iPhone 15 Pro Max review six months later: Still an interesting update

Long-term iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Apple's best smartphone >5

iPhone 15 Pro Max in the long term

4.5/5 Buy at Verizon

I spent six months with the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max, and not only did it withstand the rigors of everyday life — it was worth every penny.

Exactly six months ago, Apple released the iPhone 15 line. Since then, the 15 Pro Max has become our daily driver.

It's gone on vacation, experienced major life events, and taken more photos than any other device we've owned before it.

There is a growing consensus around the world that the iPhone is a bit outdated. These year-over-year changes are increasingly minor and lack the wow factor that Apple is famous for.

We too sometimes find ourselves in this boat, but with the iPhone 15 Pro Max it's different. Six months later, it feels like a completely new experience. It's not perfect, but I haven't enjoyed an iPhone this much in a long time.

iPhone 15 Pro Max review six months later: moving to the Max

We've been using the 6.1-inch Pro for the past few generations, but since Apple included a better camera in the iPhone 15 Pro Max, we decided to give it another try.

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One of the first things that attracted Our focus was how different the transition to titanium was. It's significantly lighter and doesn't weigh down our pockets as much as we remembered.

I also missed the larger screen than we expected, and the battery life was incredible. By evening I still regularly have over 80% battery charge.

Overall I'm glad I went with the larger size and will probably go for it again next time I upgrade.

iPhone 15 Pro Max

iPhone 15 Pro Max features a 6.7-inch (diagonal) OLED display. Buy at AT&T Buy at Verizon Buy at Xfinity

iPhone 15 Pro Max review six months later: action button

One of the most important new features in the iPhone 15 Pro line is the action button. But even six months later, we doubt its usefulness.

iPhone 15 Pro Max long-term review: the new action button has its advantages

I go through stages where we just… forget it exists . The Action button can't do anything that you couldn't easily do another way — such as launching a shortcut or opening an application.

Yes, it may be faster for some tasks, but muscle memory is hard to break.

I still mindlessly swipe left for the camera, tap the lock screen to turn on the flashlight, triple-tap the side button to turn on the magnifier, and change focus modes directly through Control Center.

iPhone 15 Pro Max Long Term Review: Some Action Button Shortcuts

I'm currently set to open the Siri Shortcuts folder. This gives us quick access to measuring blood glucose levels, turning on the vacuum cleaner, feeding the cat, and other common tasks.

But this is only when we remember that it exists. Unfortunately, this is not so common.

iPhone 15 Pro Max review six months later: other new features

Beyond the action button, there are other changes to the iPhone 15 Pro Max that are worth checking out.

For example, USB-C. I have no doubt that for some users this makes a big difference and was much needed, but since we've had the phone I've probably only used it once or twice.

Long-term iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Sleep mode is still a great iOS 17 feature

I would prefer a Qi2 or MagSafe charger. There are a lot of options, and the standby mode on the MagSafe charger is too cool.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I don't have to worry about carrying around a Lightning cable — but it wasn't as big of a shift as I thought.

The iPhone 15 Pro is also the first time Apple has added Thread radio to one of its smartphones. Thread is a networking standard that will remain unused by most users, but for anyone who loves smart home technology, it's a great addition.

Long-term review of iPhone 15 Pro Max: Thread allows you to control your smart home faster

AppleInsider hasn't measured this, but oddly enough, it feels like accessories are supported — for example, smart plugs, curtains and lighting — respond to commands faster because our phone is almost always nearby.

iPhone 15 Pro Max also looks better. Older models were impossible to keep clean. This matte finish looks great and resists fingerprints and is one of the reasons I prefer using a case without a body.

iPhone 15 Pro Max review six months later: Cameras

Perhaps the most important update to the iPhone is the camera, so let's talk about that a little. Fall 2023 brings many significant changes to focal length settings in the Camera app, Smart HDR5, and 5X Telephoto.

iPhone 15 Pro Max long-term review: The telephoto lens looks much better than the iPhone 15 Pro

This new telephoto lens is exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro Max and comes in handy. Not only do you get significantly better photos with optical zoom, but you now also get 25x digital zoom.

Sometimes we even use our phone as a magnifying glass or binoculars to see what is impossible to see with the naked eye. It's like a new superpower with the iPhone.

What I like most about the new camera is the combination of live and portrait photos. You no longer have to choose one or the other.

Long-term iPhone 15 Pro Max review: We use the Portrait and Live selector all the time

When you take a photo and it detects a person, a dog or cat, it automatically records depth data along with the image. This was very important, especially with a child.

I can take ten photos of a child running down the hall without taking my eyes off him. When browsing through photos, I can select one motion shot to save as a Live Photo and another to save as a clean black-and-white portrait with bokeh.

To bring all these camera features together, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max can record spatial video for use with Vision Pro. Unfortunately, Apple puts owners of its title headset in a difficult position here.

iPhone 15 Pro Max long-term review: Apple has to cut down the 12MP ultra-wide lens significantly for spatial video

For spatial video recording, you're limited to 1080p resolution. In 2024, standard HD won't be enough.

This is because Apple will have to use a 12MP UW lens to capture stereoscopic images. When the 12MP camera is cropped, it can only shoot 1080p video.

I hate this trade-off, but it looks like Apple may be trying to fix this with the upcoming iPhone 16 Pro. They are expected to come with a larger 48MP ultra-wide-angle lens that will have 4K resolution.

Long-term iPhone 15 Pro Max review: We love watching spatial videos on the Vision Pro

These stereoscopic videos look great, especially if you don't do it too much move the camera. Watching spatial videos of a child running through the yard brings tears to my eyes.

They immerse you in that moment more than anything else. Not everyone has an Apple Vision Pro, but start capturing those memories now as you look forward to purchasing a second, third, or even fourth generation headset.

iPhone 15 Pro Long-term review Max: front glass

Our only gripe with the iPhone 15 Pro Max isn't even just about the phone. This is something that has plagued all previous iPhones.

This is the front glass.

Apple claims it has a special ceramic protective coating, but those tiny scratches still remain indefinitely. Six months have passed and my iPhone has developed small marks.

This can be mitigated somewhat by using a case, but even that doesn't prevent the possible accumulation of micro-abrasions that dance across the display.

Long-term iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Why does the screen scratch so easily?

You can't see them when it's on, but when the screen is off they're everywhere . This is a phone with a price tag of over a thousand dollars, but it's just the junk in your pocket that ruins it.

We haven't dropped the phone or put it in our pockets with keys, but these scratches are prevalent, likely due to the incredibly hard grain of sand that gets in there from time to time. Not only does it look bad, but it can also reduce resale value.

This is not just a cosmetic effect, it can also reduce the resale value of the phone. For people who update frequently, this makes a big difference.

The good news is that Apple has finally decided to do something about it – — just not anytime soon.

Rumor has it that the iPhone 17, which debuts in 2025, will feature a new anti-glare screen that is more resistant to scratches. I can't wait for it, but like I said, he's not here today.

iPhone 15 Pro Max review six months later: Should you upgrade?

I love this iPhone. There are bigger changes this time around that will make the game feel fresh again.

USB-C has been a bit of an upgrade for me and I often forget the action button. But I like the titanium body, the new telephoto lens, and the other significant improvements to the camera.

Long-term iPhone 15 Pro Max review: This iPhone has become a part of our lives

Plus we got some smart home love this year thanks to Thread. I didn't even understand the A17 Pro processor, which ushered in a new era of gaming.

An iPhone is still an iPhone, so there will always be an overwhelming sense of familiarity. But this phone still makes me want to use it every day.

iPhone 15 Pro Max in the long term review: Pros

  • The action button is still good.
  • Very fast operation and long battery life.
  • The telephoto lens is a huge upgrade.
  • Spatial video for Vision Pro is amazing.
  • The combination of live photos and portrait photos is huge.
  • USB-C makes cable management easy.
  • Net radio makes your smart home faster

iPhone 15 Pro Max long-term review: cons

  • The screen is easily scratched
  • The action button is easy to forget

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Where to buy iPhone 15 Pro Max at a discount

Apple's iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at $1,199, but wireless carriers are incentivizing the smartphone's release by driving the cost down to rock bottom through credits.

The best iPhone deals are at your fingertips in our roundup, but you can also jump directly to individual carriers below.

  • AT&T Wireless
  • Verizon
  • Visible
  • Red Pocket Mobile
  • Xfinity

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