Apple announced its new iPhones for 2023 at its latest event, alongside updates to its smartwatch offerings. But while it’s the iPhone Pro models – specifically the Pro Max – that tick all the boxes on the spec sheet, it’s the regular iPhone 15 that deserves the glory this year.
Last year, the iPhone 14 Pro really cemented itself as a Pro model. It was the first year the Pro really made sense as it wasn’t just about a more sophisticated camera offering, there was more to it than that. The Dynamic Island and Always-On Display changed the way I used my iPhone day-to-day and it felt like a huge upgrade from the iPhone 13 Pro, despite the majority of the design remaining much the same.
For this year though, the iPhone 15 – or iPhone 15 Plus if you want a bigger screen and likely more battery life – is the model that stands out the most to me and I’ve had my hands on all the iPhone 15 models – and all the colours too.
The design changes on the regular iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus are quite simply lovely. The rear is not only now matte – which gives it a very premium look – but it’s almost soft to the touch, which makes for a really delightful feeling in the hand. This is accentuated by the slight contour at the edge of the rear panel, which means the iPhone 15 models aren’t quite as sharp where they meet the frame. They are much more comfortable to hold – and this is something that is instantly clear.
When it comes to the colours, they are more muted across the iPhone 15 models compared to the iPhone 14 models with colour-infused rear panels that look great. I loved the green in the flesh, but this year, more so than previous years, all the colours are nice. There isn’t a stand-out model and there isn’t one that stands out for the wrong reasons either.
Dynamic Island makes a big difference to the regular models too. It not only moves the iPhone away from the notch – thank god – but it’s a genuinely useful feature that you’ll appreciate daily. It now does a lot more than it did when it first launched on the iPhone 14 Pro, so you get the benefit of a more fully-fledged experience than the 14 Pro users originally got.
Then there’s the camera. Now, obviously, you don’t get quite the same features as the iPhone 15 Pro models, like the 5x optical zoom on the Pro Max. But there is still an upgrade here, with a 48-megapixel main sensor on the regular iPhone 15, and with that extra resolution comes 2x optical zoom too. That’s without the extra features like the ability to change the focal point and background blur after the fact, so there are a lot of really substantial changes to enjoy.
Sure, the regular iPhone 15 miss out on a couple of features – the Always-On Display, Action Button and the screen tops out at 60Hz – but its display brightness matches the iPhone 15 Pro, it’s as powerful as the iPhone 14 Pro from 2022, there are solid camera upgrades, USB-C (whoo) and the design changes are really rather wonderful.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to love about the iPhone 15 Pro models – they are the super flagships after all – but after a pretty boring year for the regular models last year (and the year before), the iPhone 15 models mark the biggest changes we’ve seen to the regular models for a number of years.
I am so here for the underdog – especially at its $799 starting price – that the new iPhone 15 is absolutely going to be a stealth hit.