I was reading through the comments on our iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro YouTube video and one comment really stood out to me:
"Thoughts on going from 13 Pro Max to 15 Plus?"
This got me thinking. Maybe owners of older Pro Max phones wouldn't mind trying to save some money by upgrading to the new iPhone 15 Plus, which starts at $899, intsead of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which has a starting price of $1,199.
I mean, we're talking about a pretty hefty difference of $300. And the iPhone 15 Plus delivers a fair number of Pro-level features, including a 48MP main camera and the A16 Bionic chip that powered the iPhone 14 Pro series.
So which is the best iPhone for you? I'll break it down in this iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Plus comparison to help you decide. If you want more help, see our iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Plus vs iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 15 Pro Max mega guide to every new iPhone model.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Plus: Specs
|iPhone 15 Plus
|iPhone 15 Pro Max
|48MP main, 12MP ultrawide
|48MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP 5x telephoto
|Fast data transfer?
|4,383mAh, 26 hours video playback
|4,422mAh, 29 hours video playback
|6.33 x 3.06 x 0.31 inches (160.9 x 77.8 x 7.80 mm)
|6.29 x 3.02 x 0.32 inches (159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25 mm))
|7.09 ounces (201 grams)
|7.81 ounces (221 grams)
|Pink, yellow, blue, black, green
|Black titanium, white titanium, blue titanium and raw titanium
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Plus: Price and availability
The iPhone 15 Plus is the value pick here, as it starts at $899 for 128GB of storage. Jumping to 256GB costs $999 and it's $1,199 for the 512GB model.
Apple's iPhone 15 Pro Max is the ultra-premium flagship with a price to match. It starts at $1,199 for 256GB of storage. You can also upgrade to 512GB for $1,399 and 1TB for $1,599. Just keep in mind that the iPhone 15 Pro Max is facing delays due to high demand.
Regardless of the model you choose, check out our iPhone 15 deals page to get the biggest discounts on both the iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro Max.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Plus: Design
The iPhone 15 Pro Max will likely turn more heads thanks to its new titanium design, which replaces the stainless steel band on the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The material isn't just stronger but lighter, and you can feel the difference.
Another plus is that the iPhone 15 Pro Max has the slimmest bezels on an iPhone, which makes the screen pop more while resulting in a smaller handset than the iPhone 15 Plus. The iPhone 15 Pro Max, which has an aluminum body, measures 6.29 x 3.02 x 0.32 inches and weighs 7.8 ounces, compared to 6.33 x 3.06 x 0.31 inches and 7.09 ounces for the iPhone 15 Pro.
So the new Pro Max is shorter and narrower, making it easier to use with one hand. The iPhone 15 Pus is a bit lighter, but it also has one less camera on board.
Both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 15 have contoured designs now, which trades the shaper edges for rounded edges and results in a more comfortable feel.
Only the iPhone 15 Pro Max features an Action button on the right side, while the iPhone 15 Plus keeps the ringer switch. The Action button lets you mute with a long press but also assign shortcuts, such as launching the camera, flashlight and specific apps.
In terms of colors, the iPhone 15 Plus offers a more vibrant array of hues, including Blue, Pink, Yellow, Green and Black. The Plus' back also offers a frosted look that's similar to the Pro lineup. The iPhone 15 Pro Max has more subdued options, including Black Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium and Natural Titanium.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Plus: USB-C
Yes, Apple has removed the Lightning port on both the iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro Max, replacing them with a USB-C port. That's a win for both phones, as you need only a single cable to charge all your Apple gadgets. Plus, you can charge other Apple devices via your iPhone's USB-C port, such as the new AirPods Pro with USB-C charging case and your Apple Watch.
However, only the iPhone 15 Pro Max supports USB 3 transfer speeds, which is 10Gbps. The iPhone 15 Plus does just 480Mbps.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Plus: Display
The iPhone 15 Plus closes the gap with the iPhone 15 Pro Max with its display — at least in some ways. For one, both 6.7-inch OLED panels are rated for 1,600 nits of peak brightness and 2,000 nit outdoors in sunlight. And both screens can display HDR content.
Another plus is that both the iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro Max have the Dynamic Island, which replaces the notch. This area can show live updates and activities, such as timers, music playback, ride sharing status and flight info.
However, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has two key advantages over the iPhone 15 Plus. Only the Pro Max offers a ProMotion display, which means you get a 120Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling and gameplay. The Plus is stuck on 60Hz.
In addition, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has an always-on display, which enables you to see the time, battery status and notifications without unlocking your phone. It also lets you take full advantage of the new StandBy Mode in iOS 17.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Plus: Cameras
The iPhone 15 Plus also has a 2x optical zoom option. No, it doesn't feature a telephoto lens, but the phone crops the image in real time using the available pixels so it's like have a true optical zoom. However, the digital zoom maxes out at 10x on the iPhone 15 Plus.
By comparison, the iPhone 15 Pro Max houses a 48MP main sensor that can exclusively shoot ProRAW images. And you get a much bigger 5x dedicated telephoto lens that goes up 25x digital zoom.
Both the iPhone 15 Plus and Pro Max benefit from beefed up Smart HDR for more colorful images, enhanced Night mode performance and improved portraits. In fact, these phones let you capture portraits without have to use that dedicated mode, because they can sense the depth info as you shoot. And you can choose your focus point after the shot.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Plus: Performance
The iPhone 15 Pro Max takes performance to the next level with Apple's A17 Pro chip. This world's first 3nm processor offers 10% better CPU performance, up to twice the machine learning performance and 20% better graphics with a new 6-core GPU.
This new GPU is capable of hardware-accelerated ray tracing, which means you can get console-quality graphics and lighting effects on the Pro Max in titles like Resident Evil Villange and Diablo Immortal.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Plus: Battery and USB-C
Apple doesn't list the battery capacities of its phones, but they get revealed anyway via regulatory listings. Based on the iPhone 15 battery size leak we've seen, the iPhone 14 Plus has a 4,383 mAh battery. The iPhone 15 Pro Max reportedly features a slightly larger 4,422 mAh battery.
Apple rates the iPhone 15 Plus battery for 20 hours of streamed video playback versus 25 hours for the iPhone 15 Pro Max. But we'll see how this plays out in our battery testing to see if one or both of these handsets make our best phone battery life list.
Both the iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro Max are rated to get to 50% charge via USB-C in 30 minutes with a 20W charger, which is not that fast.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Plus: Bottom line
The iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro Max have more in common than you might think, including the Dynamic Island, a main 48MP camera, bright and vivid 6.7-inch displays and USB-C charging.
However, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has several advantages, including a sturdier and more compact titanium design, a bigger telephoto zoom lens and a faster A17 Pro chip. I also like the Action button on the Pro Max, and it exclusively offers a 120Hz display with always-on capability.
I think these perks are worth the splurge, but if you're looking to save money the iPhone 15 Plus looks like a great big-screen value.
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Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.