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Why I’m buying the iPhone 15 Pro Max

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I almost cringe as I admit it, but I just ordered the most expensive new iPhone: the $1,199 iPhone 15 Pro Max. I even used the Apple Store app to prepare my preorder online. Why am I doing this? Well, I’m overdue for a new iPhone, as my iPhone 12 Pro Max doesn’t have great battery life anymore.

But I hear you wondering, “why spend so much?” Or perhaps you’re asking, “Don’t you have someone in your life shaming you to save?” Well, my answers are “I have reasons,” and “yes, but I don’t tell them about my tech purchases.” And since I’m both excited for the latest and greatest iPhone and feel like others may be too, I thought I’d explain why I preordered the iPhone 15 Pro Max as soon as I could, just ahead of its Sept. 22 release date.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is rated to outlast its siblings, and it packs speed and camera advantages over the normal iPhone 15 models.

I may be used to owning the biggest iPhone with my 12 Pro Max, but I don’t love everything that comes with going super-sized. So I perked up when Apple confirmed the rumors that it was switching the shells of its Pro-model phones from stainless steel to the slightly lighter titanium.

Mike Andronico/CNN Underscored

The 7.81-ounce iPhone 15 Pro Max doesn’t sound much lighter than my 8.03-ounce iPhone 12 Pro Max on paper, but everyone I know that’s tried it says titanium makes for a noticeably lighter iPhone. That includes our own Mike Andronico, who got his hands on the iPhone 15 Pro and wrote that he “immediately noticed the difference — between the matte brushed material, contoured edges and lighter weight, the iPhone 15 Pro just feels better to hold.”

As my native New York City goes through a rainy season where I’m constantly caffeinating as I protect myself with an umbrella, I’ve realized how much of a juggling act the mere act of walking around town can be. And so a lighter weight is a point that pushes me toward the Pros to get me through 2023 and beyond.

We always ask “what’s new?” when it comes to the latest tech, and one of the iPhone 15 changes I’ve been waiting for is its new USB-C charging port. After 11 years of duty, Apple’s proprietary Lightning port is entering a slow retirement, now found only in its entry-level AirPods and the AirPods Max (the AirPods Pro 2 also went USB-C this week), as well as Apple’s external keyboard, trackpad and mouse.

Mike Andronico/CNN Underscored

Now, you can charge the iPhone 15 lineup with the same cord you use with many laptops, tablets, mice, headphones, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series controllers and even the Nintendo Switch. This means added simplicity for packing, with one fewer reason to remember where your Lightning cables are.

Oh, and while all iPhone 15 models are getting USB-C, the Pro handsets get the better version based around USB 3.0. That means you have faster data transfer rates (up to 20 times faster than previous iPhones, according to Apple), which I’m sure I’ll find convenient when it’s time to transfer 4K video off of my new phone. That’s another point towards the Pros.

I’m always on my phone, and I hate recharging it

While the iPhone 15 rocks Apple’s A16 Bionic chip, the iPhone 15 Pro phones feature the A17 Pro chip that enables faster performance and (gasp) high-end console-quality video games. I’m more intrigued, though, by how the A17 Pro’s efficiency-cores are faster, as most iPhone tasks are taken care of by this sector of the phone. Also, there’s a new AV1 video decoder, which will enable greater efficiency for streaming video.

Mike Andronico/CNN Underscored

All of that adds up to improvements to battery life, the one feature I always wish was better. I may already be looking for a portable power bank with its own built-in USB-C cable, but that’s not because I enjoy the act of refueling my iPhone. I’m just always using it, and often on the go — which has led to me burning my current battery down to 77%).

That’s why I always look at Apple’s battery life ratings. The company rates the iPhone 15 Pro (23 hours) and iPhone 15 Pro Max (29 hours) for three more hours of endurance than its non-pro counterparts, the iPhone 15 (20 hours) and iPhone 15 Plus (26 hours).

Sure, these estimates are based around video playback, but since I’m already leaning toward the Pro side of Apple’s lineup, this truly helps direct my decision. If going for the Pro Max over the Pro will net me an estimated 26% more battery life, that alone is worth the extra $200 for the Pro Max.

If you asked my friends, they’d tell you I’m pretty good at finding good seats for live events (Eras Tour excluded). And while this often means I can get a decent view, it never ensures I am close enough for the best shots. So, imagine my jealousy last year as my friend pulled out his iPhone 14 Pro and started using its superior cameras to take sharp zoomed-in photos at All Elite Wrestling’s Grand Slam show at the famed Arthur Ashe stadium last year.

I’ve seen two generations of new iPhone cameras pass me by, each with their own improvements and innovations, and it’s been the most minor of annoyances. I’m trying to keep myself to a modest iPhone upgrade cycle, and only buy a new iPhone when I need one. I upgrade to get the best iPhone cameras available, so I can try and capture images that hold up to comparisons for the next few years.

I don’t understand every little spec about the Pro line’s camera setup, but I can tell you that these phones feature a larger sensor, which means they can gather more light in a photo — for better low-light photography. The Pro phones also get increased detail and cut down on the dreaded lens flare (sorry JJ Abrams).

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the best for those live event photos I shoot from a distance, as it’s the only iPhone with Apple’s new 5x / 120 mm Telephoto camera (the smaller 15 Pro is limited to 3x optical zoom). Apple boasts that this camera is great for many applications including “getting closer to the sports action” that I’m always trying to capture at pro wrestling events.

I’m one of those people who is seemingly trying to do everything on their phone, from reading feature-length magazine articles in Apple News+ to watching my favorite YouTube channels. For those reasons and more, I simply don’t want a smaller phone. I’m not trying to claim 6.1-inches is small, though. I am just very willing to hold the admittedly larger and heavier 6.7-inch Pro Max for long periods of time.

If you were wondering, I don’t think this really contradicts my want for a slightly lighter phone. The iPhone 15 Pro Max looks to have the best shot at balancing my wants for a larger iPhone that isn’t too heavy.

Mike Andronico/CNN Underscored

Yes, I’m pulling the trigger on this upgrade because of my aging iPhone 12 Pro Max and its battery issues. Sure, I could just delay the upgrade, and just replace this battery. But the iPhone 15 Pro Max excites me enough to make the big jump now.

This upgrade means I get other, slightly older, features I’ve admired from a distance. Those include a smoother display (which debuted with the iPhone 13 Pro’s ProMotion tech) and the iPhone 14 Pro’s Always-On screen. The latter is key to making the most of iOS 17’s Standby Mode, which turns an iPhone into a smart display when it’s horizontal and charging.

Oh, and a USB-C iPhone 15 will match those new USB-C AirPods Pro that just quietly dropped. I’ve been eager to replace my Gen 1’s for a minute. Stay tuned for reviews of all these Apple products, as we look forward to explaining if you too should upgrade this year.

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