The iPhone 15 Plus looms larger than you'd expect.
iPhone 15 Plus review: A little more goes a long way
The Apple iPhone 15 Plus does a great job of giving you more. More than just being bigger, it's better in ways that matter. Even if it isn't quite Pro, there's plenty to like about it.
The iPhone 13 mini wasn't perfect, but it was still one of the few small phones available to those who wanted to defy the trend towards larger screens.
Historically, I am that kind of person. More than a mere iPhone mini apologist, I'm one of those sickos who thinks the Google Pixel 5 had just the right amount of pixels. I'm not here to yuck your yum, but I will resist the pull towards larger screens all the way to the bitter end. I already have a tablet and I do not need my phone to be big enough to compete with it on screen size.
Despite those reservations and hesitations, the iPhone 15 Plus managed to win me over. It turns out that sometimes more is more.
How much does the iPhone 15 Plus cost in Australia?
With a starting price of $1,649 in Australia for the cheaper 128GB variant, the iPhone 15 Plus isn't the most expensive Apple phone you can buy but it's still one of the priciest premium smartphones available in Australia right now.
For context, here's a quick rundown of how much each iPhone 15 Plus model costs outright in Australia:
- iPhone 15 Plus 128GB: $1,649
- iPhone 15 Plus 256GB: $1,849
- iPhone 15 Plus 512GB: $2,199
How much does the iPhone 15 Plus cost on a plan?
On top of being available outright, the iPhone 15 Plus is also available on a plan through Telstra, Vodafone and Optus.
At the time of writing, the provider with the cheapest iPhone 15 Plus plan in Australia is Vodafone. Paired up with Vodafone's $45 Small plan, you're looking at $90.80 per month on a 36-month contract.
While Vodafone doesn't have the same level of coverage as Telstra or Optus do, it does have a cheaper price. You also get excess-charge-free data, $5 per day international roaming when you need to go overseas and 5G coverage where you can get it.
To see how this plan compares to the other options available for the iPhone 15 Plus, check out the widget below.
Apple iPhone 15 Plus - design and features
As the name might suggest, the iPhone 15 Plus is poised to pick up where last year's iPhone 14 Plus left off. The short version is that what's here is pretty much just an iPhone 15 with a bigger screen and battery. Credit where it's due though, that screen is glitzy enough to make everyday interactions with the iPhone 15 Plus feel exciting in a way that more mundane LCD panels just aren't.
Objectively, the iPhone 15 Plus is a large phone. However, that reality rarely weighs you down. Courtesy of the thinner bezels involved, Apple has crammed that little bit of extra screen into the same amount of physical space this time around and the dividends of this metaphorical investment are paid out every time you unlock the device.
The absence of ProMotion (or any sort of higher refresh rate) is definitely felt, but other than that the 6.7-inch Super XDR Retina display found here walks the thin line of feeling big without feeling bulky. It's still a shame that Apple doesn't let you pair up the Apple Pencil to make better use of the form factor, but other than that I don't have many complaints.
As with the standard iPhone 15, the biggest new features here are inherited from last year's iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Instead of the A15 Bionic processor, you're getting an A16 Bionic one. Rather than a ubiquitous and impersonal notch, you're looking at Apple's own Dynamic Island.
Having only gazed upon this destination at a distance over the last twelve months, it was nice to finally get to mess around with it firsthand. For better or worse though, my impressions on the Dynamic Island are fairly lukewarm. I don't hate it, but nor can I say I've come across any sort of killer app or integration that makes it feel particularly revolutionary either. There is a utility to the live activities that the cutout can contain, but it's sometimes a little too contextual and specific for its own good.
Most of the time, I found myself relying on the Dynamic Island like I would a widget or a shortcut. Essentially, it acted like an extra button that let me jump back into apps like Apple Music or Pocket Casts in a single tap rather than going via the home screen. Right now, maybe that's enough. At the same time, it's hard not to wish there were a few more adventurous applications of the feature around.
Beyond that headline act, the rest of the spec sheet for the iPhone 15 Plus inevitably feels a little bit formulaic. You've got the same level of water and dust resistance and Face ID biometric security as last year's models. You've got the same three storage variants that were available for last year's iPhone 14 Plus. You've got the support for both Qi wireless charging that you'd expect plus fast wired charging via the USB Type-C port that the European Union has demanded.
That last one is definitely something to be welcomed, it's so overdue that it borders on comedy. Frankly, it's hard to praise Apple too greatly for finally getting on board with the port that's all but cemented itself as the de-facto connectivity standard for flagship phones (and most tech categories) over the last five years.
Perhaps I'd be more generous if Apple had somehow found a way to circumvent or otherwise address some of USB-C's various shortcomings but what's here is bare-bones as it gets. Apple didn't even shell out for the good USB 3.0 ports found on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. When it comes to the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, USB 2.0 is all you get.
All that said and even if you can count the number of big new features on a single hand, it remains true that the form factor of the iPhone 15 Plus is marvellous in the most literal sense. It's sleek to behold and the curved edges and flat-screen make it delightful to handle on a daily basis. The frosted glass on the back is a feast for the eyes and surprisingly resilient to fingerprints.
It's no big secret that Apple makes really nice hardware. Regardless, the iPhone 15 Plus is a timely reminder that you don't even have to shell out for the Pro hardware to get those luxe looks. Nor do you need to go pro to get your hands on some serious photography hardware.
While the dual-lens rear camera found on the iPhone 15 Plus is more-or-less identical to the one found in the standard iPhone 15, it's got a definite edge over last year's iPhone 14 Plus when it comes to the sensors involved.
In addition to a 12MP ultrawide lens, the iPhone 15 Plus now features a 48MP primary camera sensor. In the past, Apple has opted to keep the megapixel count low, but hedged its bets on getting more out of that hardware using the processor inside a given iPhone.
The iPhone 15 Plus lets you have your cake and eat it too in that it gives you more megapixels to work with, but maintains the force multiplier that Apple's cocktail of computational photography tech brings to the table. Even if you don't get the flexibility that the telephoto lens found on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, the results still feel a cut above most of the alternatives.
I can't help but suspect that the Super XDR Display on the iPhone 15 Plus does make the photos the device takes look that little bit better, but in terms of the results it delivered, I was so thrilled by the quality of the pictures that I actually entertained the idea that I might even be willing to swap ecosystems for it.
The iPhone 15 Plus isn't even the iPhone 15 aimed at photographers, but the reality is that it easily outclasses most other smartphones on that particular front. Daylight snaps were sharp, dramatically lit and sizzling with saturated colours.
For a sense of what the camera on the iPhone 15 Plus can do, check out the image gallery below.
Apple iPhone 15 Plus - Performance and battery life
When it comes to performance, the iPhone 15 Plus has a familiar story to tell.
As mentioned before, the big change here is the A16 Bionic processor. This replaces the A15 Bionic found in last year's iPhone 14 Plus. It's a clear upgrade, albeit one that I can't help but suspect that many consumers may not even notice.
This is not to say that there isn't a difference. Most benchmarks see the A16 Bionic come out ahead of the A15 by around 10%. However, most of the time, most people probably aren't going to be using the iPhone 15 Plus in a way where that differential is all that visible.
Still, within the context of future-proofing, the fact that the A16 Bionic does seem primed to last you longer isn't nothing. Nor is any of the above to say that there are no applications where the A16 Bionic's additional GPU bandwidth comes in handy.
The iPhone 15 Plus ran mobile games like Diablo Immortal and League of Legends: Wild Rift without breaking a sweat. Even the graphically demanding Genshin Impact and Honkai Star Rail were impressively smooth to behold here in a way that no Android phone I have used to date can match. This was complemented nicely by reality that the the larger screen found here does make the iPhone 15 Plus a more comfortable choice when it comes to on-the-go gaming for those who can't quite meet the price commanded by the ultra-exxy iPhone 15 Pro Max.
In addition to a bigger screen, the other key difference between the iPhone 15 Plus and the standard iPhone 15 is the battery size. Under the hood, the iPhone 15 Plus is powered by a 4,383mAh battery. That's not as big as some of the power bricks found inside Android-based alternatives. That said, in practice, I found that it was more than adequate when it came to keeping the lights on.
Burned down from a full charge to 0% by video streaming via YouTube, the iPhone 15 Plus lasted 21 hours and 20 minutes. During my testing time with the iPhone 15 Plus, I found that I comfortably cruise through two solid days on a single charge, sometimes with double digits hours of screen time. Even on longer days, I'd usually hit 50% charge remaining at around 10PM at night. Your individual mileage may vary, but those are the results I got with a mix of social media, web browsing, a little bit of gaming and a lot of audio playback.
Apple iPhone 15 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
If you're after an Android-backed alternative to the iPhone 15 Plus, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus is a natural choice. Operating systems aside, there are a number of important hardware differences to consider here.
To start with, there's no getting around the fact that the iPhone 15 Plus has a clear edge when it comes to performance. The A16 Bionic easily eclipses the compute capabilities of the Snapdragon silicon found inside Samsung's plus-sized premium smartphone.
Fortunately, that's only part of the whole story. Compared to the iPhone 15 Plus, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus has a bigger battery, a screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and a triple-lens camera system with more megapixels and up to 3x telephoto zoom. If you're not a big gamer or like the idea of a more versatile camera setup, the Galaxy S23 Plus be a better fit for you.
Game to gamble on the Galaxy S23 Plus? Be sure to check out the widget below for a round-up of the cheapest plans for that device.
Is the Apple iPhone 15 Plus worth buying?
If you had told me that the iPhone 15 Plus would be one of the best smartphones I'd review in 2023, I probably wouldn't have believed you.
It's not even one of the fancy Pro models! But aside from the absence of ProMotion, the biggest black mark that I can levy against the iPhone 15 Plus is that it's quite expensive even in its cheapest form.
That's nothing new, but with mid-range devices being as good as they are and the cost of living rising in the way it has my appetite for tech like this has waned. Personally, it has become increasingly difficult to stomach the idea of spending so much on even a smartphone as nice as this one is.
That said, if all you're after is an iPhone with a bigger screen than the 6.1-incher on the standard iPhone 15 then this will do the trick a hell of a lot cheaper than the iPhone 15 Pro Max. That actually might sell the iPhone 15 Plus short though. It doesn't cost that much more than the iPhone 15 and those extra pixels and bigger battery can go a long way.
While its standard-sized counterpart is the pick for those who still want that smaller form factor or cheaper price tag, this might be the better buy for almost everyone else. It's easy to ask for more and that's exactly what the iPhone 15 Plus is primed to deliver.
How does the Apple iPhone 15 Plus compare?
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|A16 Bionic||6.7-inches||See it at Amazon|
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|Snapdragon 8 Gen 2||6.8-inches||See it at Amazon|
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|A15 Bionic||6.1-inches||See it at Amazon|
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|Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1||6.7-inches||See it at Amazon|
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|Snapdragon 888||6.55-inches||See it at Amazon|
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|Snapdragon 8 Gen 1||6.1-inch||See it at Amazon|