I’ve done it again and have had an iPhone in my pocket for the better part of the last few months. This time around I’ve stated with the larger iPhone 15 Plus. It’s not got all the Pro features, but it’s actually a really happy compromise for — in my opinion — most users.

There’s some great advancement for the “lower” of the iPhones, and plenty of features that have made their way from the previous Pro version to the more affordable plus.

The hardware: Internally it’s effectively last year’s Pro

As someone who is used to a larger phone and does a lot on their device daily, the dimensions (160.9 mm x 77.8 mm x 7.8 mm) are near identical (when in a case) to the Pixel 8 Pro and very comfortable. If you’re someone who has small hands, then the size may be a bit too big for comfort. It’s not a phone I am able to use one handed, but that’s not something I typically do, so it wasn’t a huge adjustment for me.

There are a few minor sacrifices you’ll make over other iPhone options if you choose the iPhone 15 Plus. Despite that, you’ll get a consistent and very “Apple” experience with a phone that feels great in your hand.

In terms of the actual specs, the iPhone 15 Plus is carrying:

  • A 6.7-inch diagonal all-screen OLED display running 2796 x 1290 pixels at 460 ppi
  • A16 Bionic Chip
  • 128, 256 or 512GB storage options
  • Weighs 201 grams (without case)
  • 48MP main camera, 12MP Ultra Wide and a 12MP selfie cam
  • 5G bands, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3 and NFC

The battery capacity (through GSM Arena) is said to be 4,383 mAh and provide about 20 hours of streaming video playback. That’s a pretty hefty time, I’ll go into my experience with the battery more later in the review.

Highlights of the hardware

In years gone by, I’d laugh at my iPhone-wielding friends because they were typically checking their battery from early to mid-afternoon to ensure they’d get through the day. If they were going out later in the day, there was no way they’d consider it without a decent top-up charge.

Even when I tried to smash the battery, I managed to get through a solid day of use with about 11% left when I went to bed. The days of Apple battery anxiety are long gone! Once I settled past the “Ohhh, shiny new toy to play with” stage of the review and back into more normal usage patterns; I was regularly getting almost two days (off charge at 6 am one day, back onto charge early evening the next) out of the battery and even got well into a third day a couple of times before being forced to find a charger.

The other main highlight for me was the screen quality. It’s big, very bright (2,000 nits peak outdoor which is very easy to read, even with sunglasses on in bright daylight) and very responsive when you consider everything that the device is doing and capable of; as mentioned, internally (aside from the camera, I’ll get into that shortly), it’s essentially an iPhone 14 Pro, but with a bigger screen. Perhaps the processor being the last years model is a little cheeky, but development comes at a cost and that would reduce the performance gap to the Pro this year.

Perhaps less highlight and more “it’s about time” is the addition of USB-C to the range. It was somewhat a forced move but (unless you’ve spent a lot of money on Apple Charging solutions) it’s very welcome, adding Apple devices to the universally accepted USB-C cable, even if the base iPhone isn’t at full speed for data transfer.

I’ve got USB-C chargers all over the place, so it’s one less cable I need to carry and makes my day just that little bit easier. While I understand why it’s taken so long, and why the move has finally occurred, it feels like a huge leap in the right direction for less “captive market” and making the ecosystem easier to enter and exit.

Finally, onto the look…
The iPhone 15 Plus sticks to the tried and proven Apple design formula, with the tweak that the backing glass is now infused with colour and the review unit; a very manly shade of pink, had a really nice tint of colour to it which carries through the lineup of colours.

The design remains easy to hold, with an edge to it which helps with grip and ensures that — despite the smooth finish — it’s not super slippery and at high risk of being dropped. That being said, if you’re spending this amount of money on a phone, please put it in a case to give it some protection.

The software is quick and stable, but not without annoyance for migrating Android users

Let’s start with a highlight again: Dynamic Island has come to the more affordable end of the Apple range. That’s one feature that I was highly enamoured with when I reviewed the iPhone 14 Pro last year and missed it when I moved to the 14 Plus. It’s a very clever way of utilising the space around the camera notch and making it functional for users without having to bring down notifications or re-open apps to make changes or use features. Having dynamic island makes the other models far more appealing to users who don’t need that top end performance.

Having spent a bit of time on iPhones over the last couple of years, I’m a lot more comfortable with the OS, features and navigation within the system. That’s all great, but I still don’t particularly like how the notifications are delivered; I have a lot of apps that give me notifications. Some are basically for information only, some I need to action and some I rarely care about (I know I should turn the notifications for these apps off) so I’d prefer them — someone tell me if I’m missing something — to be grouped by app, not chronologically as they were delivered which creates a huge, unorganized mess of notifications.

The cameras: On the surface they’re par for the current market, but the results are exciting

The cameras on the iPhone 15 Plus are roughly what I’d expect on the current market; so held hope that it would hit the marks I expected. When I started taking photos, I was really pleasantly surprised; actually, lets go with impressed!

You’re getting 2 x optical zoom and Smart HDR 5 which produce great shots, in a variety of settings and lighting conditions. The colour processing is very good, producing vibrant images that look excellent even on large screens. For the camera buffs out there, there are only two lenses on the Plus, and if you want more camera, you’re going to be heading for the Pro and its associated costs… But if you’re happy with spending less and not losing heaps on the camera, then this is going to surprise impress you too!

Behind the scenes you’ve got Smart HDR 5 working its magic, combining multiple lens capabilities and elements of the image capture to compile a “composite” image that overcomes some, potentially very tricky lighting. What this results in, is an image with detail, including light and shadows, without overexposing the image or losing some of that lighting details through over-processing the images.

This is a huge bump in the megapixel count compared to the iPhone 14 Plus, giving the flexibility to zoom without significant loss of quality. Don’t get me wrong here, you’re not going to get 5 x optical zoom or anything even close, but the quality loss when zooming (well, cropping and enlarging) means you can get a decent shot, even at a 2 x zoom.

Portrait photos will produce that gorgeous, person-centred bokeh effect; adding great depth to the photo and — with some assistance from other sensors — can now take depth readings for photos in case you want to refocus them as a portrait later. With all the hardware and software involved in the iPhone 15 Plus camera, you’re going to struggle to get a bad photo.

What you’re getting from the iPhone 15 Plus is consistent and high-quality photos, with reliable colour reproduction across varied settings and lighting conditions, delivering an improvement over last years Plus device; although, most users probably won’t upgrade just for the camera.

Conclusion: This isn’t the best Apple has to offer, but it’s still great and more affordable

The reality is that if you’re after the best, you’re shopping in the Pro range: iPhone 15 Pro or, if you want the bigger screen (and you’ve got the money…) the Pro Max. The iPhone 15 Plus is still — despite the processor being a year old at release — a ripping good phone that performs well and consistently. It offers users who want that consistent Apple experience, a larger screen and that sweet, sweet USB-C connectivity upgrade.

You’ll get a gorgeous display, a really good camera and genuinely impressive battery life. I’m struggling to come up with any real negatives about the device aside from, perhaps, the price. For Aussie buyers, the iPhone 15 Plus — at the time of writing this review — starts at $1,649.00 for the 128GB version, $1,849.00 for 256GB and $2,199.00 for 512GB through Apple online or in-store, and all the usual retailers.