Introduction and specs
Apple's non-Pro lineup is arguably the most cost-effective way for consumers to keep up with the most recent and polished Apple experience without breaking the bank. The newly introduced iPhone 15 and 15 Plus models come with a handful of meaningful updates. There's little to no difference between the two feature-wise, so screen size, battery size and price seem to be the major differentiators.
Last year, the large screen and the large battery were not enough to justify the 14 Plus' high price, and its sales were the lowest in the family. The Plus lineup may not have a much longer lifespan than the iPhone mini if the 15 Plus' sales are as unexciting as the 14 Plus'. The future of the entire Plus series may be hanging on the success of this device that we have for review today.
It's not like Apple set it up for success this year, either. Its launch price is €50 lower in Europe, which is a nice start, but the US pricing remains the same. And the fact that last year's 14 Plus remains officially on sale will add an extra dimension to the inter-sibling rivalry that the 15 Plus will have to endure. In other words, if you are looking for a big-screen iPhone, you have an even wider choice this year.
But this year's changes are a step above the usual yearly update cycle. This year marks the shift to USB-C port for the iPhone, and we couldn't be happier. The convenience of sharing the same charging connector as every other phone brand out there is unsurpassed. Not to mention the wide host of accessories you can plug directly into the phone, allowing you to easily transfer files, output video to a TV/monitor or even reverse charge your smartwatch or earphones.
Apple iPhone 15 Plus specs at a glance:
- Body: 160.9x77.8x7.8mm, 201g; Glass front (Corning-made glass), glass back (Corning-made glass), aluminum frame; IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 6m for 30 min), Apple Pay (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX certified).
- Display: 6.70" Super Retina XDR OLED, HDR10, Dolby Vision, 1000 nits (HBM), 2000 nits (peak), 1290x2796px resolution, 19.51:9 aspect ratio, 460ppi.
- Chipset: Apple A16 Bionic (4 nm): Hexa-core (2x3.46 GHz Everest + 4x2.02 GHz Sawtooth); Apple GPU (5-core graphics).
- Memory: 128GB 6GB RAM, 256GB 6GB RAM, 512GB 6GB RAM; NVMe.
- OS/Software: iOS 17.
- Rear camera: Wide (main): 48 MP, f/1.6, 26mm, 1.0µm, dual pixel PDAF, sensor-shift OIS; Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.4, 13mm, 120˚.
- Front camera: Wide (main): 12 MP, f/1.9, 23mm, 1/3.6", PDAF; Depth: SL 3D.
- Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@24/25/30/60fps, 1080p@25/30/60/120/240fps, HDR, Dolby Vision HDR (up to 60fps), Cinematic mode (4K@30fps), stereo sound rec; Front camera: 4K@24/25/30/60fps, 1080p@25/30/60/120fps, gyro-EIS.
- Battery: 4383mAh; Wired, 50% in 30 min (advertised), 15W wireless (MagSafe), 7.5W wireless (Qi), 4.5W reverse wired.
- Connectivity: 5G; eSIM; Dual SIM; Wi-Fi 6; BT 5.3; NFC.
- Misc: Face ID, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer; stereo speakers; Ultra Wideband 2 (UWB) support, Emergency SOS via satellite (SMS sending/receiving).
Aside from the USB-C, the main camera is now a more advanced 48MP sensor with pixel binning, promising substantial improvement in image quality, with Apple promising great 2x zoom photos as well.
Although screen size remains the same - 6.7", the iPhone 15 Plus now boasts almost twice as bright an OLED panel and finally replaces the old notch with the pill-shaped Dynamic Island. Even if you are not a fan of the software features revolving around the Dynamic Island, you can still appreciate the more modern and Pro-like look of the homescreen now that the sightly notch is gone.
Under the hood is last year's pro chipset - the A16 Bionic. The chipset is still a powerful and well-optimized piece of hardware, and it offers faster performance than what the 14 Plus had.
Besides these changes, you still get the same ultra-wide camera without autofocus, and the screen is still 60Hz without an Always-On Display, which is a feature reserved for the Pro models. Speaking of Pro-only features, the USB-C port here provides only USB 2.0 speeds, and we don't get the new customizable Action key on the left side of the device.
Unboxing the iPhone 15 Plus
Just like the rest of the iPhones, the iPhone 15 Plus comes in a modest box containing just some user manuals, a SIM ejector tool and a USB-C to USB-C cable for charging. US buyers don't even have the pin for the SIM card tray as these iterations rely only on eSIM.
Even though you have to buy a new charger if you don't already have one, the good news is you are not obligated to buy an iPhone charger. Any PowerDelivery charger should do the job. The recommended power output is 20W, but a 30W charger should provide even faster charging in the first 40-50min.
Design and ergonomics
The standard iPhones from this year's iPhone 15 family use the familiar design of their predecessors with a premium feel and excellent craftsmanship but with a few tweaks.
The first change concerns the notch. It has now turned into the pill-shaped Dynamic Island, and we like the more modern look (unlike the silly name). Dynamic Island was introduced on last year's iPhone 14 Pro family and has now trickled down to this year's iPhone 15 and 15 Plus. Part of it is taken the selfie cam, and another part by the FaceID hardware. Due to the large size of the 15 Plus screen, the Dynamic Island appears relatively smaller here than on the iPhone 15, which we recently reviewed.
The second change in the design of the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus includes the contoured edge along the aluminum frame, which makes the device easier to handle.
And finally, the color of the rear glass panel is infused into the material itself, whereas the surface has been polished and then etched to create a matte finish that feels nice to touch. The overall feel of the back panel, however, feels plasticky despite being glass. It's also a bit on the slippery side, but that's to be expected with the matte surface.
The glass panel Apple used on the back is still ion-strengthened, while the one on the front is still Apple's hardest and most durable glass, called Ceramic Shield. You are essentially getting the same glass panels as on the Pro models here.
The Blue color variant we got is resistant to fingerprints and smudges, but we doubt that this is the case with the Black paint job, for example.
The camera island design remains unchanged - it protrudes quite a bit, and the camera rings, in turn, also edge out.
It's perhaps needless to say that there are no gaps or inconsistencies with the build as the aluminum frame seamlessly transitions into the glass surface on the front and back. Apple also points out that it uses 75% recycled aluminum. Notably, the iPhone 15 Plus profile is somewhat thinner than what the renders would make you believe. It feels really nice in hand.iPhone 15 Plus vs. iPhone 15 Pro Max
Going around the sides, it's business as usual, with one notable exception - the connector at the bottom. It's now USB-C, not Lightning, while the rest is familiar. There are no changes on the left side of the phone, as the Mute switch is notably there, along with the volume buttons. The new customizable Action key has replaced the Mute switch only on the Pro models.
The power Side key is positioned on the right, and with it being larger than on most phones, it's easier to feel with your thumb. However, it would have been better if it sat a bit lower, as even users with normal hands would have to reach for the button.
Unlike the 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max, the 15 and 15 Plus haven't gotten their bezels trimmed. The bezels are just like last year's - no change. They are still pretty thin, though.
All in all, the iPhone 15 Plus offers an exceptional build with little to complain about. Sure, it's not the grippiest phone out there, and the power button position is a bit high for a 6.7-inch device, but we are impressed with how light it feels and how much handling has improved thanks to the rounded edges. The handset tips the scale at just 201 grams, and the profile measures 7.8mm, so it's a delight to hold. You can also have peace of mind, as like every iPhone for the last few generations, this one is also IP68-certified against water and dust.
The iPhone 15 Plus comes with a variety of network connectivity options depending on your region. The international version has a single Nano-SIM card slot and eSIM support for a second number. In the US, users get dual eSIM with multiple number support, whereas in China, the iPhone 15 has dual Nano-SIM slots. Regardless of region, you get dual standby and SA/NSA Sub6 connectivity. Certain models will also have mmWave.
In certain countries, Apple also offers satellite connectivity on the iPhone 15 for emergency pings outside of cell range and Roadside Assistance via satellite. The latter does require a subscription after an initial two-year grace period. Find My via satellite is also a thing, so you can update your location when outside of cell coverage and let your loved ones know you are safe. Emergency SOS and Find My via satellite do still have some regional limitations, though.
Apple promises clearer voice calls in this generation of iPhone. In fact, there is a new Voice Isolation toggle that you can manually enable during calls if your background is too noisy. We aren't quite sure why this neat feature doesn't get enabled automatically when needed, but we are still happy to see it present. In our testing, it works great to drown out surprisingly noisy environments.
For local connectivity, the iPhone 15 has dual-band Wi-Fi 6 (ax) as well as Bluetooth 5.3 with LE support. There is NFC on board for things like Apple Pay and Name Drop contact sharing.
The iPhone 15 also has a second-generation Apple Ultrawideband (UWB) chip. It enables precise Find My with directional arrows and has up to three times increased range compared to the original Apple U1 chip. You can also use precision finding in a crowd with Find My Friends. We should note that the UWB chip and its functionality are not available in every market and are disabled in some countries due to regulatory issues.
The new Type-C port on the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus is backed up by a USB 2.0 data connection, which means a theoretical max transfer speed of 480 Mbps. You have to go with a Pro model for a faster USB connection.
Video output is supported, however. It uses the Display port DP via Type-C Alt mode, which means that most standard Type-C hubs with a video interface should be able to get an image from the phone. By default, you get a mirror of the display without any other fancy options like a dedicated desktop mode or anything of the sort. In other words, it does a simple screen mirror for the UI.
In terms of resolution, the iPhone appears to output in 4K (2160p) or at least near that, but in a 19.5:9 aspect ratio to match the phone's display - the TVs we connected it to, reported a 2160p signal.
However, apps behave differently; some, like the Photos app and Netflix, offer dedicated casting of content to the display in a 16:9 aspect ratio. Other video apps, like YouTube, however, don't have said dedicated video casting behavior and are stuck at 19.5:9 aspect ratio and 4K resolution, leaving the image both letter-boxed and pillar-boxed. There is seemingly no way to control this behavior, and it is a bit of an inconsistent mess.
The iPhone does offer some display settings when connected to an external display, mainly dealing with the selection of HDR or SDR color mode where supported, as well as a toggle for the ability to automatically adapt and match the output resolution to the content being played.
The iPhone 15 also supports USB Host mode, and we successfully hooked up a mouse and keyboard to it. The keyboard started working instantly, but getting the mouse to pick up and actually show an on-screen cursor required enabling the Assistive Touch option in settings. USB thumb drives and hard drives work fine and automatically mount and appear in the Files app.
In terms of on-board sensors, the iPhone 15 has an accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass and barometer.
Upgraded 6.7-inch OLED with Dynamic Island
Apple has upgraded the display on this year's non-Pro iPhones, and this brings the iPhone 15 Plus' panel closer to that of the 15 Pro Max in terms of overall feel and technical specifications. The 15 Plus retains the 6.7-inch diagonal, 1290 x 2796px resolution as well as the Super Retina XDR OLED part of the name, skipping the LTPO part. This leads us to the refresh rate - still 60Hz. Objectively speaking, that's a serious lag behind the industry standard for the last couple of years. One would expect a 120Hz display, at the very least, the LTPO part is optional.
Aside from the refresh rate, though, the display excels in every other aspect. It's extremely bright in auto mode, peaking at 1,642 nits. In manual control, the panel gets up to 820 nits, while maintaining exceptional color accuracy with an average dE2000 of 0.7. Apple advertises 2,000 nits of peak brightness, but that's achievable only when watching HDR-compatible content with small highlight areas.
Speaking of HDR, the panel is equipped with HDR10 and Dolby Vision certification for HDR-enabled entertainment on the go. You can watch Dolby Vision or another type of HDR content on YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video, etc.
The battery capacity of the iPhone 15 Plus is ever so slightly bigger than its predecessor. The cell is rated at 4,383 mAh, but due to the more efficient A16 Bionic SoC, the 15 Plus delivers considerably longer battery life. Especially in the screen-on tests, which are arguably the most important aspect of our battery endurance tests.
With the new hardware on board, the iPhone 15 Plus now gets much closer to the 15 Pro Max in terms of endurance, shrinking the gap between the two models.
Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSerDevice app. The endurance rating denotes how long the battery charge will last you if you use the device for an hour of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. More details can be found here.
Video test carried out in 60Hz refresh rate mode. Web browsing test done at the display's highest refresh rate whenever possible. Refer to the respective reviews for specifics. To adjust the endurance rating formula to match your own usage patterns check out our all-time battery test results chart where you can also find all phones we've tested.
Compared to other smartphones on the market, though, the 15 Plus seems to be quite competitive and even edges out some of its competitors in the screen-on scenarios.
Although Apple doesn't give away the iPhone 15 Plus' charging specs, it should support faster than 20W charging. The company advertises 50% charge in 30 minutes using the standard 20W adapter from Apple, but we carried out our test using a 30W PD charger. The results were quite interesting, to put it mildly.
The device got 53% of the charge back in the first 30 minutes, which is in line with Apple's claims, but we were particularly surprised by the charging time to full - 1 hour and 34 minutes. This is notably faster than the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
In addition to the wired and 15W wireless (MagSafe) charging, this year's iPhone 15 Plus also supports 4.5W reverse wired charging via the new USB-C port.
As is usually the case, the iPhone 15 Plus comes with a hybrid speakers setup - one of the speakers is facing downward while the other acts as an earpiece. Unlike most hybrid setups we've seen, the iPhones offer a balanced sound coming out of both speakers.
Unfortunately, this year's 15 Plus fell short in our loudness test, earning a "Good" -27.7 LUFS score - considerably lower than last year's 14 Plus, which scored -24.7 LUFS.
Quality-wise, on the other hand, the 15 Plus remains consistent by delivering excellent sound with punchy highs, clear vocals and pronounced bass - definitely one of the best speakers in town.
Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal "0db" flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.
Apple iOS 17
All new iPhones come with Apple's iOS 17 out of the box. The new iOS version may be the most insignificant update ever, no matter what Apple may try to sell you. It brings a new Standby mode, highly customizable Contact Posters, Password sharing with friends, offline maps in Maps, updated Messages with automatic SMS code deletion, and interactive widgets.
Let's take a closer look at the iPhone 15 Plus' iOS 17 now. Naturally, it is almost identical to that of the Pro models, but there are some differences for once. Notably, the Pro models have the new Action key instead of the traditional alert slider, which necessitated a new customization interface.
Overall, the UI is still based on homescreens populated with apps and widgets, App Library for your less important apps, and Notification and Control Centers.
The lockscreen on iOS 17 follows a familiar logic - it's one with the Notification Center and houses your notifications (privacy options are available), plus shortcuts for the torch and the camera.
Don't bother looking for an always-on display option on the iPhone 15 Plus, though. While it does have an OLED display, it can't toggle its refresh rate down to 1Hz like the Pro models can. Apple apparently deemed always-on display at 60Hz too wasteful towards the battery. Hence, in typical Apple fashion, you don't even get the option to decide for yourself.
At least the new optional Standby mode is present on the iPhone 15 Plus. It activates during charging when the phone is put into landscape orientation. It is sort of a landscape Always-on with a bigger clock and calendar. It can show notifications, too. There is also a Night version with red colors.
You can get past the lockscreen via Face ID or PIN if you've opted for secure unlock.
You can customize your lockscreen by picking from some cool wallpapers and adding a row of widgets (up to four). There can't be more than one row of widgets. The neat thing is that you can build a couple of different lockscreens and switch them on the go (tap and hold, then swipe). This way, you can easily change the look of the homescreen/notification center depending on your mood or work.
You can also pair your homescreen look with the lockscreen and change both in one go.
Your apps usually populate the homescreen(s) and widgets. There are two specific screens - the leftmost is the Today page, while the rightmost page - App Library.
You can hide specific homescreens - you may have a page that's full of games and hide it when at work or hide a page of work/school apps when on vacation. You can't opt out of Today and App Library, though.
The Focus functionality is here to stay - you can assign a Focus mode on each lockscreen preset you create. And in addition to all other ways of switching between Focuses, now switching between lockscreens also changes the Focus mode.
There are different Focus modes like Work, Personal, Driving, Gaming, Do Not Disturb, among others, highly customizable at that. And you can create and automate your own, of course.
Widgets can be placed on any of the homescreens and the Today page and coexist with app icons. There are three widget sizes supported by iOS - 2x2, 4x2, and 4x4. You can stack widgets of the same size on top of one another, and, optionally, they can rotate automatically.
The widgets are now interactive - you can tap on some of them and change things without going into the app. For example, if you have a Home widget, you can turn on/off devices straight from the widget.
The App Library is an app drawer, which is always your rightmost homescreen pane. Apps are added automatically to the App Library upon installation. The sorting is also an automatic process, and you can't edit the categories or move apps in different categories. The app sorting depends on the App Store tags the developer has used upon uploading the apps.
The Today page is still alive. You can put the same widgets and stacks you can on your homescreens. Here, you can also use the old third-party widgets that still need to be optimized for newer iOS versions. The old widgets come right after the new ones, should you choose to use some new ones. It's a pity this Today page cannot be disabled, as we found it mostly useless.
The Notification Center is summoned with a swipe from the left side of the Dynamic Island. The pane was unified with the lockscreen in iOS 11, and that's why you can have different wallpapers on your homescreen and notification center.
The Control Center, which has customizable and (some) expandable toggles, is called with a swipe from the right side of the Dynamic Island. You can use a haptic touch to access additional controls. And the battery percentage is also here.
The Task Switcher hasn't seen any updates - you see app cards and swipe them for closure. You can also swipe on the gesture line for quick switching between apps.
The Dynamic Island allows for more convenient multitasking. Apple calls this the pill-shaped cutout and its animations and convenience features. Apple has blackened the middle part for aesthetic purposes. There, you will see the mic and camera indicators and nothing else.
The animations around the island always use a black background. There are three Island modes. Standard form - inactive island or just accommodating camera/mic indicators.
The active form is a longer pill-shaped notch with info on the left and right sides for certain events, alerts, and notifications. This long pill can also split into an i-shaped one if you launch another compatible app that can be minimized here, like the Timer.
A third form expands into a pop-up balloon - this can be invoked by a tap and hold on the small animation. A tap will open the respective app instead, though. We think these gestures should have been inversed or at least configurable, but as usual - Apple knows best.
The Dynamic Island incorporates different things - starting with the Face ID animation, charging animation, music info (Music, Spotify, Amazon, YouTube, Soundcloud), call info (Phone, WhatsApp, Skype, Instagram, Google), timers, etc. If you activate a second app that needs to use the Dynamic Island, you get a sweet animation that shortens the island and adds a small icon on the left side.
The supported system alerts include calls, AirPods and Watch connections, Battery and Charging, Focus changes, AirDrop, Face ID, AirPlay, NFC events, SIM alerts, and Silencer on/off.
Let's mention some of the new features.
FaceTime now supports leaving audio and video messages for when you're calling someone and they aren't available.
Messages now has a Check-In feature. It takes over the chore of checking in with family members when you are traveling. It works like this: once you've initiated a Check-In, a friend or family member will be automatically notified when you've arrived at your destination. If you're not making progress toward the destination, the selected contact will get your device's location, battery level, and cell service status.
Live Voicemail is an interesting new feature. Now, you don't have to pick up when a number you don't recognize is calling - the phone will do that for you and will display the live scrolling text of what the person calling is saying, so you can easily decide if it's worth talking to them. Calls identified as spam by carriers won't appear as Live Voicemail and will instead be instantly declined. The transcription is handled entirely on-device.
There is a new customizable call screen, which Apple calls Contact Posters. You can change how they appear and choose beautiful treatments for photos or Memoji, adding "eye-catching typography" and font colors. These work in third-party apps as well, and they're also used when you want to share contact details with someone through a new feature called NameDrop - it's as easy as tapping your phones together (or an iPhone and an Apple Watch), and the contact cards are swapped.
The multimedia is handled by Apple's default apps - Photos, Music, TV.
The Photos app's library has four different views - Years, Months, Days, and All Photos. As usual, AI-powered search options and powerful photo and video edit modes are available. Visual Lookup is here to stay - you can smart crop an object or copy text from any photo.
The TV app is part of iOS 17, and it is your default video player for locally stored movies and shows you've added via iTunes. This is also the digital store for movies and TV shows, and it is also the place where you find the Apple TV+ streaming service. It's a bit overwhelming, but you get used to it eventually.
Music is the default player, and it relies heavily on Apple Music streaming service. But even if you decide not to use the streaming service, it can still do an excellent job if you have a few minutes to add your songs via iTunes.
Books are here for your documents, PDFs, and eBooks. Stocks and News are onboard. Safari is your default web browser, now upgraded with Face ID for the Private tabs, and Apple Maps is your default map client, which now supports offline maps.
All recent iPhone models support Emergency SOS via satellite (iPhone 14 and 15 series). This service is text-only and will be used primarily for emergencies, but it does support two-way communication, so you will be notified when rescue is on the way. The Find My app will also be able to share your location with friends so that they can keep an eye on you.
You can compose custom messages to explain your situation, but when speed is life-saving, several specially prepared questions will let you send out a detailed SOS in just a few taps. The new feature added for this year is Vehicle emergency satellite services. It will initially require an active roadside assistance subscription with AAA in the US.
In locations with a clear view of the sky, a message can be transmitted in about 15 seconds, but if there are trees overhead, it may take a couple of minutes. iPhone buyers will be getting two years of free satellite services, after which a fee of some kind will be incurred for the feature. You should also check the feature availability within your country.
Crash Detection is also available on all iPhone 15 models, thanks to a new accelerometer that can detect up to 256G. If such an emergency occurs, the phone will automatically contact emergency services. This is a setting within the Emergency SOS menu called Call After Serious Crash. You can either turn it on or off; there are no other settings.
Benchmark and sustained performance
Last year's Apple A16 Bionic chip is at the heart of the new iPhone 15 Plus. It's manufactured by TSMC using the 4nm node and contains 16 billion transistors, up from 15 billion within the A15 chip.
It comes with a familiar six-core CPU configuration - there are two performance Everest cores clocked at 3.46GHz and four Sawtooth efficiency cores working at 2.02GHz. The CPU overall is billed to be 40% faster than the competition, while its two high-performing cores require 20% less power than the ones in the A15. And the improved 5-core Apple GPU offers 50% higher memory bandwidth.
The A16 includes a 16-core Neural Engine that is capable of 17 trillion operations per second.
As far as memory is concerned, the 15 Plus relies on 6GB of RAM, leaving the internal storage the only available variation. It starts at merely 128GB, which is too little for a device of this caliber, so you'd have to pay extra for the 256GB or the 512GB option.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the benchmarks and how the iPhone 15 Plus fares against the competition.
Despite being a year-old SoC, the A16 Bionic is still competitive and falls short only to the newer A17 Bionic in the CPU-intensive benchmarks. The A16 remains particularly strong in the single-core scenarios too.
In combined tests, however, some Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 devices outpace the A16 Bionic mainly due to the SD8 Gen 2's powerful GPU. And the GPU-heavy benchmarks further solidify our suspicion. We get plenty of Android flagships winning the GPU race.
We would love to show you some GFXBench scores as well, but unfortunately, the app seems to be misbehaving on the new iPhone 15, likely due to some incompatibility issues with iOS 17. To be frank, the iOS version of GFXBench hasn't been updated in a while, to begin with, so this comes as no surprise. But currently, the app can't provide consistent results.
Thermal management on the new iPhone 15 Plus is excellent, though, scoring an impressive 71.6% stability in the Wild Life Extreme Stress test. We see a sudden drop in performance in the first couple of minutes but then maintains a stable frame rate afterward.
In the CPU stress test, the 15 Plus outperformed the smaller iPhone 15 by maintaining 89% of the CPU's theoretical performance. That's an excellent result and we believe it's due to the bigger body allowing for better heat dissipation overall. The handset didn't feel excessively hot to the touch either.
An all-new 48MP main camera
The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus still stick to the same number of main cameras as last year's models - two shooters on the rear and one on the front. However, this year, there is a whole new 48MP, 26mm, f/1.6 main camera.
Apple is not really in the habit of sharing much about its camera sensor hardware. We've managed to gather that the 48MP camera on the vanilla iPhone 15 and the Plus models does not use the same Sony IMX803 sensor as found on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro models. It is a different Sony sensor instead, likely a custom-order one, with a stacked design, which is supposed to help with readout speeds and low-light performance.
Other than that, we know that the main camera has 1.0µm pixels with a Quad-Bayer arrangement. Although, Apple is doing some computational and stacking magic to end up with 24MP stills by default. The main cam also has 100% focus pixels and PDAF. There is also sensor-shift OIS for stability and EIS on top of that for video capture. The camera sits behind an f/1.6 lens.
We don't really know a lot about the other camera hardware either. The iPhone 15 Plus has a 12MP ultrawide that sits behind an f/2.4 lens. It lacks any fancy features like autofocus. That is only present on the Pro models, allowing the ultrawide to double as a macro shooter. On the other hand, the 12 MP, f/1.9 selfie camera does have PDAF. Not only that, but it can also leverage some depth data from the front-facing SL 3D sensor for better portraits.
Camera app and features
The viewfinder has stayed mostly intact since iOS 16. You can see outside of the viewfinder thanks to the precise calibration of the three cameras, allowing you to see what will be left outside the frame in real-time.
Apple's image processing includes all legacy features - Smart HDR, Night Mode, and Deep Fusion - and last year's Photonic Engine.
All enhancements but Night Mode are out of the users' control. The Night Mode icon pops up automatically when a low-light scene presents itself, and you will see the seconds suggested next to the Night Mode icon. You can choose longer exposure or altogether disable the Night Mode.
As usual, all cameras talk to each other, so they already know the correct exposure and tone mapping settings when you switch between them. This applies to both stills and videos. Since there is no autofocus on the selfie cam on the iPhone 15 Plus, there is no dedicated macro mode.
The camera interface has 0.5x, 1x and 2x toggles. You swipe between modes and have a couple of settings you can uncover with an upward swipe - flash, night mode, live photo, photo aspect, exposure compensation, and filters. In video mode, you can change the resolution and frame rate from the viewfinder.
Portrait mode is available on the main and selfie cameras. RAW capture is not a thing on the non-Pro iPhones, though. However, what you can choose this year is to deviate from the new standard 24MP resolution of the main camera and capture in either 12MP or 48MP. The former is done through the camera app settings, while the latter is accessible via a JPEG Max toggle through the camera UI. We have samples of the different resolution modes below.
There is this feature called Photographic Styles, which automatically edits a photo, one element at a time (applying different corrections to the subject and background, for example). You can choose between Standard, Rich Contrast, Vibrant, Warm, and Cool. You can tune each of these modes to your liking and set your preferred one as default. It's like filters but more permanent.
Cinematic mode is also present and carried forward from previous iPhone generations. It does automatic rack focus, but the phone records a depth map alongside the video, so you can change the focus point manually after the fact. Editing such videos is possible in iMovie and Clips apps. Action mode is available on all iPhone 15 models and is carried forward from last year. It is an enhanced video stabilization mode meant for dynamic and action-filled scenes and situations.
It's perhaps no surprise that the main camera performs exceptionally well during the day. It's a step up from the last generation, mostly in terms of overall detail. It's really impressive, even compared to the top-level Android flagships. Sharpness is also excellent, dynamic range is wide and contrast is quite accurate. The device also offers unrivaled consistency - all samples look the same from the first to the last shot. Noise is accounted for even in more challenging indoor conditions.
Most of what we didn't like about the camera is highly subjective. For instance, colors, although mostly true to life, feel rather muted. For some reason, the sky and clouds are darker than they actually are. Moreover, the shadows are a bit too dark for our taste and as a result, all shots have a bit of a gritty feel, even though the samples were taken on a bright sunny day with the occasional clouds.
The default resolution of the camera is 24MP, but we also took the 48MP for a spin and we were quite surprised by the results. The level of detail is even more impressive but at the cost of overall sharpness and some additional noise in the shadows. Dynamic range and color rendition are identical, though, which is impressive on its own.
Want a full 4-in-1 binning? Well, Apple offers a switch to 12MP mode as well. That's usually the default resolution to expect from a 48MP sensor. However, we see no benefit in using the 12MP mode unless file size is your biggest concern. The 12MP samples offer absolutely identical rendition but with sensibly lower detail. The difference is most prominent with fine detail and foliage.
The 2x zoom is quite good. It matches the default's 1x rendition in pretty much every aspect while maintaining good level of sharpness. There's minimal loss and it can only be seen with foliage or other fine detail - it looks fuzzy from a distance. If bring the camera close enough, though, even fine detail like the cat's fur looks extra sharp and crisp. Oh, and 2x zoom photos always come out 12MP.
The ultrawide camera's performance is just disappointing. It's way below the industry's standard or at least what you'd expect from a €1,000 phone. The stills look soft, lack fine detail, noise can be spotted in some uniform or dark areas, while indoor shots are just grainy.
On a more positive note, objects closer to the camera appear moderately sharp and Apple has once again achieved uniform image processing, meaning the ultrawide camera offers the same color rendition, contrast and dynamic range as the main camera. It's also quite wide - 120-degree field of view with excellent lens distortion correction.
Portraits are excellent as long as you shoot in the default 1x mode. With or without the background blur, the subject always appears sharp, well-exposed and with a natural skin tone. And even without a 3D ToF sensor, the 15 Plus separates the background from the subject exceptionally well. Even with a more challenging background, dimmer lighting conditions and with an object in the foreground.
However, the 2x zoom portraits are somewhat softer than we would have expected. At least they don't get softer in a dimmer environment.
The selfies aren't amazing in any way, but they are just right. The front-facing camera takes rather sharp selfies with detail in abundance, great dynamic range, natural colors and handles low-light environments quite well.
We found the low-light performance of the main camera to be just as consistent at night as it is during the day. Sharpness, detail and dynamic range are excellent, although noise starts to creep in overly dark scenes. Contrast and color rendition give the photo a natural look. But once again, in pursuit of that natural look, Apple keeps the shadows darker than what we are used to seeing from similar Android flagships. And that's not necessarily bad, it depends on what you are looking for. But Apple has definitely nailed that natural look without blowing up the highlights or adding too much sharpness.
We didn't like the Night mode behavior, however, as it rarely triggered. You can't force the Night mode, you can only leave it at Auto and hope that the software opts for the Night mode. But unfortunately, it rarely does. There were plenty of dark scenes that would have benefited from a Night mode. And we were unable to identify a consistent pattern. In some cases, just a couple of lamps in the background were enough for the software to favor the standard Photo mode and in others, with plenty of light sources in the foreground, the camera app triggered the Night mode.
Either way, the Night mode brings out more detail in the shadows without making them too bright, which is once again Apple's way of keeping things natural-looking. The dedicated Night mode adds just a touch of sharpness, clears most of the noise in the shadows and delivers a crispier look overall. When there's a big enough tonal contrast in the scene, that's when the Night mode usually kicks in to balance out the highlights and shadows by fixing the clipped highlights and lighting up the darker areas of the image. All Night mode photos are saved in 12MP resolution.
The software seems to be more generous with the Night mode when shooting in 2x mode. About half of the 2x samples we took after dusk were aided by the Night mode. And that's understandable. Although the 2x zoom mode retains the same look from the 1x mode, it's easier to spot the difference in sharpness and detail than it is during the day. That's why the software tends to go for a Night mode shot when taking 2x low-light stills. Overall quality with the Night mode is quite impressive, rivaling some dedicated 2x zoom cameras.
And here are the scenes that didn't trigger the dedicated Night mode.
We wish we could say the same for the ultrawide camera but its performance is just appalling at night. Night mode doesn't seem to help much, either. Due to the lack of sharpness in general, the Night mode adds so much artificial sharpness that it starts to show. Noise suppression is better with the Night mode also, but that's about it. Dynamic range is limited, detail is lacking and this is the first time we see a discrepancy between the cameras. The ultrawide camera tends to for warmer light sources than the main camera.
Without Night mode, the ultrawide camera is borderline unusable at night, you better hope the camera software goes for the dedicated Night mode.
Here's how the primary camera on the iPhone 15 Plus stacks against the rest of the competition in the controlled environment of our Photo Compare Tool.
The iPhone 15 Plus offers video recording of up to 4K resolution at 60fps with its main camera and the same goes for the ultrawide and selfie cameras. A more advanced Cinematic mode is also available, giving you a bit more control over the camera's settings. In Cinematic mode, however, recording is capped at 2160p@30fps. There's no ProRes mode found on the 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max.
Let's begin with the 4K@30fps footage from the main camera. To honest, there's nothing to complain about. The video looks sharp, detailed, with accurate color reproduction, wide dynamic range and accurate exposure metering.
We are also pleasantly surprised by the 2x zoom video, which has minimal loss in detail and sharpness. The minimal deterioration in quality can only be seen in fine detail in motion, such as tree leafs or grass.
The ultrawide camera also produces more than decent 4K videos. Rendition is identical to the main camera but noticeably softer and with some corner softness. However, that's to be expected from an ultrawide shooter. So despite the ultrawide's poor performance in stills, it does a great job at recording 4K videos.
When it comes to low-light videos, the main camera shows excellent performance in challenging conditions. There's little to no noise, detail is good and sharpness is impressive. Dynamic range could be slightly better as some light sources are clipped, but there's at least plenty of detail in the shadows, so that's a trade-off we are willing to take.
The ultrawide camera, on the other hand, struggles at night. The ultrawide footage looks soft, rather grainy and is missing a lot of detail. Color temperature is a bit off - a bit too warm than it should be, turning some of the light sources in the background peachy pink. Dynamic range and contrast are admirable, though.
Of course, all videos are stabilized, but there's an additional Action mode that mimics an action camera and uses the ultrawide shooter to trim the edges and achieve that smooth stabilization. Resolution in this mode is limited to the odd 2.8K.
You can also take a look at our video compare tool to see how iPhone 15 Plus stacks against the other phones we've reviewed.
We'd consider the iPhone 15 Plus a big step up from its predecessor. The move to the universal USB-C port is landmark moment for the iPhones in its own right. The performance jump from the A15 Bionic chipset to the A16 Bionic is substantial; the new OLED panel is brighter, the full charge is considerably faster now, the battery life is longer, and the new 48MP main camera makes a sensible difference in daylight and low-light photography.
The iPhone 14 Plus remains officially available alongside the 15 Plus at a discounted price, so despite its poor market sales up until now, it will readily cater to consumers who find the 15 Plus too expensive but would like the same formula.
An even tougher choice would be between the iPhone 15 Plus and last year's iPhone 14 Pro Max. The latter now costs €1,100, just about the same as the 15 Plus, but delivers a more premium experience - 120Hz display, better cameras all-around with proper 3x optical zoom shooter, longer battery life and the same SoC.
But as always, we also need to look at the market as a whole in case you are one of those rare breed of users looking for the best option available at a certain price instead of staying within your ecosystem. Sure, in iPhone terms, the 15 Plus is a nice phone with more upgrades than initially expected. However, the handset falls short of its direct Android rivals.
Right now, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a slightly cheaper flagship phone with a better and more versatile camera system, better display, similar battery life and stylus as a nice bonus.
The same goes for the Xiaomi 13 Pro, which is cheaper and checks a flagship phone's boxes. The 15 Plus is no match for cameras, and its 60Hz display doesn't sit competitively on its spec sheet either.
There are other notable mentions in the sub-€1,000 category from Android manufacturers, which give the iPhone 15 Plus a good run for its money, like the Pixel 7 Pro (with the 8 Pro release just around the corner), OnePlus 11, Sony Xperia 1 V, etc. So, if you are not married to iOS just yet and you are within this price bracket, you should check out the Android-based alternatives.
Overall, the iPhone 15 Plus boasts a significant upgrade over its predecessor in a couple of key departments - display, battery life, performance, main camera and charging.
It's still nowhere near the Pro lineup, and it's missing features such as this year's chipset, the optical zoom camera, the autofocus on the ultra-wide camera, the 120Hz high-refresh-rate screen that comes with Always-On Display, or the new customizable Action key. Depending on your priorities, the lack of some of these might be a deal-breaker for you.
More importantly, however, Apple might have hindered the 15 Plus market odds the same way it did with the 14 Plus by placing it in a limbo where it has the feature set of the cheaper-tier iPhone but it's priced way too close to the Pro-tier iPhones for its own good.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the iPhone 15 Plus; in isolation, we'd be happy to give it our full recommendation in an instant. But the market realities mean it will be a hard sell at its current price, regardless of whether you are comparing it to current or previous-gen iPhones or Android devices. This puts this particular device in a really tight spot and makes us less than optimistic for the future of the Plus lineup as a whole.
- Excellent build quality, IP68 certified.
- Brighter OLED panel with Dolby Vision and Dynamic Island.
- Even better battery life than last year.
- Nice-sounding stereo speakers.
- Flagship-grade performance even if not the latest chipset.
- Improved main camera performance, nice selfies.
- Outstanding video quality and stabilization across the board, great action clips.
- Every iPhone gets at least five years of iOS updates.
- Finally USB-C.
- Considerably more expensive than corresponding Android alternatives.
- The display is 60Hz; there is no Always On option.
- No charger in the box, still rather slow charging overall.
- No dedicated telephoto camera and disappointing performance out of the ultrawide.
- Apple's iOS restrictions can be off-putting to newcomers to the ecosystem.