Apple’s iPhone 15 event today saw the company spend a lot of time (and money) talking about its “Apple 2030” vision for carbon neutrality and environmental responsibility. The irony is, Apple wants you to buy more iPhones, and to do so, it’s introducing new models with slightly different features so you’ll spend your money. With the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro this year, Apple is also beginning to comply with EU regulations that mandate every new device made by the end of next year support USB-C charging. While that’s good news for most people, it does mean that those who might not have already a compatible wire will have to, once again, get a new charger.
In addition to the new port (farewell, Lightning!), the iPhone 15 Pro Max gets a zooming lens thanks to a tetraprism system, as well as a so-called Action button that replaces the slider switch on the side. On the base iPhone 15 and 15 Plus, we’re also bidding goodbye to the notch and saying hello to the Dynamic Island. It looks like with the iPhone 15 series, we’re leaving a lot of things in the past, hopefully for better things.
The most intriguing of these changes is the Action button, which can be programmed to do one of many things. By default, it will still switch between Silent and Ring modes. But by going into the settings, you can customize it to start a voice recording, open the camera, switch focus modes and more. Within each shortcut, you can get more precise about what the action button does. Say you choose the Camera shortcut. You can tap a dropdown list to choose whether it launches in regular photo mode or in selfie, video or portrait.
One thing worth noting about the Action button is that, aside from the default mode, you’ll have to long-press it to actually start your shortcut. If you just press it, you’ll see an onscreen indicator next to the button that tells you to hold it down, while the dynamic island changes to indicate what will launch. I thought it would be annoying to have to long-press the button to actually trigger what I want, but in spending a bit more time with it I felt it might be too easy to set the action off. While I don’t think a long-press will necessarily prevent accidental pushes, it’s at least less likely to happen than a simple tap. This is clearly something I’ll have to test in the real world by throwing into my purse or fanny pack to see how annoying it will be.
I was able to quickly check out the new zoom lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max by taking pictures of media personalities from far away. I used my iPhone 14 Pro to get a picture of Michael Fisher (aka The Mr Mobile) from across the giant demo area, pushing my camera to its maximum 15x zoom. Then, with a demo iPhone 15 Pro Max, I snapped a pic of another person from slightly further away, using the maximum 25x zoom. Not only were images from the newer phone a lot closer, they also seemed a bit brighter and clearer.
Of course, that’s not something I can properly evaluate until a real world side-by-side comparison with fairer setups, but I can already tell you that on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, you’ll get a little window at the top left to show where in the frame you’re zoomed in on. This is basically how all phones with extreme zooms (like the Pixel and Galaxy flagships) do it, too.
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