker scenes, but it does great at 3x.
iPhone 15 Pro low-light camera samples: 0.5x • 1x • 2x • 3x
iPhone 15 Pro Max low-light camera samples: 0.5x • 1x • 2x • 5x
Here’s a glimpse of how the iPhone 15 Pro’s main camera compares in image quality to the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s in our Image compare tool.
And here’s how the iPhone 15 Pro’s main camera compares in video quality to the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s in our Video compare tool.
This is really one of the simpler dilemmas to crack – it’s fairly straightforward how to pick the right iPhone 15 Pro for you. And it’s not even so much about that 5x telephoto camera on the Max that you’d think would make an easy decider – we reckon the 3x on the 15 Pro does a good enough job at 5x that it renders that minor hardware difference immaterial.
So, we’re essentially back to the matters of size and the differences that stem from it. Obviously, if having an extra-large display is a top priority to you, the Max will satisfy that craving. It will also do better with your battery life anxiety, delivering longer battery life. You could also maybe try to add the slightly louder speakers to that list, but it’s not like the 15 Pro’s speakers aren’t great.
Conversely, the 15 Pro’s slightly quicker charging scores it some points against the 15 Pro Max, but both phones are slow enough to fill up that it doesn’t really make a world of difference. No, you’ll be wanting the iPhone 15 Pro for its compact size, which this year goes along with a reasonable weight for that size. And it doesn’t hurt that the small size is also cheaper ($200/€250).
- The more compact size.
- The lower price.
Get the Apple iPhone 15 Pro for:
- The larger display.
- The better battery life.
Get the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max for: