Apple takes its iPhone 15 Pro Max to Disneyland.

Apple takes its iPhone 15 Pro Max to Disneyland.

Apple takes its iPhone 15 Pro Max to Disneyland. Disneyland allows testing of the battery, screen, radio, and other features in a relatively high-stakes environment. Suppose you spend much money to maximize family happiness during a few vacation days. In that case, you need your phone to function flawlessly, deliver high-quality images and video to preserve memories, and last as long as possible on a single battery charge.

With the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Max, I could return to my favorite testing ground after a one-year absence. Since the iPhone lineup expanded to include multiple models, I primarily utilized the larger model because it has the most sophisticated camera and, in my opinion, the clearest “this is the one to get” potential.

I had two days and some changes to capture video, make purchases, use the phones as virtual tickets and vacation planners, coordinate with friends and family, and more while dragging the phones through the parks.

Read more: Here’s why Apple equipped the iPhone 15 Pro with a Thread radio

Even after 15 years of hardware review experience, each year’s review still contains new revelations. And this year’s iPhone cycle hit me with some of the biggest shocks I’ve ever had in this profession. Which is fortunate, as this is likely my final year doing it.

I’ve always taken my responsibility as your avatar seriously, and it’s been a lot of joy getting to test these things a little early. I want to put them through their paces in the real world, assess their advantages and disadvantages, and provide a review that places the specifications in context and conveys a general impression.

It has been an honor. This review and the excellent short film we made for you provide you with some value and entertainment.


The iPhones released this year are a beautiful amalgamation of the design languages Apple has employed since the release of the first iPhone in 2007. The flat edges are softened by a large radius bullnose that transitions you from the titanium rim to the ceramic glass front and back – a combination of the original iPhone’s capsule shape and the drama of the iPhone 4’s slab with flat sides. It’s a shame that most people will immediately put cases on them because they feel so outstanding without one.

The ‘natural’ titanium color was a personal purchase (forthcoming in October, phew!) and is also excellent. It is less variegated than the blue and appears predominantly silver on grey, but I don’t mind. The bare titanium sides are not raw; they are PVD-coated with a specific shade of grey that Apple designed to give the most accurate impression of “titanium.” Since the coating is bonded and not painted, it has the texture of exposed metal, although the actual raw titanium is a variety of colors.

Blending glass into metal at the corners is likely only a win for those who go caseless. Still, my Disneyland visits almost always get the case treatment just for that extra layer of protection.

The finely woven cases and wallet that Apple supplied for this evaluation are, um, delicate? I discovered them to have a texture similar to microsuede rather than canvas. Apple’s product photography could have done the texture justice, making it appear rough when plush.

In the parks, neither the cases I used nor the wallet on which my phone rested most of the time picked up much grime or scratches. I also got them entirely soaked on water rides, and they did not buckle or develop wrinkles. They do not feel as “premium” as a beautiful leather case, but I believe they will serve most people well. I cannot guarantee how they will be in six months or a year – that situation requires patience.

I should note, however, that I tested my iPhone 14 Pro, which has a worn black leather case, alongside these new devices as a control. The surface of this case has absorbed skin oil and become weathered, rendering it significantly more grippy and straightforward to grasp. If you’re clumsy with your fingers, I’d recommend a leather case from a third party or Apple’s silicone cases.

performance and battery life

The iPhone 15 Pro Max was able to leave the charging cable at approximately 7:30 a.m. and last until approximately 6:30 p.m. with about 1% battery life. Disneyland is a particularly challenging environment, as evidenced by the 11-hour runtime’s arduous nature. Extremely radio-dense, intense, and demanding on mobile devices. One of the reasons I like it so much as a testing ground is because of this.

A few years ago, I could quickly finish the day with one of Apple’s larger phones. But in modern Disneyland, your phone is indispensable. It is your ticket, your day planner, your camera, your gateway to Genie+ (Disney’s fast track system), your primary wallet and coupon book, your map to wait times, your coordinating device for plans when you have children and friends in different areas, and your remote ordering and dining reservation system – oh, and a phone.

Visiting Disneyland and having a pleasant experience is impossible without a smart device. In addition to evaluating the phone’s functionality for the average user, I examined the camera, screen, and other new hardware. Even though I could adjust it in 11 hours, the average new iPhone 15 Pro Max user will wind up using it for much longer than that if they’re not using it at total capacity.

I only go to Disneyland with a battery pack and have never experienced any delay, but there are factors to consider!

Digital camera

Over the past decade, most images I’ve captured at Disneyland have been from the iPhone. The evolution of Apple’s camera packages has considered the various scenarios on a typical vacation. Selfies, ride videos, group photographs, dark excursions, and parades. Each addresses distinct elements, including low-light capture, autofocus systems, and lens quality.

The repeatability of these prescribed scenarios has allowed me to establish a performance benchmark against which I can test each iPhone.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max has utterly demolished all previous records regarding photographic performance. This creature is a beast. Despite the camera’s 12MP resolution, I am highly impressed with how well the images held together. Apple’s original 2x telephoto lens was a pleasant addition, but the iPhone 14 Pro’s 3x telephoto lens is the first to become a helpful tool.

The 120MM lens is made possible by a tetraprism design that lengthens the lens flow by reflecting light within the lens chamber to simulate the magnification of a much larger room. This allows the lens to fit within a section of the exact dimensions as the other two. It’s pretty cool, but it’s also hazardous. I anticipated some aberration or sharpness issues due to the prism elements. Instead, we received remarkable camera engineering excellence. Though more general grain is present at 12MP than 24MP, the overall lens is precise without crunchy, still usable in low light, and gives portraits and mid-to-long-range zoom situations a tremendous sense of presence.

Video Footage

I initially hesitated about the availability of 4K60 filming on my mobile device. I anticipated it would destroy battery life, cause the phone to overheat, and perform poorly in dim light due to frame rate issues. The opposite was true. As you can see in the footage we captured for our video review, the Max Pro not only matched the performance of a professional video camera in low light and variable light situations, but it outperformed it.

I enjoyed relying on a solid HD capture with excellent stabilization at a quality that I can depend on being able to hold up for years right in my pocket. All exposure and sensor enhancements have been incorporated into the video functions.

And when it came to shooting through the 5x lens with its superb 3D stabilizer, I can say that the results were jaw-dropping. A particular segment was a revelation. I shot some handheld footage of a miniature Arrendelle from a moving Casey Jr. train compartment, and it was so silky smooth that it resembled professional drone footage. Then, the next instant, I swung the camera around and captured the Matterhorn with a passing plane; the image was so clear that it flawlessly complemented a similar capture from the Canon that my video collaborator was using.

We also evaluated the new capability to record the ProRes 4K60 log directly to the disc. It performs admirably. Using a Thunderbolt 4 cable, we connected a CFX reader and a high-speed card. If you have a drive with the appropriate power consumption and write speed, you can successfully record 15-minute chunks to disc. King Arthur’s Carousel footage was a fun experiment for me, but shooting ungraded footage to drive is an enormous boon for anyone who wants to use these options in production environments.

Apple has managed to get iPhones to the level they feel is acceptable as a stunt or lightweight filmmaking option. With the new lenses and the ability to shoot directly to drive with log and ACES, I believe it has earned a spot in any photographer’s kit. Include benefits.

The conclusion

After Apple’s recent iPhone event, it was fascinating to observe the public consensus that it was “boring” and failed to deliver anything genuinely exciting. This outcome is not unexpected in many respects because Apple’s engine has been oriented in a particular direction for so long. The enormous product at the core of their ecosystem necessitates this type of launch regardless.

In addition, the product’s boundaries are relatively well-defined. Without a gimmick to attach to the exterior, it becomes a contest to see how well Apple can convey to its audience the amount of effort that went into making the object they use every day that much better.

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