The standard iPhones from this year's iPhone 15 family use the familiar design of their predecessors with a premium feel and excellent craftsmanship but with a few tweaks.
The first change concerns the notch. It has now turned into the pill-shaped Dynamic Island, and we like the more modern look (unlike the silly name). Dynamic Island was introduced on last year's iPhone 14 Pro family and has now trickled down to this year's iPhone 15 and 15 Plus. Part of it is taken the selfie cam, and another part by the FaceID hardware. Due to the large size of the 15 Plus screen, the Dynamic Island appears relatively smaller here than on the iPhone 15, which we recently reviewed.
The second change in the design of the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus includes the contoured edge along the aluminum frame, which makes the device easier to handle.
And finally, the color of the rear glass panel is infused into the material itself, whereas the surface has been polished and then etched to create a matte finish that feels nice to touch. The overall feel of the back panel, however, feels plasticky despite being glass. It's also a bit on the slippery side, but that's to be expected with the matte surface.
The glass panel Apple used on the back is still ion-strengthened, while the one on the front is still Apple's hardest and most durable glass, called Ceramic Shield. You are essentially getting the same glass panels as on the Pro models here.
The Blue color variant we got is resistant to fingerprints and smudges, but we doubt that this is the case with the Black paint job, for example.
The camera island design remains unchanged - it protrudes quite a bit, and the camera rings, in turn, also edge out.
It's perhaps needless to say that there are no gaps or inconsistencies with the build as the aluminum frame seamlessly transitions into the glass surface on the front and back. Apple also points out that it uses 75% recycled aluminum. Notably, the iPhone 15 Plus profile is somewhat thinner than what the renders would make you believe. It feels really nice in hand.iPhone 15 Plus vs. iPhone 15 Pro Max
Going around the sides, it's business as usual, with one notable exception - the connector at the bottom. It's now USB-C, not Lightning, while the rest is familiar. There are no changes on the left side of the phone, as the Mute switch is notably there, along with the volume buttons. The new customizable Action key has replaced the Mute switch only on the Pro models.
The power Side key is positioned on the right, and with it being larger than on most phones, it's easier to feel with your thumb. However, it would have been better if it sat a bit lower, as even users with normal hands would have to reach for the button.
Unlike the 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max, the 15 and 15 Plus haven't gotten their bezels trimmed. The bezels are just like last year's - no change. They are still pretty thin, though.
All in all, the iPhone 15 Plus offers an exceptional build with little to complain about. Sure, it's not the grippiest phone out there, and the power button position is a bit high for a 6.7-inch device, but we are impressed with how light it feels and how much handling has improved thanks to the rounded edges. The handset tips the scale at just 201 grams, and the profile measures 7.8mm, so it's a delight to hold. You can also have peace of mind, as like every iPhone for the last few generations, this one is also IP68-certified against water and dust.
The iPhone 15 Plus comes with a variety of network connectivity options depending on your region. The international version has a single Nano-SIM card slot and eSIM support for a second number. In the US, users get dual eSIM with multiple number support, whereas in China, the iPhone 15 has dual Nano-SIM slots. Regardless of region, you get dual standby and SA/NSA Sub6 connectivity. Certain models will also have mmWave.
In certain countries, Apple also offers satellite connectivity on the iPhone 15 for emergency pings outside of cell range and Roadside Assistance via satellite. The latter does require a subscription after an initial two-year grace period. Find My via satellite is also a thing, so you can update your location when outside of cell coverage and let your loved ones know you are safe. Emergency SOS and Find My via satellite do still have some regional limitations, though.
Apple promises clearer voice calls in this generation of iPhone. In fact, there is a new Voice Isolation toggle that you can manually enable during calls if your background is too noisy. We aren't quite sure why this neat feature doesn't get enabled automatically when needed, but we are still happy to see it present. In our testing, it works great to drown out surprisingly noisy environments.
For local connectivity, the iPhone 15 has dual-band Wi-Fi 6 (ax) as well as Bluetooth 5.3 with LE support. There is NFC on board for things like Apple Pay and Name Drop contact sharing.
The iPhone 15 also has a second-generation Apple Ultrawideband (UWB) chip. It enables precise Find My with directional arrows and has up to three times increased range compared to the original Apple U1 chip. You can also use precision finding in a crowd with Find My Friends. We should note that the UWB chip and its functionality are not available in every market and are disabled in some countries due to regulatory issues.
The new Type-C port on the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus is backed up by a USB 2.0 data connection, which means a theoretical max transfer speed of 480 Mbps. You have to go with a Pro model for a faster USB connection.
Video output is supported, however. It uses the Display port DP via Type-C Alt mode, which means that most standard Type-C hubs with a video interface should be able to get an image from the phone. By default, you get a mirror of the display without any other fancy options like a dedicated desktop mode or anything of the sort. In other words, it does a simple screen mirror for the UI.
In terms of resolution, the iPhone appears to output in 4K (2160p) or at least near that, but in a 19.5:9 aspect ratio to match the phone's display - the TVs we connected it to, reported a 2160p signal.
However, apps behave differently; some, like the Photos app and Netflix, offer dedicated casting of content to the display in a 16:9 aspect ratio. Other video apps, like YouTube, however, don't have said dedicated video casting behavior and are stuck at 19.5:9 aspect ratio and 4K resolution, leaving the image both letter-boxed and pillar-boxed. There is seemingly no way to control this behavior, and it is a bit of an inconsistent mess.
The iPhone does offer some display settings when connected to an external display, mainly dealing with the selection of HDR or SDR color mode where supported, as well as a toggle for the ability to automatically adapt and match the output resolution to the content being played.
The iPhone 15 also supports USB Host mode, and we successfully hooked up a mouse and keyboard to it. The keyboard started working instantly, but getting the mouse to pick up and actually show an on-screen cursor required enabling the Assistive Touch option in settings. USB thumb drives and hard drives work fine and automatically mount and appear in the Files app.
In terms of on-board sensors, the iPhone 15 has an accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass and barometer.