iPhone 15 Pro Max (256GB, blue titanium, 2023)

Apple released the iPhone 15 series on September 12, 2023. The iPhone 15 Pro Max press release began, “Featuring a strong and lightweight titanium design with new contoured edges, a new Action button, powerful camera upgrades, and A17 Pro for next-level performance and mobile gaming.”

The iPhone 15 Pro Max was made with aerospace-grade titanium. Apple described the finish as “a strong and lightweight titanium design—a first for iPhone. This premium alloy—the same used in spacecraft—has one of the highest strength-to-weight ratios of any metal, making this Apple’s lightest Pro lineup ever.”

Apple described this iPhone’s camera capabilities:

“Powerful camera upgrades enable the equivalent of seven pro lenses with incredible image quality, including a more advanced 48MP Main camera system that now supports the new super-high-resolution 24MP default, the next generation of portraits with Focus and Depth Control, improvements to Night mode and Smart HDR, and an all-new 5x Telephoto camera exclusively on iPhone 15 Pro Max.”

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max were the first iPhones to include an Action button, an idea borrowed from the Apple Watch Ultra. According to the press release, the:

“Action button replaces the single-function switch used to toggle between ring and silent, offering additional options so users can choose between quickly accessing the camera or flashlight; activating Voice Memos, Focus, Translate, and accessibility features like Magnifier; or using Shortcuts for more options. A press-and-hold gesture with fine-tuned haptic feedback and visual cues in the Dynamic Island ensure the new button launches the intended action.”

The iPhone 15 Pro cameras were the first to be able to record spatial video for the Apple Vision Pro. The feature was added in an iOS 17.2 software update on December 11, 2023. In a press release, Apple announced:

“iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max users can now record spatial videos—a groundbreaking new capability that helps users capture life’s precious moments—and relive those memories on Apple Vision Pro, starting early next year.”

Because spatial video can only be viewed on Apple Vision Pro, spatial videos appear as 2D videos on all other devices. Apple explained:

“Spatial video capture on iPhone arrives ahead of the debut of Apple Vision Pro, so iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max users can begin capturing moments with family and friends to enjoy on Apple Vision Pro from day one.”

The iPhone 15 Pro Max was available in capacities of 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. This model has 256GB of storage. Its 6.7-inch (diagonal) Super Retina XDR OLED display had 2796×1290-pixel resolution at 460 ppi. The A17 Pro chip used a new 6‑core CPU, a new 6‑core GPU, and a new 16‑core Neural Engine.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max camera system was similar to the iPhone 15 Pro, but had a few enhanced features. Both cameras had:

  • 48MP Main camera with ƒ/1.78 aperture
  • 12MP Ultra Wide camera with ƒ/2.2 aperture
  • 12MP 2x Telephoto camera with ƒ/1.78 aperture

The Pro Max model was enhanced with:

  • 12MP 5x Telephoto camera with ƒ/2.8 aperture with tetraprism design (the Pro model had 3x Telephoto)
  • 5x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 10x optical zoom range (the Pro model had a 3x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 6x optical zoom range)
  • Digital zoom up to 25x (the Pro model had up to 15x digital zoom)

The iPhone 15 Pro Max measured 3.02 inches wide, 6.29 inches high, and 0.32 inches thick. It weighed 7.81 ounces.

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max were available in “four stunning new finishes, including black titanium, white titanium, blue titanium, and natural titanium.” This example is an iPhone 15 Pro Max in blue titanium.

Sources: Apple Newsroom (iPhone 15 Pro, spatial video), Specs

iPhone X (silver, 2017)

The iPhone X was introduced ten years after the original iPhone and was described by Apple as “the future of the smartphone.” The iPhone used “X” in its name, pronounced “ten,” as a nod to Mac OS X—which also used the Roman numeral X and marked a major milestone in the evolution of the Mac operating system.

The iPhone X was announced on September 12, 2017, at the same time as the lower-cost iPhone 8, Apple’s base iPhone at the time. Somewhat curiously, Apple skipped the iPhone 9 model and continued naming its iPhone models after the iPhone X with typical numerals.

The iPhone X introduced many firsts, including:

  • It was the first iPhone to use “a gorgeous all-glass design with a beautiful 5.8-inch Super Retina display,” removing the Home button and replacing it with a swipe-up from the bottom to unlock.
  • The iPhone X was the first iPhone with an “all-screen” display. It used the “first OLED panel that rises to the standards of iPhone…for a more natural, paper-like viewing experience.”
  • The iPhone X was the first to use FaceID to unlock, authenticate, and make payments. This technology was enabled by a “TrueDepth camera” that was “made up of a dot projector, infrared camera and flood illuminator…powered by A11 Bionic to accurately map and recognize a face.”
  • The TrueDepth camera also allowed the iPhone X to bring “emoji to life in a fun new way with Animoji.” The camera “captures and analyzes over 50 different facial muscle movements, then animates those expressions in a dozen different Animoji, including a panda, unicorn and robot.”
  • The iPhone X was the first iPhone to offer wireless charging using the Qi standard. “The glass back design enables a world-class wireless charging solution.”
  • This iPhone introduced a “notch” design at the top-center to allow the display to stretch “edge-to-edge” and allow a place for the front camera system. The design choice was polarizing. The Verge wrote that “There’s a mix of surprise, sarcasm, and intrigue that Apple has chosen to go with a screen layout that leads to design compromises,” and added the oft-repeated speculation that “Steve Jobs would have never let that happen.”

The iPhone X was available in two colors, silver and space gray, and offered 64GB and 256GB storage options. This example is silver. The sides of the phone were described as “surgical-grade stainless steel [that] seamlessly wraps around and reinforces iPhone X.”

The Super Retina HD display was 5.8-inches diagonal at 2436 x 1125 resolution (458ppi). The device measured 5.65 inches (143.6 mm) high x 2.79 inches (70.9 mm) wide x 0.30 inch (7.7 mm) deep, and weighed 6.14 ounces (174 grams). Its A11 Bionic chip included a Neural engine that enabled artificial intelligence machine learning.

The iPhone X camera system featured a 6‑element lens with 12 Megapixel wide-angle and telephoto cameras. Portrait mode on the iPhone X introduced Portrait Lighting (listed as a “beta” feature in specifications). Other camera features included panorama (up to 63MP), autofocus, tap to focus, auto HDR (photos), auto image stabilization, burst mode, and geotagging. It could record video at 4K (24, 30, or 60fps), 1080p HD (30 or 60fps), or 720p HD (30fps) with features including optical image stabilization, slo‑mo video (1080p at 120 or 240 fps), cinematic video stabilization (1080p and 720p), and continuous autofocus. The front TrueDepth camera offered 7 Megapixel resolution, portrait mode, Portrait Lighting (beta), Animoji, and recorded video at 1080p HD.

The iPhone X included 6 sensors, including Face ID, barometer, 3-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, and an ambient light sensor.

Like previous iPhone models, the iPhone X included a set of custom wallpapers, two of which were featured on the product’s packaging and prominently in advertisements. 9to5Mac reported that Spanish artist Ana Montiel created the art that inspired the iPhone X wallpaper set:

“‘Fields’ is the title of Montiel’s series of paintings and exhibit that explore ‘altered states of consciousness as vehicles to go beyond the easily perceived.’ The original digital paintings were transferred to canvas and museum quality prints, and the styling came to life this past fall when Apple introduced the iPhone X with three new live wallpapers…”

The Montiel work that most closely represents one of her original works was used on the Space Gray iPhone X packaging, titled “FIELDS 9 : Tactile Irreality” (2017), an archival pigment print measuring 100x70cm. I am honored to own one of Montiel’s original prints. The iPhone X version of FIELDS 9 uses an aspect ratio to fit the iPhone screen, and it is flipped upside-down from the original, presumably to allow the time and date to be optimally displayed on the iPhone. I have opted to hang it in its original format.

Sources: Apple (Newsroom, Tech Specs), The Verge, 9to5Mac, Ana Montiel

iPhone 13 Pro (256 GB, Sierra Blue, 2021)

The iPhone 13 Pro was released in 2021 and featured upgrades to the previous iPhone 12 models, mostly in camera technology and battery life. Its display used a 6.1-inch (diagonal) Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion (2532-by-1170-pixel resolution at 460 ppi).

Upon release, the iPhone 13 Pro used Apple’s then-current A15 Bionic chip and included a 12MP camera system with three cameras: Telephoto, Wide, and Ultra Wide. The cameras allowed 3x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out, and 6x optical zoom range with a digital zoom up to 15x. This iPhone added the ability for “Cinematic mode for recording videos with shallow depth of field (1080p at 30 fps).” It also added the ability to capture Macro photography:

“With its redesigned lens and powerful autofocus system, the new Ultra Wide camera can focus at just 2 cm — making even the smallest details seem epic. Transform a leaf into abstract art. Capture a caterpillar’s fuzz. Magnify a dewdrop. The beauty of tiny awaits.”

For the first time, the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max offered identical technical specifications—previous Pro Max models offered additional technical capabilities over the smaller Pro model. However, the Pro Max offered slightly longer battery life (due to its increased size), and a larger screen.

The iPhone 13 Pro measured 2.82 inches wide, 5.78 inches high, and 0.30 inch deep. It weighed 7.19 ounces. The size and weight specifications made the phone slightly larger and heavier than its iPhone 12 predecessors.

Apple marketed the iPhone 13 Pro with the following headlines:

“A dramatically more powerful camera system. A display so responsive, every interaction feels new again. The world’s fastest smartphone chip. Exceptional durability. And a huge leap in battery life. Let’s Pro.”

Further, well over half of the iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max main web page was devoted to new camera and video features.

The iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max was offered in four colors including Sierra Blue, Silver, Gold, and Graphite. Capacities included 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and (for the first time in an iPhone) 1TB—an option that cost $500 over the price of the base model.

Source: Apple