I’ve spent less money on a shiny new iPhone 15 Pro Max than I did on my iPhone 14 Pro when it launched, yet I’m getting more for my money. Sounds unbelievable, and I’ve had to double-check the figures, but it’s certain — this year’s bigger phone was cheaper than last year’s smaller one.
Along with some other key changes, Apple has also solved all the problems I had with its largest iPhone last year, making the iPhone 15 Pro Max the obvious choice for me this year.
Expensive, but cheaper. Really
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Yes, the iPhone 15 Pro Max really is cheaper than the iPhone 14 Pro, at least it is if you’re in the same situation as I am. Be prepared for lots of numbers while I explain.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at $1,199, or 1,199 British pounds, as I’m buying one in the U.K., so there’s no doubt this is still a massively expensive smartphone. But what’s surprising is that I paid 1,209 pounds for my iPhone 14 Pro, and yet this year, I’ve spent a tiny bit less than that on the cheapest iPhone 15 Pro Max and, crucially, haven’t sacrificed anything at all.
The reason for this odd but beneficial pricing anomaly is first that I’m in the U.K.; the second is that I need 256GB of storage in my iPhone. For the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple has made 256GB the base level of storage space, but for the iPhone 14 Pro Max, it was 128GB. To get the 256GB iPhone 14 Pro Max, I would have needed to spend 1,309 British pounds. This was way too much, so at the time, I opted for the 256GB iPhone 14 Pro, which cost the aforementioned 1,209 pounds as it was still a step up from the base model.
My 10-pound saving is due to the obscene pricing for the iPhone 14 Pro series in the U.K. last year — and assisted by the decision to increase the base level of storage for the Pro Max model this year. This doesn’t convert over into the U.S., sadly, as prices were more reasonable in 2022, and a 256GB iPhone 14 Pro would have cost $1,099, while the 256GB iPhone 15 Pro Max is $1,199. These things almost never work out positively, and although the price difference is small, the fact remains I’ll spend less this year on a superior smartphone. Yes, I said superior, and that leads me to the real reasons why I’ve chosen the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
I can zoom in further
There was no difference at all between the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, outside of the screen size and battery capacity, which I found wasn’t enough to push me over the edge and to spend more money on the Pro Max model at the time. For the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple has added a 5x “tetraprism” optical zoom to the camera, and that’s very tempting indeed.
Now, I’m pretty disappointed Apple hasn’t given the 15 Pro Max a 3x and a 5x telephoto setup rather than the 2x and a 5x options, but I’m keen to try life with a 5x optical zoom again. The thing is, the last time I did this was with the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and the Huawei P40 Pro, and I do remember thinking the 5x did get a little too close to subjects and that 3x was really the better option for daily use.
If I thought this last time, why have I chosen to try one again? Since then, I’ve been converted to the joy of a 10x optical zoom by using the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and have taken a lot more photos of wildlife over the last year, where you aren’t always able to physically get close enough for a 3x zoom to be effective. While 5x isn’t 10x, it may strike an interesting balance and open up some new creative opportunities. I’ve lived with the 3x optical zoom on an iPhone for several years now, so I’m ready for a change.
It’s much lighter than before
I carry at least two phones around with me all the time, with one being whatever iPhone I purchase every year. I’ll say it’s part of my job, but it’s also because I’m a terrible geek. Size and weight then play a part, and the 240-gram iPhone 14 Pro Max weighed so much more than the 206-gram iPhone 14 Pro that I feared for the integrity of my pockets.
By using titanium instead of stainless steel for the iPhone 15 Pro series, Apple has cut the Pro Max’s weight down to 221 grams, which is still heavy, but crucially it’s 13 grams lighter than the Galaxy S23 Ultra. I’ve carried the S23 Ultra around a lot since release, and although it’s a massive phone, it has never been so ungainly I’ve wanted to leave it at home. The iPhone 15 Pro Max also has a slightly smaller overall footprint than the Samsung phone too.
The considerably lighter 187-gram iPhone 15 Pro is also very exciting, but because the leap from my 206-gram iPhone 14 Pro to the 221-gram iPhone 15 Pro Max isn’t horrendous, and given I’ve been able to wrangle the S23 Ultra for a while, the size and weight is not as off-putting as it was before. Of course, whether I eat my words in the next few months remains to be seen, but the heavy weight was one of the deciding factors when I bought the 14 Pro over the Pro Max, and that has been minimized now.
I’m still a bit worried
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is less money than I spent on a new iPhone last year, has the same amount of storage space, a cool exclusive camera feature, and it’s lighter than before too. All the unticked boxes that put me off before have been ticked in 2023, so that must mean I’m beaming with joy, right?
Yes, and no. I reviewed the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus, which felt more cumbersome and less ergonomic than the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro, and I do worry that I’m about to enter a world of irritation by owning a phone that’s too big. My Galaxy S23 Ultra experience does put my mind to rest somewhat, but just weeks into his ownership, Digital Trends’ Mobile Editor Joe Maring abandoned his iPhone 14 Pro Max for being too big and bulky. But then, he also went back to it and loved it, so I don’t know what to think.
What I do know is that I’m going to find everything out over the next few months as I face life with my bargain iPhone 15 Pro Max.