A Photographer Unboxes the New IPhone 15 Pro Max

Blue sky with clouds, an image by photographer Carol Schiraldi of Carol's Little World, as shot on the iPhone 15 Pro Max
“Blue Sky Evening,” by Carol Schiraldi, 2024, shot on the new iPhone 15 Pro Max

It’s been a time of change and renewal here at Carol’s Little World. While I’m not exclusively an iPhone photographer, my trusty iPhone 11 Pro was showing real signs of wear and tear. The front had been beaten up from being dropped a few too many times and the battery was starting to drain in that weird way. I would talk on the phone or start editing an image when the bottom part of the phone would get really hot. It also would not hold a charge for a long time, so I was frequently using it plugged in while charging. Not optimal, that is, right? Time for an upgrade!

Considering an Upgrade?

I checked out the specs for all of the new cameras and at first could not decide. When I purchased my iPhone 11 Pro, I thought it was very large. You see the iPhone I had previously was small and fit easily into my pocket. The upgrade to the 11 Pro was not an easy task either. I had to make several trips to the Apple store for what amounted to a large brick, at least one that did not fit easily into my pockets. At one point, I started to joke that the new iPhones were all made for men, since they have bigger pockets and, well, I guess hands too. These big brick like devices are a lot easier on our male counterparts.

Fast forward to the new iPhone 15 models. They are even bigger than my (now) trusty 11, although not by much. It still feels like I want a smaller device when I am holding it, fidgeting with it, juggling the keys and the phone, and whatever else I lug with me. Photographers always seem to carry a lot of crap with them and a brick like device does not help. I had gotten used to the 11 so hoped the 15 would not be too much bigger. The good news here is that the new model while a bit bigger feels a lot lighter. The titanium case makes a noticable difference here. It feels lighter to the touch while still managing to just about fit into my pocket. The ergonomics are different with the new model too. It feels more like a high end machine and less like a brick somehow. Good job there, Apple, thanks for that!

Time to Buy

I purchased my phone at my local AT&T store, where I went in and checked out the specs. Something with iPhone is that now they have different cameras on the various models. For example, the iPhone 15 comes in the iPhone 15, the iPhone 15 Pro, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max. In the past, the “Max” just indicated a bigger screen size, but now it appears that the Max version of the device actually comes with a different camera. For a photographer, there really isn’t much of a choice. I opted for the iPhone 15 Pro Max with 1 TB of storage. They offer a choice of colors: black, white, blue, and silver. I opted for the blue. In the past, I never much cared about the color of the device, since I use a case for protection, and somehow (probably because I don’t care) I wind up getting the most “exotic” of colors. Remember the “rose gold” rush back in the day? Yeah, somehow when I went for an upgrade about the same time and the only color my local iPhone store had was rose gold so I ended up with one. Meanwhile, a lot of people in LA and NY were elbowing their neighbors in a futile attempt at prying one out of the Apple Store. (I can only guess that blue is somehow a coveted color. No matter here, as mine has been already covered with its protective case.)

The upgrade process itself was not too bad this time. I wound up ordering the phone online and then returning to AT&T in order to activate it. The iCloud process made it a lot easier, although I am still finding I need a password or two here or there. I’m still in transition mode here, although it was a lot less painful then any other upgrade from the past. The new phone was usable almost instantly.

Unexpected Features

The 15 uses a USB-C connector instead of the old style connector and the box came only with a small cable. I was almost left without a charger, having forgotten to order one with the phone. I jumped online and found one and also found an old style plug in my closet that had a USB C cable but it’s only about 2 inches long. For charging, I wound up setting up a spot in my kitchen where my new iPhone could dangle from this 2 inch cable safely. The phones now use a MagSafe system which is great. I got a MagSafe case which allows me to use this magnetic charger without taking the phone out of the case. I like the design of the MagSafe system.

Fast forward to the phone itself. The camera has a great display, very clear and crisp and easy for photo editing. It has a 48 megapixel camera which offers super high resolution images at either 24 or 48 megapixels. This rivals my existing DSLR camera kit, so I will be exploring more of the high resolution side of the iPhone in days to come. It has several optical zoom settings and a portrait mode setting which in essence blurs the background. One of the features of a DSLR type of system is that you can change the lens from say an f1.8 to an f16, a small setting on the lens itself but packing a big punch in the resulting image. At f1.8, you will get either a blurred foreground or background, depending on where you land the focus, it’s shallow depth of field, while f16 gives you more of a focus all the way through the image. The portrait mode setting gives you the f1.8 look from the DSLR cameras.

Three Cameras in One

Getting into the specs of the camera itself, Apple offers this info from their specs:

  • Main: 48MP, ƒ/1.78 aperture
  • Ultra Wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2 aperture
  • Telephoto: 12MP, ƒ/2.8 aperture

The device has actually 3 cameras, with optical image stabilization, zoom, and deep fusion. It offers smart HDR for photos, a night mode, and allows you to shoot in RAW format.

While I have not yet shot any video (I sometimes do short one cut videos with my iPhone) I have noticed an improvement in the sound of the device. The audio quality is much better than my 11, in fact some folks have commented that I, “sound different somehow.”

It’s been a welcome upgrade so far, as I am enjoying my new device and don’t have many complaints. The image you see here was taken with the new iPhone 15 Pro Max camera. I look forward to using it more and trying out the new higher resolution images as well as working more with the video. It’s a time for change here at Carol’s Little World and this is a welcome upgrade.

Until next time…

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