Wayfarer review: Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Max is a global lightweight standout

by James Wilkinson

As there is with all Apple releases, the latest iPhone always has a lot of hype around it and for good reason – on an annual basis, the tech powerhouse releases new models that quickly result in global acclaim and right now, that has been firmly the case for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, which have been designed with aerospace-grade titanium that’s strong yet lightweight to deliver Apple’s lightest Pro models ever.

First up, it’s all about the design, look and feel of the new model. The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are available in four stylish new finishes, including black titanium, white titanium, blue titanium and natural titanium.

The new design also features contoured edges and a customisable ‘Action’ button, allowing users to personalise their iPhone experience, as what has been seen with the Apple Watch Ultra 2.

Apple has also given the cameras a massive boost in the iPhone 15 Pro range. According to Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, Greg Joswiak, new powerful camera upgrades.

These upgrades enable the equivalent of seven pro lenses with incredible image quality, including a more advanced 48MP Main camera system that now supports the new super-high-resolution 24MP default, the next generation of portraits with Focus and Depth Control, improvements to Night mode and Smart HDR, and an all-new 5x Telephoto camera exclusively on iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The all-new A17 Pro chip unlocks next-level gaming experiences and pro performance, while when it comes to transfers, the new USB‑C connector is supercharged with USB 3 speeds – up to 20 times faster than USB 2 – and together with new video formats, enables powerful pro workflows that were not possible before, according to Apple.

“This is the most pro line-up we have ever created, with a state-of-the-art titanium design, the best iPhone camera system yet that enables game-changing new workflows, and the A17 Pro chip, which ushers in a new chapter of performance and games never before seen on iPhone,” Joswiak said.

“iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max represent the best of Apple design and industry-first innovations to help enrich the everyday experiences of our users, while enabling them to unleash their creativity,” he said.

Available in 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch display sizes, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max feature a strong and lightweight titanium design, a first for iPhone.

“This premium alloy – the same used in spacecraft – has one of the highest strength-to-weight ratios of any metal, making this Apple’s lightest Pro lineup ever,” according to Apple.

Both models feature a new refined brush texture, contoured edges, and the thinnest borders on iPhone.

Apple says the Pro line-up is built to last, combining the strength of titanium with the toughest back glass in a smartphone and the industry-leading Ceramic Shield on the front.

“Using an industry-first thermo-mechanical process, the titanium bands encase a new substructure made from 100 per cent recycled aluminium, bonding these two metals with incredible strength through solid-state diffusion,” Apple says.

Impressively, the new frame is better than we have ever seen from Apple and it offers a lot more versatility, particularly if accidents happen.

“The aluminium frame helps with thermal dissipation and allows the back glass to be easily replaced,” Apple says.

You’ll also be super impressed when it comes to the viewing experience of the iPhone 15 Pro range.

“This new design highlights the Super Retina XDR display with Always-On and ProMotion technologies for an exceptional viewing experience,” according to Apple.

Then there’s the all-new Action button, which replaces the single-function switch used to toggle between ring and silent, offering additional options so users can choose between quickly accessing the camera or flashlight; activating Voice Memos, Focus, Translate,3 and accessibility features like Magnifier; or using Shortcuts for more options.

A press-and-hold gesture with fine-tuned haptic feedback and visual cues in the Dynamic Island ensure the new button launches the intended action.
When it comes to performance, you’ll most definitely be impressed because the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are powered by A17 Pro, the industry’s first 3-nanometer chip, which brings pro performance and capabilities.

A17 Pro brings improvements to the entire chip, including the biggest GPU redesign in Apple’s history.

The new CPU is up to 10 per cent faster with microarchitectural and design improvements, and the Neural Engine is now up to 2x faster, powering features like autocorrect and Personal Voice in iOS 17.

The pro-class GPU is up to 20 per cent faster and unlocks entirely new experiences, featuring a new 6-core design that increases peak performance and energy efficiency.

Now with hardware-accelerated ray tracing — which is 4x faster than software-based ray tracing — iPhone 15 Pro offers smoother graphics, as well as more immersive AR applications and gaming experiences.

Additionally, a new USB controller enables USB 3 speeds on iPhone for the first time, now supporting much higher transfer speeds and video output up to 4K at 60 fps HDR.

Through a deep integration of hardware and software, the advanced camera systems on iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max both pack the equivalent of seven pro lenses — all enabled by A17 Pro.

With the power of computational photography, the 48MP Main camera, built exclusively for the Pro line-up, gives users even more flexibility with a new 24MP super-high-resolution default, offering incredible image quality at a practical file size ideal for storing and sharing.

The Main camera allows users to switch between three popular focal lengths — 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm — and even choose one as a new default. In addition to 48MP ProRAW, the Main camera also supports 48MP HEIF images with 4x more resolution.

iPhone 15 Pro features an expansive 3x Telephoto camera, and iPhone 15 Pro Max provides the longest optical zoom ever on iPhone: 5x at 120mm.

Great for close-ups, wildlife photos, and catching the action from further distances, the new Telephoto camera on iPhone 15 Pro Max has an innovative tetraprism design with a combined optical image stabilisation and autofocus 3D sensor-shift module, Apple’s most advanced stabilisation system yet.

Next-generation portraits on iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max feature sharper detail, more vivid colours, and better low-light performance.

For the first time, users can take portraits without having to switch to Portrait mode. When there’s a person, dog, or cat in the frame, or when a user taps to focus, iPhone automatically captures depth information, so users can turn photos into stunning portraits later in the Photos app on iPhone, iPad, or Mac. For greater creative control, users can also adjust the focus point after the photo has been taken.

When it comes to taking shots, night mode gets better with sharper details and more vivid colours, now powered by the Photonic Engine, including Night mode portraits, enabled by the LiDAR scanner.

There’s also a new Smart HDR which captures subjects and the background with more true-to-life renderings of skin tones, while ensuring photos have brighter highlights, richer midtones, and deeper shadows when viewed in the Photos app.

This advanced HDR rendering is also available to third-party apps, so images can look even better when shared online

The preferred smartphone for creative pros and filmmakers gets even better with new pro workflows.

Users can now get up to 20x faster transfer speeds with an optional USB 3 cable. iPhone and third-party solutions like Capture One also help photographers create a pro studio, allowing them to shoot and instantly transfer 48MP ProRAW images from iPhone to Mac.

ProRes video can be recorded directly to external storage, enabling higher recording options up to 4K at 60 fps, and greater flexibility on set when using iPhone as the main camera.

iPhone 15 Pro also introduces a new option for Log encoding and is the first smartphone in the world to support ACES, the Academy Colour Encoding System, a global standard for colour workflows.

The iPhone 15 Pro lineup also offers convenient new ways to charge, find friends in busy places, and stay connected while travelling.

Both models use the USB‑C connector, a universally accepted standard for charging and transferring data, allowing the same cable to charge iPhone, Mac, iPad, and the updated AirPods Pro (2nd generation).

Users can also charge AirPods or Apple Watch directly from iPhone with the USB‑C connector.

Both models feature the second-generation Ultra Wideband chip, enabling two iPhone devices with this chip to connect at three times the range as before.

This opens up a new way to use Precision Finding for Find My friends, so iPhone 15 users can share their location and find each other, even in crowds.

The iPhone 15 line-up offers critical safety capabilities to provide assistance when it matters most, including Crash Detection7 and Emergency SOS via satellite.

Currently available in 14 countries and regions on three continents, Emergency SOS via satellite has made a significant impact in users’ lives.

iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max have also been designed with the environment in mind.

As Apple continues to work toward its 2030 goal of making every product carbon neutral — from design to manufacturing to customer use — the company is prioritising clean electricity across the entire supply chain and designing products with recycled and other low-carbon materials.

iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max now use more recycled content, with a 100 per cent recycled aluminium substructure and 100 per cent recycled cobalt in the battery — both firsts for Apple.

iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max also include 100 per cent recycled rare earth elements in all magnets and 100 per cent recycled gold in the USB‑C connector as well as the gold plating and tin soldering in multiple printed circuit boards.

Both models meet Apple’s high standards for energy efficiency and are free of mercury, PVC, and beryllium. Over 99 per cent of the packaging is fibre-based, bringing Apple closer to its goal of completely removing plastic from its packaging by 2025.

To further reduce impact on the planet, Apple will no longer use leather in any new Apple products, including iPhone accessories.

Apple has also introduced a new FineWoven Case with MagSafe and FineWoven Wallet with MagSafe, made from a durable and elegant microtwill with a soft, suedelike feel. The material is made from 68 per cent post-consumer recycled content and has significantly lower carbon emissions compared to leather.