iPhone 15 problems — all the biggest issues so far

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

The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro handsets have been in early adopters’ hands for nearly a week. While most buyers have experienced trouble-free usage, a number of users have reported a few teething problems with their new handset.

Some of these are undoubtedly more serious than others, but when you’re paying between $799 and $1,599 for a phone, it’s not unreasonable to expect everything to be smooth sailing. Here are the current issues with the iPhone 15 and their likelihood of being fixed.

1. The iPhone 15 Pro is overheating for some

As we reported just after the iPhone 15 started shipping in September, some users are experiencing the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max overheating — with one blogger recording a high of 118°F. For some users, this happens even during simple tasks like scrolling through social media feeds or watching videos, while for others it seems to be linked to charging.

We tested this out for ourselves using an infrared thermal camera, and while we didn't measure a temperature quite as high as the extremes reported on social media, the iPhones certainly got toasty. The worst we recorded was 104.1°F, which was achieved with an iPhone 15 Pro Max charging and playing video at the same time.

Initially, it seemed like a number of possible factors at play here. First, as the majority of complainants are using the iPhone 15 Pro, it would seem to be linked to the brand new A17 Pro chipset, though the fact that som iPhone 15 models also experienced the overheating issue would seem to rule out that possibility. Then again, Apple reportedly ended up cutting back last year’s A16 chipset due to overheating fears.

Some speculated that it might also be to do with the titanium alloy chassis, though again, that would only explain iPhone 15 Pro models overheating.. The analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes it has to do with this and subsequent compromises made on the thermal design.

For its part, Apple blamed the issue on software, not hardware, and has since released iOS 17.0.3 to fix the issue. We plan to keep an eye out for whether reports of overheating continue now that the software fix is available.

2. Color-changing chassis 

Another problem unique to the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max’s titanium shell is just how much of a fingerprint magnet it is, as the tweet below neatly demonstrates.

Worse, some users have actually found their fingerprints discolor the titanium frame, which is a bit worrying if you’ve spent hours agonizing over which iPhone 15 Pro color to plump for.

The good news, Apple says in a support document, is that any discoloration is temporary. “The oil from your skin might temporarily alter the color of the outside band,” the company writes. “Wiping your iPhone with a soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth will restore the original look.”

3. Durability concerns 

There are also a number of question marks over the iPhone 15’s durability, especially when compared to previous generations. Not only have some reported dubious build quality in their day-one devices, but there are questions about how well equipped they are to deal with rough handling.

First up, a video from AppleTrack’s Sam Kohl shows the iPhone 15 Pro failing a series of increasingly unpleasant drop tests. Given the heights involved, there would be no shame in this, except that the iPhone 14 Pro tested at the same time came through the same trials relatively unscathed. 

Another data point comes from smartphone torture specialist JerryRigEverything. He put the iPhone 15 Pro Max through its paces — and it didn’t cope well, with the back glass cracking with only a little thumb pressure (7:20 in the video).

Curiously, the same wasn’t true of the regular 15 Pro (10:40 in the video), but you still might want to consider taking out AppleCare Plus — or at least investing in one of the best iPhone 15 Pro cases.

4. FineWoven cases getting scratched and stained

One way to dodge this altogether, of course, is by getting a case — but Apple’s new-look FineWoven cases are attracting a whole heap of criticism given their premium $59 price tag. In short, they appear to be extremely susceptible to scratches and stains.  

Repair experts iFixIt literally put the cases under the microscope to figure out what’s going on. The good news is that minor scratches aren’t damaging the fibres, but it won’t ever look pristine again. 

“When we scratched the surface, the jostled threads didn’t actually break, nor was the dye damaged,” the site explains. “Rather, the scratch-jostled fibers reflect light irregularly compared to the untouched bunches, creating a lasting visual mark. The thread itself is relatively soft, so most pocket items will leave an impression.”

So, fine for protection, but don’t expect it to stay pristine for very long. Indeed, Vox Media’s Parker Ortolani found that display models in one Apple store were showing the strain less than a day after going on display, which isn’t a great look.

5. The data transfer startup loop

Plenty of buyers will have been coming from an older iPhone, and they were met with a particularly nasty bug on day one.

As we explained at the time, some users (including Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman) were stuck in a boot loop upon trying to transfer their existing iPhone data. 

Apple quickly issued a software update (iOS 17.0.2) to counter this, but some users weren’t prompted to download it before hitting the problem. For them, the solution involved connecting their new iPhone 15 to a PC or Mac with a cable and following some simple steps.

“For me, this was no hassle,” wrote Gurman. “But this is clearly a not-so-hot experience for consumers just getting their hands on a new phone — and an especially tricky undertaking for the uninitiated.”

6. Some laggy performance issues

It’s not clear how widely spread this complaint is, but some users are also complaining about performance on the new iPhone 15. Sometimes, this comes by the way of laggy or choppy animations, like below.

The good news is that this is likely nothing to do with the hardware itself, but the software. As all iPhone 15s come with iOS 17 preinstalled, it’s likely that Apple still has a bit of optimization to do, so look out for patches over the coming weeks and months with notes referring to “bug fixes” and/or “stability”. 

More from Tom's Guide

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.