Now that the dust has settled from the iPhone 15 launch, it's time to make some buying decisions: not just "should I buy the iPhone 15?" But also "If I do, which one should I buy?"
I think all of the iPhone 15 range are pretty compelling buys, especially here in the UK where the slightly better state of our currency means almost all of the iPhone 15s are cheaper this year. There's only one that isn't, and that's the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Despite that, it's the one I'm going to buy.
I'm an iPhone 14 Pro owner, and I'm generally happy with it. But there are some things the iPhone 15 Pro Max offers that the 14 Pro doesn't, and that the iPhone 15 Pro doesn't offer either. And I think they're important enough to justify the upgrade.
Should you buy the iPhone 15 Pro Max?
I think the short answer for most people is no: the cheapest iPhones are better buys, especially now they have very similar cameras to my current iPhone 14 Pro. But if you take a lot of photos, I think the Pro Max will make you happier.
This year's Pro and Pro Max don't get identical camera setups: the new zoom lens is purely in the Pro Max. Moving from 3x to 5x optical zoom might not seem a big deal compared to the zooms in some of the best Android phones right now, but it's a very big step up for an Apple phone – and it happens to address the single most annoying thing about my iPhone, which is that it's great at taking every kind of photo apart from the ones I actually want to take.
As a parent and dog parent I take a lot of photos of kids and dog. And they're generally great because I take them in the daytime in sunlight, where the iPhone cameras (of all versions) excel. But the other thing I'm passionate about is live music, and I'm tired of every band shot I take looking like I shot it on an iPhone 3GS. That's partly me – my days of going down the front are long gone – but it's mainly my phone, which just doesn't have enough optical zoom to take the shots I want to take.
I take thousands of photos every year, so in that context the £100 price difference between a 256GB Pro and Pro Max is not a big ask for better optical zoom. Factor in the new Pro/Pro Max-only Action button – at last, a button that takes me straight to the camera! – and that bigger, tastier display and the Max is the better phone for the things I actually use my phone for every single day. I may not need its power. But I really want its photos.