iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Pro: Differences Explained!

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iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Pro


Which one should you go for: the bigger iPhone 15 Pro Max which comes with naturally a larger screen, but also a bigger battery and brand new 5X zoom camera, or instead choose the more petite iPhone 15 Pro, which has the advantages of a manageable size, lower weight and still offers the same performance and pro features?

In this article, we go over all the differences big and small between the iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro, and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each of the models. How much longer battery life do you really get on the 15 Pro Max? Is the new 5X zoom camera such a big deal? Are there differences in performance with the larger 15 Pro Max chassis?

These are some of the question we answer below, but we also touch upon the price differences, and don't forget that the iPhone 15 Pro Max now starts at the quite steep price of $1,200, while you can have a base iPhone 15 Pro model for $200 less than that.

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iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Pro differences:
  • Pro Max has 6.7-inch screen, Pro has 6.1-inch one
  • Both have A17 Pro chip
  • Both have 8GB RAM
  • Pro Max has much larger battery
  • Similar charging speeds of around 20W
  • Same main and ultra-wide cameras
  • Pro Max has 5X zoom, 15 Pro features 3X zoom
  • Both get USB-C port

Table of Contents:

Design and Display Quality

Both Pro models weigh less than previous generations, but one is still very compact, and the other is not

These two are both 'Pro' iPhones, which means that they both have a few advantages over the regular iPhone 15 and the iPhone 15 Plus models.

First is the all-new titanium frame on both the 15 Pro and Pro Max. It has a brushed finish and the material itself is very durable and light weight. We don't think durability is the main benefit (after all, most iPhone accidents involve broken glass rather than the frame), but the reduced weight certainly is.

The iPhone 15 Pro weighs 188 grams, while the iPhone 15 Pro Max weighs 221 grams. This means the Pro Max is nearly 18% heavier, so the difference is there, but just not as huge as with previous models.

Both models also get slimmer bezels around the screens compared to the previous generations, for a more modern look and they are a tiny bit narrower too. One other subtle change is they have slightly contoured edges rather than perfectly sharp edges as on the previous models, which makes them just a bit more comfortable to hold.

We ought to say: these smaller changes make a difference. I personally would not consider the Pro Max in previous years because of the size and weight, and for the first time this year, I have second thoughts about it.

The rest of the look is familiar and shared on the two: a matte glass finish on the back of both of them.

Oh, and both have one brand new button: the Action button! It's located where the mute switch used to be, right above the volume keys. By default, it's set to silence the phone, but you can assign it to start the camera, a voice memo, or something else, or even run custom actions from the Shortcuts app. Right now, you have to hold the button to use it, a simple press will not do anything, and that sounds like a reasonable measure to prevent accidental presses.

We should say, however, that this button is quite hard to reach on the bigger Pro Max model specifically.

Then, the obvious design difference is the one in size: the iPhone 15 Pro Max remains an extra-large phone that is hard to use with one hand and not at all comfortable to carry in a pocket. The iPhone 15 Pro, on the other hand, is way more compact and is far easier to operate with one hand.

We should also mention the new USB-C port. You can use any standard USB-C cable to charge either phone phone, so that's great.

The only tricky part is when you want to transfer files. Both the Pro and Pro Max support USB 3 fast transfer rates of up to 10Gbps, but you need to purchase a USB 3-compatible cable to use these faster transfer rates. It's not a huge expense and most people probably won't need it anyway, but you should know that the cable that comes in the box is only USB 2 rated, so it has slower transfer speeds.

Last but not least, we have the following color choices:

  • Titianium Black
  • Titanium White
  • Titanium Blue
  • Titanium Gray

What's notable here is that Apple has ditched the vibrant colors and the gold color option altogether, and replaced them with more muted tonalities. Most people we talked to are not crazy about these colors, but the Gray version emerges as the fan-favorite.

Performance and Software

Same awesome A17 chip on both, same performance

Both the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max are powered by the same Apple A17 Pro chip.

This is first ever 3nm chip on a smartphone, a big technological leap over the 4nm chips used earlier. This new density allows for a whopping 19 billion transistors, 3 billion more than the previous generation. This is especially true for gaming as you have a new 6-core GPU that is way more powerful, while for CPU performance, you get a 10% increased speed when using the two high-performance cores.

The 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max also get 8GB of RAM, an improvement over the 6GB RAM in the 14 Pro series. However, the type and speed of the RAM memory has not changed, it's the same LPDDR5 type as before.

PhoneArena Performance Benchmarks:

Geekbench 6
SingleHigher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max2958
Apple iPhone 15 Pro2920
Geekbench 6
MultiHigher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max7288
Apple iPhone 15 Pro7447
3DMark Extreme(High)Higher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max4236
Apple iPhone 15 Pro3628
Extreme(Low)Higher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max2632
Apple iPhone 15 Pro2801

While we have quite a few differences in hardware, both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro run on the very same iOS 17 software.

iOS 17 might not bring ground-breaking changes, but it does bring quite a few new features. The Phone, Messages and FaceTime apps get a ton of new features for once, and autocorrect is also finally getting a lot better!

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The Phone app now supports new Contact Posters which is basically a picture you set for yourself and others see full-screen when they receive a call from you. You also have NameDrop, another super cool new trick where you just bring two iPhones close to exchange contacts. Then, in the Messages app you now have stickers and live stickers, which you can create from Live Photos, adding a personal touch.

Others on the iOS 17 new features list are Standby Mode, which turns your iPhone into a mini home hub while it’s charging, plus you get a bunch of smaller improvements too like interactive widgets, mood tracking in the Health app, a brand new journaling app, and more.

In the US, all iPhone 15 models come with eSIM only, so keep in mind that you will NOT be able to use a physical SIM with these phones. International models still support the physical SIM feature.

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The 15 Pro Max has a new zoom lens, so it has much better image quality at 5X zoom and beyond

Both the iPhone 15 Pro and the 15 Pro Max have three cameras on the back: you have a main camera, an ultra-wide shooter and a telephoto zoom, but the zoom one is 3X on the 15 Pro and 5X on the Pro Max.

Of course, the new 5X zoom camera is the star of the show on the Pro Max. It's a 120mm equivalent lens and it uses a fascinating tetra-prism design which bounces light four times before it hits the sensor. And the sensor itself is the first in the world to use 3D sensor shift stabilization, helping keep things steady and sharp in both zoomed in photos and videos.

Why don't we have the same new camera on the smaller 15 Pro model? It's probably because of space constraints, this module is larger and there is siimply not enough space to fit it in the smaller model. But rumors say next year both Pro iPhones will have it thanks to a new and larger design.

The main 48-megapixel sensor on both models appears to be the same as in the previous 14 Pro generation, but you do have cool new presets at 1.2X (28mm) and 1.5X (35mm).

Another huge improvement is the new 24MP default picture resolution. Basically, those shots have improved detail, but it's not such a huge difference as you might think. At least the good news is that the file size is not huge at all. A typical 12-megapixel shot file size is around 2MB, and a 24MP image is around 3MB. You can also capture 48MP shots not just in the ProRAW format, but in HEIF or JPEG as well, which is really nice.

There have been some improvements to the ultra-wide camera and the front cameras thanks to an improved Smart HDR algorithm, but in reality the difference compared to previous generations is quite small.

In terms of video quality, the big new upcoming feature is Spatial video which uses the ultra-wide AND main cameras to capture depth information. You will be able to play that immersive 3D-like video later on on the Apple Vision Pro headset. But that feature is only coming with an update later in 2023, so we have not tested it yet.

Audio Quality and Haptics

Both iPhone 15 Pro models come with a main bottom-firing speaker and a secondary speaker located in the earpiece.

With the iPhone 13 family, Apple made a big leap in loudspeaker quality, but since than it has hit a limit and we do not expect to see huge improvements in audio quality this year, but still some slight improvement is possible. The larger 15 Pro Max model because of its sheer size usually has boomier audio than the more compact 15 Pro.

In terms of haptics, Apple has been using the industry-leading Taptic Engine for years and it will continue doing so in the iPhone 15 Pro series. Expect the same excellent haptics as before, no changes on that front. 

Battery Life and Charging

Unchanged battery life, which still means Pro Max is a 2-day phone, Pro is a 1-day affair

The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with a 4,422 mAh battery, while the iPhone 15 Pro features a battery sizeof 3,274 mAh. That is a big difference: the Pro Max has a 35% larger battery!

You can also see the official battery life numbers for the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the 15 Pro models below:

In real life, expect this to translate to around 6 hours of screen time from the 15 Pro, and around 8 hours on the 15 Pro Max. This still means that the iPhone 15 Pro is a one-day phone, while the 15 Pro Max averages around two days on a single charge.

We have also performed our own battery testing, and here are the results.

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:

Web Browsing(hours)Higher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max19h 20 min
Apple iPhone 15 Pro14h 54 min
Video Streaming(hours)Higher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max9h 45 min
Apple iPhone 15 Pro6h 54 min
3D Gaming(hours)Higher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max9h 36 min
Apple iPhone 15 Pro8h 51 min

With a score of 19 hours and 20 minutes on our web browsing test, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is among the top-scoring phones ever, while the iPhone 15 Pro falls in the middle of the rankings with its nearly 15-hour result. In our YouTube video streaming test the 15 Pro Max once again comes on top with nearly 3 hours longer video playback.

Charging speeds, however, have not changed on both phones, despite the new USB-C port and these iPhones are still take their sweet time charging.

Apple officially says both support 20W charging, but with a fast charger we measured the iPhone 15 Pro reaches 23W, while the 15 Pro Max can charge at up to 25W.

And yes, both have the same MagSafe wireless charging technology, which works at up to 15W.

Specs Comparison

Here is an overview of the specs of the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the 15 Pro:

Don't forget that we have an in-depth iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Pro specs comparison here with a lot more details.

Summary and Final Verdict

This year, you have one more reason to buy the iPhone 15 Pro Max over the more compact iPhone 15 Pro: the 5X zoom camera. If you plan on using that longer zoom range, and if you care about the longer battery life and larger screen, the 15 Pro Max is a no brainer.

For those who prefer a compact phone, however, not much has changed. The 15 Pro Max still feels quite gigantic and despite the reduction in weight, it is still on the heavy side. Those people would be better off with the more petite iPhone 15 Pro.

So... which camp do you belong to?

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