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Apple iPhone 15 Plus review

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9.5Expert Score
Apple iPhone 15 Plus review: The missing link?

Apple’s iPhone 15 Plus is a fantastic device, with impressive hardware and software, but its price means you are better to spend a little bit more to get the iPhone 15 Pro.

Design
9.5
Performance
9.5
Pros
  • Solid, well-made hardware
  • Good battery life
  • Camera takes really nice photos
Cons
  • Can get the better iPhone 15 Pro for just a little bit more
  • USB-C transition can be a little frustrating

My last “Plus” sized iPhone was the iPhone 8 Plus, and I loved that phone. I spent a lot of time commuting at the time, and the extra screen made watching Netflix and playing games much more enjoyable.

From the moment I switched open the 15 Plus, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia for my old 8 Plus, though it quickly became apparent that the 15 Plus is superior in every possible way. 

The iPhone 15 Pro is, in my opinion, the best iPhone you can buy right now. But the iPhone 15 Plus offers a whole heap to keep you interested.

The biggest decision factor when choosing any iPhone this year is going to come down to budget, and that’s where I think the 15 Plus will miss out. 

If we take a quick look at RRPs, there’s just not enough difference between models to make the Plus a truly standout purchase. 

CapacityiPhone 15iPhone 15 PlusiPhone 15 ProiPhone 15 Pro Max
128GB$1,499$1,649$1,849N/A
256GB$1,699$1,849$2,049$2,199
512GB$2,049$2,199$2,399$2,549
1TBN/AN/A$2,749$2,899

The cheapest iPhone 15 Plus is only $50 cheaper than the 256GB iPhone 15. So do you get more storage or a bigger screen?

What’s more, the 256GB Plus is the same price as the 128GB iPhone 15 Pro, and in my mind the Pro is a much better purchase.

But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here. This is still a fantastic phone, bringing last year’s “pro” features to the masses.

Apple iPhone 15 Plus review: Design

From a distance, you’d be hard placed to tell the difference between the iPhone 15 Plus and the iPhone 14 Plus.

Get up closer, and there are two clear indications you’re looking at this year’s model. The first is the change from a Lightning port to a USB-C port on the bottom of the phone.

The shift is ultimately a good one, with a ubiquitous standard available across all manner of devices. But you may suffer some short term suffering with the shift – I only just realised my BackBone One PS Edition is useless with the newer phone.

The other key difference over last year’s model is the introduction of the Dynamic Island in lieu of the notch.

While the Dynamic Island was previously only available on last year’s Pro iPhones, it’s come down to the entry level this year, and it’s a welcome addition.

More and more apps are now delivering key information in the Dynamic Island. Everything from the music you’re playing to the time left on a cooking timer can be displayed in that little window. 

The back of the iPhone 15 Plus

Colours, dimensions and features

There’s a new range of colours in this year’s lineup. The review unit Apple sent me was the green variant, and it’s a nice light mint colour.

I do feel that coloured iPhones are a bit of a waste though, because almost everybody packs it inside a case. But for what it’s worth, I found the muted colours to be quite appealing.

I know not everybody feels the same, so if colours aren’t your thing, know that you can still get it in black.

Holding the iPhone 15 Plus in your hand is a bit of a stretch – it’s nowhere near as comfortable to hold one handed as the 15 Pro.

But when you are using it with two hands, the 6.7-inch, 2796‑by‑1290 pixel display is bright and clear. It’s an ideal size for watching Netflix and Apple TV shows on.

I’d say it’s also an ideal display for gaming, but the truth is that Apple has really created a bit of a gulf this year with its processors.

The A16 Bionic is a powerful, impressive processor in its own right. But if you want to take advantage of the upcoming arrival of console-quality games like Assassin’s Creed Mirage or Death Stranding, you’re going to need the A17 Pro in the iPhone 15 Pro models.

Close up of the iPhone 15 Plus camera

Camera specs

On the back of the phone you’ll find the same twin-lens system as the iPhone 15. It’s been bumped up in resolution over last year’s camera, and the software improvements still take nice photos.

The iPhone 15 Plus has a 48MP main camera with an f/1.6 aperture and optical image stabilisation.

It’s partnered with a 12MP ultra wide lens, at f/2.4 and a 120º field of view.

The quad-pixel sensor allows for 2x optical zoom as well, combining to create a pretty versatile snapper from a twin-lens system.

Looking at widgets on the iPhone 15 Plus screen

Apple iPhone 15 Plus review: Performance

While Apple has packed the better processor into its Pro lineup, don’t for a moment think the A16 Bionic chip is a slouch.

From a benchmarks perspective, the iPhone 15 Plus does a great job of holding its own against the Pro models.

Single-core:

Apple iPhone 15 Plus
2289
Apple iPhone 15 Pro
2892
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
2098
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
1999
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
1967
Apple iPhone 14
1738

Multi-core:

Apple iPhone 15 Plus
5388
Apple iPhone 15 Pro
7196
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
5512
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
5286
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
5088
Apple iPhone 14
4741

GPU:

Apple iPhone 15 Plus
22784
Apple iPhone 15 Pro
27332
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
9343
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
9100
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
3568
Apple iPhone 14
12507

The thing with scores like those achieved with the iPhone 15 Plus is that in real usage situations, the phone just does its job, and you don’t really notice.

The Plus is fast and responsive. Scrolling is effortless, and the screen responds admirably.

Even when putting a bit of load onto the processor by playing more graphically intensive games like Fantasian, it’s a solid performer.

One of the key benefits of choosing the Plus sized model is that it comes with a bigger battery inside. While Apple doesn’t announce the battery’s capacity, teardown show that it’s a 4,383 mAh battery inside.

That’s not as big as the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which offers a 5,000 mAh battery inside.

There’s more to the battery life equation than just capacity though. I found the iPhone 15 Plus would give me about a day and a half of juice between charges with moderate use.

But let’s face it – you’re going to stick it on the charger every night when you go to bed. With the Standby function in iOS17, it makes sense to get yourself a MagSafe charger and turning the iPhone into an incredible alarm clock as well.

Camera

Taking photos on the iPhone 15 Plus feels instantly familiar to anyone who has ever used an iPhone before. It’s a credit to Apple that the user interface hasn’t changed much since the initial Camera app.

There are, however, big improvements to this generation’s cameras, including a 48MP sensor with OIS. That allows the phone to create 24MP photos as standard, up from the 12MP in the iPhone 14 family.

That means you get truly impressive photos from this phone, even if it doesn’t quite offer the same range as the iPhone 15 Pro.

The camera software improvements this year are also pretty great. Like the 15 Pro, you can turn regular photos into Portraits, or turn portrait mode off if you prefer after the fact. 

The camera is getting all the information it needs to be able to customise the photo after the fact.

Apple iPhone 15 Plus review: Verdict

If I was buying an iPhone today, I would scrounge together whatever money I could in order to get the BTTR Hall of Fame iPhone 15 Pro. If that really wasn’t an option for budgetary reasons, I would stick with the iPhone 15.

The Plus wouldn’t really be an option for me.

But having said that, the Plus is a really great phone. It takes wonderful photos, it has plenty of power, and it looks and feels great.

But I don’t think the slightly larger screen and slightly larger battery really justify the price difference, especially when you can get the 128GB Pro for the price of the 256GB Plus.

It’s a great phone, but Apple has kind of painted it into a corner with price, It’s stuck between the Pro and 15, and doesn’t really differentiate itself enough.

Of course, they are my biases around screen size. If you like big phones and you cannot lie, then this is potentially the perfect device for you.

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Product disclosure

Apple supplied the product for this review.

Author

  • Nick Broughall

    Nick is the founder and editor of BTTR. He is an award winning product reviewer, who has spent the last 20 years writing, editing and publishing technology and consumer content for brands like Finder, Gizmodo and TechRadar.

    View all posts
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