KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 — After a couple of weeks bringing the iPhone 15 around as a second phone, I have a lot of thoughts.
Is Apple predictable or consistent? That’s one thing to think about whenever September or iPhone launch month happens.
There’s always a “base” iPhone and the “Pro” models and the base iPhone is considered good enough for everyone.
With how much even the base iPhone costs, it’s worth putting a lot of thought into getting one and deciding whether this year’s is worth it or it’s worth waiting for next year’s models.
A rule that’s often followed by many Apple users is to never go for the first wave of a new series. Does that apply to the USB-C powered iPhone 15? It depends how you look at it.
The USB-C port makes your previous Lightning accessories obsolete and you will now be stuck with all those spare cables you won’t need anymore.
In the long run I think this was ultimately the best direction to go for convenience’s sake and on the bright side, there will now be less need for dongles in your life.
What you get
Instead of getting new processors, Apple has, since last year, decided to just pass on last year’s Pro model processors, the A16 Bionic range, to the “base” iPhones.
So the iPhone 15 will have the beating heart/brain of last year’s iPhone 14 Pro models and that means a better camera, as well as very good processing capabilities in a smaller body.
The thing is, in Malaysia many Apple retailers will be discounting the iPhone 14 Pro models so it begs the question—why not just get those instead of the iPhone 15?
Well, the camera also gets an upgrade from last year, bumped up to 48MP but you don’t necessarily take 48MP photos by default.
Apple has also made it easier to repair the back of the phone if it smashes after many complaints about how difficult (and expensive) it is to do.
You get five shades to choose from, mostly light pastel shades — blue, yellow, pink (the most marketed one), green and the black shade that must appear in every lineup or the world would end.
What it’s like
Unlike its bigger brother the iPhone 15 Pro Max, I didn’t experience any overheating issues with the iPhone 15 and some days it was nice to appreciate a light, smaller phone.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max was a phone I adored but it was a terrible strain on my wrist but despite its lightness it didn’t feel cheap and flimsy.
With expensive phones you know they’re expensive; it’s the weight in your hands, the curve of the display, how little plastic there is to be found in the shell.
Of course it’s fast. Every new phone is fast and smooth when it doesn’t have a thousand apps installed and too many WhatsApp forwards in your backup folder.
As to battery life, I don’t find it significantly different from the iPhone 14. Going out to the city in the morning and coming home by evening, the battery had wound down to under 20 per cent.
I estimate you could, with normal usage, eke out nine to 10 hours but if you’re someone who takes a lot of pictures or games often that would drop to around seven to eight with the caveat you manage the screen brightness.
You would get a longer battery life (in theory as I haven’t tested it) with the iPhone 15 Plus but then you would have to pay RM500 extra though you would also get a bigger screen.
Speaking of the screen there’s nothing groundbreaking here — it’s the standard Super Retina OLED display that is very pretty but not quite as responsive as the Pro models that can support a 120Hz refresh rate.
An always-on display is also absent from the 15, being a Pro-only feature which is, again, a shame.
As to the camera, there is a more noticeable improvement over the iPhone 14.
It does better than last year’s model in low light; the new sensor offers better detail for night shots and in the day, which is when it is at its best, I can see more detail and colour vibrance in the standard main camera mode.
Still I wish there was better telephoto in the base models but then you have to give people a very good reason to spend a few thousand more on a Pro model I suppose.
Get or no?
If you have an iPhone 14 or a Pro model, I don’t see a reason to upgrade unless you want to embrace the USB-C life.
Getting a secondhand iPhone 14 Pro from the likes of a reputable secondhand/refurbished unit seller such as CompuAsia (disclaimer: I’m not getting paid by them) would probably cost you a lot less and be better value than a new iPhone 15 if you were purely to think about the specs to price ratio.
I wish Apple would be a little less stingy about what it puts in its base models if the argument is that the iPhone 15 is “the best phone for most people”.
If you get an iPhone, understand it is not so much for the device itself but for a secure, reliable platform with good support and service options and a resell value that is unbeatable among modern phones.
By feature and price alone, it’s arguable that the new Snapdragon models can give Apple’s new phones some serious competition.
For instance, a OnePlus 11 is just RM3,599 for 256GB and Hasselblad lens while the Samsung foldable phones are gimmicky, yes, but also cool.
It’s been a long time since Apple phones were cool, and that was probably when the X series first came out.
It would have been nice to be wowed by the iPhone 15 but I would rate it “just OK” especially with its middling battery life but at least you have the Dynamic Island support.
Let’s hope we get some killer apps and functions that will make the next base iPhone sexy enough instead of being “the phone some people will settle for but what they really want is the Pro”.
The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are available now with pricing starting from RM4,399 and RM4,899 respectively with storage options of 128GB, 256GB and 512GB.