iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Plus: What's the difference?

Another year, another suite of high-end Apple smartphones – but if you’re trying to choose between one of the larger iPhone 15 models, you may be a little unsure of which to get. 

Both the iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro Max feature an expanded 6.7-inch screen, compared to the 6.1-inch display found on the base model, but there are many key differences under the hood that you should know about before making your purchase – from refresh rate, storage, and chipset to the complexity of the built-in camera.

For the full rundown, read on for our iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Plus comparison below.

Henry St leger
Henry St Leger

Formerly the News and Features Editor over at TechRadar, Henry now covers the world of technology as a freelancer for the likes of iMore, NBC Select, and The Independent. Between an Apple TV 4K, iPad, AirPods, and three Macbooks, there are now a few too many Apple devices in their home.

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Plus: Features and specs

With the iPhone 15 models now fully unveiled, we have all the specification info we need to compare them thoroughly – the main differences being that the iPhone Pro Max features more developed zoom capability, a LiDAR Scanner to improve distance measuring in photography and AR, a newer A17 Pro chipset, and a slight boost to predicted battery life when playing video. 

The Pro Max also offers a range of 256GB-1TB onboard storage, whereas the iPhone 15 Plus offers from 128GB to 512GB – though when it comes to iOS 17, the 48MP camera, IP68 water resistance, and the USB-C port now common to all new iPhones, both models are on a par across a lot of metrics.

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Specs iPhone 15 Pro MaxiPhone 15 Plus
Display size6.7 inches6.7 inches
Display type OLED, ProMotion 120HzOLED, 60Hz
Capacity 256GB, 512GB, 1TB128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Splash, water, dust resistanceIP68IP68
Chip A17 Pro chip, 6 core CPU, 6-core GPU, 16-core neural engineA16 bionic chip, 6 core CPU, 5-core GPU, 16-core neural engine
Camera 48MP dual-camera system + TrueDepth front camera with autofocus, ƒ/1.9 aperture48MP dual-camera system + TrueDepth front camera with autofocus, ƒ/1.9 aperture,
Zoom5x optical zoom in2x optical zoom in
Video 4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps, Action Mode4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps, Action Mode
Face IDYes Yes
Apple Pay Yes Yes
Safety Emergency SOS via satellite, Crash Detection Emergency SOS via satellite, Crash Detection
Location GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou, NavIC, Digital compass, Wi-Fi, Cellular, iBeacon microlocationGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou, Digital compass, Wi-Fi, Cellular, iBeacon microlocation
Video calling Yes Yes
Audio calling Yes Yes
Siri Yes Yes
Power and battery Video playback: up to 29 hours, audio playback: up to 95 hoursVideo playback: up to 26 hours, audio playback: up to 100 hours
Fast chargingYesYes
SensorsFace ID, LiDAR Scanner, Barometer, High dynamic range gyro, High-G accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Dual ambient light sensorsFace ID, Barometer, Three-axis gyro, Accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor
Operating systemiOS 17iOS 17

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Plus: What's new? 

This year's iteration of the iPhone packs in a host of new tweaks and features, offering some clear upgrades over last year's iPhone 14 – and in some cases flattening some prior distinctions between the base iPhone and higher-end 'Pro' models.

48MP camera parity

While a 48MP rear camera was once the reserve of the iPhone 14 Pro models, that high-detail specification has now become standard across every iPhone 15 – meaning the Plus and Pro Max are equal on this front, though there's a little variation on aperture between lens on either device. 

The Pro Max model gets the most upgrades, mind, with improvements to Smart HDR and Night Mode (thanks to a built-in LiDAR Scanner you won't get on the Plus), faster transfer speeds for video/photo files, and "an all-new 5x Telephoto camera exclusively on iPhone 15 Pro Max". That 5x zoom is a step above the maximum 2x zoom on the iPhone 15 Plus, so expect more effective zooming and long-range detail on the more expensive model – Apple calls it "the longest optical zoom ever on iPhone".

Titanium smartphones

For the first time ever, Apple has released a range of titanium iPhones, using a precious alloy that Apple gleefully informs us is "the same used in spacecraft" and has "one of the highest strength-to-weight ratios of any metal". This only applies to the Pro models but ensures that the Pro Max is surprisingly light for a higher-end iPhone. (The iPhone 15 Plus makes do with the usual aluminum.)

Dynamic Island

Every new iPhone 15 features the Dynamic Island, which debuted on last year's iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max and refers to the black pill shape at the top of your iPhone display, which changes length and size in response to certain notifications, such as incoming calls, battery alerts, Apple Pay confirmations and more.

USB-C for all

Apple has succumbed to an EU court order and finally implemented USB-C connections in all of its new smartphones – ensuring that it's easier to use common charging cables across both your iPhone and other Apple devices (and some non-Apple devices too).

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs 15 Plus: Processor and RAM

Apple A16 chip

(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone Pro and Pro Max both benefit from a brand-new processor, called the A17 Pro, featuring a 16-core Neural Engine that can perform up to 35 trillion operations per second, and a 6-core GPU that should enable better mobile gaming performance and even hardware-based ray tracing (for more realistic depictions of light, shadow, and reflection). 

The older A16 Bionic (in the iPhone 15 Plus, and last year's Pro models) won't be quite as fast, or optimised for gaming – its successor is meant to see a 10% CPU performance increase, and 20% GPU performance increase – but as a relatively recent chipset it should still offer a premium experience overall.

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs 15 Plus: Color choice

The iPhone 15 Plus in all of its available colours.

(Image credit: Apple)

The base and Pro iPhone models offer quite distinct colorways and build materials – so you can certainly tell the difference in sight and feel.

The iPhone 15 Plus uses primarily an aluminium and glass construction and comes in Black, Blue (light), Green, Yellow, and Pink color options. Black aside, these colors are broadly bright, pastel hues.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes in slightly more subdued colors befitting its titanium and glass construction: Black, White, Blue (navy), and a khaki-like 'Natural'. An interesting thing to note: these are reportedly the lightest Pro models ever, meaning they shouldn't weigh down your pockets quite as much.

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs 15 Plus: Battery life

Apple helpfully provides average battery life predictions for its smartphones, so we have a good sense of how these models compare to each other. The iPhone 15 Plus sports 26-hour video playback, 20 hours if you're streaming, and 100 hours for less-intensive audio playback.

For the iPhone Pro Max, that jumps to 29 hours of video playback, 25 hours if you're streaming, and 95 hours of audio playback – generally comparable, but you should get a little more juice out of the higher-end model on the whole. It's worth noting that the Plus' battery life estimates beat both the base iPhone 15 and the iPhone 15 Pro, though. 

Perhaps more interestingly, real-world testing has revealed that it's actually the iPhone 15 Plus that has the advantage in battery life. This is because it has the same larger size as the Pro without its power-hungry features. In a real-life test by Mrwhosetheboss, the iPhone 15 Plus was good for 13 hours and 19 minutes of scrolling and other daily activities, 1 hour 40 minutes more than the Pro Max. 

Both models are compatible with MagSafe wireless charging, Qi wireless charging, and fast-charge functionality to get up to 50% charge in just 30 minutes.

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs 15 Plus: Which should you buy? 

iPhone 15 Pro Max Home Screen

(Image credit: Future)

So, between the iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro Max, which is right for you?

Both of these models sport a 6.7-inch display, so in either case, you're getting the large screen option – irritating for a tight jean pocket, but great for a more cinematic smartphone experience.

The main thing to consider here is the price: the iPhone 15 Plus retails at $899, whereas the 15 Pro Max will set you back a hefty $1,199. In general, that's enough of a price difference that your intended budget will likely make the decision for you.

If you're still uncertain, though, here's what's important. If you're mainly looking for a new iPhone with a larger screen, the 15 Plus will have you sorted – though anyone wanting a more advanced camera experience, a higher refresh rate, or a faster A17 Pro processor (particularly for improved gaming visuals) will want to pick the iPhone 15 Pro Max instead.

The latter's Action button, which allows for a medley of different available shortcuts in a single switch, is also a hugely convenient feature for those who aren't satisfied with the iPhone 15 Plus' simpler 'mute' option. And as ever, the pricier phone looks fancier, and feels fancier (thanks, titanium!), so that may factor into your decision too.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist. Before going freelance, he spent more than three years at TechRadar reporting on TVs, projectors and smart speakers as the website's Home Cinema Editor – and has been interviewed live on both BBC World News and Channel News Asia, discussing the future of transport and 4K resolution televisions respectively. As a graduate of English Literature and persistent theatre enthusiast, he'll usually be found forcing Shakespeare puns into his technology articles, which he thinks is what the Bard would have wanted. Bylines also include Edge, T3, and Little White Lies.