The Korea Herald


[Gadget Review] iPhone 15 Pro is lighter and more versatile but lacks 'wow' factor

By Jie Ye-eun

Published : Oct. 31, 2023 - 16:03

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Apple iPhone 15 Pro (Apple) Apple iPhone 15 Pro (Apple)

Apple’s latest flagship smartphone series -- the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max -- debuted in Korea earlier this month with higher price tags than elsewhere.

The new phones are priced from 1.25 million won to 1.90 million ($926.20-$1,407.80) here. Compared to their prices sold in the US, Japan and China, the Korean prices are almost 10 to 20 percent higher.

But Apple’s pricing policy seems to have little impact on Koreans’ love for iPhones. According to local market tracker Atlas Research & Consulting, the latest iPhones sold 1.5 times more than their predecessor in their first week available here on average. When it comes to the cheapest iPhone 15, in particular, sales doubled.

Useful upgrades, no wow factor

I had a chance to try out the new iPhone 15 Pro for about two weeks.

At first, it looked just like the iPhone 14 Pro, with little noticeable changes in design. What was obvious was its lighter weight due to the titanium frame. The new iPhone is 187 grams, about 19 grams lighter than its predecessor. Its curved edges also made it easier and more comfortable to hold.

There was definitely a boost in the camera performance. The increased processing power of the A17 Pro chip improved the quality of images from the phone. The colors look much more realistic and true to life, especially when taking photos in extremely colorful or dark environments, with the default 24-megapixel resolution.

The newly-added NameDrop function allows users of iPhones and even Apple Watch to exchange contact information quickly by bringing their devices together in a snap, without any additional settings.

The programmable Action Button was another interesting feature. I was able to customize it to take pictures, use a flashlight, record or switch to silence, etc. It was very useful, especially when I had to take photos quickly.

Although Apple said it succeeded in solving the overheating problem with the iOS 17.0.3 update, my phone was still a little warm while running some apps. It even got a bit warm several times while fast-charging.

An industry expert told me that a new smartphone usually undergoes an optimizing process, called “indexing,” in the first weeks, regardless of its brand.

“Users (of brand new phones) may feel more heat than usual during (this) period,” he said.

Apple Watch Series 9 (Apple) Apple Watch Series 9 (Apple)

Handy gesture control for Watch 9

Like the phone, the new Watch Series 9 appeared to be not much different from its predecessors but its new gesture-based control offered a new level of accessibility.

With the single-hand gesture, using only my index finger and thumb together, I could answer calls, play music, start timers, take photos and perform other common tasks on the latest smartwatch, depending on how I customized its settings.

I easily incorporated the feature into my daily life. The double-tapping motion allowed me to answer calls easily even when it was raining as well as listen to music on a jam-packed subway during rush hour, thanks to the powerful new S9 chipset and the upgraded software, watchOS 10.1.

Another small but useful new feature was the watch's display brightness, which could support from a minimum of 1 nit to a maximum of 2,000 nits. It increased the visibility of the watch outdoors in bright sunlight and made it possible to check the time in dark places, such as a concert hall.

On the other hand, it was difficult to experience the improvement in battery efficiency, even though Apple highlighted that the battery can last up to 18 hours after an overnight charge. The watch also had overheating issues while charging, even after updating the software and restarting.