KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 — Over the years the most expensive iPhone has consistently been the most coveted phone with the closest competition coming from Google, Samsung and Huawei flagships.
I remember watching a couple go into a store to buy a matching pair of Huawei flagship phones that each cost around RM5,000 or more and this was just before the pandemic.
Yet from passing observation I see Apple reseller stores consistently being crowded especially on weekends because the allure of the brand still hasn’t faded, besides that dip before the iPhone X came out.
How will that change once the official Apple Malaysia store opens at TRX?
I suspect that I won’t even bother going on weekends as they will likely be so full in the early months there will be ridiculous queues because Malaysians have now adopted that favoured Singapore custom of queuing for things perceived as “hot”.
Too hot for you
Speaking of hot, I did experience the iPhone 15 Pro Max heating up to the point where it stopped working, with an error message saying the phone would resume once it had cooled down.
It was something I also saw on the iPhone 13 Pro model but now after a few updates, the phone has stabilised and I don’t feel it overheating anymore.
Still I also took the precaution of getting a slimmer, less of a heat trap casing from Skinarma (not a sponsored post).
It’s a problem, I think, that doesn’t just pop up in iPhones but MacBooks as well.
For some unfathomable reason Apple puts little thought into temperatures and it’s a question I often have to ask at media sessions: what about cooling? What about overheating?
We are living in unprecedented rising temperatures. I saw someone posting on YouTube about doing iPhone tests in San José, California after the launch event and seeing the phone stutter in the heat.
I’m sorry Apple but it’s time to do your testing outside sterile air conditioned climes because if the phones struggle even in California temperatures, how will they fare in Thailand, India or even Japan where its hot summers often go past 40 Celsius?
Yes, it’s a given that new iPhones need time to acclimatise especially if you’re transferring all your apps and previous settings from an old iPhone (I have over 500 apps in my purchased app library) but that either needs to be communicated or perhaps release software needs better testing.
Getting to know you
I would like to say the Action button has been life changing but truthfully, not really? When using the stock Camera app I still prefer the shortcut from the display as I’m just used to it and the placement is more intuitive.
Most people use their phone vertically so to click on the right hand side of the display to access the camera and then use it vertically or rotate it has become pretty intuitive for most.
I already miss the mute button because it has saved me embarrassment in public far too many times.
Though if you’re a pro iPhone user and used to using “real” cameras, assigning the Action button to a third-party app would be a quicker route. I personally map mine to Halide, the excellent camera app but in future might switch it to the Blackmagic video app as I try, reluctantly, to shoot more video.
We’ll get back to the camera later but what about the iPhone battery life? In all honesty I don’t feel it has improved much over the iPhone 14 Pro Max that still remains my favourite iPhone of all time.
I do appreciate that it is much lighter and does not aggravate my old wrist injuries.
The titanium/aluminium combo does create a lighter phone while Apple also says it is more durable.
Yet the finish isn’t that durable from user reports with some saying the finish is already degrading but your mileage might vary; I immediately stuffed my test phone into a casing as I wasn’t taking chances so I did not experience the finish wearing off.
As to the iPhone switching to USB-C I despair somewhat thinking about the drawerful of Lightning cables I have and what I’ll do with them. Recycling? Craft projects? That’s a problem for another day but it certainly is a problem.
Yeah, that camera
I have somewhat mixed feelings about the iPhone’s camera. While certainly the iPhone 15 Pro Max camera is the best of the range, is it the best out there?
It’s hard not to wonder if the Samsung flip phones or dual screen phones would be more fun — they’re certainly cool.
Oppo is also now promoting its co-branded Hasselblad camera and photography enthusiasts would certainly be intrigued.
As to photo quality, the images are as sharp and detailed as you’d expect and night photography has improved somewhat but I found it more fiddly to get the camera to properly adjust to dark situations at first.
There is a subtle improvement to the Portrait mode and at least the oversmoothing/uncanny valley effect of two years ago hasn’t returned.
I just wish the mono mode was better and Apple had a better mono/black and white shooting option instead of my having to rely on other third party apps such as Darkroom for more convincing black and white results.
My brother is my favourite portrait model as it’s always fun to see how well the camera detects his curly hair from the background and testing showed it’s a little better but still not perfect.
It’s still a big improvement from when the Portrait mode was first introduced which would oversmooth the edges to point it just looked like really bad Photoshop.
Yes, the default minimum picture size is 24MP, you can now go up to 48MP and if you go for the Pro Max you get a little more telephoto.
I’m just disappointed that after years of waiting for better telephoto and... that’s it?
That’s all the optical zoom we’re getting? I am now resigned to probably seeing more zoom in another five years at this rate.
It’s also slightly ridiculous that the extra telephoto is only on the Pro Max and not the base Pro. Maybe some people just prefer the smaller phone? Why deprive them of the telephoto?
New video frontiers
I think that’s where the “Pro” comes in. To get the most out of the camera you are going to need to be able to tweak the settings and probably upgrade to a better camera than the default app.
My personal recommendations are ProCamera and Halide; they both offer more manual controls that I wish Apple would include in the camera app.
It shouldn’t just be left to developers; Apple literally has the power to make the most “pro” stock camera app, with manual settings for white balance, shutter speed and aperture because their in-house developers have access to everything.
Still video-wise there really isn’t any other smartphone that comes close now Apple has enabled LOG or logarithmic mode, a special colour profile previously only available on professional cameras but now is on the iPhone Pro models.
Shooting video in LOG mode preserves more data on the highlights and shadows allowing video editors a lot more control over the end result.
With LOG, pro users can get even better results from custom LUTs or Look-Up tables that will allow them to consistently apply settings across a video file.
Basically video editors now are able to create extremely polished results as the quality and data available in the LOG profile footage gives them more flexibility.
It’s definitely a game changer as the recent Apple event showed just how an iPhone 15 Pro Max could compete with other production-grade cameras to create great visuals.
While there were also other extras such as lighting, video rigs and the like, even the production-grade cameras need those.
Yet the iPhone 15 Pro Max is so much cheaper than say an Arri Alexa (US$100,000/RM467,000) and though it is similar in pricing to the Blackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K (around RM7,000) neither of those two cameras have access to app nor can you just put them in your pocket easily and go.
To purchase either of those cameras I would have to track down a specialist photography store whereas I can get an iPhone at any major mall, in less than an hour.
I am excited about the future of iPhone videography and hopefully more content creators will push the limits of mobile video.
It would also be great to see more local content as well and more “shot on iPhone” local music videos or featurettes.
If the only pictures you take are the odd vacation ones, baby photos or the latte you’re having at a café, I honestly can say you can skip the Pro models and save money. Heck, even last year’s iPhone 14 Pro Max might be a better buy if you can get it if that’s your use case.
However, if you’re interested in taking the best photos you can on a smartphone, want access to the best photography apps, and want the flexibility to create stunning video footage (with the help of editing tools), there really isn’t a better mobile video smartphone than the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is available now at your nearest Apple retailer or online with pricing starting from RM5,499 for the iPhone 15 Pro and RM6,499 for the iPhone 15 Pro Max and come in four Titanium shades namely Natural, White, Black and Blue.
My personal recommendation is to go for the Natural as any chipping or degradation is unlikely to show should it happen to you but who knows you just might fall in love with the Blue Titanium at the store? Have fun iPhone shopping.