iPhone 15 Pro's upgrades bag popular 'Best Camera' gong, but it isn't enough to make it the best phone of the year as Google's Pixel 8 triumphs

iPhone 15 Pro review back handheld angled camera
(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

When Apple announced the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max in September it understandably spent quite a bit of time telling everyone how great their cameras were. Focusing on camera performance is nothing new for phone companies in general of course, and Apple specifically has a history of doing just that. So it was no surprise when its new best iPhones saw a bump in camera performance.

But it's one thing when Apple tells everyone how great its cameras are, it's a completely different kettle of fish when it's a third party waxing lyrical about what those cameras are capable of. So when YouTuber Marques Brownlee crowns the iPhone 15 Pro as the best camera in his annual smartphone awards video, it's worth taking notice.

The video covers a whole range of categories including Best Big Smartphone, Best Value, and Best Battery, but the biggie is undoubtedly the Best of the Year — a category that iPhone's cameras weren't enough to win for Apple.

Winner winner photo taker

The iPhone actually managed to win a couple of different categories this year, and you might be surprised about the second one. But let's start with the iPhone 15 Pro's camera win.

You can watch the full awards video below, and I'd suggest you do just that because it's always great to see what other phones are doing well. But Brownlee says the iPhone's camera gong was deserved because of its ability to take great photos and videos repeatedly and in different situations. While there are other phones out there that can take better photos in specific situations — especially zoom shots — it's the iPhone's ability to take top-notch photos across a range of situations that stand out.

On top of that, the iPhone still rules the roost in terms of videography, too. Apple added ProRes Log support this year while recording directly to an external SSD is a huge deal for pro videographers. With the iPhone 15 Pro in particular, Apple added a new 48-megapixel main sensor, an improvement over the iPhone 14 Pro's offering.

The other category that saw Apple come up trumps was the Best Battery award. That was given to the iPhone 15 Plus, a move that might have been a surprise to those expecting the iPhone 15 Pro Max to win out.

The better battery performance can likely be put down to the slower 60Hz refresh rate of its display and the older A16 Bionic chip when compared to the higher-end iPhones, but it's still an interesting result to note.

The best of the rest

As much as Apple will be pleased with its awards, the Best of the Year gong is the one everyone wants. In 2023, that goes to Google with the Pixel 8 taking the top award for its solid all-around performance. It might cost more than the Pixel 7 that it replaced in the lineup, but it has improvements that make it worth it.

The Pixel 8 is of course a camera champ in its own right thanks to Google's AI smarts, and with Google now offering seven years of software updates it's fair to say the phone has plenty of life in it.

Other notable wins went to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, picking up the Best Big Smartphone award, while the Best Value award was presented to the Samsung Galaxy A54, a phone that can often be found for less than $400 and offers plenty of features at that price point. Will the iPhone SE 4 be able to win that award further down the line, perhaps?

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Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.