iPhone 15 Plus vs iPhone 13 Pro Max: Which Apple phone should … – XDA Developers

The latest iPhone 15 lineup includes exciting options, but do you need to upgrade to a new iPhone 15 Plus when you have a 13 Pro Max?
The iPhone 15 Plus is one of Apple’s most affordable models in 2023, but it comes with a large 6.7-inch display, the A16 Bionic chipset, an IP68 rating, and other great features that make it an excellent choice for any Apple user.
Apple’s best option in 2021 is still a very capable and relevant device in 2023. It features Apple’s A15 Bionic chip, a versatile camera configuration, long-lasting battery life, and other great features that still make it a compelling option today.
Getting the latest iPhone model every year might not be as great for your wallet as you might hope. Even though Apple has managed to keep the same pricing strategy, coughing up $800 or more for a new device every 12 months isn’t for everybody. Indeed, you can trade in your current iPhone to get exciting discounts and a more budget-friendly price tag, but do you really need to trade in your current device to get a new model of the iPhone 15 lineup?
Getting a new iPhone 15 Plus might seem like the best option if you’re interested in having the latest device around, especially if upgrading from an iPhone 11 or an iPhone 12, but is it better than your iPhone 13 Pro Max? Or, to sum it up, should you hand in your current smartphone to save on an iPhone 15 Plus, or should you stick with the iPhone 13 Pro Max for another year? Keep on reading, and we will help you see which device is the best for you in 2023.
Apple’s new iPhone 15 Plus is the perfect option for those looking to get a new phone with a large display and a relatively affordable price tag. It starts at $899 on its base model that still packs 128GB storage space under the hood. Indeed, you can also get yours with 256GB and 512GB storage if you’re willing to pay $999 and $1,199, respectively. What’s even more important is that you will be able to find this device new almost anywhere you look, as every major carrier is selling it, and you will also be able to get yours from Apple’s official website, Best Buy, Amazon, and more. Preorders for this device started on September 16, with in-store availability starting on September 22, 2023.
In contrast, the iPhone 13 Pro Max launched and released in September 2021 with a $999 starting price, making it one of Apple’s most expensive options to get back then. It arrived with 128GB storage space on its base model, with storage options going all the way up to 1TB, which would cost you $1,499.
At the time of this post, finding a new and unlocked iPhone 13 Pro Max model in 2023 is no easy task, as it’s mainly available in refurbished condition, with prices starting at $879 if you choose to get yours in Sierra Blue from Amazon in Renewed Premium condition or get the same device in Graphite for $980 from Best Buy. And if you really want to get your hands on a new model, I suggest you check out eBay, even though these devices normally sell for $1,030 in new condition, fully unlocked to use on your preferred network.
Most Apple fans are completely in love with the design language applied to the latest iPhones, and I must agree, as both devices are a treat for the eyes. The iPhone 15 Plus and 13 Pro Max look amazing. Despite the generational difference, most people will have a hard time telling them apart — minus the triple-camera setup on the back of the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the dual-camera one on the iPhone 15 Plus. Still, there are several important design differences that you must take into consideration.
Both devices have a similar footprint, with the most important difference coming in weight, as the iPhone 15 Plus is 39 grams lighter than the iPhone 13 Pro Max. This is because the newer model comes with an aluminum frame, while the iPhone 13 Pro Max uses stainless steel. You also get the choice between five color variants with both models.
The iPhone 15 Plus and 13 Pro Max look amazing. Despite the generational difference, most people will have a hard time telling them apart.
The iPhone 15 Plus has a color-infused glass back and a Ceramic Shield front that, according to Apple, is tougher than any smartphone glass. You will find the same Ceramic Shield on the iPhone 13 Pro Max, but this one comes with the classic notch instead of Apple’s new Dynamic Island and a textured matte glass back.
It's important to notice that both models feature a 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR Display, but you only get to enjoy ProMotion technology (up to 120Hz refresh rate) on the Pro models. Apple’s latest improvements also mean you'll get up to 2,000 nits of peak brightness with the iPhone 15 Plus, which will be useful in direct sunlight, while the panel on the iPhone 13 Pro Max tops out at 1,200 nits.
The most important differences between these devices, in the end, include Apple’s decision to finally ditch the Lightning connector in favor of a USB-C port on the new iPhone lineup.
Looks are important, but the other important differences are found under the hood of these powerful beasts. The iPhone 15 Plus comes with a more recent A16 Bionic chip with six CPU cores that include two performance and four efficiency cores, a 5-core GPU, and a 16-core Neural Engine. This is all more than enough to load the latest apps and run iOS 17. The iPhone 13 Pro Max features a still capable A15 Bionic chip with a 6-core CPU, a 5-core GPU, and a 16-core Neural Engine. You won’t see big differences in the RAM segment, as Apple has included 6GB modules in each of these devices.
You might think that there isn’t a huge difference between these chipsets, but you must remember that Apple’s A15 Bionic chip was made with 5nm architecture, while the A16 Bionic uses 4nm technology. This makes it faster and more power efficient, which will play a major role in battery consumption. For instance, a new iPhone 13 Pro Max will allegedly deliver up to 28 hours of video playback, while the iPhone 15 Plus will top out at 26 hours, or at least that’s what Apple claims on its official website. Still, the important part is that both devices arrive with more than enough power to get you through the day. It seems that the extra screen brightness is what makes battery life take a hit in the newer model, but we'll have to wait for our review to get the full story.
This is where this comparison gets even more interesting, starting with the fact that the new iPhone 15 Plus includes a dual-camera setup with a 48MP main shooter with ƒ/1.6 aperture and a 12MP, ƒ/2.4 ultrawide sensor. If you’re unfamiliar with apertures, you must know that this controls how much light passes through your lens, which adds depth of field and will help you obtain those gorgeous portrait photos with a bokeh effect or a blurred background to make you stand out. This camera gets you sensor-shift optical image stabilization, 0.5x, 1x, and 2x optical zoom options, a new Photonic Engine, Smart HDR 5 for photos, improved portraits with focus and depth control, and it’s also capable of capturing up to 4K HDR at 30FPS in Cinematic mode.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max arrived with a triple camera configuration, including a 12MP, ƒ/1.5 main camera, a 12MP ultrawide, with ƒ/1.8 aperture, and a 12MP telephoto lens with ƒ/2.8 aperture. It lacks a Photonic Engine, but you get the same sensor-shift OIS, optical zoom options, a still acceptable Smart HDR 4 for photos, macro photography capabilities, and even Apple ProRAW, which isn't available in the latest model. You won’t get the same resolution with Cinematic mode, as this device tops out at 1080p at 30FPS. Still, you get ProRes video recording up to 4K at 30FPS and features like slo-mo, time-lapse, and more.
The selfie camera is almost identical. They both come with a 12MP TrueDepth front camera with Deep Fusion, Animoji and Memoji, and more. However, they differ in aperture, as the iPhone 15 Plus has ƒ/1.9, while the selfie camera in the iPhone 13 Pro Max gets ƒ/2.2 aperture. The rest of the specs and features remain relatively the same, except for ProRes video recording, which is only available in the older model.
Choosing between the iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 13 Pro Max might not be such a difficult task after all, especially if you’re taking availability and pricing as the most important aspects when making your choice. The iPhone 15 Plus is an easy sell, as it comes with the latest version of iOS out of the box, a very capable and versatile camera, a long-lasting battery, and tons of power under the hood to keep you connected with your friends and family. Plus, you can also score trade-in savings almost anywhere you want.
The iPhone 15 Plus is the best option today, as it is easier to find, and there are several ways to help you get your device for less. You also get some of Apple’s best specs and features, so you will be more than satisfied with your purchase.
In contrast, the iPhone 13 Pro Max could be a better option if you’re looking to get a pre-owned device that looks better and might feel better in hand with the extra weight. In the end, you will basically get the same performance from the latest and more affordable option. Remember that an older iPhone model will also have to deal with throttling issues to preserve battery life, while the latest models won’t give you that problem, or at least during the first year.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max is still a great device in 2023, but you will be lucky if you manage to find one new. However, you can still get a pre-owned model for less, which is also an excellent alternative.
If it were my money, I’d upgrade to the iPhone 15 Plus, as it will stay relevant for longer and give me a better trade-in value for next year’s devices. Finding a new iPhone 13 Pro Max is kinda difficult in 2023, and it won’t be an affordable alternative, as you will most likely have to pay it in full without any installment plans or special promos. If you’re still not sold on any of these two devices, you can also check out our selection for the best phones in 2023, just to ensure you see more options before deciding on your new device. And if you’re already sure you’re getting the iPhone 15 Plus, you should also check out our selection for the best cases to protect your investment.
Commerce Writer at XDA Developers and Deals Guru at Pocketnow. He spends most of his time searching for the best tech deals to help you save on the best and latest tech. 


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