iPhone 15 Pro Max: First impression of Apple's latest top-end smartphone

The biggest redesign since the iPhone 12 holds a lot of promise

First look: iPhone 15 Pro Max unboxing

First look: iPhone 15 Pro Max unboxing
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Unboxing iPhones has become a tradition each year, and this year there's a lot to look forward to when you get to finally open the package.

In what is the first major design revamp since the iPhone 12, Apple's latest top flagship, the iPhone 15 Pro Max, uses a new material, replaced an all-so-familiar button and said goodbye to its proprietary Lightning connector.

The National gives its first impression of Apple's new top-end device before we go all-in with our full review.

How does the iPhone 15 Pro Max feel?

The new iterations of the Pro iPhones look really solid. Fitting, given that it now uses titanium, which makes it lighter yet more durable. Apple says the titanium they've used is the same grade used in spacecraft, most notably on the Mars rover.

Look closely and you'll see the brushed finish on the iPhone 15 Pro Max – and that gives it a smoother feel when you grip it between your fingers.

It doesn't slide off easily, which is a big plus, especially if your hands are a bit greased out or they're just plain sweaty.

The device is also lighter, clocking in at 221g against the iPhone 14 Pro Max's 240g. Hold them side by side and you can feel that 19g difference.

Are the bezels really that slimmer?

Previous iPhones have already boasted slim bezels, one of the slimmest anywhere you'll find.

Now, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has the slimmest bezels ever. At sudden glance, you may miss it, but you may catch yourself giving an immediate second look and realise, "whoa".

It may not be that substantial in terms of having more digital real estate in the grand scheme of things, but these really slim bezels add to the sleekness of the device.

Seems we're getting closer to those concept iPhones with zero bezels.

A new call to action on the side

iPhone users are familiar with the mute switch on the left side above the volume buttons, and it's almost an automatic action to do.

That action has been changed with the new and aptly-named action button, which you can use to assign certain tasks, including triggering the camera, starting a voice memo recording, assigning a shortcut to a specific app and, of course, muting the device. You can also programme it to do nothing at all.

We mentioned that the mute button is embedded in the iPhone user DNA – it has been there since the original iPhone back in 2007 – so this may take quite some getting used to.

Remember, however, that the action button is only available on the iPhone 15 Pro models.

Can you use iPhone 14 Pro Max cases for it?

While both devices are identical – even the camera block has practically retained its size – the answer is still no.

Huge queues at Dubai malls as fans get in line for new iPhone 15

Huge queues at Dubai malls as fans get in line for new iPhone 15

This is because of the dimensions: the iPhone 15 Pro Max's width and height are smaller, while its depth is thicker.

Initial verdict

We have a solid iPhone here. It feels better, looks great and, overall, it just complements what it has to offer from the inside.

This is a great way to kick off our full review, coming out soon, for which we have high expectations.

Updated: September 25, 2023, 12:37 PM