iPhone 15 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro Max: The biggest differences

iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max backs
(Image credit: Future)

An iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 15 Pro Max comparison is key for anybody trying to figure out if they'd like their new iPhone in regular or extra-large. So let us give you a hand making up your mind.

There are a few extra differences between the Pro and Pro Max this year. As well as the size of the display and the battery, the two new iPhones have slightly different camera loadouts, which means if you want the best photography Apple can offer, you'll want the Pro Max. However, with so many other features the same, you may be better off saving $200 and buying the Pro.

We'll go into more detail below on the differences and similarities between the iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max, but the bottom line is that these are two very good phones. Whichever you pick, you're in for a great experience.

iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Price

All iPhone 15 models, including the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, have been on sale since September 2023.

Like the iPhone 14 Pro last year, the iPhone 15 Pro starts at $999, and comes with 128GB storage by default. The iPhone 15 Pro Max on the other hand starts at $1,199, $100 more than the iPhone 14 Pro Max did. Fortunately, Apple decided to be generous and offer 256GB storage by default, meaning that while you have no choice but to pay more for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, you're getting the extra storage bundled in.

iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Screen size 

The most notable difference between the two Pro iPhones is the screen size. Once again, Apple's gone with 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch displays for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max respectively. 

Both phones have gained thinner bezels compared to last year, but the resolution and 120Hz refresh rate remains the same as the iPhone 14 Pro series.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 iPhone 15 ProiPhone 15 Pro Max
Max brightness (nits)15501550
DCI-P3 color gamut coverage (percent)83.584.5
Delta-E color accuracy score (lower is better)0.140.14

In our testing, we found the only real difference in display performance between these two phones is the improved color gamut of the Pro Max's screen. Both were measured as identical in color accuracy and brightness tests.

iPhone 15 Pro vs Pro Max: Cameras

Cameras are one of the key areas the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max differentiate themselves, specifically with their telephoto lenses.

The iPhone 15 Pro has a 3x 12MP telephoto camera, which you'll recognize from previous Pro iPhones. The iPhone 15 Pro Max however has gained a 5x zoom for closer portrait shots, something that rumors say won't come to the smaller Pro iPhone until the iPhone 16.

iPhone 15 Pro Max shown in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The 48MP main, 12MP ultrawide and 12MP selfie cameras are identical on both phones. New to both is improved low-light performance, and a 24MP photo mode for more detailed default images without breaking out the more detailed but storage-guzzling 48MP ProRAW mode.

Another new feature to both phones is the ability to capture 3D Spatial Videos. These are something you can watch on Apple's upcoming Vision Pro headset, which can capture the same type of video, but is far less portable than an iPhone.

iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Battery

Apple's not announced the official capacities of the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max's batteries, but according to teardowns, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has a 4,441 mAh battery to the 3,274 mAh one in the Pro.

In our iPhone 15 battery tests, we found that the iPhone 15 Pro Max lasted 14 and 2 minutes when set to constantly scroll web pages until switching off. The iPhone 15 Pro got to 10 hours and 53 minutes, which is not quite as impressive.

Both phones have gained USB-C ports for more convenient charging, although neither appear to have gained any additional charging speed as a result of the new port. Fortunately, both can transfer data at 10 gigabits per second (Gbps), which is far faster than you were able to send files from an iPhone through a wired connection before.

iPhone 15 Pro vs Pro Max: What's the same?

Several of Apple's upgrades to its Pro iPhones apply to both the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. For one, the new design, which features rounder edges and titanium side rails for a fresh look and greater durability.

You also get the same A17 Pro chipset in both phones. This 3nm chip offers incredible performance, particularly for gaming thanks to its ray tracing technology.

iPhone 15 Pro shown in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

On the sides of both phones, an Action button has arrived to replace the mute switch. You can use this to mute the phone with a tap and hold gesture, or alternatively customize it to have a different function in the Settings app.

The colors available for both the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are the same selection of four. Those are black titanium, white titanium, blue titanium and natural titanium.

iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Verdict

Both the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are great phones, but the iPhone 15 Pro Max sits at the top of our best phones guide for a reason.

iPhone 15 Pro Max shown in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

For users who prioritize versatile photography, or longer battery battery and a larger display, then the Pro Max is the obvious choice. But for users looking for a more compact phone that features all the same performance and design features, plus most of the same camera tech, and for $200 less, the iPhone 15 Pro should be the phone to go for.

How we test

In order for a smartphone to make our best phone list, it needs to excel on several tests that we run on every handset. We perform some of these tests in our labs and some in the real world.

When it comes to performance, we rely on such synthetic benchmarks as Geekbench 6 and 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited to measure graphics performance. These tests allow us to compare performance across iPhones and Android devices. We also run a real-world video transcoding test on each phone using the Adobe Premiere Rush app and time the result.

To measure the quality of a phone's display, we perform lab tests to determine the brightness of the panel (in nits), as well as how colorful each screen is (DCI-P3 color gamut). In these cases, higher numbers are better. We also measure color accuracy of each panel with a Delta-E rating, where lower numbers are better and score of 0 is perfect.

One of the most important tests we run is the Tom's Guide battery test. We run a web surfing test over 5G or 4G at 150 nits of screen brightness until the battery gives out. As noted above, a phone that lasts for at least 10 hours has good battery life, while phones that last 11.5 hours or more are among the longest-lasting phones we've tested.

Last but not least, we take the best phones out in the field to take photos outdoors, indoors and at night in low light to see how they perform versus their closest competitors. We take shots of landscapes, food, portraits and more, and also allow you to be the judge with side-by-side comparisons in our reviews.

For more information, check out our how we test page for Tom's Guide.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.