This year’s iPhone 15 lineup packs some big upgrades, including 48MP cameras, USB-C connectors and faster chips on both models, and a titanium frame on the Pro. But between the iPhone 15 Pro and the iPhone 15, which one should you pick?
The two iPhones might appear nearly the same at first glance, but as per usual, the Pro benefits from high-end features. It is also $200 more expensive. So, should you buy the iPhone 15 Pro over the regular iPhone 15? Find out in this comparison.
Comparing the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15
Both the iPhone 15 Pro and the iPhone 15 pack significant upgrades over their predecessors. And irrespective of which phone you go with, they won’t disappoint you. Here’s a feature-by-feature comparison of the two 2023 iPhone models. (Unless otherwise noted, the features on iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are the same — only the sizes are different. The same goes for iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus.)
iPhone 15 Pro versus iPhone 15: Table of contents
- Design: iPhone 15 Pro’s titanium and Ceramic Shield make all the difference
- Display: ProMotion and Always-On make the Pro stand out
- Performance: A17 Pro vs. A16 Bionic
- Camera: 48MP on both, but there are differences
- Connectivity and sensors: Faster USB-C port on iPhone 15 Pro
- Battery life: iPhone 15 Pro lasts lightly longer
- Price: iPhone 15 Pro starts at $999, iPhone 15 at $799
- Conclusion: Which is right for you, iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15?
Design: iPhone 15 Pro’s titanium and Ceramic Shield make all the difference
- iPhone 15 Pro: 146.6mm x 70.6mm x 8.25mm; 187 grams; IP68, aerospace-grade titanium, Ceramic Shield
- iPhone 15: 147.6mm x 71.6mm x 7.80mm; 171 grams; IP68, aerospace-grade aluminum, Ceramic Shield
The two iPhones might look the same, but there are some major differences in their design. Although both feature 6.1-inch screens, the iPhone 15 Pro is slightly shorter and wider than its non-Pro sibling. That’s due to the slimmer bezels surrounding the Pro model’s display, which gives it a more futuristic look.
The Pro’s edges are made of titanium, giving it a premium look and in-hand feel. This should allow the phone to withstand dings and drops better than the iPhone 15’s aluminum railings.
iPhone 15 colors
If you care about how premium your phone feels, the iPhone 15 Pro should be your obvious choice. But if your phone is always in a case, the iPhone 15 will suffice your needs. Plus, it is available in five vibrant colors with a matte finish: pink, yellow, green, blue and black.
In comparison, the iPhone 15 Pro’s colors are much more muted this year: black, white, blue and natural titanium.
On the iPhone 15 Pro, Apple used the more durable Ceramic Shield glass on the front and back. The regular iPhone 15 only uses Ceramic Shield to protect the display.
Apple did away with the ring/silent switch on the iPhone 15 Pro. Instead, you get a customizable Action button that can be used to quickly launch the camera, trigger the flashlight and more.
Display: ProMotion and Always-On make the Pro stand out
- iPhone 15 Pro: 6.1-inch, Super Retina XDR display, 2,556 x 1,179 pixels, 120Hz ProMotion, Haptic Touch, Always-On display, Dynamic Island, HDR10, Dolby Vision, 1,000 nits typical brightness, 2,000 nits peak brightness.
- iPhone 15: 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display, 2,556 x 1,179 pixels, 60Hz refresh rate, Haptic Touch, HDR Display, True Tone, Dynamic Island, HDR10, Dolby Vision, 1,000 nits typical brightness, 2,000 nits peak brightness.
Both iPhones feature a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR panel with Dynamic Island. They have the same typical brightness of 1,000 nits and a peak brightness of 2,000 nits. Some other specs are the same, too, with support for True Tone, Haptic Touch, and wide color gamut display.
But the iPhone 15 Pro’s display lives up to its Pro name with two features: Always-on Display and 120Hz ProMotion support. With the former, your iPhone’s display can remain always on and show the time, date and unread notifications. As for ProMotion, it allows the panel to refresh at up to 120Hz, allowing for a smoother experience. ProMotion has become a staple feature in all “pro” Apple products, like the MacBook Pro and iPad Pro. The display can also drop the refresh rate when showing static content to save battery life.
Interestingly, Apple equips the iPhone 15 with dual ambient light sensors. This feature was exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro lineup in 2022. The two sensors will work in tandem to allow smoother automatic brightness adjustments.
Performance: A17 Pro vs. A16 Bionic
- iPhone 15 Pro: A17 Pro, 3nm fab, 6-core CPU with 10% faster performance, 6-core GPU with 20% higher peak performance, 2x faster 16-core Neural Engine, dedicated AV1 decoder, USB-C controller, second-gen Ultra Wideband chip
- iPhone 15: A16 Bionic, 4nm fab, 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, second-gen Ultra Wideband chip
Based on TSMC’s 3nm node, the A17 Pro inside the iPhone 15 Pro is Apple’s fastest and most efficient mobile chip yet. Apple claims the six-core CPU delivers 10% faster performance, and says the GPU benefits from the “biggest redesign in the history of Apple GPUs.”
The six-core GPU features Apple-designed shaders and supports hardware ray tracing. It is more efficient than before, allowing longer peak sustained performance. The iPhone 15 Pro’s A17 Pro promises to bring console-quality games to mobile. However, these games are unlikely to be immediately available.
In contrast, the iPhone 15 uses last year’s A16 Bionic chip (from iPhone 14 Pro) with a six-core CPU and five-core GPU. Despite its age, this is not a slow chip, and you won’t have any complaints about the iPhone 15’s performance.
But if you use your iPhone for professional or demanding work, the iPhone 15 Pro is a better choice. Besides the faster performance, the A17 Pro comes with a dedicated AV1 encoder. This makes the chip significantly more efficient when streaming content from YouTube, Netflix and other services. Similarly, a dedicated USB-C controller on the chip enables 10Gbps data transfer speeds. So, you can directly connect external storage devices to the iPhone 15 Pro and record 4K ProRes videos at 60fps on it. The iPhone 15’s USB-C port tops out at 480Mbps, just like the Lightning port it replaces.
Camera: 48MP on both, but there are differences
- iPhone 15 Pro: 48MP f/1.78 primary camera with a larger sensor, second-gen sensor-shift stabilization, 12MP f/2.8 telephoto camera, 3x optical zoom; 12MP f/2.2 Ultra Wide with 1.4um pixels, Macro photography; next-gen portraits, LiDAR Scanner, Smart HDR 5, Adaptive True Tone flash, Cinematic mode (4K HDR@30fps), Action mode, ProRAW support, ProRes video recording, Log video recording, Macro video recording; Front: 12MP camera with f/1.9 aperture, autofocus
- iPhone 15: 48MP f/1.78 primary camera, sensor-shift stabilization; 12MP f/2.4 Ultra Wide with bigger 1.4um pixels; Next-gen portraits, Smart HDR 5, True Tone flash, Cinematic mode (4K HDR@30fps), Action mode; Front: 12MP camera with f/1.9 aperture, autofocus
Don’t dismiss the iPhone 15 Pro’s camera, thinking it has the same 48MP camera as the regular iPhone 15. Living up to its Pro name, the iPhone 15 Pro features a triple rear camera setup, including a 3x optical zoom shooter.
While not as good as the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s 5x optical camera, this 3x telephoto sensor will allow you to get closer to a subject from a distance. This is missing on the iPhone 15, which sports a dual-camera setup comprising a 48MP primary and a 12MP Ultra Wide.
The iPhone 15 Pro’s 48MP shooter uses second-gen sensor-shift stabilization to deliver better results. It also uses a bigger, better Ultra Wide camera with a wider f/2.2 aperture. That’s not it, though. There are several other pro-grade features that you don’t get on the regular iPhone 15, including ProRes video recording, the ability to record videos in Log, and macro photo/video support.
Admittedly, if you are an average iPhone user, you are unlikely to miss any of these features. But these features can be useful if you use your iPhone for professional photo or video recording purposes.
Connectivity and sensors: Faster USB-C port on iPhone 15 Pro
- iPhone 15 Pro: Emergency SOS with satellite, Roadside Assistance via satellite, Thread networking, High dynamic range gyro, Car crash detection, dual eSIM slots, Bluetooth 5.3, Precision dual-frequency GPS, USB-C (up to 10Gbps)
- iPhone 15: Emergency SOS with satellite, Roadside Assistance via satellite, High dynamic range gyro, Car crash detection, dual eSIM slots, Bluetooth 5.3, Precision dual-frequency GPS, USB-C (USB 2)
The best connectivity features are available on both iPhone 15 models: Emergency SOS and Roadside Assistance via satellite. You also get a high dynamic range gyroscope for automatic car crash detection, dual-SIM slots, and a USB-C port. But the iPhone 15 Pro comes with pro-centric features not available on the regular model: Thread support and up to 10Gbps transfer speeds over USB-C.
With the former, your iPhone can act as a router for Thread-compatible smart home devices. And with a faster USB-C port, you can quickly transfer large files to and fro from your iPhone 15 Pro. You can connect high-bandwidth storage devices directly to the iPhone and record ProRes videos in up to 4K 60fps.
Battery life: iPhone 15 Pro lasts lightly longer
- iPhone 15 Pro: Up to 23 hours of video playback, up to 75 hours of audio playback; MagSafe and Qi2 wireless charging support
- iPhone 15: Up to 20 hours of video playback, up to 80 hours of audio playback; MagSafe and Qi2 wireless charging support
On paper, Apple says the iPhone 15 Pro can last longer than the iPhone 15 during video playback. This is likely possible due to the former’s 120Hz ProMotion display with variable refresh rate support. The more efficient A17 Pro chipset should ensure the iPhone 15 Pro lasts longer than its non-Pro sibling.
If you want the best battery life, the iPhone 15 Pro should be your choice. But this does not mean the iPhone 15 does poorly in the battery life department. Based on Apple’s claims, it also offers “all-day battery life.” MagSafe and Qi2 wireless charging support should make topping up either of the two new iPhones a breeze.
Price: iPhone 15 Pro starts at $999, iPhone 15 at $799
- iPhone 15 Pro: Starts from $999 for 128GB storage
- iPhone 15: Starts from $799 for 128GB storage
Before any trade-in offers or other discounts, there’s a $200 difference between the iPhone 15 and the iPhone 15 Pro. For that extra $200, you get a phone with titanium edges, the powerful new A17 Pro chipset, additional RAM, a better camera system, slightly longer battery life, and access to additional Pro features.
Apple charges an extra $100 for the bump to 256GB storage and $300 for the 512GB configuration. And if you need even more space, the iPhone 15 Pro is available with 1TB storage for $1,499.
Conclusion: Which is right for you, iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15?
Ultimately, it is the Pro features that should help you decide whether you need the iPhone 15 Pro or not. Do you care about ProRAW or ProRes video recording? Or Thread router support? Do you want a 3x optical shooter on your phone (or a 5x, in the case of the iPhone 15 Pro Max)? Can you tell the difference between a 120Hz ProMotion display and a regular 60Hz screen?
If the answer to these questions is yes, you know which model to get. Go ahead and spend the extra $200 and get the iPhone 15 Pro, ideally with at least 256GB storage. Otherwise, the iPhone 15 should suffice just fine.
Both iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro will hit store shelves this Friday. However, some iPhone 15 Pro models might be in short supply due to high demand and production challenges.