Hands-On, Smartphone

iPhone 15 Plus Hands-on: More Exciting Than It Seems

While most folks would gravitate toward the higher-end Pro iPhones – I am guilty of this – the non-Pro iPhone 15 models are actually quite exciting in their own right. The iPhone 15 Plus, for one, improved upon its predecessor quite a bit in various areas.

In fact, the improvements the iPhone 15 Plus brings to the table are arguably more drastic than the upgrades introduced by the Pro line this year. Whether we’re looking at the design, display, performance, or camera capability – along with the transition to USB-C – the “default” iPhone has never been better.

At a glance, the Dynamic Island is definitely one of the most visual changes to the iPhone 15 Plus. 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. While 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 also the new USB-C port. If you’ve got a lot of USB-C cables lying around, you won’t have to worry about getting a new one to charge the iPhone 15 Plus. A braided USB-C to USB-C cable is also provided with the phone.

The display of the iPhone 15 Plus sees a notable improvement too. Its 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED screen 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 Pro iPhones, which is nice.

Unfortunately, the refresh rate of the iPhone 15 Plus’ display is still limited to 60Hz; ProMotion remains an exclusive feature to the Pro line. For a phone that starts at RM4,899, a 60Hz screen…is not exactly reflective of the price tag. You can easily find more affordable phones with a faster panel in today’s market.

For what it’s worth, the iPhone 15 Plus still has a fantastic screen that can easily compete with flagship-tier Android smartphones. It has deep, true blacks, good colour accuracy – to my eyes, anyway – and it can get very bright as well, thanks to the aforementioned 2,000 nits peak brightness.

In terms of performance, the iPhone 15 Plus is now powered by the A16 Bionic chip; the same one found in the iPhone 14 Pro series last year. While I haven’t started gaming with the 15 Plus just yet, I’m confident it will be able to deliver a high level of performance. After all, the A16 is still an incredibly capable mobile chip, even in comparison to the best Android phones right now.

The last big change to the iPhone 15 Plus is a more sophisticated camera system. The dual camera system is now headlined by a 48MP main shooter with a 12MP ultra-wide lens, and thanks to the larger main sensor, the 15 Plus can now do 2x “optical” zoom, though it’s really a digital crop.

Semantics aside, I do see a noticeable improvement in camera performance between the 15 Plus and 14 Plus, as you can see below. The 15 Plus looks to be able to handle harsh lighting better, and it seems to be able to capture slightly more true to life colours. I’ll be sure to put the camera in more challenging lighting situations in the full review.

I personally consider the iPhone 15 Plus, just like its predecessor, as the new default iPhone. It is essentially a more affordable Pro Max iPhone that offers a similar big screen experience, which wasn’t an option until the 14 Plus made its debut last year. Though I haven’t got a feel for the 15 Plus’ battery life yet, I’m certain it will be able to last quite a bit on a single charge.

Yes, the iPhone 15 Plus doesn’t have the Pro iPhones’ fancy new titanium build, Action button, 120Hz screen, or speedy A17 Pro chip. But that doesn’t mean the 15 Plus isn’t worth considering; based on my brief time with this iPhone, I’m just as impressed with it as I am with any device that sits at this price point.

Starting at RM4,899, the iPhone 15 Plus is not by any means an “affordable” phone. In my opinion, however, you are getting your money’s worth, though I will still reserve judgment until I’ve put the 15 Plus through its paces in the full review.

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