Review, Smartphone

Apple iPhone 15 Plus Review: The Default iPhone Has Never Been Better

While the standard iPhones don’t get as much hype as the Pro models, this year’s iPhone 15 Plus is actually quite an exciting update. After all, it gets some new design elements, a brighter display, faster performance, and of course, the transition to USB-C.

After switching to the iPhone 15 Plus as my daily driver for a good amount of time from the iPhone 15 Pro, I’m surprised that I’m not rushing to swap back. While both phones have their own strengths and weaknesses, the iPhone 15 Plus can still very much provide the refined “iPhone experience.”

What It Is

Display6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED (2796 x x1290), 60Hz
ChipsetApple A16 Bionic (6-core CPU; 2 performance and 4 efficiency cores)
GPUApple A16 Bionic 5-core GPU
Storage128GB/256GB/512GB, non-expandable
Camera (rear)48MP f/1.6, sensor-shift OIS
12MP f/2.4 (ultra-wide)
Camera (front)12MP f/1.9
Dimensions160.9 x 77.8 x 7.8 mm
OSiOS 17
Bluetooth 5.3
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6
PriceRM4,899 (128GB), RM5,399 (256GB), RM6,399 (512GB)

On paper, the iPhone 15 Plus has a number of notable hardware upgrades over its predecessor. Not only does it have a faster A16 Bionic chip now, it also gets a much improved dual camera system made up of a 48MP primary shooter with a 12MP ultra-wide lens. Thanks to the larger main sensor, the 15 Plus can now do 2x “optical” zoom, though it’s really a digital crop.

As per usual, details on the RAM and battery capacities of the iPhone 15 Plus were not detailed by Apple, but various teardowns of the phone done by other parties did shed some light on these two hardware. The RAM remains the same at 6GB, and the battery sees a very slight improvement from 4,325mAh to 4,383mAh – that’s a 58mAh difference.

Compared to Android phones with a similar battery capacity, the 15 Plus’ 4,383mAh cell may not sound particularly impressive. But thanks to iOS’ efficiency, the phone can return excellent battery life, which I’ll get to in the next section.

The Good Stuff

My absolute favourite aspect of the iPhone 15 Plus has to be its sheer longevity. Although Apple is quoting the same battery life for both the 15 Plus and 14 Plus, the former feels like it has improved battery life. On average, I can (almost) consistently get over eight hours of screen on time. That’s very, very impressive, especially for a phone with “just” a 4,383mAh battery.

The overall design of the iPhone 15 Plus has also been improved, with the most visual change being the Dynamic Island. Gone is the ageing notch in favour of the more modern-looking screen cutout, putting it in line with the design language of the Pro iPhones. Even though the Dynamic Island isn’t a groundbreaking feature, it does come in handy sometimes to track, say, a GrabFood delivery.

There are also more subtle changes to the design of the iPhone 15 Plus’ chassis. The edges are more rounded now for a better feel in hand, while also giving the impression of a thinner phone. I also absolutely love the matte glass back, which looks and feels great.

Of course, there’s the new USB-C port too. If you’ve got a lot of USB-C cables lying around, you won’t have to worry about getting a new cable to charge the iPhone 15 Plus. A braided USB-C to USB-C cable is also provided with the phone.

Next, we have the display of the iPhone 15 Plus. While it is still the same 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED screen, the panel is quite a bit brighter now with a peak brightness of 2,000 nits. It’s worth noting that this is the same brightness level as the iPhone 15 Pro models, which is nice.

Not surprisingly, the 15 Plus has a pleasant display to look at with punchy colours, deep, true blacks, and wide viewing angles. But unfortunately enough, the refresh rate of the 15 Plus’ screen is still limited to 60Hz; ProMotion remains an exclusive feature to the Pro iPhones.

Nonetheless, the vibrant display of the iPhone 15 Plus does make for a very enjoyable gaming experience, and the A16 Bionic can keep up without fuss. Whether it’s juggling between different apps or playing Honkai: Star Rail at 60fps with maxed out graphics settings, the A16 can handle all these tasks effortlessly.

Last but not least is the dual camera system (48MP primary + 12MP ultra-wide) of the iPhone 15 Plus, which is notably improved. What I especially like is the addition of the 2x zoom option, even if it’s just a digital zoom that outputs 12MP images from the 48MP main sensor. It is no zoom lens, but it does help to get closer to a subject.

Regardless of lighting condition, the iPhone 15 Plus’ dual camera system can deliver great-looking shots. While the 12MP ultra-wide sensor does struggle a tad in more challenging lighting situations, I’m still quite happy with the 15 Plus’ overall camera performance. The camera interface also remains responsive, even in low light conditions – not something that can be said of many, many other Android flagships.

The Bad Stuff

As much as the iPhone 15 Plus has improved over its predecessor, it still has the same shortcomings in terms of display and camera versatility. The screen of the 15 Plus, as mentioned, is still clocked at only 60Hz. For a phone that starts so closely to the RM5,000 mark, a 60Hz screen is not exactly reflective of the price tag. You can easily find more affordable phones with a faster display in today’s market.

And then there’s the lack of a telephoto camera on the iPhone 15 Plus. Granted, I find myself shooting mostly at 2x zoom, but there are times where I need a higher level of zoom. In these instances, I fall back to the iPhone 15 Pro, which I still carry around for this very reason.

Last but not least is the asking price of the iPhone 15 Plus, which sees a RM200 price hike across the range in Malaysia. The base 128GB model is now priced at RM4,899, going up to RM5,399 and RM6,399 for the 256GB and 512GB variants respectively. While I’m inclined to say that the 15 Plus is worth every penny, there’s no denying that it still costs quite a bit of money.

Is It Worth It?

If your budget permits, and you can overlook the fact that it doesn’t have a telephoto camera with only a 60Hz screen, then the iPhone 15 Plus is certainly worth it. To be fair, I did eventually get used to the 60Hz display after using it for a while, though when I swap back to the 15 Pro for a bit, the extra fluidity afforded by the faster 120Hz screen is very obvious – well, to my eyes anyway.

Nonetheless, the iPhone 15 Plus remains an excellent flagship smartphone with extremely long battery life, a more refined design, a high quality display, as well as flagship-tier performance courtesy of the A16 Bionic. This is despite the fact that it is last year’s chip; Apple really is ahead of the game in mobile chip development.

Yes, the iPhone 15 Plus’ RM4,899 starting price is a lot of money. But if what you want is a large, modern iPhone that is fast with very long battery life – I cannot overstate just how good its battery life is – then the 15 Plus offers just that. The default iPhone has truly never been better.

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