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iPhone 15 Pro review – “Apple brings its A-game”

Each and every year Apple makes a Pro phone that makes many so-called gaming phones look a little bit silly.

Without so much as a hint of RGB lighting, this phone supplies a level of performance and an all-round gaming experience that places it in a field all its own. And all that in a classy, grown-up form factor that will fit comfortably into your trouser pocket.

This year it’s the turn of the iPhone 15 Pro, and Apple has really brought out its A-game.

Design and Specs

Ever since the launch of the iPhone 12 family in late 2020, Apple has been iterating on a very particular design aesthetic. The iPhone 15 Pro is yet another phone with largely flat, angular surfaces.

I say largely, because Apple has rounded off those sharp edges a little, which makes it a more pleasant phone to hold for long periods – an essential quality when bedding down with your favourite game for an hour or more.

Another game-friendly move is the switch to a titanium frame, which makes the iPhone 15 Pro quite a bit lighter than the stainless steel iPhone 14 Pro. It technically has a slightly smaller footprint too, thanks to a reduction in the size of its display bezels. Compared to something like the OnePlus 11 or the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, it’s truly tiny.

Also new this year is a customisable Action Button, which replaces the alert slider on the left-hand edge. It’s no ROG Phone-style physical gaming control, but it’ll jump you straight to the camera, flashlight or any other app in a snap.

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Meanwhile, the switch to a USB-C connector means that you’ll be able to use the same charger as your laptop, tablet, Android device, and pretty much every other smart device on the market.

You’re getting the exact same 6.1-inch 1179 x 2556 AMOLED display as last year’s model, with the same 120Hz refresh rate and the same bright 2000 nits peak brightness. It continues to be a gem of a screen, though if gaming is a priority and you don’t mind big phones, the 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Pro Max provides a better gaming canvass (not to mention its superior battery life and extra RAM).

The Dynamic Island returns from the iPhone 14 Pro, taking up a little less screen space and providing neat heads-up information on various apps and functions.

Apple’s camera tech has long been among the best on the market, and the iPhone 15 Pro is no exception. Its new 48MP main camera takes even sharper 24MP shots than before and is ably backed by a pair of 12MP sensors on ultra-wide and telephoto duty.

The latter only extends to a 3x optical zoom, though, unlike the new 5x zoom camera on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. It’s not a big deal unless you really like to get up close to and personal with your subjects from a relative distance.

Battery life is solid. I find that I’m generally able to get through a long day of light-to-moderate usage with around 30 to 40% left in the tank. Naturally, games will eat through that quicker, but a more efficient 3nm A17 Pro chip certainly helps with that.

Gaming experience and performance

The iPhone 15 Pro’s A17 Bionic is an astonishingly strong performer, with a CPU that comfortably outguns the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 of top-end Android phones – though at the time of writing, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is just around the corner.

In GPU terms, things are broadly even – that is to say, extremely fast. New to the A17 Bionic is ray tracing support, which should come in handy with the raft of console-quality games that are on the way to iOS.

That’s the other big advantage here – the App Store and its brilliant range of games. Resident Evil Village is a recent(ish) big-budget console game that recently came to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max as a mobile exclusive. It runs pretty well too, though cranking the graphical settings up too high will see you bumping up against the iPhone 15 Pro’s limited 6GB RAM allotment.

That’s not the only such game coming to iOS either, with Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Death Stranding, and Resident Evil 4 Remake also on the way. You’ll need this phone (or the Max) if you want to play them on mobile any time soon.

You might have heard of overheating issues plaguing the Pro, but they’ve largely been dealt with. After an early software update, the iPhone 15 Pro is running relatively cool. In gaming terms, I was able to play a couple of hours of Resident Evil Village without the game being impaired by thermal issues, even if it understandably ran a little warm.

Wrapping up

The iPhone 15 Pro is another strong effort from Apple. At £999 / $999 it’s still expensive, but that actually works out to a £100 UK price cut compared to the iPhone 14 Pro.

It’s a price worth paying, as the iPhone 15 Pro grants you access to the best and most comprehensive library of mobile games, including a new breed of console conversions, all playable on a handset that’s smaller, lighter, and more inviting than ever.

No, it’s not a huge departure from the iPhone 14 Pro, and committed gamers looking to play those new console-quality games should consider buying the iPhone 15 Pro Max instead. But if you still value everyday portability and one-handed usability as much as gaming performance, the iPhone 15 Pro is at the very top of the smartphone tree.

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