iPhone 15 Review: A Worthy Upgrade?

 iPhone 15 Review

The release of the iPhone 15 has undoubtedly captured the attention of tech enthusiasts and Apple loyalists alike. Apple's latest offering may appear visually similar to its predecessor, the iPhone 14, but beneath the surface, it harbours an array of exciting upgrades that make it a worthy investment. From the incorporation of the Dynamic Island feature to an enhanced display and an upgraded camera system, the iPhone 15 packs a punch.

Design: A Familiar Yet Sturdy Aesthetic

In terms of design, the iPhone 15 maintains the aesthetic continuity of its predecessors, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 13. The dimensions remain largely unchanged, with the device feeling slightly lighter. Notably, this year brings the introduction of the Dynamic Island, a significant innovation. The iPhone 15 upholds Apple's reputation for exceptional build quality, exuding a robust feel with no hints of flex or hollowness.

The display notch that was conspicuous in the iPhone 14 has given way to Dynamic Island, similar to the one found in the Pro models. This design change introduces new user interface elements, such as notification bubbles, taking advantage of this innovative feature. Despite its size, the Dynamic Island offers a more contemporary look compared to the previous notch.

While the display bezels of the iPhone 15 aren't the slimmest, they are perfectly reasonable for a modern smartphone. Apple has chosen to maintain a flat display, distinguishing itself from the curved displays seen in many Android devices. The overall shape remains consistent, with rounded corners and a contoured edge on the aluminium middle frame. The "sandwich" design, where the front and back panels sit flush with the middle frame, is preserved.

The back of the iPhone 15 sees no significant changes, with the glass back surface complementing the camera island, featuring various materials and colours. Colour options include Black, Blue, Green, Yellow, and Pink. The surface texture is etched to provide a subtle matte finish.

Moreover, the iPhone 15 boasts Corning Gorilla Glass on the front and Ceramic Shield, a durable glass panel. It comes with IP68 ingress protection, making it capable of withstanding submersion in up to 6 meters of fresh water for 30 minutes. This practical feature ensures the device can be cleaned with water, though excessive cleaning might affect the oleophobic display coating.

The device's controls are minimal yet efficient. The top features a single antenna line and no secondary microphone, as Apple has incorporated a mic within the rear camera island. The right side houses a prominent power button, ergonomically positioned for ease of use and offering satisfying tactile feedback. The volume buttons on the opposite side are a testament to Apple's commitment to high-quality button design. The familiar alert slider remains on the standard iPhone 15's left side, while the Pro models have transitioned to a button-based approach. The left side is home to the SIM tray.

The bottom side accommodates the bottom-firing speaker, forming part of a stereo setup, and the main microphone, concealed beneath grills. A significant addition this year is the USB Type-C port. It's worth noting that the iPhone 15 lacks a fingerprint reader, relying solely on Face ID, which functions flawlessly under all conditions and stands as one of the best face sensors in the smartphone market.

Display: A Visual Feast with Enhanced Brightness

The iPhone 15 sports a Super Retina XDR OLED display, maintaining a 6.1-inch size and a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, consistent with the iPhone 14. The resolution stands at 1179 x 2556 pixels, offering an 86.4% screen-to-body ratio and a pixel density of 461 ppi, providing a sharp and vibrant visual experience. What sets the iPhone 15 apart is its significantly improved brightness.

This device offers a seamless HDR experience, supporting HDR10 and Dolby Vision. You won't need to worry about HDR hardware decoders or DRM certification, as the iPhone 15 handles HDR content with ease. Streaming services like Netflix ensure that compatible HDR content is readily available. Apple's HDR implementation allows for flexible use, even in windowed video scenarios.

It's important to note that the iPhone 15 maintains a 60Hz refresh rate, in contrast to many Android devices in a similar price range that offers higher refresh rates. However, the absence of a high refresh rate is offset by the display's remarkable pixel response times, delivering crisp visuals without blurring or artefacts, even when displaying fine text in motion.

OS: iOS 17 - A Minor Yet Significant Update

The iPhone 15 comes equipped with Apple's iOS 17, introducing several new features, albeit within the framework of a relatively minor update. Some notable additions include a Standby mode during charging when the phone is in landscape orientation, an expanded clock and calendar display with notifications, and a Night version with red colour accents.

Widgets now offer interactivity, allowing users to perform actions directly from certain widgets, such as controlling smart home devices from a Home widget. FaceTime now supports leaving audio and video messages for users who are unavailable.

The Messages app introduces a Check-In feature, which notifies friends or family members when you arrive at your destination during travel. If your progress is delayed, the app shares your location, battery level, and cell service status with the selected contact.

Live Voicemail is a new addition that transcribes voicemails, enabling users to read them instead of listening, particularly useful for calls from unknown numbers or spam.

Customizable call screens called Contact Posters have been introduced, allowing users to personalize how call notifications appear, even in third-party apps. These posters are also used for sharing contact details with others through a feature called NameDrop, which simplifies contact sharing between devices.

Emergency SOS via satellite is now available on all recent iPhone models, including the iPhone 14 and 15 series, offering text-only communication and two-way interaction during emergencies. The Find My app can also share your location with friends for added safety.

The Crash Detection feature, thanks to a new accelerometer capable of detecting severe impacts, is available on all iPhone 15 models. Located within the Emergency SOS menu as "Call After Serious Crash," this feature automatically contacts emergency services in the event of such an incident, with no additional settings available.

Processor: The Mighty A16 Bionic

Powering the standard iPhone 15 is the Apple A16 Bionic chip, the same chipset found in last year's iPhone 14 Pro models. The A16 chip, built on a 4nm process, offers enhanced performance compared to the A15 Bionic in the iPhone 14, thanks to a 5-core GPU with 50% more bandwidth and two faster performance cores that consume 20% less power.

The A16 Bionic chip configuration includes a Hexa-core CPU (2x3.46 GHz Everest + 4x2.02 GHz Sawtooth) and a 5-core Apple GPU.

In terms of memory and storage, the standard iPhone 15 boasts 6GB of LPDDR5 RAM, while the Pro models feature 8GB. Storage options include 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB, with our reviewed unit housing 512 GB.

Benchmark results affirm Apple's chip dominance. The A16 Bionic chip maintains its position at the top of the CPU performance charts. The Geekbench 6 test recorded figures of 2597 and 6541 in the single and multiple CPU benchmark scores, respectively. In comparison, the single-core figure of the iPhone 15 surpasses that of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, while the multi-core figure outperforms the iPhone 14 Pro. The GPU benchmark result further solidifies Apple's performance, ranking higher than the iPhone 14 Pro in the Geekbench test.

Gaming on the iPhone 15 is a smooth and uninterrupted experience, with the device remaining comfortably warm during extended usage. Despite featuring last year's chipset, it effortlessly handles various tasks and applications, maintaining Apple's signature fluidity and responsiveness.

Camera: Capturing Moments with Precision

The iPhone 15's camera system comprises a dual-rear camera setup featuring a new 48MP primary camera and a 12MP ultrawide camera, complemented by a 12MP selfie camera. The primary camera leverages computational techniques to deliver default 24MP stills, despite the sensor's native 48MP resolution. It features 100% focus pixels, PDAF, sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS), and an f/1.6 lens. The ultrawide camera operates with an f/2.4 lens, while the selfie camera benefits from PDAF and depth data from the front-facing SL 3D sensor.

The iPhone 15's camera system stands out for its remarkable consistency, showcasing minimal shot-to-shot variation. In well-lit conditions, the main camera excels, offering enhanced detail in the new default 24MP resolution compared to the previous 12MP iPhone 14. Sharpness, dynamic range, and colour accuracy meet Apple's high standards.

The 48MP mode provides additional resolution flexibility, though it sacrifices some sharpness. However, the dynamic range and colour rendition remain consistent. The traditional 4-way binning mode of the 48MP sensor, resulting in 12MP shots, delivers similar quality to the 24MP mode, with slightly less fine detail.

Despite the absence of a dedicated telephoto lens, the iPhone 15 effectively captures 2x zoom shots using the 48MP main camera, providing adequate detail. These shots are saved in 12MP resolution and may exhibit slight fuzziness in certain elements.

The iPhone 15's camera system offers portrait capabilities with the main camera at both 1x and 2x zoom, featuring an Automatic portrait feature for quick toggling of portrait effects. This feature also allows users to create portraits after the fact by adjusting focus and background blur in the Photos app. The 1x portraits exhibit sharpness, accurate subject detection, and pleasing skin tones, even in challenging lighting conditions. At 2x zoom, portraits may appear slightly softer, but they remain acceptable, particularly in dimmer environments. The 12MP ultrawide camera performs well, delivering accurate details and vibrant colours.

In low-light conditions, the main camera consistently produces quality shots with minimal noise, good detail, and natural colour rendering. Shadows tend to be slightly darker, enhancing the overall look. Night mode activates automatically, improving shadow noise and sharpness while maintaining a natural appearance. Users can adjust the capture time manually or disable Night mode as needed.

The selfie camera captures sharp photos with pleasing skin tones and features. Users can choose between full-size selfies or cropped versions at around 7MP resolution. Selfie portraits exhibit superb subject detection and separation, accompanied by convincing background blur effects, which can be applied post-capture.

Battery: Steady Performance with Optimizations

The iPhone 15 comes equipped with a 3349 mAh battery, slightly larger than its predecessors. Apple has made optimizations on both the software and hardware fronts. However, in terms of charging speed, the iPhone 15 doesn't stand out. It supports up to 20W charging via standard Power Delivery, a rate that remains consistent even with a powerful 100W charger. Fully charging the device takes approximately 1:30 - 1:40 hours.

Verdict: A Worthy Upgrade

Apple's pricing strategy for base iPhone models has remained consistent, and the iPhone 15 is no exception. The base model with 128GB of storage starts at Rs. 79, 990. For dedicated iPhone enthusiasts, upgrading from the iPhone 14 to the iPhone 15 is a worthwhile decision. However, choosing between the iPhone 14 Pro and the standard iPhone 15 requires careful consideration of the features and performance differences between the two models.

In conclusion, the iPhone 15 is a testament to Apple's commitment to innovation and excellence. It combines a stunning design, a vibrant display, a powerful processor, and an impressive camera system. For those seeking a top-tier smartphone experience, the iPhone 15 is a compelling choice.