© Lemon squeezer
What a surprise… Like every year in September, Apple announced its new iPhones. The manufacturer took advantage of this to greenwasherits entire range with the help of a video clip whose carbon footprint we would like to know. No longer a contradiction in terms, Apple proclaims itself green while releasing four new models per year, which – as you can imagine – is an absolutely ecological approach.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is therefore the top of the range of the 2023 vintage, serving as a technological showcase for the twelve months to come. Despite its Himalayan price, its predecessor was the best-selling smartphone in the first six months of the year. Marketing research firm Omnia reveals that Apple shipped 26.5 million units in the first half of 2023.
From then on, we suspect that the iPhone 15 Pro Max was awaited around the corner by aficionados of the brand. What new features does it offer ? Will its price increase ? Decrease ? In what proportions ? And in terms of design, what does that look like& ;nbsp;? In short, is the newcomer really worth it ?
To find out, we tested and examined it from every angle. We also lived with it for about ten days. Rather than a formal test, this year we have chosen to share our impressions without overwhelming you with numerical results or technical data. After all, our esteemed colleagues already do it very well…
Contrary to predictions circulating on the Internet, Apple is not increasing the prices of the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Better yet: he lowers them. You will have to spend €1,479, €1,729 and €1,979 respectively for the 256 GB, 512 GB and 1 TB models (compared to €1,609, €1,869 and €2,129). € for the equivalent 14 Pro Max).
Let’s hope that this downward trend heralds a decline in prices, with those of the iPhone 15 Pro Max being “only” far too high rather than being Himalayan. But as we said above, we are incorrigible optimists…
Let's start with a little riddle: what's most like the iPhone 15 Pro Max? The 14 Pro Max, of course! At first glance, the two models are surprisingly similar. But looking closely, we can see some differences.
Not in terms of dimensions, almost identical from one model to another within a few tenths of a millimeter (the 15 Pro Max is the most compact while being a bit thicker). The weight is down 19 grams, or 9%. This may not seem like much: believe it or not, we realize it with use!
The game of three differences
In fact, the 15 Pro Max differs in three aspects. Its chassis is now made of aluminum coated with titanium, reputed to be lighter than the anodized steel used until now. This partly explains the drop in weight, but not entirely (we will come back to this later).
The sound switch gives way to an action key. By default, it retains the function of the old switch, but can now be programmed. It can be assigned to activate a specific function, launch an application or even a shortcut. The idea is good and will delight users who can use it as they see fit.
Finally, the proprietary Lightning port is replaced by a USB-C connector. Apple may present this as progress, but this change was imposed on it by the European Union. Failing to comply, it would no longer have been possible for it to market its smartphones from the end of 2024.
The manufacturer loses a lot since he no longer receives royalties when an accessories maker wants to create a cable or a peripheral “ made for iPhone ”. The user, on the other hand, will benefit in the medium or long term and will no longer have to worry about finding a Lightning cable to recharge their iPhone.
For the rest, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is a carbon copy of its big brother. We won't really complain about it, the design is successful (even if it's starting to date a little): polished sheet of glass on the back, ” Ceramic Shield” protection ” at the front and above all construction of impeccable quality.
The choice of an aluminum chassis coated with titanium certainly makes the smartphone lighter, but it makes it more susceptible to scratches than anodized steel. This thin layer can also jump more easily during an impact.
If you're old enough to have used a Powerbook G4 Titanium in the early 2000s, you've had the painful experience. So much so that Apple abandoned titanium in favor of aluminum, considered less fragile. Is it still the same thing twenty years later ? See you in a few months to find out.
We applaud the replacement of Lightning with USB-C 3.0, but we regret that Apple did not see fit to provide a cable exploiting its high speed (10 Gbps). You will have to settle for a USB-C type 2.0 model, which is significantly slower. You won't see a difference when charging, but you will notice it when connecting to a compatible computer.
The 14 Pro Max's screen was one of its most notable points. It is clear that this is still the case for the 15 Pro Max which uses its Super Retina XDR panel identically. With a diagonal of 6.7'', it produces an extraordinarily beautiful image.
Nothing to complain about in terms of adaptive brightness, strong enough to allow use in direct sunlight. Contrasts are excellent and the variable refresh rate (120 Hz maximum) produces a smooth image in all circumstances.
The capsule-shaped perforation that houses the front camera and the FaceID identification device remains as visible as ever. Fortunately, Apple is renewing the concept of Dynamic Island which transforms this disadvantage into an advantage. The inactive zone due to the perforation is thus buried in a black bar which is used to display secondary information.
© Presse -lemon
We are not going to go into a detailed explanation of how Dynamic Island works here. We will only specify that in use, it completely hides the hideous side of the perforation. We will happily put up with it as long as the technology does not allow the placement of sensors under the screen, without perforation.
Last year, the iPhone 14 Pro Max caused a sensation with its A16 Bionic chip engraved in 4 nanometers. What about this year?
A racing beast
The 15 Pro goes even further with the new A17 Pro engraved in 3 nanometers. Its designers have particularly refined the graphics processor, aiming for performance worthy of a latest generation gaming console. This should allow the iPhone 15 Pro Max to excel in all types of use ranging from gaming to augmented reality. Moreover, Apple announced the arrival of AAA games in the App Store, notably Assassin’s Creed Mirage.
In the preamble to this article, we promised not to overwhelm you with figures and technical data and we keep our word. Just remember that Apple didn't lie: the computing power of the A17 Pro chip knocks out all its competitors intended for smartphones. Better yet, it almost matches the performance of the Silicon M2 processor powering the iPad Pro!
As efficient as it is, the 15 Pro Max heats up quickly as soon as it is made to perform tasks requiring a lot of computing power. This inconvenience is the direct consequence of the reduction in the weight of the device. If the aluminum + titanium pair is lighter than the steel of previous models, its use is not enough to explain the 19 grams less.
We think Apple made some concessions to the heat dissipation mechanism by making it lighter. We can understand this choice since the A17 Pro chip is supposed to heat up less. As aluminum and titanium dissipate heat more easily, this is felt when you have the smartphone in your hand. Although the sensation may seem strange, it is nothing to worry about and the iPhone 15 Pro Max never heats up enough to become scalding. For now.
In terms of autonomy, the iPhone 15 Pro Max does not really stand out in one direction or the other, despite a battery whose capacity increases (very) slightly: 4441 mAh against 4323 mAh for 14 Pro Max.
According to our tests, a normal user will last a long day without needing to recharge the battery (a little gaming, streaming audio and video, recording of around fifty photos and a few minutes of video).
Intensive users – those who overindulge in good things – will have difficulty going beyond the day without going through the recharge box. It's not extraordinary, but not catastrophic either.
In order to grab a few extra hours of battery life, you can deactivate energy-consuming functions if possible. Examples include the permanent display, unused wireless communications (notably 5G) or even limiting the brightness and refresh rate of the screen.
© Presse -lemon
No change in loading speed. With an electrical adapter from the brand for which you will have to pay a few dozen additional euros (there are no small profits), the battery goes from 0 to 50% in 32 minutes. Reaching 100% takes 91 minutes: we've known faster.
the iPhone 15 Pro Max is also compatible with induction. This is not very fast with an Apple MagSafe charger (allow 150 minutes if the iPhone is not in use) and is downright slow with a standard Qi model (a little over 200 minutes, anyway). There too, we experienced faster.
Finally, reverse charging, which allows you to transfer energy from your iPhone to a device that needs it, is making its appearance. However, you will have to use a USB-C cable, as its induction version is not implemented. This is all the more surprising since the competition – Samsung and Huawei in the lead – have been offering this for years.
No power adapter supplied or reverse induction charging. A horribly slow transition from 0 to 100% for a high-end smartphone: clearly, Apple still has progress to make in terms of energy management! Surely for the next generation… We know this is wishful thinking, but we can't help but wish for it year after year. But it is true that we are optimistic by nature…
© Presse -lemon
The back camera of the iPhone 15 Pro Max has four modules:
- Main: 48 Mpxl sensor; 24mm lens aperture at f/1.78; DualPixel autofocus; optical image stabilization by moving the sensor
- Telephoto lens: 12 Mpxl sensor; 24-120mm tetraprism lens opening at f/2.8; optical image stabilization by moving the sensor
- Ultra wide-angle: 12 Mpxl sensor; 13mm lens opening at f/2.2, DualPixel
- Depth of field: LiDAR technical module calculating the spatial position of objects in the scene (used for portrait mode and night shooting, does not produce an image)
The front camera is made up of two elements:
- Main module: 12 Mpxl sensor(size 1/3.6’’, photosites 1.22 µm); 23mm lens aperture at f/1.9; DualPixel autofocus
- 3D module: facial identification and recognition (mainly used for FaceID and portrait mode
With the notable exception of the telephoto lens of the back camera, nothing changes drastically compared to the 14 Pro Max. We have no reason to complain about it as it was so efficient.
© Lemon squeezer
© Lemon squeezer
© Lemon squeezer
The iPhone 15 Pro Max has a 24-120mm telephoto lens, therefore benefiting from a 5x zoom factor. In good light, the images produced are very good over the entire focal length. The quality is also there in the dark, even if we see a little digital noise appearing.
The ultra wide angle behaves like an… ultra wide angle. The image is good in the middle of the scene, but lacks sharpness at the edges. Same observation in low light or in dim light, with the added bonus of a bit of digital noise in dark areas. Although it is not bad, we would like Apple to seriously look into its case, even if it means going through AI treatment. Because the ultra-wide angle has practically stood still since the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
© Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
The main module produces images that we do not hesitate to describe as excellent in broad daylight, in reduced brightness and even in dim light. By default, images are shot at 24 mm, the nominal value of the lens. However, it is possible to substitute a focal length of 28 mm or 35 mm in the settings. Is it interesting? It's a question of taste and habit.
© Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
© Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
© Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
A significant new feature, images are recorded in 24 Mpxl and not 12 Mpxl. Here too, an option allows you to restore the lowest definition, in order to save a little storage space (1 MB less on a 12 Mpxl JPEG). You can also opt for 48 Mpxl, without the difference being obvious.
The choice of 24 Mpxl turns out to be the most relevant in most cases. Rather than applying pixel binninglame in order to go from 48 to 24 Mpxl, Apple engineers are using AI.
Ultra wide-angle © Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
Main module © Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
Zoom 2x © Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
Zoom 5x © Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
Zoom 10x © Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
Zoom 25x © Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
When triggered, it recovers the image from the main sensor (48 Mpxl), but also that of the telephoto lens (12 Mpxl). They are then recombined according to a complex algorithm in order to preserve the details of one and the technical information of the other. The result is then set to 24 Mpxl. This method is made possible by the impressive processing power provided by the A17 Pro chip and its neural processors.
From 2x, the definition automatically changes to 12 Mpxl, the nominal value of the telephoto lens. Information from the main sensor is always used to improve the final image. The result turns out to be impeccable up to 5x and very honorable up to 10x, the AI doing an excellent job.
Beyond that, a hybrid digital zoom takes over: the photos are correct up to 10x, then the quality degrades as we move towards the 25x zoom , maximum value allowed.
In good light and with a little indulgence, you can still use the 25x zoom provided you don't crop the image too much. This would make the digital noise and the lack of detail far too visible (the AI may be efficient, but it cannot accurately invent the information not received from the sensors!).
Ultra wide angle at night © Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
Main night module © Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
Zoom 2x at night © Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
Zoom 5x at night © Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
10x zoom at night © Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
Zoom 25x at night © Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
Surprisingly, the result remains quite honorable when shooting at night, allowing a zoom level that is interesting to say the least. You should still not count on the iPhone 15 Pro Max to take photos of the Moon, our satellite in all cases taking on the appearance of a white spot that is difficult to use.
We understand that the zoom of the iPhone 15 Pro Max is ultimately a pleasant surprise, Apple demonstrating here its capabilities in terms of computational photography.
Medium brightness © Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
The other functions are just as good. Portrait mode copes well with complex scenes and generates very convincing background blur on objects, human subjects and even animals. The focus of a portrait can be done retrospectively on another area of the image and you can also play on the level of depth of field. These possibilities prove interesting for recovering a portrait shot in a hurry.
The macro photographs are of excellent quality, even if from time to time you have to take twice to obtain a correct image.
A word on video capture to close this chapter. The iPhone 15 Pro Max can now record in 4K 60 fps on all four modules (the three rear ones as well as the front camera). The manufacturer has refined the professional functions by now authorizing capture in ProRES 4K 60 fps provided that an external SSD is connected to the smartphone. This constraint makes sense given the volume of files generated.
Recording can now be done in Log format, which is to video what RAW is to photography. Videographers thus have a format suitable for editing in professional software that supports LUTs (LookUp Table) in order to maintain color uniqueness when editing. use of different cameras.
Last but not least, the action mode works wonders in terms of stabilization during filming. So much so that in many situations it makes it possible to avoid having to resort to a mechanical stabilizer. We have not yet reached the level of a GoPro or Osmo Action 4 type camera from DJI, but we are getting close.
As good as the image part of the iPhone 15 Pro Max is, it's not yet perfect.During our tests, we noted the regular appearance of reflections and aberrations linked to optics. These are present when a light source is directly in the field of view of the device. And it happens quite often, day and night.
This problem has been going on for a very, very long time (we noticed it since the iPhone 5). We naively thought that Apple would gradually refine the formula of its optics in order to correct this: this is not the case.
The green dot has nothing to do here, just like the flare © Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
Optical aberration to the right of the bell tower © Marc Mitrani for Presse-citron
Apple is not the only manufacturer facing this problem: Samsung, Xiaomi and Huawei have also had to face it. With the exception of Apple, everyone has found solutions to mitigate it, if not make it disappear. Let's hope that Apple will tackle the task, whether by changing the optical formula or by AI processing.
The other glaring lack of the photography section is undoubtedly the absence of the possibility of extensive retouching. For example, Samsung and Google offer functions for removing objects or reducing reflections when photographing through glass. None of this at Apple and you will have to invest in third-party software to do it. Too bad.
Without a doubt, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is a success in many aspects. Its processing power opens up new possibilities in mobile gaming and augmented reality, while its screen is quite simply one of the best on the market. Imposed on Apple by the European Union, the replacement of the Lightning port with a USB-C connector is excellent news for consumers.
We note with a little concern a tendency towards overheating, without it being prohibitive. Red card for no charger, for USB-C cable 2.0
The photographic appearance is still good, apart from the parasitic reflections and optical aberrations present in certain situations. Video capture is enriched with useful professional functions. Finally, we still appreciate the device’s compliance with the waterproof standard IP68.
Is it relevant to opt for an iPhone 15 Pro Max if you have a 14 Pro Max? No, the two models remain very close. Only wealthy USB-C fetishists will consider it. Unless you fantasize about Dynamic Island, the answer is the same for owners of a 13 Pro Max. We can also keep a 12 Pro Max without too much regret and – why not – an 11 Pro Max, even if the move to the new model can be justified.
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