So maybe you’ve already decided you want the latest big iPhone, but which one to get? The considerably more expensive iPhone 15 Pro Max or the cheaper 15 Plus? Aside from the price difference, there’s a rather big gap between the two in terms of features, performance and overall hardware.
The iPhone 15 Plus costs €1,100/$899 (in Europe/USA), while the 15 Pro Max charges €1,449/$1,199. That’s a hefty price difference, which the 15 Pro Max needs to justify with additional features, better hardware and a nicer build.
The goal of this comparison is to try and quantify the actual difference between the two and let you decide whether the extra few hundred bucks are worth the more premium model.
Before we provide a more nuanced comparison, we suggest taking a quick look at the specs sheets.
Size-wise, there’s little difference between the Pro and the Plus. While the two feature the same display size, the Pro Max is ever so slightly shorter and narrower due to the trimmed bezels. Compared to its predecessor, the 15 Pro Max features thinner bezels all around.
However, the 15 Plus comes out thinner and lighter. Despite the Pro Max’ new chassis featuring titanium, which brings the weight down significantly, the 15 Plus feels somewhat more manageable in hand.
Aside from the more premium build, the 15 Pro Max sports the same features as its cheaper sibling – Corning-made glass with Ceramic Shield for the front, Corning-made matte glass on the back and IP68 certification against water and dust.
At the end of the day, the 15 Plus feels slightly easier to use, but the 15 Pro Max boasts a more premium build. It’s up to you to decide which one is more important.
Generally, you will get relatively the same viewing experience from both devices. The 15 Plus and 15 Pro Max feature the same displays, for the most part, with the only real difference being the refresh rate. While the 15 Pro Max boasts a variable and adaptable 120Hz refresh rate, the 15 Plus is stuck in 2019 with a 60Hz display. Also, for some reason, Apple doesn’t want you to have an Always-on functionality on the 15 Plus, so if you really like the Always-on display feature, the 15 Pro Max should be your choice.
We could argue all day whether 120Hz is that important and whether most people can see the difference, but once you go for a high-refresh-rate display, you probably wouldn’t want to go back. Animations and games running at 120fps are considerably smoother on the 15 Pro Max’ display.
On the other hand, if you don’t see that big of a difference in your day-to-day use, the 15 Plus’ OLED screen should do just fine. It has the new Dynamic Island cutout, it’s just a few nits shy of the 15 Pro Max max brightness (1,642 nits vs. 1,787 nits), the resolution is the same and HDR10 and Dolby Atmos-ready content is available on both. Moreover, you can expect superb color accuracy and sunlight legibility whichever you choose.
Well, we have a definitive winner in our battery life test, with the 15 Pro Max taking a promising lead in pretty much every aspect. While both handsets feature relatively the same battery, the 15 Pro Max’s new A17 Pro chip and more energy-efficient LTPO OLED screen seem to be making all the difference.
When it comes to battery life, the two phones trade blows depending on the use case, but combined, their battery life is about the same.
The results from our charging test this year are one of the world’s greatest mysteries. After multiple test runs with the same 20W Apple charger (and some other 30W+ non-Apple ones), the results remain consistent. The iPhone 15 Plus charges significantly faster than the 15 Pro Max at each checkpoint even though Apple advertises similar charge times.
The cheaper 15 Plus outpaces the more premium model at the 15-minute mark, the 30-minute mark and can complete a full cycle in just over 90 minutes, while the 15 Pro Max gets it done in 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Both devices also support wireless charging and wired reverse charging, likely enabled thanks to the new USB-C connectors.
Even though the 15 Plus and 15 Pro Max both offer excellent sound quality, there’s a noticeable difference between the two – loudness and quality. Naturally, the 15 Pro Max produces somewhat clearer-sounding music tracks with prominent vocals without bass getting in the way. In fact, the bass is just right and makes all tracks sound fuller and warmer. The 15 Plus, on the other hand, sounds duller compared to the Pro Мax, and the vocals aren’t as clean.
Objectively speaking, the 15 Pro Max is sensibly louder. You may even be able to tell the difference between the two using the widget below. We strongly suggest using headphones for this one and having the volume all the way to the max.
Performance is another differentiating factor between the 15 Plus and Pro Max. The Pro Max runs on the latest A17 Pro chipset based on the 3nm manufacturing process from TSMC, while the 16 Bionic inside the 15 Plus is Apple’s last-year SoC based on the 4nm node.
And in pure synthetic benchmarks, the 15 Pro Max outperforms the 15 Plus. The gap in the multi-core scenario is around 9%, while in a combined workload, the A17 Pro outpaces the 16 Bionic by 13%. In real-world scenarios such as browsing, multitasking and even casual gaming, you won’t see much of a difference. However, the A17 Pro has one trick up its sleeve.
In addition to the AI-related improvements, the 17 Pro is also powerful enough to support console-level game graphics. Apple promises to bring titles like Resident Evil Village, Resident Evil 4 Remake and Assassin’s Creed Mirage to iOS. That’s huge news for gamers and we can’t wait to see the new hardware-accelerated Ray Tracing in action, which should bring the gaming graphics quality to a new level.
The camera experience is probably the biggest difference between the iPhone 15 Plus and 15 Pro Max. That’s probably going to be the deciding factor for many. At the end of the day, if you don’t use the camera all that much, the iPhone 15 Plus would do a great job for casual social media posting and sending pictures of your pets to friends and family.
On the other hand, if you love to play with cameras or you even have some semi-professional needs, the obvious choice would be the Pro Max.
Not only does the Pro Max offer more flexibility by having three dedicated cameras (ultrawide, main and 5x telephoto), but the camera hardware itself is superior too. The main camera is equipped with a bigger sensor, the ultrawide camera is also miles ahead of the 15 Plus,’ and a 3D ToF sensor at the back enables additional features. Oh, and the ultrawide camera supports autofocus, enabling macro photography.
When putting the 15 Plus and 15 Pro Max side by side during the day, the difference isn’t all that striking. After all, most phones nowadays take excellent photos during the day.
The most obvious difference lies within the ultrawides. The 15 Plus’ ultrawide shooter is downright disappointing even in good light.
iPhone 15 Plus: 0.5x • 1x • 2x • 5x
iPhone 15 Pro Max: 0.5x • 1x • 2x • 5x
The gap widens when you take the two iPhones out for a spin after dusk. The bigger main sensor, more capable ultrawide and nicer image processing done by the A17 Pro’s ISP enable significantly better photo quality at night. As we’ve said earlier, the 15 Pro Max easily takes the win here.
As far as video quality is concerned, the two devices offer similar video quality during the day, but the 15 Pro Max takes things up a notch with its ProRes video recording mode for professional or semi-professional use and its sensors are capable of better low-light footage.
Here’s a glimpse of how the iPhone 15 Plus’ main camera compares in image quality to the iPhone 15 Pro Max in our Image compare tool.
And here’s how the iPhone 15 Plus’ main camera compares in video quality to the iPhone 15 Pro Max in our Video compare tool.
If you can’t be bothered about the fancy camera tech, the extra performance from the A17 Pro and the 120Hz refresh rate, the extra €350/$300 for the Pro Max will be hardly justifiable.
For the most part, the 15 Plus offers the same smooth, big-screen iOS experience with many of the same features on board, like the Dynamc Island and the USB-C port, and especially the great battery life.
But in case you are willing to spend a bit more for your next smartphone, then you will appreciate the 15 Pro Max’ camera prowess, smoother 120Hz display and perhaps the new graphics quality that the upcoming game titles will bring to iOS.
- The lighter and thinner body.
- The slightly faster charging.
- The considerably lower price tag.
- The equally large screen and battery life as the most expensive iPhone.
Get the iPhone 15 Plus for:
- The better display and performance.
- The better camera experience.
- The more premium build.
- The better speakers.
Get the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max for: