iPhone Diary: First impressions of the iPhone 15 Pro Max – 9to5Mac

When I say first impressions of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, I mean just that: I’ve owned the phone for a couple of hours, and so far done nothing other than set it up, play with it a little, and test the new 5x telephoto camera.
I do have to say that the delivery and setup experience wasn’t quite as smooth as it could have been …
First I got a text message saying my shiny new iPhone 15 Pro Max would arrive between 10:40 and 11:40. This was followed half an hour later by a “Sorry you weren’t in” message (narrator: he was) and telling me I could pick it up from a local drop-off center … tomorrow. Another 20 minutes passed, and another text message arrived, telling me I could pick it up now. Thankfully, I could.
Second, the direct iPhone to iPhone transfer process started, then required me to agree to iCloud terms and conditions. This done, it again presented the code to scan, but no longer saw my old phone. I rebooted my old phone, and then it proceeded … as far as asking me to do a software update on the new phone. After that, you guessed it, another code to scan, another failure to see my old phone, and another reboot.
Finally, while setup was underway, I got an email from Apple telling me it hadn’t been able to process my AppleCare payment as there was a problem with my card – the same card used to pay for the iPhone. The email told me I’d need to prove I hadn’t destroyed my iPhone 15 Pro Max in my 39 minutes of ownership, so once the setup was complete, I then had to run diagnostics and send the file to Apple. Finally, it accepted my payment (using the same card …) and confirmed I was covered.
There had been something of a mystery over the weight of the new Pro models.
I’m not dissing the achievement: a difference of 19g is quite impressive in engineering terms. At the same time, however, it’s not a lot of weight in terms of perceptibility when held in the hand: It’s only about 9% lighter. 
So how is it that media folk at the event so consistently described the new model as feeling significantly lighter? 
The answer turns out to be how that weight is distributed, reducing the angular momentum.
Even knowing this, however, I was absolutely astonished by just how much lighter the new model feels when holding one in each hand! Subjectively, it feels at least 30% lighter, maybe even more.
Mostly what the photo shows is just how far behind iPhones the 3rd-gen iPad Pro is when it comes to camera quality …
But personally I think both the polished stainless steel and brushed titanium finishes look good, and I can also confirm that both cease to do so the moment you touch them. The titanium is every bit as much a fingerprint magnet as the steel.
The backs look pretty much identical, and as I’ve said before, to me the whole issue of color and finish is rather academic: the moment I’d taken that photo, it went straight into a case, where it will spend the rest of its life.
Speaking of cases, I wasn’t remotely impressed by the FineWoven ones, so mine is now nestled inside a Nomad Modern Leather case. Sorry, cows: I’m just not yet ready to give up your skin.
The headline feature of this year’s Pro Max is the new periscope lens, and here’s a quick look at the difference between 3x and 5x:
Both unedited, straight from camera, bar resizing for the web.
So yep, a pretty significant difference – but how much use I’ll make of the 5x telephoto camera remains to be seen.
I will, of course, be reporting back on both photo and video performance in later diary pieces.
I immediately set mine to open the camera app, for a still photo.
I do really like the ability to do this, and then use the same button as the shutter release. It does feel weird having to hold it in to open the camera app, but it’s clear that Apple’s tests revealed how easily the button could be accidentally triggered with just a press.
I generally use wireless charging, but for the times I don’t, it will be nice being able to charge any of my Apple devices (bar the Watch) with the same charger and cable. This will especially be the case when travelling.
I don’t know, this 15 Pro Max is not convincing me enough to upgrade from my 14 Pro Max (and I upgrade every year).

I see these pros:
+ Lighter.
+ Better 5x zoom vs 3x zoom.
+ Vision Pro 3D video recording.
+ Easier and more affordable reparability.

… but I also see these huge cons:
– Most camera upgrades are also available in the 14/13 Pro Max.
– Worse impact resistance, even to normal drops (everyone was expecting an iPhone Ultra with amazing resistance, same as the Watch Ultra 1.0).
– Fingerprint magnet. It will need a case = same final weight as 14 Pro Max without case.
– The GPU upgrade will only be useful after 10-11 months (same as with the Dynamic Island).
– AirPods Pro 2.1 (USB-C Edition) aren’t lossless when connecting to this iPhone.
– Forced to buy the 256 GB Pro Max version, if you want all the upgrades.
I have plenty of charging bricks and USB-C cables, so I don’t personally mind the lack of charger in recent iPhones, and the woven cable – pretty as it is – is unlikely to be taken out of the box.
I’m also looking forward to the much faster data transfer speeds when using the phone as a video camera – more on that topic on Monday.
The subjective weight difference is a significant benefit. The titanium is pretty, but then so was the steel, and both attract fingerprints the way that walking down the street wearing a Vision Pro would attract attention. The 5x telephoto lens is a significant upgrade, though I’ll need to wait and see how much I use it. I appreciate the Action Button, and fully expect it to remain a dedicated camera button. The switch to USB-C will be particularly nice when travelling.
If you’ve taken delivery of your own shiny new iPhone 15, do share your own first impressions in the comments. If there’s anything in particular you’d like me to test with mine, again, do let me know.
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Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!


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