iOS 18 has convinced me to upgrade, but not to an iPhone 15 Pro

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

I recently upgraded my iPhone 12 to the iPhone 14 Pro Max and wasn’t considering upgrading again. However, Apple's WWDC show has changed my mind and now I am considering upgrading. There's a catch, however, because I’m still not interested in the iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max for several reasons.

If you didn't see the show then let me tell you, Apple’s WWDC presentation revealed several amazing updates coming for iOS 18, but none more impressive than the introduction of Apple Intelligence.

However, Apple has chosen to lock some of the best features from the majority of iPhone models. The reason appears to be due to the lack of RAM in older iPhones. It would appear that Apple Intelligence requires a device with at least 8GB of RAM, most iPhones don’t exceed 6GB. 

While I am tempted to upgrade my device, I still haven't been sold on the iPhone 15 Pro for several reasons, so I might have to wait a while before trying any new iOS 18 features.

 What is the issue with the iPhone 15 Pro series 

iPhone 15 Pro Max Action mode with 5x telephoto lens

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

It may seem odd that, despite wanting to upgrade, I have no interest in the only available device at this point. However, I have no interest in the new phone for a simple reason, it isn’t different enough for me to hand over the cash. 

In my mind, a new phone should be noticeably different from the prior device, either in terms of hardware or software. For fairness's sake, let's compare my current iPhone 14 Pro Max with the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

At an initial glance the phones look almost exactly the same, and the specs back that up. Firstly the screen sizes and refresh rates are pretty much the same, and the cameras have similar sensors, aside from a higher zoom for the telephoto lens, and the battery life is roughly the same. 

However, there are some differences in the iPhone 15 Pro's favor. Firstly there's the inclusion of the action button which you can set to perform multiple tasks. The other major difference is the new A17 Pro chip, which is a noticeable upgrade from the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s A16 Bionic chip.

When we tested both phones on Geekbench we saw a 10% increase in the single-core score and a 9% increase in the multicore scores. Overall, the issue is that there just isn’t enough here for me to fork out over a grand for a new iPhone 15 Pro Max. 

While there were some changes between the devices, they were pretty minimal. The two iPhones looking the same was already a negative point, but the general lack of any real increases is the final nail in the coffin. 

I could be tempted by the iPhone 16 Pro Max 

Unofficial renders of the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max from the front and back

(Image credit: MacRumors)

A few months ago I wrote a piece about how uninterested I was in the iPhone 16 Pro Max due to the limited performance and hardware changes being relatively minor. However, I also stated that AI's inclusion could change my mind. Interestingly that seems to be what has happened.  

I honestly didn't expect that the introduction of Apple Intelligence would incline me towards the iPhone 16 Pro Max, but the features alone are enough. Firstly, the introduction of text rewriting and generation are big sells simply because of my haphazard typing. 

Due to being dyspraxic I often misspell words and WhatsApp messages. This can be embarrassing, especially when messaging someone for work, but Apple's Intelligence could help to solve this issue. 

Other features like enhanced photo editing will only improve the rumored camera upgrades coming to the iPhone 16 Pro Max, something the iPhone 15 Pro Max sorely lacked. Added to this is the introduction of image generation, and genmojis in particular, add some needed fun and could draw me back to casual SMS and RCS messaging

But how does this relate to deciding between the iPhone 16 Pro Max over the iPhone 15 Pro Max — after all, both phones are getting the same features right? That's the thing, it's more due to what is being upgraded and how that adds a perceived value. 

For instance, the difference between the A16 and A17 Pro chips was minimal, but the difference between the A16 and the presumed A18 Pro chip in the iPhone 16 Pro Max will likely be larger. As such, paying for the upgrade feels like a better value for money. 

When I upgrade a phone I expect a noticeable difference from my current model, which is what happened when I changed from the iPhone 12. I suspect that the change to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, even with iOS 18's improvements, would still feel minimal and leave a bad taste in my mouth.

I'm going to wait for the next generation

iOS 18 logo on an iPhone 15 Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Choosing when to upgrade your device can be tricky, especially with how similar new phones all seem to be. If you hold the last three iPhones next to each other, you’d probably be hard-pressed to tell the difference between them at a glance. The big change nowadays is in software, and iOS 18 is looking to be a major improvement.

However, my issue with the lack of changes in iPhones still stands and Apple's iOS 18 isn't enough to stop me from skipping a generation. However, it has convinced me not to hold onto my current phone for as long as possible, and that might have been Apple's goal all along. 

Saying all that, it is still relatively early days for the iPhone 16 Pro Max, so most of what we hear are rumors at best. So, I will keep my eye on our iPhone 16 Pro hub to keep track of all the latest news to make sure I still feel tempted when it finally releases.

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Staff Writer

Josh is a staff writer for Tom's Guide and is based in the UK. He has worked for several publications but now works primarily on mobile phones. Outside of phones, he has a passion for video games, novels, and Warhammer. 

  • lewval
    admin said:
    Apple's WWDC was a great show, and there's a lot of temptation to upgrade, but just not to an iPhone 15 Pro series.

    iOS 18 has convinced me to upgrade, but not to an iPhone 15 Pro : Read more
    So you're basically setting up consumers to upgrade despite the power of the 15 Pro series. How much is Apple paying you?