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Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Proves That Small Changes Do Make the Biggest Impacts

Subtle, but important.
Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Proves That Small Changes Do Make the Biggest Impacts

When Apple announced the new iPhone 15 lineup in September 2023, there were lots of expectations to be met. But this time around, there also came piqued interest from people who would normally ignore every new iPhone release – Android users.

With the introduction of USB-C on Apple's new smartphones this year (thank you, European Union), it's safe to say that more and more people are genuinely taking a vested interest into a shift to Apple.

After nearly a month of use, I've got some thoughts on the iPhone 15 Pro Max (the same applies to the smaller 15 Pro model as well).

Change is good, no matter how small or intangible.

IMAGE: Danial Martinus | Mashable SEA

One of the highlights for this year's lineup of iPhones is the use of titanium in the outer 'frame' of the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max. Last year's Pro models used steel frames, which provided some reassuring heft — but subsequently made them a little heavy, too. The iPhone 15 Pro/Pro Max, on the other hand, feels noticeably lighter (nine and eight percent lighter than last year's models, respectively).

While the numbers don't sound like a significant change, it's better felt in-person. It has become so light, in fact, that even the 15 Pro Max has become a viable option for people who preferred the smaller 'Pro' models in the past, like yours truly.

In addition to this, Apple also fine-tuned the feel of the iPhone 15 Pro (Max) to rest in the hand a little more comfortably, thanks to rounded edges that don't dig into your palm — or pinky finger — after extended use. Again, this seems like a small, incremental improvement. However you see it, there's no denying it's a welcome change, especially for people who love living life on the edge and using their phones naked.

IMAGE: Danial Martinus | Mashable Southeast Asia

And for a while, I did use this phone without a case. For the first time in my life, using an iPhone bare naked was an absolute joy. As was the case with previous iPhone models, the frosted glass back does an excellent job at masking fingerprints and smudges.

Where it really shines this year is the titanium frame, which can still show smudges and fingerprints, but at drastically reduced visibility. Of course, if you're using the darker-colored models, like the Black Titanium and Blue Titanium, expect to see more pronounced smudges. Even then, they're not nearly as noticeable as on last year's models.

FineWoven is just fine.

Apple's FineWoven Case feels a little like suede or velvet. IMAGE: Danial Martinus | Mashable Southeast Asia

Naturally, most of you reading this will probably want to use your brand-new iPhone 15 Pro with a case. As announced during the launch of the phone, Apple has stopped producing leather products as part of sustainability efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. While this move is certainly understandable, it has left many wondering if its replacement would be worthy — especially for people who genuinely enjoyed the supple feel of past leather iPhone cases.

Enter FineWoven, which, as its name implies, is constructed of a "durable microtwill". It actually feels very much like suede. In line with Apple's eco-conscious pivot, the FineWoven Case (and MagSafe Wallet) is made from 68 percent post-consumer recycled content. According to Apple, this significantly reduces carbon emissions compared to leather.

IMAGE: Danial Martinus | Mashable Southeast Asia

Aesthetically, it definitely looks great, with the current lineup featuring earthy colors that blend well under any lighting. I managed to get my hands on the Pacific Blue and Taupe FineWoven cases, along with their MagSafe Wallet counterparts. In terms of feel, it's a mixed bag. Some people dislike it — either because of its unique and unfamiliar texture, or just because it's simply not leather. I, on the other hand, feel it's a worthy alternative, though there are some improvements (regarding long-term durability) to be made. Perhaps Apple will address this in future iterations.

For now, Apple's FineWoven iPhone cases and accessories are just fine — and that's okay.

Performance and battery life leave very little to complain about.

Featuring Apple's all-new A17 Pro chip, the iPhone 15 Pro (Max) delivers incredible speed and efficiency. I find that no matter what I'm doing, the phone doesn't even stutter or break a sweat. It's a really tough machine, to say the least. But that's not at all surprising, considering it's Apple's flagship smartphone — it's the kind of performance we've come to expect, and Apple has definitely delivered.

I managed to get an early preview of Resident Evil: Village, which — mind you — is not just some watered-down version tailored for the mobile space. It's the real deal; a full console-level game shrunk down to fit the confines of the iPhone 15 Pro. Graphics are extremely fluid and in-game lighting looks incredibly realistic, all thanks to hardware-accelerated ray tracing, which is four-times faster than software-based ray tracing.

It's extremely immersive, and it feels like I'm playing it on an actual console. The only reason I haven't spent more time with the game is my fear of all things scary and spooky. The loud, space-filling speakers on the iPhone 15 Pro Max don't help.

Additionally, battery life has been a dream. Getting through an entire day with one charge is almost effortless. I only find myself charging the phone while sitting in bed, getting ready to wind down. I then disconnect it from the charger right before heading to sleep. Gone are the days of battery-anxiety, especially with the bigger iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The Action Button does see a lot of action from me, personally.

IMAGE: Danial Martinus | Mashable Southeast Asia

When I first got my hands on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, I didn't think I'd use the Action Button for anything other than a silent switch — the default setting. But once I fell into the 'Shortcuts' rabbit hole, I started to realize the true value of this new button.

I've programmed it to open a menu of my favorite, most-used apps. This allows me quicker access to the things I need the most — like my Notes and Calendar apps, to name a few. I don't see the average user making much use of the Action Button for these things, but it's definitely a welcome change for people who are always on-the-go, getting things done.

IMAGE: Danial Martinus | Mashable Southeast Asia

Of course, the Action Button has much simpler real-world applications, too. One function that's definitely useful is programming it to be a 'Shazam' button. No more fussing through app menus just to find the Shazam app — especially useful when you're out and about.

The fact that you can program the Action Button to do just about anything, your options are quite literally endless — depending on how creative and technical you can get with Shortcuts. Even if you don't have the time (or know-how) to create custom Shortcuts, you can always use preset options created by other people.

Unsurprisingly great cameras, with a unique extra on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

This year, the iPhone 15 Pro lineup features a 48MP camera setup. It's one of the most intuitive and advanced camera systems ever put in an iPhone, especially when you consider the introduction of USB-C and the role it plays in video. More on this later.

On both 'Pro' models, you'll be able to enjoy a default 24MP setting that results with higher-resolution photos, making it super easy to crop and customize for various purposes — all without sacrificing image quality in post.

While both 'Pro' phones feature identical cameras for the most part, the 15 Pro Max does have one thing that sets it apart: 5x Optical Telephoto. This is a huge departure from last year's models, both of which offered 3x. While the move from 3x to 5x doesn't sound like much of a big change, the difference is extremely apparent when put to real-world use. This can also be seen when shooting video, with close-up panning shots looking extremely crisp and clear.

With Pro Log video in the mix, you can shoot directly to an SSD (via USB-C) without worrying about taking up any space on your iPhone's internal storage. This opens up a world of possibilities for both amateur and professional filmmakers alike. In fact, Apple's very own 'Scary Fast' event was shot completely on the new iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Worth the upgrade for feel alone.

If you've got the means, the iPhone 15 Pro (Max) is definitely a worthy upgrade, even if you're using last year's model. Its new titanium frame makes it incredibly lightweight, and rounded edges make the phone much more comfortable to hold – especially great if you don't plan on using a case.

With improved efficiency and stable battery life, it's definitely a machine you can rely on as a daily driver. Plus, with the suite of cameras and extended functionality (via the Action Button), the iPhone 15 Pro (Max) is a do-anything-anywhere kind of device.

The iPhone 15 Pro starts from RM5,499 (128GB base model), while the iPhone 15 Pro Max starts from RM6,499 (256GB base model).

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Cover image sourced from Danial Martinus / Mashable Southeast Asia.

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