I just tried the iPhone 15 Pro — and this is the most underrated upgrade

iPhone 15 Pro in Natural Titanium
(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 15 Pro looks pretty similar to the iPhone 14 Pro series at first glance. But I was shocked when I picked up the iPhone 15 Pro Max and started playing with all of the new features.

Yes, the new Action button opens up all sorts of possibilities. In fact, our TikTok video that shows off this new feature has already racked up more than 14 million views. As you'll see in my iPhone 15 Pro Max hands-on review, the Action button still serves as a mute switch but lets you map all sorts of shortcuts to it, including launching the camera, flashlight, voice recorder and more with a long press.


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My problem with the Action button is that you can only assign a single shortcut to the button at once. I get trying to simplify things for users — and the interface for choosing your Action button action is slick — but I'd like more options.

Apple iPhone 15 held in the hand.

(Image credit: Future)

The other thing that stands out is the move to USB-C charging. It's nice to see Apple finally join the rest of the world, and I appreciate that the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max support USB 3.0 for faster transfer speeds to Macs and external storage devices.

Titanium is the real game changer

For my money — and we are talking a lot of money with the $999 iPhone 15 Pro and $1,199 iPhone 15 Pro Max — the move to titanium on the new Pros is the biggest deal. I was shocked when picking up the iPhone 15 Pro Max in particular. How can a 6.7-inch flagship be this light?

It's quite rare to see flagship phones get lighter from one generation to the next, and Apple's use of titanium makes it possible.

The iPhone 15 Pro series uses Grade 5 titanium for the frame, replacing the stainless steel sides on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. The result is a design that's not just tougher but remarkably light in the hand and in your pocket.


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For example, the iPhone 15 Pro Max weighs 7.8 ounces, compared to 8.5 ounces for the iPhone 14 Pro Max. That might not seem like a lot, but to me, it makes a big difference in everyday usability. The regular iPhone 15 Pro also gets a weight reduction, weighing 6.6 ounces versus 7.3 ounces for the previous Pro.

It's quite rare to see flagship phones get lighter from one generation to the next, and Apple's use of titanium makes it possible. 

Trimming more than just the bezels

iPhone 15 Pro Max display bezels

(Image credit: Future)

Apple claims that the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max have the thinnest borders ever on an iPhone, and in person I did appreciate seeing the smaller bezels versus the iPhone 14 Pro Max. You get a more immersive viewing experience on the new model.

But that's not the only benefit. Trimming the bezels on the iPhone 15 Pro also trims the dimensions of the phones. The regular iPhone 15 Pro measures 5.77 x 2.78 x 0.32 inches, compared to 5.81 x 2.81 x 0.31 inches for the iPhone 14 Pro. 

The iPhone 15 Pro Max measures 6.29 x 3.02 x 0.32 inches versus 6.33 x 3.05 x 0.31 inches for the 14 Pro Max. So both of the Pro iPhones are more compact despite being a bit thicker. This helps with being able to use the bigger screen iPhone with one hand. 

Apple is leading, not following

Apple is definitely way behind on adopting USB-C, but overall the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max seem to be leading the way when it comes to overall design. Unsurprisingly, Samsung is also looking at using titanium for the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra coming next year. And now that small phones seem to be pretty much dead, the push toward more compact and lighter big-screen flagships is welcome in my book. 

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Mark Spoonauer

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.

  • mark_887797
    Lol. I tried the iPhone 15 Pro — and it's the most OVERRATED upgrade hyped by Tom's,

    Now, I’m not insinuating that Apple slipped a few bucks to Tom’s Guide for that glowing review. But it does make you wonder if they got their hands on that shiny new phone for free. Or perhaps it was another entity that had them promote it.

    After all, anyone with a shred of critical thinking can see that the iPhone 15 is just another shiny object to keep consumers distracted.

    Remember 2021? Ah, those were the days. We all knew that the iPhone 15 was going to be as innovative as a paperweight. Even Forbes and other tech pundits were throwing shade at Apple. Yet here we are, with the iPhone 15 failing to even trend on Twitter/X.

    And yet, despite all this, people are not planning to order online or line up to buy the iPhone 15. No, they’re lining up for the iPhone 14 because the iPhone 15 is about as exciting as watching paint dry and there are discounts to be had on the iPhone 14s. It’s a mad, mad, dysfunctional world we live in, fuelled by warped perspectives.
  • mleitman
    My Essential phone had a titanium and ceramic body years ago. So, as usual, Apple claims innovation and media lap it up.
  • njbiro
    I’m sure the weight savings is very noticeable - and very desirable. I also agree with Mark’s assertion that if small phones are going away, it’s a good thing that the larger ones are being made lighter.

    I have an iPhone 15 Pro in my cart - lined up for a one-click pre-order on September 15th. But I‘m thinking maybe I won’t pull the trigger. Other than the titanium (and only with the Pros at that), the 15 series is a disappointment to me. It smacks of a high level of cynicism on the part of Apple.

    Maybe I’ll wait to see how the iPhone 16 works out next year. But I said the same thing about the 15 last year. Perhaps, after being all Apple for more than two decades, it’s time to start looking outside the ecosystem.
  • jmayday
    I also think weight reduction was good and needed change. 14 Pro (Pro Max especially) was way too havy thus making ergonomics rather bad.

    I already tried two times using iPhone (13 Pro and 14 Pro Max) and two times I eventually returned the divice. Small things were killing the experience. In Android world details are getting polished more and more over the years while in iPhone same things are kept not improved. I miss some features in both messages app and dialer app. Those are two basic apps everyone is using most. I know and I understand that Apple can't change those apps that much because millions of users are already used to them but small improvements and UI refinement wouldn't hurt.

    To me Apple products seems always no. 1 if it's about design. But man, messages app not only looks just ugly to me (if I compare to Samsung messages app on Android or Google messages) but as I already mentioned - is bit limited.

    I was hoping 15 pro will be finally "the iPhone" for me. I love the titanium frame (iPhone 14 frame was not looking good and was not comfortable to use) but there are zero improvements to camera system... and I don't like that Apple is applying more and more processing to photos. Also, they upscale images which is crazy! Files are bigger and you need more space in internal storage/iCloud. Only to charge customer more....

    Gosh, I really wanted to like the iPhone but I'm not sure if I want to get disappointed 3rd time :/
  • njbiro
    All I can tell anyone is that I actually was able to order a 15 Pro in titanium a couple of minutes after pre-orders began, with delivery set for the release date of September 22. Then, a few hours later, I canceled the order.

    Other than the weight savings from the titanium, the entire phone is too much of a disappointment to me. Performance from the new A17 chip seems no better than each generation of processor has been compared to the one before. No great leap in power or efficiency with 3nm silicon. Battery life is no better. I simply don’t care about the camera nor does the dynamic island impress me. I don’t even notice the notch on my current phone. It’s just not worth the money to me.

    I’ll keep my 13 Pro until next year. But if I’m not impressed with the iPhone 16 lineup, I suspect I will look elsewhere.

    I have voted with my wallet. And there you have it.