You’ve watched the event, learned about the camera features and perhaps ogled the new titanium body of the iPhone 15 Pro or the tasteful pastel colors of the iPhone 15. But which model and combination of features are right for you? Let’s look at what the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro have to offer, not just in photography features, but taking a few other important considerations into account. (And one of those could be that this is an iPhone gap year where you stick with your current phone.)

You say you wanted resolution

A maximum resolution of 48MP is now available across the entire line: iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. That feels like a breath of fresh air after years of accepting 12MP as a good-enough resolution. However, important details need to be teased out.

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On all models, 48MP can be captured in HEIF or JPEG format, which end up being an economical 5MB (HEIF) or 10MB (JPEG) in file size. The Pro models also support 48MP Apple ProRAW images, which capture more dynamic range at the cost of much larger files, around 75MB for each image.

Despite the 48MP maximum resolution, the default capture mode from the main camera creates 24MP images, which combines 12MP and 48MP output from the QuadBayer sensors. That’s still double the default resolution of last year’s iPhone 14 Pro, which also has a 48MP sensor as its main camera. When shooting in Night mode, photos are 12MP even when the 48MP setting is active.

The ultra wide and front cameras (all models) and telephoto cameras (Pro models) use 12MP sensors and produce 12MP images. The 5x (120mm equivalent) telephoto camera found only on the iPhone 15 Pro Max has a 12MP sensor that outputs 12MP images.

Camera iPhone 15 iPhone 15 Plus iPhone 15 Pro iPhone 15 Pro Max
Main 48MP/24MP
26mm equiv.
8x6mm sensor
26mm equiv.
8x6mm sensor
24mm equiv.
9.8x7.3mm sensor
24mm equiv.
9.8x7.3mm sensor
Ultra Wide 12MP 12MP 12MP 12MP
Telephoto (3x, 77mm equiv) 12MP
Telephoto (5x, 120mm equiv) 12MP
Front 12MP 12MP 12MP 12MP

You won’t be surprised to learn that if you want the most resolution with the highest image quality, the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are the models to choose. However, now you can still get high-resolution images on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, too.

Field of view

One of the main differentiating features between the models in the past has been the dedicated telephoto camera in the Pro line. Although the ultra-wide camera is a neat creative view, people tend to zoom in by pinching in to digitally crop at the expense of image quality.

The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus still don’t have a third, telephoto, camera, but the main camera enables them to shoot at a 2x zoom, which is a 12MP crop of the 48MP sensor (though the Quad Bayer design means it's capturing less color resolution than a 12MP Bayer camera would, and having to reconstruct the result). If you find you need a little more reach, or prefer the framing of a simulated 52mm view instead of the default 26mm view, the iPhone 15 models give you that without paying more for the telephoto cameras of the Pro models.

But if you do want more reach without cropping into your photos, the latest iPhones Pro now offer two telephoto options. The iPhone 15 Pro includes the same 3x/77mm equivalent field of view as the iPhone 14 Pro’s telephoto camera. The main attraction this year, however, is the 5x/120mm equivalent lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, achieved using a tetraprism design that bounces light between four prisms. It's also stabilized with sensor shift, an important addition for keeping photos at long focal lengths sharp.

Apple is putting more emphasis on the millimeter equivalent measurements this time because it’s also touting the ability to set the main 24mm equiv camera to two other fields of view: 28mm (1.2x) and 35mm (1.5x) equiv. They output the same 24MP resolution images, but have been computationally reframed. Tapping the ‘1x’ button cycles between the views; you can also choose which to use as the default when shooting through the main camera.

The 35mm equiv. field of view on the iPhone 15 Pro. (Image: Apple)

4K and HD video recording

The video recording capabilities of the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus remain unchanged from previous models, capturing 4K video at 24fps, 25fps, 30fps or 60fps; 1080p HD video at 25fps, 30fps or 60fps; and HDR video with Dolby Vision (for viewing on HDR displays) up to 4K at 60fps. They also support the Cinematic mode that applies simulated shallow depth-of-field effects and the ability to change focus while recording or in editing, and Action mode for stabilizing shaky footage during capture. That said, it’s generally recognized that the built-in image stabilization is often good enough without Action mode enabled; all models include sensor-shift optical stabilization, but the Procameras feature “second-generation” sensor-shift OIS for video.

The iPhone 15 Pro models can capture 4K/60fps video directly to an attached external SSD. Camera operator suspension wires not included. (Image: Apple)

The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, however, take those specs and build on them. The Promodels can also record ProRes video up to 4K at 30fps to the phone’s storage, but also 4K at 60fps when recording to an external device such as a compact SSD. Further, the Pro phones can optionally record Log video for greater dynamic range (with the need to grade the footage in editing later), with support for ACES, the Academy Color Encoding System. This is an industry-standard color-matching system, designed to allow the footage from cameras to be edited from a common starting point.


Each of the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models replace Apple’s Lightning connector with a USB-C connector, but just because they share the same shape doesn’t make them equal.

The USB-C cable included in the box for all models is, let’s admit, primarily for charging. It supports USB 2 data transfer of up to 480 Mbps, the same rate as the Lightning connector in recent iPhones. That is, to be blunt, slow. Clearly, Apple is sticking with the least expensive option to package with the device, even for the Pro model.

The USB-C port on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models can be used to charge other devices. (Image: Apple)

However, when it comes to the USB-C ports themselves, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models support USB 3.2 Gen 2, with transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps. That’s because the A17 Pro processor that powers them includes a USB 3 controller. However, you’ll also need to buy a separate USB-C cable that supports those speeds. Surprisingly, Apple’s only offering that meets that spec is a 1-meter $69 Thunderbolt 4 cable; avoid the new $29 240W USB-C Charge Cable, which transfers data at just USB 2 speeds. Instead, OWC sells affordable Thunderbolt 4 cables starting at $22.

You’ll also be able to charge other devices, such as the Apple AirPods and Apple Watch, directly from the iPhone’s USB-C port.

Action button

The Action button on the iPhone 15 Pro models can launch the Camera app, run shortcuts, or perform several other tasks such as activating the flashlight. (Image: Apple)

One more differentiator between the regular and Pro models this year is the new Action model on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, which replaces the physical mute switch. You can assign one of several actions to occur when the button is pressed, from toggling the mute control to turning on the flashlight or quick-launching the Camera app and using it as a physical shutter button. However, what will hopefully prove to be its real advantage is the ability to run shortcuts, which could include launching third party camera apps or running automations.

Storage sizes, screen specs, and a few odds and ends

With 48MP images and ProRes video recording capabilities, the question of storage always looms when considering models. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus come in capacities of 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB.

The iPhone 15 Pro comes in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB, but the iPhone 15 Pro Max ditches the low-end tier and starts at 256 GB, moving up to 512 GB and 1 TB configurations. The higher storage makes sense given the potentially larger files the camera systems can produce, but don’t forget that you can attach an inexpensive SSD via the USB-C port for recording ProRes video.

Storage, color, Pro or no – you've got a lot of options in front of you if you're shopping for an iPhone 15. (Image: Apple)

Some differences between the regular and Pro models aren’t as dramatic, but could be important in some situations. The screens, for example, are the same physical sizes and resolutions as we’ve seen before, with 6.1-inch (diagonal) Super Retina XDR displays (2556x1179 pixels at 460ppi) on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro, and 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR displays (2796x1290 pixels at 460 ppi) on the iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro Max. However, the Prodisplays feature ProMotion with adaptive refresh rates up to 120Hz and an always-on mode that lets you glance at the display when the phone's locked.

The regular models feature Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking, while the Pro models use (theoretically) faster Wi-Fi 6e.


It sounds weird to say in an optimistic tone that the new iPhones start at the same price points as last year’s models, given we’re talking about expensive personal electronics devices; chalk that up to rumors that inflation was going to jack up the prices. However, the pricing structures of iPhones (or other smartphones) are anything but straightforward.

The iPhone 15 starts at $799 for 128GB of storage, and moves up to $899 for 256GB and $1099 for 512GB. Add $100 to each tier for the larger iPhone 15 Plus ($799 to $1199 depending on storage).

The iPhone 15 Pro begins at $999 for 128GB of storage, pushes to $1099 for 256GB, then leapfrogs to $1299 for 512GB and $1499 for 1TB. Because the base level iPhone 15 Pro Max includes 256GB of storage, its price starts at $1199 and then jumps $200 each for 512GB ($1399) and 1TB ($1599).

Those prices represent what you’d pay to own the phone outright. Apple also offers between $40 and $650 to trade-in an existing phone. The mobile carriers also offer numerous other financing and trade-in deals to entice you to move up to the latest models.

…or maybe snag an iPhone 14 Pro?

If you already own last year’s iPhone 14 Pro, you might consider sitting this year out. If features such as the titanium case, 120mm equiv camera on the iPhone 15 Pro Max don’t appeal, you’ll still get some camera benefits via iOS 17, which is now available.

The ability to retroactively change focus for Portrait mode images is available, even on older photos; on my iPhone 14 Pro, the selective focus feature appears on Portrait images starting with the iPhone 13 Pro. And the iPhone 14 Pro’s main camera can now capture at 48MP resolution and save to HEIF or JPEG images, not just Apple ProRAW format.

If you already own last year’s iPhone 14 Pro, you might consider sitting this year out.

Although Apple has retired the iPhone 14 Pro from the current lineup, it will still be available through other sales channels or sometimes through the Apple Store as a refurbished item.


Even though Apple releases new models each year, iPhones retain their value and usefulness for quite some time. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro features could be just what you’ve been waiting for, or maybe you hold onto an old model for another year in anticipation of making a stellar leap to whatever next year brings.