The iPhone 15 line was announced only a week ago, yet filmmakers, photographers, and creatives already have their hands on it.

While the entire line is a solid device for everyday use, the only version that mattered to us filmmakers was the iPhone 15 Pro Max. With its new lens design, Log ProRes, and 10Gbit/s transfer speed via USB-C, it finally felt like a tool that you could use on set.

Would you want to? Probably not. There is a wide range of new tools that are way more capable. But for content creators or filmmakers in a pinch, it finally felt like a tool instead of a gimmick.

But what are creatives out in the world saying about it? Let's dive in and see if our impressions have any merit.

What Do Creatives Think?

To start, we'll check in with Chris Niccolls and Jordan Drake (also known as PetaPixel) both reviewed the latest smartphone from different perspectives. Niccolls took the side of the photographer while Drake looked at the new device from the perspective of a filmmaker.

For his review, Niccolls tested the 120mm lens, which we were excited to learn more about. However, while it does provide some noticeable depth of field, it is only barely noticeable. It's a nice focal length to have, but if creatives are expecting 120mm performance, they'll be in for a rude awakening.

Users will still have to utilize Portrait Mode to get that blurry background everyone is chasing. But here is some good news, according to his testing, the iPhone 15 Pro Max does do a better job with the fuax-focus roll-off. While it's not perfect, it is a major improvement over the iPhone 14 Pro.

iPhone 15 Pro Max Portrait Mode

photos can now automatically capture depth data for later use.

Credit: Apple

​As for the filmmaking options, Drake really dug into his experience shooting LOG footage. While it's a cool feature to have, the minor issues kept piling up. There weren't any options for a viewing LUT, which means you'll see the LOG image while shooting. This can be tricky to get the correct exposure, and you'll have to trust that your iPhone is doing a good job. In my experience, it hasn't always been spot.

Additionally, the LOG feature is only available when shooting ProRes, meaning you'll get increased file sizes and, by extension, reduced recording times.

However, one cool thing that Drake did realize is that when recording to external media, it really doesn't have to be an SSD. You can record to a card reader with a CFexpress card instead. Unfortunately, when using this feature, you're also locked into ProRes. You can't record the smaller files on an external drive.

Competition Comparison

Next, we have a video by Safwan AhmedMia of the SuperSaf YouTube channel with a comparison between the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Trying to understand the features and power of the new iPhone in a vacuum can be difficult. We can only compare it to the previous generation.

Seeing how the iPhone Pro 15 Max compares to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, it's interesting to see how much on par they are from a hardware perceptive. Both smartphones contain powerful camera modules, with the only difference being what happens in post-processing.

From what I'm seeing, the iPhone has reduced contrast in its images. This could mean an increase in perceived dynamic range, or it may look washed out to you. I know when I use my iPhone 13 Pro Max, I always end up editing my photos with a steeper contrast curve.

Samsung \u200bGalaxy S23 Ultra

Galaxy S23 Ultra

Credit: Samsung

Our Thoughts

There's a lot to unpack in both videos. New features are interesting to see in action, but they don't feel like I can depend on them in a stressful situation. But maybe I'm trying to put the iPhone into a position it's not built for.

Sure, Apple's marketing team pushes things like ProRes, the 48MP camera, and Log as professional features, but their implementation into the smartphone still feels like gimmicks for a consumer base that doesn't really need these features.

However, for those who do, it's nice to have them in a device we carry everywhere. Yet it seems that Apple is content with leaving the refinement of said features to third-party developers.