As much as the iPhone has become the default device when many think of smartphones, the 15 Pro Max does deliver meaningful changes in both form and function that will be welcome upgrades for even the most ardent fans.
First up is weight - lightening the frame by opting for titanium over the stainless steel of previous models sees almost 20 grams shaved off the iPhone 15 Pro Max, making for a genuinely more comfortable device in the hand at 221g.
This air of refinement continues to the front of the phone, curved edges and a svelte bezel continue to lend the 15 Pro Max an almost futuristic look - resulting in an expanse of glass display that goes on for days and dangerously close to the edges.
Colours are more muted than the pastel shades offered by the base models of iPhone 15, with a range of luxurious titanium finishes from white to a light grey ‘natural’ look, rounded out by a deep blue and gunmetal black. All are very demure, and the absence of a gold model, as with the iPhone 14 Pro Max, will certainly leave those looking for something flamboyant feeling a tad disappointed.
A huge change is the loss of the alert slider - a mainstay since the original iPhone - with that therapeutic flick of a physical switch to mute replaced by an ‘action button’ nestled above the volume keys on the left side.
As the name suggests, not only can this button silence the device, but also be customised to perform a variety of functions, from turning on the torch and firing up the camera to take a quick photo or a myriad of other options via shortcuts.
We can’t ignore the other big change - the move from Apple’s proprietary Lightning port for charging and connectivity to the USB-C standard. Whether they jumped or were pushed to make this switch due to legislation is moot, but the outcome is infinitely more compatibility with a range of chargers, controllers and accessories that were previously the preserve of Android owners - and without awkward adaptors.
It’s still a bit odd to see that oval opening on an iPhone, but the first time you don’t have to scrabble for a specific cable to charge or connect seamlessly to an external DisplayPort compatible device is a godsend (a USB-C one is included in the box, but still no charging plug).
The only difficulty is how committed to the Apple ecosystem you were previously, as it does mean either using an adapter to keep using those Lightning products purchased prior - but on the whole, a step in a more unified direction.
Support for USB 3 means quicker transfer times, too, so the benefits extend beyond charging with the change in connectivity.
When it comes to the display, the Pro Max boasts a 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED screen with vivid colour depth and impressive colour accuracy.
A textured matte rear continues to do its best to avoid slips and scrapes whilst we level up to an A17 Pro chip in terms of iPhone horsepower - a meaningful boost reserved for the bigger, pricier Pro models - and Apple’s most powerful camera to date by introducing some key updates when it comes to snapping from a distance, thanks to the addition of 5x optical zoom.
So very much an iPhone on the outside, the 15 Pro Max is sufficiently tweaked and tailored in the right ways to deliver a clearly premium flagship experience throughout.
Translated from Apple's word salad, a Super Retina XDR display means the iPhone 15 Pro Max serves up a 2796 x 1290 resolution HDR effort with 460 pixels-per-inch outputting an up to 120Hz refresh rate, depending on content.
6.7 inches corner to corner does mean a great deal more real estate, but the phone fails to feel bulky as a consequence - likely due to the lighter body and smart redistribution of weight.
The 15 Pro Max’s screen is supreme in daylight with an impressive brightness high of 1,600 nits for HDR content and 2,000 nits outdoors, meaning the iPhone continues to be a leader when it comes to real-world legibility.
When it comes to audio, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is solid too - boasting stereo speakers and the top and bottom of the display.
Whilst not both front-facing (the top one is, the bottom fires downwards), support for Dolby Atmos technology as well as spatial audio playback makes for an immersive, impressive experience when viewing content.
Alas, there remains no audio jack, but the USB port means support for more forms of wired audio - but this does not mean headphones in the box either…because there aren’t any.
It’s easy to claim that the iPhone is a bit vanilla these days, but for a lapsed user like me, the levels of customisation offered by iOS 17 are truly eye-opening!
Worlds of home screen widgets and icons, interactive lock screens and custom contact information when calling - not much by way of drastic changes for the annual upgrader, but Apple’s interface continues to be one that exudes a premium feel even when simply navigating through menus.
The new action button has a gorgeous and needlessly slick menu when switching through options, which just feels like showing off at this point.
Admittedly a lot of core features and functions are nested in menus or swipes from the edge of the display that one would otherwise have to divine to figure out, but there are no shortage of tips and tricks which appear contextually to help you find your way around, as well as dedicated widgets to teach core functionality.
The ‘dynamic island’ at the top of the screen remains home to clever animations and shortcuts, turning what could have been a distraction housing all of its front-facing tech into the home of some of iOS’s most playful visual elements.
A clever addition is also ‘standby mode’ - turning idle iPhones from a paperweight to a visually arresting calendar and clock when mounted to a dock. Perfect for a bedside table and a novel use of the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s always-on display.
One area that has been given a real shot in the arm is the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s photo-taking capabilities, building out the core 48-megapixel effort with a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens with f/1.78 aperture and a 120-degree field of view, rounded out by a 12-megapixel telephoto camera to complete the trio.
Not much change there compared to the Pro setups on both the iPhone 15 Pro as well as last year’s top-tier models, but the innovation comes in the form of 5x optical magnification on the telephoto lens, up from 3x.
A small upgrade on paper is transformative when it comes to capturing far-away subjects with an unrivalled degree of clarity (and stability, thanks to OIS and autofocus features).
This all results in photos with fantastic colour accuracy compared to reality - far less of the harsh digital enhancements found on some rival cameras by default - all the while delivering bright and vibrant photos in a variety of settings.
Particular attention is paid to capturing faces on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, to the degree where images containing people now automatically also capture all of the information to change them to ‘portrait’ photos after the fact, where depth-of-field blurring can be tinkered with long after the picture has been taken.
The ultra-wide lens makes short work of close-range subject matter, retaining detail and colour in all but the most adverse of lighting conditions.
Low-light images do display noise on occasion but do still retain the crispness and clarity of even the most agile subjects - a selection of photos of my kids managed to capture every bit of anarchy in our household with very little loss of expression and detail.
Longstanding iPhone users will be familiar with the default HEIC format for images, which enables multiple compressed images without loss of quality, with the option to change to a number of others depending on the need for compatibility.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max also features the full gamut of video capture options, with the ability to record at up to 4K resolution at a variety of frame rates - 24 and 30fps, whilst ProRes 60fps at 4K is possible once the device is connected to an external storage device, as all that video takes up a great deal of space!
The usual slow-motion and time-lapse features are present, whilst cinematic mode combines the strong videography with all of the dramatic depth-of-field nuances you would expect to see on a professional-grade setup.
In short, the iPhone 15 Pro Max elevates the game when it comes to shooting both still and moving images - bringing cutting-edge tech to bear and addressing one of the prior models’ big shortcomings in delivering phenomenal close-up photos with 5x telephoto lens.
Stellar performance in this category, and a big reason why iPhone owners with earlier models might want to seriously consider an upgrade to the latest Pro Max - it certainly earns its name in this department.
When it comes to storage capacity, an interesting development here as the iPhone 15 Pro Max comes in 256GB, 512GB and 1TB flavours, eschewing a base 128GB model as was found in the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Arguably 128GB is the bare minimum of memory to be expected for a top-end flagship device, especially when traditional expandable storage is not an option - you can save content to an external drive, but it’s debatable as an everyday solution.
Arguably the iPhone 15 Pro is objectively a worse deal in that regard, where a 128GB variant does still exist, and yet still possesses the same upgrades to image quality where super high resolution 48-megapixel photos can quickly eat into memory.
So whilst the default 256GB memory option ultimately means that the 15 Pro Max starts out more expensive than last year’s equivalent, it won’t take more than a few 4K videos and massive game downloads to appreciate that bump when it comes to space.
Another big plus for the iPhone 15 Pro Max is an equally professional processor - the Apple-built A17 Pro.
Touted as being 70% faster than the GPU found in an iPhone 12 Pro, the A17 chip’s 6 cores deliver visual features usually only mentioned in gaming circles - hardware accelerated ray tracing essentially means prettier lighting, but are genuinely impressive when bringing these features to bear on a mobile device.
Fully fledged console and PC blockbusters like Resident Evil Village will soon be available on devices featuring this chipset, demonstrating that portable gaming on the iPhone 15 Pro Max could rival the best that Sony and Microsoft’s home machines can deliver…although with a price tag to match in the case of Capcom’s port, it remains to be seen whether folks would prefer to take such experiences on the go.
When it comes to daily performance, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is ridiculously rapid, taking on multitasking without breaking a sweat or a single instance of lag in the couple of weeks reviewed so far.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is certainly an absolute trooper when it comes to battery life - we’ve easily had two full days before needing to charge from our review model with regular browsing, emails, streaming and a couple of hours of music per day.
Our own tests tallied closely with official figures stated - whilst not quite the 29 hours on record from Apple, our video test to 0% ended on about 27 hours of continuous video playback - an impressive feat given the screen size and brightness.
In the unlikely event that you are caught short, it’s great news that the iPhone 15 Pro Max supports both wireless charging via both Qi and MagSafe, as well as wired fast charging, boasting 50% battery life in just 30 minutes from a 20W adapter or higher.
A gaming session was equally hard to make a dent in the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s battery - a couple of hours playing a selection of games - Stitch, Word Laces and Assemble With Care - barely took 5% off the battery life at normal screen brightness.
Whilst Apple aren’t big on divulging battery sizes in conventional terms - 4,422mAh in conventional terms - it’s clear that the 15 Pro Max is more than able to handle professional levels of use when it comes to staying juiced up, with a multitude of ways to top it up when needed - including now via USB-C!
The Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max launched on September 22nd, with the 256GB model priced at £1,199 - certainly at the upper end of the scale when it comes to flagship phone prices.
Doubling your storage to 512GB then costs an additional £200 at £1,399, and then doubling again to 1TB of storage is £1,599.
When it comes to contract pricing, you can get a 256GB model from £47 per month with no upfront cost - see all of Uswitch’s iPhone 15 Pro Max deals here.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max impresses with cutting-edge technology, stunning design refinements, and exceptional performance.
Its enhanced camera brings improved optical zoom capabilities to deliver breathtaking photos and cinematic videos, while the new powerful A17 Pro chip delivers on its promise of seamless multitasking and top-flight mobile gaming.
The expansive OLED display is a visual delight, and the Pro Max’s durability and awesome battery life make it a top-tier choice, albeit at a premium price point to match its professional positioning.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is a worthy addition to Apple's iconic lineup and places the Cupertino brand firmly as one of the best smartphones available when it comes to flagship performance without compromise.
This review unit was supplied by Vodafone, who do offer some unique ways to get the new iPhone 15 Pro Max, relevant at all points of your contract:
Trade-in Guarantee: handing in an iPhone at purchase can net you as much as £821 off the new contract, thanks to a dedicated Trade-In Tool which tells you exactly what your existing device is worth.
EVO: select a monthly device plan credit agreement alongside your airtime, and enjoy flexibility on paying back your phone between 3 and 36 months, as well as the opportunity of early upgrades.
Buy-Back Guarantee: save as much as £786 on selected phones next year when Vodafone buys it back from you (condition dependent), allowing you to save on a brand new device.