Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Max is just the right amount of “Whelming”

I’ve been a journalist for the better part of my career and hyperbolic articles like Business Insider’s Apple’s new iPhone 15 is an underwhelming ‘slap in the face’ is the kind of journalistic drivel that results when one attempts to crowd source opinions on something like the new iPhone 15 Pro Max. When the Cupertino company unveiled the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro at its “Wonderlust” event, social media critics were fast to critique its plethora of improvements despite the fact their latest flagship phone has a range of new features, including USB-C charging, a superior 48 mp camera (algorithmic processing and editing to boot), a new A17 bionic chip and a customisable “action button” reminiscent of the Apple Ultra watch. Caveat: I don’t upgrade my phone year-on-year, in fact, coming from an iPhone 13 Mini and its ‘charge me twice a day’ requirement, Apple’s latest iPhone 15 Pro Max is a veritable quantum leap in computing and content creation.

Where the iPhone 15 Pro Max “Overwhelms” – Light Weight (thank you titanium)

Do you know why I got the iPhone 13 MINI? Have you ever been ninja punched in the face as you doom scrolled moments (ok, 30 minutes MAX) before sleep claimed you? No? Well, I can tell you that it absolutely hurts to be punched by a steel and glass device descending from your outstretched arm towards your visage at 53 metres per second (terminal velocity I know, but the impact feels terminal at minutes to midnight depending on whether you get the flat screen side or the metal edge of the phone); hence, anything remotely “Pro” or “Max” was a weight and size that I would be hesitant about. Now, iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max come with a sleek and modern design utilising titanium for the frame, which not only enhances the aesthetics but also makes the phones lighter.  

Titanium is around 40% lighter than steel, which has allowed Apple to reduce the weight of the device while maintaining its tensile strength. Though the 221 grams iPhone 15 Pro Max weighs  is only 19 grams ligher than the iPhone 14 Pro Max in absolute terms, weight reduction thanks to the new titanium frame has created a noticeable difference in the device’s feel and handling, reducing the amount of wrist torque needed to rotate it, which further contributes to a sense of lightness when handling the phone. In fact, the first comment from curious onlookers when they take hold of the device is – “i can’t believe it’s so light!” In engineering terms, this phenomenon is known as angular mass – essentially, the more the weight concentrated at the center of an object, the less force it takes to turn it. Conversely, the more of the weight found at the edges, the greater the force needed to turn it.

The practical thing I loved about the new iPhone 15 – USB C Charging

My iPad Pro uses USB C charging, as does my M2 MacBook Air. Quite frankly, I was tired of packing a separate accessories pouch to manage an extra Lightning cable and a spare whenever I was travelling. The arrival of USB C allowed me to join the rest of the world on a charging standard that had been mainstream for many other consumer electronic devices for years now. This also means that  when I’m low on battery, I can “borrow some juice” in a pinch at a Starbucks, Cafe or simply from a fellow traveller grabbing some transit respite at the airport lounge without having to factor in the odds that someone has a Lightning cable.

What I really appreciated about the latest iPhone Pro Max – Battery Life

I had seen the 13 Pro and 14 Pro Max models last for more than a day. Suffice it to say, my Mini wasn’t quite holding up to the rigours of media life and media production. Anyone whose workflow includes editing videos of fashion and watch launches within a 12 hour work day on a smartphone knows how detrimental these processor intensive tasks are on battery life – Typically, my iPhone 13 Mini required a mid-day charge. On the highly efficient A17 bionic chip, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the champ for streaming video playback, with 25 hours of battery life compared to 20 hours for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Plus. That said, The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the Pro model to get from Apple if you want serious staying power. We saw slightly more than 13 hours of battery life in our testing, which is a bit shorter than the iPhone 15 Plus but more than 20 minutes longer than the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

What I truly loved: The intersection of A17 Computing Power and Powerful Optics (supported with software)

On the new iPhone 15 Pro max, powerful camera upgrades the equivalent of seven pro lenses endow you with the power to capture content with incredible image quality. The Main camera allows users to switch between three popular focal lengths — 24 mm, 28 mm, and 35 mm — 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.Apple uses a new innovation they call “tetraprism”, a design that allows light rays to be reflected four times through the glass letting light travel for longer without actually needing a physically larger design, in essence allowing 120mm focal length –  a significantly update than the 3X 77mm focal length that you find on the standard iPhone 15 Pro (as well as last year’s 14 Pro phones). It also has a 25 percent larger sensor than the 3X camera in the 14 Pro Max while keeping an f/2.8 aperture and offering 5x Telephoto camera (exclusively on iPhone 15 Pro Max). In addition, there’s more advanced image stabilisation and autofocus 3D sensor-shift module is necessary when shooting at longer focal lengths due to handshake making the Pro Max the undisputed leader for close-ups, wildlife photos, and catching the action from further distances.


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. For greater creative control, users can also adjust the focus point after the photo has been taken, a feature that was only previously available for cinematic mode footage. Night mode is better than ever, it was already good on the 13 Pro but the 15 Pro Max gets better with sharper details and more vivid colours, now powered by the Photonic Engine, including Night mode portraits, enabled by the LiDAR scanner.

Icing on cake, new Smart HDR 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.. This advanced HDR rendering is also available to third-party apps, so images can look even better when shared online.

Continuing Apple’s leadership in smartphone silicon, the A17 Pro is the industry’s first 3-nanometre chip and the biggest GPU redesign in Apple’s history. The new CPU is up to 10 percent 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 percent faster and unlocks entirely new experiences, featuring a new 6-core design that increases peak performance and energy efficiency. I didn’t get to test its gaming potential but if you follow Augustman’s Instagram, you will notice a slew of recently shot stories and reels, all produced and edited natively on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

A17 Pro includes a dedicated AV1 decoder, enabling more efficient, high-quality video experiences for streaming services. The best quality video in a smartphone is upgraded thanks to A17 Pro, with improvements in low-light video and Action mode. 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.

iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max will be available in black titanium, white titanium, blue titanium, and natural titanium finishes. iPhone 15 Pro starts at S$1,649 or S$68.71 per month, available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB storage capacities. iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at S$1,999 or S$83.30 per month, available in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB storage capacities.