iPhone 15 eight months later: A workhorse that delivers, but here is how it could improve

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About eight months ago, the iPhone 15 landed on my desk brand new in slim box in a cool blue color, and the very moment I received it, I was having second thoughts. Should I have gone with a Pro model instead? Will I be missing a zoom camera and a smooth refresh rate?
But then I remembered that I already had good plans of how to spend the $200 price difference, and I leaped in. Hey, I would not feel all that disappointed if I dropped this cheaper phone after all.

Going case-less: wear and tear

The very first thing I did before even setting up my brand new iPhone 15 was get a screen protector for it. I have been reviewing phones for years and I have noticed that for some reason, new devices pick up scratches easily in the first week of using the phone and then far less so afterwards. So if you want to keep your device in mint condition, a screen protector is a must and it should be applied from the very first moment.

I also used a case in the first couple of months, but soon after, I knew I hated the added bulk and not being able to enjoy the slim design of the phone. So how did the iPhone 15 do? Luckily, I have not dropped it on concrete once, but it has dropped a few times in my car and on softer surfaces, so the screen protector is definitely beat up and due for a replacement. However, the back is holding up great! There are no scratches on the aluminum rails, and the matte glass on the back is also scratch-free, and same for the cameras. Apple really did a good job with this glass, but if you tend to drop your phone and are a bit clumsier, you probably should get a case.

The one thing I wish Apple improved in future iPhones is to make them less slippery. I have had a few scares where I almost dropped my phone because it would slip out of my hand, and there should be some way to make a phone easier to grip.

Battery life

My next big concern was battery life, especially after reading many reports about iPhone 14 batteries degrading significantly in less than a year.
The first few months I enabled the feature that limits your battery charge to 80% to protect battery health long-term, but after traveling a few times, I had to disable it. I wish there was a toggle for it so you could easily turn it on or off, depending on your usage. Apple is also adding the ability to stop the charge at 85%, 90% or 95% in iOS 18, and I find that this is welcome flexibility.

Now onto my usage, after about eight months of use, battery health has dropped from 100% down to 99%, and I have 190 battery cycle counts. Losing 1% of battery capacity in about eight months is what you do expect, so I’m not surprised by this number.

The 190 battery cycle count, however, is interesting, and compared to other friends using the iPhone 15 Pro Max in a similar time frame, they have around 120 battery cycles with similar use.

That’s not scientific of course, but you can see how the smaller iPhone 15 model that I use will probably reach that 500 cycle count moment much faster than a larger phone like the Pro Max, and that is usually the point where you would want to consider to replace the battery. My simple calculations show that it will take around two years until I reach that point on the iPhone 15, while someone using an iPhone 15 Plus or a Pro Max could probably go for three years before starting to ponder a battery replacement. That is no small difference.
As for my usage, it’s mostly Spotify, YouTube and social media, which I guess would be similar to many people, and I get around five and a half to six hours of screen time on a single charge. Recently, I have deleted some social media apps and trying to limit my use, and I have found my battery lasts much more as a bonus too.

Camera

I was quite excited about the 2X sensor-crop in the iPhone 15 camera, but after all these months, I have mixed feelings about the camera experience. First, I absolutely love the iPhone camera app, just how easy it is to use with a single hand, to zoom in and out, these are simple features that have made a big difference for me. I have also found the video quality absolutely brilliant and I have quite a few beautiful Instagram stories shot on this phone.

But I am not so inspired by the photo quality. Yes, photos look fine, colors are nice and vibrant during the day, but in the past year I have just completely fallen in love with the look of vintage cameras and classic film, and I miss that character in photos that you don’t get on the iPhone. Photos out of it look… well, they look like phone photos! In the best way possible, but not more than that!
Apple could have done something to address that in iOS 18: film simulation filters, or something more advanced in terms of colors, but unfortunately they have not. For that reason, these days I carry a second phone when I know I am going to need some good photos. My camera phone of choice is the Vivo X90 Pro Plus, a device you might have not heard about, but one that has a beautiful film simulation look in the camera, which has transformed my photography.

iOS and bugs

Apple is typically known for great software, so how has iOS 17 been in these eight months?

I have had one scare one month into owning this phone: it somehow turned off as I was about to board a train, and it would not turn on in the next 10 to 15 minutes. I had my ticket on it and I was already panicking when it finally turned on, just before the train left the station. Apart from that one incident (I still don’t understand why it happened), I have had no issues whatsoever.

One thing I wish got more use was the Dynamic Island, which still seems like a great idea, but is very under-utilized.

My wishlist

There are a few things I wish to see improved in next iPhones, but chief among them is the screen. After using the reflection-free screen of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, I am convinced that every smartphone should have this feature! Despite the iPhone 15 going to a peak outdoor brightness of the incredible 2,000 nits, it is still hard to see it outdoors on a sunny day because of those pesky reflections. So having a true reflection-free screen would be at the very top of my wishlist.

Second, is the grippability of the phone, which I already mentioned, but it’s a major thing! I hate to carry a case, but I really don’t want the phone to slip out of my hand so easily!
Third, I really wish this phone would charge faster! I mean, come on! It takes roughly 1 hour and 40 minutes to charge this phone fully, while others can do it in less than an hour (some even much faster). I can somehow live with Apple not giving us a charger in the box, but at least give us the option for faster charging.

Already old thanks to… AI?

The other big question is all about AI. After all, only the iPhone 15 Pro models will get the fancy new AI features, and this brand new iPhone 15 will not! That is surely disappointing, but is it really a deal-breaker?

I don’t think so, and let me tell you why. The first reason is because you already have the most powerful kind of AI on this phone, just download the ChatGPT app or save a shortcut to Google Gemini’s web interface and you have the chatbot you need!

The rest of the new iOS 18 AI features sure sound cool, but I think most people will survive without AI emoji and there is something cool about writing your own emails rather than having AI do it instead. Yes, you will be missing out on some features, but not on all that much if you really think about it. That is not me giving free pass for Apple about this, though! The company sure should have seen at least so much into the future to know to equip the iPhone 15 with the required 8GB of RAM to support AI and this absolutely is a big violation of users trust on the side of Apple.

Conclusion

So… do I regret not buying a Pro iPhone instead? Well, honestly, the answer is still a “yes”, but I realize that would be more pleasing my inner nerd rather than really changing my experience in a meaningful way.

I am keeping the iPhone 15 as my daily driver, just replacing that bruised and battered screen protector for a new one.
Apple will be releasing the new iPhone 16 series in September, and we already know that the Pro Max model is getting even bigger at 6.9 inches, which makes it even less desirable for me, as someone who prefers compact phones.
The smaller iPhone 16 Pro, however, is the interesting one for me: rumors say it will grow slightly larger at 6.3 inches, which might just be the sweet spot. You get a larger screen and a 5X zoom camera. But I have other things on my check list and I will be far happier with longer battery life, faster charging, and a less slippery device.

What is your experience with the iPhone 15 series? And what are you most looking forward to in the iPhone 16?


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