iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 15 Pro: How They Compare

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The wait is finally over. On September 12, 2023, Apple debuted the new iPhone 15 series at their annual Wonderlust event, along with an upgraded suite of products & software. As always, tech enthusiasts and consumers expected a better camera, longer battery life, and new & improved operating system (iOS). Apple gave them that, and so much more, in each of the new models. But how do the models compare, specifically the iPhone 15 vs. the iPhone 15 Pro. 

We’re all about phone cases here at Carved, but we’re just as interested in the technology, performance, and design of these iPhones. So we ordered a few of them and compared them side-by-side, to see how they stack up against each other. Here are the official differences, as well as a few of our personal insights & opinions mixed in. 

Design & Build

Both the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro feature Apple's signature sleek and premium design, but there are some notable differences between the two models.

Materials & Construction

The standard iPhone 15 (base model) is made of aluminum, a lightweight and anti-corrosive metal. It looks sleek and functions just as well, plus it aligns with Apple’s approach to everyday, yet sophisticated design. 

The iPhone 15 Pro, on the other hand, is made using a high-grade titanium alloy, a definite upgrade from aluminum. It’s lighter and stronger than the stainless steel (aluminum) used to make the standard iPhone 15. And after holding them both in our hands, we’re inclined to agree – the Pro model is tougher in every physical aspect. Though we’re advocates for protective iPhone cases, the Pro appears to resist daily wear and small drops & scratches more so than the standard model. 

But the two models do share one similarity: they both use Apple’s Ceramic Shield glass on their front and back surfaces, which is the most resilient glass on the smartphone market. 

Dimensions and Weight

There are two versions of both the standard iPhone 15 (15 & 15 Plus) and the 15 Pro (15 Pro & 15 Pro Max). Each of them has slightly different dimensions, as you can see below: 

iPhone 15 Dimensions


Length (in.)

Width (in.)

Thickness (in.)

Screen Size (in.)

Weight (oz.)







15 Plus






15 Pro






15 Pro Max







The differences are subtle until you hold the smartphones in your hand. The smaller models, the 15 & 15 Pro, are the lightest, at 6.02 ounces and 6.60 ounces, respectively. This may seem counterintuitive because the Pro uses a lighter titanium alloy, but the extra weight is attributed to the hardware that powers the advanced camera system. The differences in size and weight of the two smaller models are subtle, yet noticeable when holding them both at the same time. 

Similarly, larger models, the 15 Plus and 15 Pro Max, weigh 7.09 ounce and 7.81 ounces, respectively. Again, the extra 0.72 ounces is a result of the advanced camera hardware. But compared to the smaller models, these two have a much different hand feel. 

For many people, especially those with smaller hands, the 15 Plus & 15 Pro Max are difficult to use with just one hand. Fortunately, this can be solved with the Reachability setting or a rear accessory. For those who watch plenty of digital media or work from their smartphones, the larger display can be helpful. However, it can be a bit of a struggle to fit into small pockets, especially when sitting down. 

Aesthetic Differences

Oftentimes, color is the sole determinant of which smartphone a particular person purchases. We’re no strangers to bold colors and designs, so we of course have favorites as well. And if color is an important factor in your buying decision, here are your options: 

iPhone 15 & 15 Plus: Black, Blue, Green, Yellow, and Pink

iPhone 15 Pro & Pro Max: Black Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium, Natural Titanium

We’re not actually sure that “Black Titanium” is a color you can find at your local paint or hardware store. Instead, it was likely a marketing ploy by Apple to promote their titanium cases, a first in the smartphone market. 

Display & Resolution

Visual displays have come a long way in the last few years. The smaller models (15 & 15 Pro) feature a 6.1” Super Retina XDR OLED (liquid retina) display with a resolution of 2556 x 1179 pixels. The pixel density is the same at 460 pixels-per-inch (ppi). The larger models (15 Plus & 15 Pro Max) both have a 6.7” Super Retina XDR OLED display with a resolution of 2796 x 1290 pixels and pixel density of 460 ppi. 

But size doesn’t always matter in technology. The Pro models have a refresh rate of 120Hz, compared to just 60Hz on the standard models. Apple calls it ProMotion, and up until the release of the Pro models, 60Hz was the industry standard. They doubled it. Also, the standard models have a fixed-refresh display and lack the always-on feature. 

For the first time since Apple began to release two models per generation, brightness levels are the same across all four iPhone 15 models: 1,600 nits of HDR brightness and 2,000 nits of outdoor brightness. 

If screen quality is your deciding factor, the 15 Pro & Pro Max are the clear winners in this category. 

Performance and Hardware

Processor and Speed

It should come as no surprise that the Pro models are more powerful than the standard models. Here’s how they stack up:

  • iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus – A16 Bionic chipset, the same chip that was in the 14 Pro models

  • iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max – A17 Pro chipset that features a new 6‑core CPU and a new 6‑core GPU, as well as a new 16‑core Neural Engine. 

Apple continued the trend of using the same chipset as the previous Pro models, but they stepped up their game with the A17 chip. 

The A17 Pro Bionic is the fastest chip in the smartphone market on any smartphone. Designed & built by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company LTD (TSMC) using their state-of-the art 3-nanometer process, it’s a powerhouse. It houses 19 billion transistors and features six CPU cores, including four efficiency cores and two high-performance cores that are 10% faster than the others. Measured on performance per watt, it’s three times faster than any of its competitors, including those used in the Samsung Galaxy & Google Pixel phones. 

The 16-core Neural Engine can process up to 35 trillion operations per second, doubling the speed for AI workloads like speech-to-text transcription. This results in more accurate autocorrect and stronger personalized voice creation for those with speech loss. The six-core GPU is 20% faster than the A16 chip (standard 15 model) and more energy-efficient, and utilizes hardware-accelerated ray tracing for realistic light and reflections in games. 

The A17 Pro also supports ProRes video format, AV1 video format, ProMotion, and always-on display, and enables data transfer up to 10Gbps over its new USB-C port. This chipset reflects Apple's commitment to integrating more capabilities directly into silicon, promising superior features, performance, and battery life.

If you got lost in those tech specs, this is all you need to know – the 15 Pro models are considerably faster than the entire smartphone industry. 

RAM and Storage Options

Storage capacity for both the standard and Pro models begins at 128GB, with the option to upgrade 256GB or 512GB. There’s no difference in storage size between the four iPhone 15 models.

However, the 15 Pro & 15 Pro Max feature 8GM of RAM, compared to 6GB of RAM in the 15 & 15 Plus. Basically, the Pro models can store more app data and run multiple apps simultaneously without a loss in performance.

Battery Life and Charging

Battery life is one of the most important technical features of smartphones for most consumers. Here’s a look at the average battery life of each of the iPhone 15 models: 


Video Playback

Video Streaming

Audio Playback


Up to 20 hours

Up to 16 hours

Up to 80 hours

15 Plus

Up to 26 hours

Up to 20 hours

Up to 100 hours

15 Pro

Up to 23 hours

Up to 20 hours

Up to 75 hours

15 Pro Max

Up to 29 hours

Up to 25 hours

Up to 95 hours

If you want to set a streaming record for your Spotify Wrapped this year, the iPhone 15 Plus is the phone you want to do it with. 

Camera Systems

Rear Camera

The standard iPhone 15 & 15 Plus have a 48MP main rear camera that lets you take next-gen portraits with Focus, Depth Control, and iOS Smart HDR. But compared to the 15 Pro & Pro Max, it’s not as powerful. 

At first glance, the difference between the two rear cameras is noticeable. The iPhone 15 & 15 Plus have just 2 camera lenses whereas the 15 Pro & 15 Pro Max models have 3 camera lenses. The Pro models also have a 48MP rear camera, plus zoom lenses never-before-seen on a smartphone. Both Pro models also have 2.44 µm quad pixel sensors, compared to the 2 µm quad pixel sensors in the 15 and 15 Plus.

iphone 15 vs 15 pro camera

The Pro models also exclusively support macro photography, Apple ProRAW, and have the option to quickly change between different focal lengths for the main camera – 24, 28, and 35 mm.

Front-facing Camera

All models in the iPhone 15 series are equipped with a TrueDepth front camera that has received several upgrades since the 14 series, enhancing the selfie and video call experience for users. Each model features a 12MP front camera with an ƒ/1.9 aperture, capable of producing high-quality selfies and supporting clear video calls. They all support features like Retina Flash, Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 5 for photos, and next-gen portraits with Focus and Depth Control, ensuring optimal photo quality in various lighting conditions.

For video recording, all models support 4K recording at 24, 25, 30, or 60 fps and Cinematic mode up to 4K HDR at 30 fps. HDR/Dolby Vision recording is also available up to 4K HDR at 60 fps on all models. However, ProRes recording is exclusive to the Pro models, allowing up to 4K HDR at 60 fps with external recording, offering more professional video recording options.

Software and Ecosystem

All models in the iPhone 15 series, including the 15, 15 Plus, 15 Pro, and 15 Pro Max, ship with iOS 17, giving users access to the latest features, security, and improvements from Apple. This new version of iOS will also be available as an update for older iPhone models, maintaining Apple's commitment to providing software support for its devices.

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models are integrated with a Thread radio, signaling a potential shift in Apple's ecosystem connectivity. Thread is a low-power, low-bandwidth, mesh-based protocol, which could potentially replace Bluetooth as a connectivity solution for accessories like the Apple Watch. This protocol allows the iPhone to act as a Thread border router, enabling direct communication with Thread-enabled smart home devices, enhancing the speed and reliability of device control. 

However, using the iPhone as the sole Thread border router is not recommended due to connectivity issues when the user leaves home or the phone runs out of battery. Also, Thread has a practical throughput limit of just 125Kbps, making it unsuitable for audio streaming. Bluetooth LE 5.0 offers up to ten times that.

We’re confident that Apple will devote a healthy amount of resources to improving this software over the next few months & years, so these problems will surely be resolved in the future. And who knows, maybe Bluetooth will be a thing of the past in future iPhone generations. 

Pricing and Value Proposition

Since introducing the Pro models, Apple has shifted towards a tiered pricing model to give consumers multiple options. If you want to upgrade to the newest iPhone 15, it’s going to cost you. 


15 Plus

15 Pro

15 Pro Max

128 GB

From $799 or $33.29/mo for 24 months

From $899 or $37.45/mo for 24 months

From $999 or $41.62/mo for 24 months 

From $1199 or $49.95/mo for 24 months

256 GB

From $899 or $37.45/mo for 24 months

From $999 or $41.62/mo for 24 months 

From $1099 or $45.79/mo for 24 months

From $1399 or $58.29/mo for 24 months

512 GB

From $1099 or $45.79/mo for 24 months

From $1199 or $49.95/mo for 24 months

From $1299 or $54.12/mo for 24 months

From $1599 or $66.62/mo for 24 months

Apple has been at the forefront of tech innovation & design for decades, and the launch of the iPhone 15 indicates that they have no intention of slowing down any time soon. Both the standard and Pro models are excellent smartphones, arguably the two best on the market. And if you’re in the market for a new phone, you’ll need to consider your specific needs, preferences, and budget.