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

The iPhone 15 range is upon us, with four new devices for phone fans to take in. From the entry-level iPhone 15 to the flagship iPhone 15 Pro Max, there are tons of differences and similarities along the way.

Speaking of those two models, understanding where they differ can help you understand which one is worth your cash. Is the iPhone 15 the perfect balance of price and features? Or should you opt for the high-end extras that come with the iPhone 15 Pro Max?

That’s what this guide aims to help you decide. We’ve put the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Max head to head, comparing all their key pros, cons and features to see which one will suit you best. If you’ve been wondering which to buy, read on.

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Features and specs

Given the differences in both size and cost, there are a lot of points to compare between the iPhone 15 and the iPhone 15 Pro Max. We’ve put all the main divergences in the table below, giving you a quick and easy way to see what’s what.

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SpecsiPhone 15iPhone 15 Pro Max
PriceFrom $799/£799From $1,199/£1,199
Display size6.1 inches6.7 inches
Display typeSuper Retina XDR (OLED)Super Retina XDR (OLED) with ProMotion and always-on display
Capacity128GB, 256GB, 512GB256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Chassis materialAluminiumTitanium
USB-CYes (supports speeds up to 480Mbps)Yes (supports speeds up to 10Gbps with compatible cable)
ChipA16 BionicA17 Pro
Camera48MP dual-camera system + TrueDepth front camera with autofocus, ƒ/1.6 aperture48MP triple-camera system + TrueDepth front camera with autofocus, ƒ/1.78 aperture
Optical zoom options0.5x, 1x, 2x0.5x, 1x, 2x, 5x
Video4K 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, macro video recording
Face IDYesYes
Dynamic IslandYesYes
Action buttonNoYes
SafetyEmergency SOS, Emergency SOS via Satellite, Crash DetectionEmergency SOS, Emergency SOS via Satellite, Crash Detection
Splash, water, dust resistanceIP68IP68
Video callingYesYes
Audio callingYesYes
Power and batteryVideo playback: Up to 20 hours Audio playback: Up to 80 hoursVideo playback: Up to 29 hours Audio playback: Up to 95 hours
Fast chargingYesYes

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: What’s new?

The iPhone 15 being introduced at Apple's special event in September 2023, with the phone's Dynamic Island on display.

(Image credit: Apple)

For starters, the iPhone 15 has seen its display get a sizeable boost. It now has the Dynamic Island instead of the notch, giving you more functionality on the front of the display. The screen can also now get even brighter than before, topping out at 2,000 nits versus the 1,200-nit maximum of the iPhone 14.

Compared to last year’s models, both the iPhone 15 and the iPhone 15 Pro Max have added a lot of new features. Here’s the rundown of all the new additions you need to know about.


Both new iPhone models have received updates to their cameras, and both are fairly significant. For the iPhone 15, it now gets the ability to take 48MP pictures using its Main camera – just like on the Pro models – for the first time. You can also now zoom in up to 2x using its optical zoom feature. As for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, it can now zoom in all the way up to 5x.

As well as that, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has gained a few advanced video-recording features, such as compatibility with the Academy Color Encoding System and Log video recording. You can even record straight to external storage.


On the outside, both phones have swapped out the Lightning port and replaced it with a USB-C slot. There’s a difference, though: the USB-C port on the iPhone 15 Pro Max can hit speeds of up to 10Gbps (but you’ll need a compatible cable), while the iPhone 15’s port tops out at 480Mbps.

While the iPhone 15 retains the aluminium frame of its predecessors, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has an all-new titanium chassis. This helps make it more lightweight, while adding a new look to the device.

The larger iPhone also replaces the mute enable/disable switch with an Action button, like the one found on the Apple Watch Ultra. This can be programmed to perform one of a number of tasks, including launching the camera or a Shortcut, starting a voice memo, or enabling and disabling the mute function.

New chip and display

Both iPhones get an updated chip. While the iPhone 15 has stepped up from the A15 Bionic to the A16 Bionic, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has a new A17 Pro chip. Apple says both result in much nippier devices (more on that later).

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Processor and memory

The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max at Apple's September 2023 event, showing the front and back of the devices.

(Image credit: Apple)

As we mentioned earlier, there are different chips inside both of these phones compared to what came before. Starting with the A16 Bionic in the iPhone 15, Apple says its performance cores use 20% less energy than its A15 Bionic predecessor, while the chip’s GPU has 50% more memory bandwidth. It's essentially the chip the iPhone 14 Pro had last year.

As for the A17 Pro inside the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple claims its CPU is up to 10% faster than the one in the A16 Bionic, with the GPU being 20% speedier.

Apple never publicly publishes the memory capacities inside its phones, but this information can be ascertained from regulatory filings and internal code. Investigators have apparently revealed that the iPhone 15 has 6GB of memory (the same as the iPhone 14), while the iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with 8GB, which is an increase of 2GB over last year’s model.

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Colour choice

Five iPhone 15 Pro Max devices side by side, showing all of the available colours.

(Image credit: Apple)

Starting with the iPhone 15, this comes in five shades of aluminium: Blue, Pink, Yellow, Green and Black. As for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, its titanium frame can be outfitted in one of four different colours: Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, White Titanium and Black Titanium.

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Battery life

In some scenarios, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has the longest battery life of any iPhone. Apple says you’ll get up to 29 hours of video playback and up to 95 hours of audio. The former bests the iPhone 15 Plus’s 26 hours, but the latter falls just behind the 100 hours the 15 Plus can hit.

With the iPhone 15, Apple’s materials point to 20 hours of video playback and 80 hours of audio (the same as the iPhone 14).

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

The complete iPhone 15 lineup at Apple's Regent Street store in London, U.K.

(Image credit: Apple)

Given the $400/£400 price difference between the iPhone 15 and the iPhone 15 Pro Max, it’s safe to say that these are very different devices. Choosing between them requires knowing what you want from a phone and how much you’re willing to spend on one.

The iPhone 15 is a significant upgrade over the iPhone 14. You now get a much better camera system that can produce higher-resolution photos, an improved display with the Dynamic Island, and a more performant chip – as well as the introduction of USB-C. At $799/£799, you get an awful lot of phone for your money.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max, meanwhile, takes Apple’s best features and pushes them further. It’s a smaller update over its predecessor, but still worthwhile if you want the best iPhone you can get. Its chip has been improved, as has its camera, while the new titanium chassis and Action button bring a new look and functionality to the device.

If you’re after a feature-rich iPhone that is stacked with upgrades, go for the iPhone 15. If you want a large display to watch movies and play games, or need the best photo and video system you can get in an Apple phone, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will be ideal. It may even be the best iPhone of them all.

Alex Blake

Alex Blake has been messing around with Apple tech ever since he caved to the pressure and bought an iPhone 3G “just to see what all the fuss was about.” He’s spent the subsequent 15 years prattling on about Apple and has somehow managed to do so professionally. Don’t ask him how.