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Dragon’s Dogma 2 review – Arisen again
6:00 pm | March 20, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Tags: | Comments: Off
Review information

Platform reviewed: PS5
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Release date: March 22, 2024 

There was one particular journey in my time with Dragon’s Dogma 2, Capcom’s long-awaited sequel in the action role-playing game (RPG) series, that left an indelible mark on me. I found myself faced with a long trek through the arid canyons of the kingdom of Battahl. 

Scanning for potential shortcuts, I came across a lever-operated cart - suspended in the air by a ropeway - that could safely and quickly carry me to my destination. Or so I thought. As I reached the halfway point of the trip, a griffin swooped in and instantly destroyed the cart, sending me and my party of AI-controlled companions plummeting to the cragged floor below, killing us all instantly.

I bring this up not to declare that Dragon’s Dogma 2 is too difficult or unfair - even if that particular moment did leave me in a state of flabbergasted disbelief. Instead, this is just one of many anecdotes that formed during my time with Dragon’s Dogma 2 that demonstrate just how dynamic and unpredictable the game’s world can be.

And it’s not all hilarious woes such as my demise at the hand of a bird the size of a house. Dragon’s Dogma 2’s open world is full to the brim with quests, dangers, treasures, and secrets of all kinds. If you’re willing to acknowledge the game’s near-complete lack of hand-holding, then what awaits you here is one of the most compelling action RPG experiences since the series’ 2012 original. 

Rise up

Dragon's Dogma 2 character creation process

(Image credit: Capcom)

As was the case in that original game, Dragon’s Dogma 2 places you in the well-trodden boots of the Arisen - a character who has been chosen by the titular Dragon to best it in combat in order to free the world from its endless cycle of conflict between it and society’s various factions.

But getting there is much easier said than done, and you may find one of your biggest challenges right at the start in the initial character creation process. Dragon’s Dogma 2’s character creator is easily one of the best and most in-depth ever made. You’ll find all manner of sliders for tweaking your face and body, as well as a litany of hairstyles, skin complexions, and muscle tones.

Creation goes much further than aesthetics, though. Your character’s height and weight can affect movement speed and how much you can carry by default. Dragon’s Dogma 2 also introduces the Beastren, a cat-like race that, should you choose to be one, can drastically alter your options during quests and affects how some NPCs can interact with you. 


Dragon's Dogma 2 Warfarer fighting a cyclops

(Image credit: Capcom)

This level of depth is consistent across most of Dragon’s Dogma 2’s systems. As Arisen, you have command over a party of AI-controlled Pawns, which aid you in battle as well as exploration. You’ll have a Main Pawn, which you’ll also get to create, as well as up to two support Pawns that have been created by other players.

For the most part, by default, entries in your quest log will only give the bare minimum of information.

What’s genius about the Pawn system is that it’s all based on their knowledge and experience in others’ playthroughs. If a Pawn has discovered a cave or treasure chest in another player’s game, for example, they can then tell you about it when recruited. The same goes for quest completion and enemy encounters; if a Pawn has undergone a quest before, they can help guide you through it when inhabiting your own party.

Often, having that guidance is crucial in the world of Dragon’s Dogma 2. For the most part, by default, entries in your quest log will only give the bare minimum of information. You’ll also be given no quest markers guiding you to a destination unless a Pawn has sufficient knowledge of it. And as support pawns don’t level up, you’ll benefit from turning them over throughout the game, dismissing and hiring new ones as you progress. It also helps that Pawns here are significantly smarter in the sequel, doing a better job of reacting to pressing matters during combat and exploration.

This isn’t to say they’re entirely perfect, mind. When fighting enemies, Pawns often seem completely averse to getting out of the way of enemy attacks. This is especially true when facing harpies - flying enemies that can pick up party members in their talons and drop them back down, often off the edge of a cliff. This ended up being the primary way my Pawns died in Dragon’s Dogma 2, and it was always infuriating. Thankfully, riftstones - large stones you can hire new Pawns from - are plentiful, dotted around the open world just enough that replenishing your ranks is never a problem. 

Stay-at-home vocation

Dragon's Dogma 2

(Image credit: Capcom)

Pawns are undoubtedly incredibly useful, then, but if they’re the homemade ciabatta roll that gives foundation to the party, it’s you - the Arisen and your chosen vocation (read: class) that forms the delicious filling. Your vocation will dictate how you approach combat in Dragon’s Dogma 2, as well as which armor and weapons you can equip.

The game starts you out with a choice of four basic vocations: Fighter, Thief, Archer, and Mage. They’re all more or less self-explanatory. The Fighter equips a sword and shield and acts as the bulwark, protecting the party from harm while providing some support. Thieves are swift-but-fragile damage dealers, Archers control battlefields from a distance, and Mages can charge up powerful spells and offer healing aids.

Best bit

Dragon's Dogma 2 open world

(Image credit: Capcom)

The unpredictability of Dragon’s Dogma 2’s vast open world is simply exhilarating. Whether it’s stumbling across a cave that escaped your eye before, or dealing with a sudden griffin attack that appears out of nowhere, there’s rarely such a thing as a straightforward trip between destinations.

You’ll eventually unlock more vocations to try out as you progress or fulfill certain quests. New to Dragon’s Dogma 2 is the Mystic Spearhand, which in my preview last month, was described to me by Capcom as “the Devil May Cry class.” It has a versatile projectile that can slow or stun enemies, as well as allow you to instantly teleport to those enemies it hits, then lets you follow up with damage-dealing combos and counters. It’s fantastic fun, but its complete lack of a dodge or meaningful evasive abilities makes it a tough one to master.

Then there’s the Trickster, another new vocation that’s largely unable to deal damage at all. What use is that? Well, instead of going on the offensive, the Trickster employs abilities that can confuse enemies or turn them against each other. The confusion you sow in the enemy’s ranks - such as conjuring fake platforms over cliff edges or possessing foes to fight their friends - allows the rest of your party to take advantage of the chaos. While tough to get to grips with, Trickster became my new favorite vocation for its unorthodox but highly effective nature.

The more you play a single vocation, the more it’ll increase in rank, thus unlocking new abilities and augments which can be purchased at vocation guilds. You’re not locked to one vocation throughout the game, and you can freely switch at these guilds if you fancy a change. Dragon’s Dogma 2 highly encourages ranking up all vocations, too, as the unlockable augments of each can be equipped by any of them. 

Giant killer

Dragon's Dogma 2

(Image credit: Capcom)

Combat is utterly fantastic in Dragon’s Dogma 2, which is a blessing as you’ll be doing a lot of it. Encounters are more frequent than they ever were in the original game, so much so that you’re likely to fight enemies around every other corner. This lends exploration in the game a high degree of danger and challenge, especially when you dare to stray from the beaten path.

Basic enemies like goblins, bandits, harpies, and the amphibious saurians are all diverse and have structured chains of command. For example, there’s a venomous variant of the harpy that - unlike the basic type - is resistant to fire and can tear through your party if you’re ill-prepared. Meanwhile, hobgoblins are much beefier than the spindly regular mobs, and can easily knock you out with strong blunt strikes.

Once again, however, it’s the larger beasts that steal the show. Some, like chimeras, minotaurs, and cyclopes, have predefined habitats and usually show up in the same places. Much more dangerous are beasts like griffins and ogres that are unpredictable and roam the map at their leisure. Many times I witnessed an ogre dropkick me from off-screen or had a griffin instantly destroy an oxcart I was traveling in. But it’s moments like these that, once again, help Dragon’s Dogma 2’s open world feel dynamic, emergent, and constantly thrilling. 

What a wonderful world

Dragon's Dogma 2 Sacred Arbor location

(Image credit: Capcom)

This open world is absolutely massive and utterly breathtaking to behold. You’ll rarely go five minutes without stumbling across a captivating vista, or an enticing new path you’ve yet to explore. And the best part is that because there’s very little in the way of guidance or limitation (you can go pretty much anywhere right from the get-go), each new discovery feels earned.

Don’t expect to blitz through Dragon’s Dogma 2’s open world, however, as options for fast travel are limited. Doing so requires you to place a Portcrystal (an item that acts as a fast travel destination) and use a Ferrystone (a somewhat rare consumable item that’s used upon travel). 

Herein lies another layer of depth; the convenience of fast travel comes at a cost, thus incentivizing you to travel by foot instead. The benefits of this are clear, though; that’s more time you get to explore this gorgeous world and uncover secrets you simply wouldn’t have seen or known about by using fast travel. 

Alternatively, you can pay for an oxcart to ferry you to major settlements - but you’ll still be at risk of being ambushed by all manner of creatures. Better still, enterprising players can ride the back of a griffin and be swept off to parts unknown. Faster travel options exist, then, but, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Overall, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is one of the most ambitious games Capcom has ever made. Its myriad systems weave together effortlessly, and its exploration proves so bountiful, that it makes for a game that’s fiendishly difficult to put down. Even after I’d rolled credits, it’s not a world I was eager to leave.


Unfortunately, there’s little in the way of dedicated accessibility options in Dragon’s Dogma 2, beyond the option to toggle subtitles and their background opacity (though even this is a basic binary option). This is a shame, as other Capcom titles like Resident Evil 4 and especially Street Fighter 6 feature plenty of accessibility options to suit players of all kinds, so it’s not as if Capcom has no experience in this department. Hopefully, more accessibility options can be introduced via post-launch support.

Should I play Dragon's Dogma 2?

Dragon's Dogma 2 lesser dragon

(Image credit: Capcom)

Play it if...

Don't play it if...

How we tested Dragon's Dogma 2

Capcom provided a review code for the PlayStation 5 version of Dragon’s Dogma 2, and it took me roughly 60 hours to finish the game. This entailed a mixture of completing main and side quests, ranking up vocations, exploring the world for better equipment and loot, and taking on extremely powerful foes like drakes, lesser dragons, dullahans, and more. I should note that your own playtime may vary, as I hadn’t even gotten close to exploring absolutely everything the game has to offer in those 60 hours.

Alone in the Dark review – no escape
5:00 pm | March 19, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Tags: | Comments: Off
Review info

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Release date: March 20, 2024

Despite a spirited commitment to themes of cosmic horror, Alone in the Dark stumbles, hamstrung by dodgy presentation, poorly executed combat setpieces, and obtuse design. 

A reincarnation of the seminal 1992 horror classic of the same name, Alone in the Dark follows the stories of Emily Hartwood and private investigator Edward Carnby as the pair investigate the mysterious disappearance of Emily’s uncle, Jeremy Hartwood. Following in the footsteps of modern horror titans, Alone in the Dark opts for a third-person over-the-shoulder perspective as you explore its bleak and foreboding environments.

Set in the 1920s, Alone in the Dark pays constant homage to the works of the influential yet problematic H.P. Lovecraft. The game's characters are locked in a fight for survival with forces beyond their comprehension, whose supernatural powers warp and undermine the protagonists’ understanding of reality. It’s when developer Pieces Interactive leans into this storytelling tradition that Alone in the Dark is at its strongest. 

Traditionally, Lovecraftian fiction is all about unraveling mysteries - the answers to which offer sanity-straining revelations that pull the protagonists deeper into a horror-fuelled cosmic morass. It’s fitting, then, that puzzle-solving is the core around which the game is based. On arriving at Derceto, a hundred-year-old manor in the swamps of Louisiana, Emily and Edward immediately set to work getting to the bottom of Jeremy Hardwood’s disappearance.

Thinking your way through Alone in the Dark’s puzzles often feels rewarding

Now a sanatorium, Derceto is populated by an intriguing ensemble of outcasts, plenty of puzzles, and locked doors galore. The puzzles themselves are pleasing affairs, often requiring you to read documents, look around for environmental clues, and intuit solutions. One particularly impressive challenge early on involved opening a lockbox by cross-referencing the backs of important paintings with a poster and a mysterious journal. Some are more practical, however, like recovering an important clue from the bottom of a well by filling it with water. Thinking your way through Alone in the Dark’s puzzles often feels rewarding but, unfortunately, these setpieces struggle to shine in the shadow of numerous issues with presentation as well as dire action segments.

Muddy waters 

Fighting a monster in Alone in the Dark

(Image credit: Pieces Interactive)

Despite generally strong voice acting, Alone in the Dark’s characters are dogged with stilted animations and visuals. Emily and Edward look less like intrepid investigators and more like mannequins brought to life by exactly the sort of supernatural powers that the pair are trying to unearth in their investigation. Not even excellent performances by David Harbour and Jodie Comer (who play Edward and Emily, respectively) are sufficient to breathe life into their dead eyes. 

Alone in the Dark often feels lopsided. The in-game documents and clues are lavish affairs, often with their own voice acting. It makes for immersive and compelling moments of investigation. However, this can’t be said for Alone in the Dark’s vocal direction overall. Protagonists will often repeat canned phrases and conversations with non-player characters are limited and stilted. During my first two hours with Alone in the Dark, Emily informed me that she needed a key over a dozen times, always in the same tone of voice and with the same, frustrated inflection. Effort noises are shamelessly repeated and begin to grate after a while, too. Even if the quality of the acting is impressive, this sort of repetition waters down proceedings, undermining the gravitas that Harbour and Comer might otherwise bring to the game.

Best bit

David Carnby speaks to a member of staff in the kitchen

(Image credit: Pieces Interactive)

Combing through the fascinating, well-voiced diaries and documents found throughout Derceto Manor made me feel like a proper detective as I connected dots and made deductions. 

The weakest aspect of Alone in the Dark by far is its combat sections. Clunky and unresponsive controls punctuate poorly designed combat setpieces. Figures covered in black slime will run towards you, and it’ll be your job to aim and shoot before they get too close. Molotov cocktails can be thrown at potential assailants, too, and these can be found in a surprisingly large number of locations. Ranged combat options feel imprecise and unfulfilling. The same can be said for melee, which feels like trying to mash a potato with a flimsy plastic fork and is about as satisfying too. You pick up a melee implement, hammer the attack buttons, and hope for the best, much as you do at range. 

It seems as though Alone in the Dark’s combat system aims to ape the dramatic, over-the-shoulder action found in the likes of the Resident Evil 4 remake or Control. However, even if Alone in the Dark were to offer reliable and satisfying combat, it would still feel hugely out of place in what is, in essence, a game about solving mysteries and unraveling a conspiracy. This incompatibility serves only to make Alone in the Dark’s failed attempts at action combat seem all the more dire.  

Puzzling through 

An ominous conversation in Alone in the Dark

(Image credit: Pieces Interactive)

Despite all this, there is a gripping core of supernatural intrigue that runs through Alone in the Dark. As you begin to unearth more of the details surrounding Jeremy’s disappearance, you’ll be granted little motes of insight into Decerto Manor and its history. As you delve deeper, you’ll find that disparate threads begin to weave together. A name drop here or a little clue there can become invaluable later on. 

Accessibility features

Alone in the Dark options menu

(Image credit: Pieces Interactive)

Alone in the Dark is unremarkable in its accessibility offerings but offers a few helpful settings. Camera shake options, text and map highlighting, and adjustable subtitles are all available. The game also provides two difficulty settings, one of which provides players with extra hints and clues. There are no dedicated settings for colorblind users.  

Though Alone in the Dark’s more intriguing elements are buried deep, they are certainly present. The game encourages you to speculate and hypothesize, filling in blanks deliberately left by the developers. In many ways, this is the essence of effective horror games. At its best, Alone in the Dark lets your own imagination do the legwork, a process that’s far more gripping than any canned combat setpiece with a shadowy silhouette.  

Unfortunately, Alone in the Dark is so burdened by flaws that this strength is rarely given a chance to shine. Hampering an already shaky presentation, Pieces Interactive’s offering suffers from bugs, too. For instance, it will sometimes be impossible to select certain entries in the game’s menu, and selecting an interactable object while not having the right item will bring up a glitchy silhouette of a radial selection menu. 

Buried deep inside Alone in the Dark is a compelling Lovecraftian mystery. However, any prospective detective will have to wade through layers of presentational and mechanical obstacles. While Alone in the Dark will likely have something to offer long-time fans of the franchise, those looking for a fresh horror experience will almost certainly find something better elsewhere. 

Looking for an alternative? Try our lists of the best horror games and the best story games.

Resident Evil 4 for iPhone review
1:13 am | January 1, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

Resident Evil 4 has a special place in gaming history. Released back in 2005 for the GameCube and later for the PlayStation 2, it was a paragon of the third-person survival horror genre with its incredibly tense action sequences, amazing level design, terrifying enemies, and memorable characters and writing. It carved a niche for itself and it was for many — including myself — their favorite installment in the series. Having played that version on a PS2 all those years ago, I was genuinely stoked to see it getting a proper remaster earlier this year along the lines of Resident Evil...

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising review – swords and sorcery
6:21 pm | December 22, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Tags: | Comments: Off
Review information

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: PS5, PS4, PC
Release date: December 14, 2023 

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is one of the most accessible, beginner-friendly fighting games ever made. It goes to great lengths to ensure new players can get in on the ground floor comfortably, be that through its detailed tutorials or the fact it offers a free-to-play version with a rotational selection of characters that swap out on a weekly basis.

To its credit, beginner-friendly doesn’t mean the game or its mechanics suffer in any way. There’s still an exceptionally high skill ceiling on offer in Rising; some characters are tougher to get to grips with than others, not to mention a heap of mechanics and complex combo strings available to learn that’ll gradually help you improve your game.

And if you’re not the online type, Rising still offers a very healthy amount of solo-friendly and more casual modes. There’s an offline arcade mode, a lengthy beat-em-up style story mode as well as the Fall Guys-esque Grand Bruise Legends (a competitive platformer with a more cutesy art style) if you’re looking for something more laid back than those intense online matches. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just dipping your toe into the genre for the first time, then, Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is a hell of a game to jump into. 

A grand old cast

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising Katalina VS Siegfried

(Image credit: Cygames)

A fighting game’s most vital component is its roster of characters, and Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising doesn’t disappoint here. At launch, there’s a total of 28 fighters (24 from the original Granblue Fantasy Versus alongside four newcomers), with six more being added as post-launch DLC throughout 2024.

There’s an eclectic mix on offer here. If you’re just starting out, Gran and Djeeta are very accessible beginner characters. Both have easy-to-use projectiles and straightforward special moves that’ll help you get familiar with the general flow of the game. Beyond them, everyone on the roster typically has one or two characteristics and a game plan that makes them unique.

Metera, for example, excels at long-range with extremely strong projectiles. Seox is kind of the polar opposite; a master of rushing you down with fast-flowing close-range attacks. There are some more specialist characters, too, like Ladiva with her powerful grapples and Nier’s ability to summon and control a puppet - effectively forcing you to contend with two targets simultaneously.

While some characters are certainly harder to grasp than others, the mantra of ‘play whoever you think looks cool’ remains true here. That’s because several mechanics are universal; every fighter has access to spot dodges and a forward evasion, as well as three-button auto combos that can then lead into special moves for big damage.

One huge boon Rising brings to the table is that special moves do not require more technical inputs to pull off. Those inputs like ‘quarter-circle-forward’ or the iconic ‘dragon punch’ motion are present - and you’ll get an extra 10% damage for the trouble - but you’re also able to activate your specials via a simple press of R1 (RB on an Xbox controller) and a single direction. This is fantastic for helping you input special moves more reliably and, in many cases, much faster. 

Spoiled for choice

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising's Grand Bruise mode

(Image credit: Cygames)

One of the best things about Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is a substantial number of modes to suit players of all kinds. You of course have the standard ranked and unranked online suites and player lobbies, and your typical eight-round arcade mode for solo players.

My experience with Rising’s online play has been sublime. The game has implemented rollback netcode, which provides more stable play and significantly less input lag than traditional delay-based code. I’ve frequently been playing with a friend in the US and, with an ethernet connection, I haven’t encountered a single instance of lag or dropped frames despite the distance between them and myself in the UK. Experiences here will vary, of course, and I highly recommend playing with a wired internet connection, but, by and large, the online experience has been relatively seamless.

Best bit

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising Katalina performs an Ultimate attack against Gran

(Image credit: Cygames)

Nothing beats putting in the time to learn your favorite character, to then head online and successfully land that lengthy combo you’ve been practicing for a massive damage payout.

Heading offline, there’s also an excellent story mode that presents a sprawling narrative involving the whole cast. Cutscenes are largely driven by (voiced) dialogue boxes, and it would’ve been nice to have a bit more variety there. But these are broken up nicely by beat-em-up style quests that’ll see you charging from left to right, using your character and unlockable skills to dispatch swathes of baddies. Overall, story mode is worth playing to learn more about the wider world of Granblue Fantasy and to familiarize yourself with the cast of playable characters. It may even be where you decide on your main.

Another highlight is the online Grand Bruise Legends mode. This is a hyper-casual Fall Guys-style side attraction with a progression track all of its own. In this mode, 30 players will engage in a set of three minigames which can be obstacle courses, team-based collectathons, or more intense survival challenges. 

The ability to smack opponents or hit them with a range of special weapons adds a bit of intensity, too, making for a mode that’s far less of a throwaway than it might initially seem. The current selection of maps is rather limited, though, so I'm looking forward to further updates throughout 2024.

A feast for the skies

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising protagonist Gran talks to Lyria and Vyrn

(Image credit: Cygames)

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is a visual spectacle. Developer Arc System Works has a knack for translating anime-style visuals into a 2.5D space, and Rising represents its most successful attempt at this to date, even more so than the utterly stunning Guilty Gear Strive.

Characters all look amazing and animate with such impressive fluidity, it’s easy to forget that they’re fully 3D models and not hand-drawn sprites. There’s just so much personality on display here, furthered by the fact that every single character has unique match introductions with one another.

Equally, the game’s stages look excellent with a striking amount of background detail, all while still being unobtrusive in the face of all the flying sparks and particle effects created by your bouts. And while no, Rising doesn’t reach the jaw-dropping visual fidelity of, say, Alan Wake 2 or Resident Evil 4, its strong sense of style and flawless presentation still make it one of the most visually impressive titles of 2023.


Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising accessibility options

(Image credit: Future)

Despite being an easy game to get into and play, Rising doesn’t have the most robust accessibility suite. It doesn’t have the in-depth settings on offer in Street Fighter 6, nor more basic features like colorblind options. Some notable settings are here, though, such as the ability to adjust HUD position and setting your opponent to their default color should you need the extra readability. 

At the end of it all, I really only have a couple of gripes with Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising. Often, the initial server connection on startup can take a while. Sometimes upwards of a minute, which is clearly something that’s sorely in need of a fix. The game’s interactive online lobbies could also use some work; both frame rate and resolution absolutely tank here, which quickly had me preferring to queue up for online matches from the main menu instead.

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is the full package, whether you prefer to play fighting games online or off. Connection quality is excellent thanks to its implementation of rollback netcode, and progression feels constantly rewarding thanks to unlockable goodies as you level up your favorite characters. Offline, the game’s arcade and story modes provide a more casual-friendly, laid-back space if you’re looking to take a break from online play, or aren’t quite ready to jump in. If you’re unsure, give the free version a go. It’s risk-free and you may just find your new favorite fighting game. 

Want to play more games like Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising? Be sure to check out our guide to the best fighting games for some of the most rewarding experiences you can have in gaming. 

iPhone 15 Pro review – the almost flagship
5:39 pm | September 13, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

iPhone 15 Pro: Two-minute preview

iPhone 15 Pro

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Apple's latest crop of iPhones bear familiar titles, but for the first time, its newest Pro and Pro Max devices are separated by more than just display size. 

By lacking the 5x optical zoom telephoto camera of its larger sibling (3x optical zoom remains), the iPhone 15 Pro may be better described as Apple's semi-flagship iPhone of 2023 – but that doesn't mean this premium powerhouse is wanting for other flagship specs.

Indeed, the gap between the iPhone 15 Pro and the standard iPhone 15 remains significant. Every model in this year's iPhone lineup has benefited from a design refresh that splits the difference between the curvy iPhone 11 and last year's iPhone 14 Pro, but the iPhone 15 Pro gets a titanium frame that's lighter and more durable than the stainless steel you'll find on other iPhone 15 models (and every iPhone that's come before).

USB-C ports feature across the board, too, and Apple's newest Pro models also boast an Apple Watch Ultra-style Action button in place of the traditional mute switch (a simple but surprisingly useful substitution). This new toggle can trigger various actions through a series of short and long presses, offering a fast way to access your favorite apps and tools without swiping through home screens and menus.

Other upgrades to the iPhone 15 Pro include an exciting A17 Pro chipset, USB-C, a thinner screen bezel, and the new Action button, which should ensure that Apple's latest 6.1-inch wonder dethrones its predecessor on our list of the best phones money can buy. We'll need to spend more time with the device before coming to a full verdict, though.

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro review: Price and availability

The iPhone 15 Pro was officially unveiled alongside the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, and iPhone 15 Pro Max at Apple’s September 2023 Event on Tuesday, September 12. Pre-orders commence Friday, September 15, with shipping dates set to follow a week later, on September 22. 

The iPhone 15 Pro is available in four storage variants – 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. No other iPhone 15 has this much storage variety. Even the Pro Max dropped the 128GB option, which made that model about $100 more expensive to start. 

In the US, the iPhone 15 Pro starts at $999 (for the 128BG version), $1,099 for the 256GB option, $1,299 for the 512GB build and $1,499 for the top 1TB capacity model.

After a painful price hike last year, UK pricing has dropped back down slightly, mirroring the US prices numerically, with the four storage variants costing £999, £1,099, £1,299 and £1,499 respectively. Australian pricing is, unfortunatley a little higher this year, at AU$1,849, AU$2,049, AU$2,399 and AU$2,749.

For context, the 256GB model of the iPhone 14 Pro retailed for $1,099 / £1,209 / AU$1,899 at launch, while the base 128GB version retailed for $999 / £1,099 / AU$1,749.

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro review: Specs

Check out the iPhone 15 Pro's full specs below:

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro review: Design

Aesthetically speaking, the iPhone 14 Pro was a near-replica of the iPhone 13 Pro, but Apple has opted to reinvent the iPhone design language once again with the iPhone 15 Pro – for reasons in and out of its control.

Chief among the visual changes is the burnishing away of all those edges on the new frame. The iPhone 15 Pro (and all others in the iPhone 15 lineup) still has flat sides which wrap around the phone, but the sharp edges are all gone. More importantly, the Pro line features a new titanium frame that makes the iPhone 15 Pro stronger and lighter than its stainless steel predecessor (Apple’s latest flagship weighs 187g, whereas the iPhone 14 Pro clocks in at 206g). 

In my brief time with the new phone, I can confirm that it feels lighter and, dare I say, kinder in the hand. For those who have complained to me about the iPhone 14 Pro edges, you're in for a treat.

iPhone 15 Pro

iPhone 15 Pro Action button (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Another big change is on the all-important Super Retina XDR OLED screen. The 2556 x 1179 resolution is unchanged from the iPhone 14 Pro, but Apple has managed to shrink the black bezel around the screen. In my view, it appears at least half as thick and is now becoming virtually unnoticeable. Apple’s dream of a bezel-less iPhone is slowly becoming real. 

Both the Dynamic Island and brushed glass rear panel return from last year’s device, and the latter is once again protected by Apple’s Ceramic Shield, a transparent material containing ceramic crystals for extra protection.

Beyond these primarily visual, arguably superficial design upgrades, Apple has also introduced a handful of updates that dramatically alter the functionality of the iPhone 15 Pro versus its predecessor. 

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iPhone 15 Pro Max action button control

Action Modes on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which are the same as those on the iPhone 15 Pro. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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iPhone 15 Pro Max action button control

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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iPhone 15 Pro Max action button control

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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iPhone 15 Pro Max action button control

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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iPhone 15 Pro Max action button control

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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iPhone 15 Pro Max action button control

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The first is an Apple Watch Ultra-style Action button, which arrives in place of the traditional, physical mute switch on the iPhone 15 Pro (and iPhone 15 Pro Max). This customizable button lets you trigger up to nine different actions. First of all, even though it's replacing the venerable silence/ring switch, the Action button looks perfectly at home on the iPhone 15 Pro.

I got a chance to try out the button and was immediately smitten. It takes a quick press to see which mode it's in – yes, even to see if you're in silent or ring mode – and a long press to change modes to activate, say, the camera, and then another long press to take the photo, or maybe to activate, for instance, the flash. You can even assign custom Shortcuts to the Action button.

iPhone 15 Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The second is a USB-C port, which replaces Apple’s proprietary Lightning port on every model in the iPhone 15 lineup. USB-C is the latest universal standard for the wired connection of smart devices. If you buy a smart device in 2023 – be it one of the best Android phones, best laptops, or best smart speakers – it’ll likely feature a pill-shaped port to support USB-C charging and data transfer and Apple has opted to adorn its latest crop of iPhones with these ports following a recent EU regulation.

As for how this transition from Lightning to USB-C affects the functionality of the iPhone 15 Pro, it doesn't impact charge speed but does enable USB 3, 10GBps data transfer speeds. Imagine connecting the iPhone 15 Pro directly to your MacBook Pro, taking ProRes photos, and having them appear almost instantly on your Mac.

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro review: Display

iPhone 15 Pro

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The iPhone 15 Pro retains its predecessor’s excellent 6.1-inch Super XDR OLED screen, with Apple’s ProMotion technology – which varies the refresh rate between 10Hz and 120Hz, depending on the content displayed – returning, too.

As mentioned, the Dynamic Island digital cutout also returns – though this notch is now a feature of every model in the lineup – and the iPhone 15 Pro’s bezels are largely non-existent.

It is still a gorgeous and responsive screen (also bright, reaching a max 2,000 nits). The tinier bezel instantly makes it a more immersive display and I would say it only suffers when placed next to the larger and equally pretty iPhone 15 Pro Max's 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display.

Put simply, this is the sort of display you’d expect to find strapped to one of the best phones on the market, and Apple hasn’t messed with a winning formula here and actually improved it just a tiny bit.

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro review: Cameras

iPhone 15 Pro

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

On the subject of cameras, the iPhone 15 Pro doesn’t stray too far from its predecessor’s (admittedly excellent) triple-sensor setup. The phone boasts the following three lenses: a 48MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP 3x telephoto.

By reserving the 5x optical zoom telephoto camera for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple has, for the first time, created a considerable technological gap between its latest Pro and Pro Max iPhones – but that doesn’t mean the iPhone 15 Pro isn’t one of the best camera phones around.

On the front, the iPhone 15 Pro boasts the same 12MP TrueDepth camera as the iPhone 14 Pro.

I didn't get much time to try out this camera array, but I expect performance that is at least in line with what I found with iPhone 14 Pro. However, there are some interesting new image processing tricks – including the new, default 24MP shooting mode that uses a combination of the best fused 12MP and the full 48MP of the main camera to add what appears to be impressive detail and image truth (true environment, fabric, and skin tones). In addition, the iPhone 15 Pro will now recognize image depth on any photo and let you convert it to Portrait Mode. You can even quickly switch the point of focus from one subject to another. Not sure why anyone would shoot directly in Portrait Mode anymore.

I have to wonder, though, how the lack of the more powerful 5x optical zoom I saw (and tried) on the iPhone 15 Pro Max will impact the iPhone 15 Pro's appeal. It's just a shame that Apple couldn't have spread that much-needed tech just a little down the line.

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro review: Performance and software

iPhone 15 Pro

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Under the hood, the iPhone 15 Pro is powered by the latest version of Apple’s silicon – the A17 Pro – which makes it one of the fastest phones (if not the fastest phone) money can buy right now.

The A17 Pro is more than a simple upgrade (and upgraded clock speed) of the A16 Bionic (still powerful and now resident on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus). Inside the A17 Pro is a new CPU, new GPU, and a new 2x-faster Neural Engine. 

We don't have benchmarks yet, but I expect them to be surprising, especially when it comes to graphics scores. Apple demonstrated how the chip is capable of running console-quality games on the iPhone 15 Pro's 6.1-inch display at a smooth 30FPS. Titles like Resident Evil: Village and the remastered Resident Evil 4 are apparently ported directly over to the iOS platform to run on A17 Pro-equipped iPhones.

I didn't have much time to play with the phone but everything I did see indicates that the iPhone 15 Pro will be a performance winner.

The iPhone 15 Pro also ships with iOS 17 installed as standard.

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro review: Battery life

Apple hasn’t publicly revealed the iPhone 15 Pro’s battery capacity, but the company has quoted 23 hours of video playback for the device, which puts it in line with the iPhone 14 Pro

Obviously, the iPhone 15 Pro still supports MagSafe wireless and Qi charging. Its fast charging is unchanged from the previous model, which is to say that it's slower than what you can get with a comparable Android flagship.

As I mentioned earlier, USB-C doesn't bring any charge speed improvements.

Hands-on iPhone 15 Pro review: Early verdict

The iPhone 15 Pro now sits in the unenviable position of being just one step behind its big brother, the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Sure, that phone always had the bigger display but that was usually the extent of the differences. The lack of a refreshed and more powerful zoom lens will mean something to some users.

The good news is that this phone does have Apple's newest and, I assume, most powerful-ever silicon in the A17 Pro chip. For those who don't like their phones big and hefty-ish but want the freshness of ultra-hard titanium with smoother curves, USB-C, flagship-class performance, and that really useful Action button, the iPhone 15 Pro will be a welcome and desirable update from the iPhone 14 Pro.

First tested August 2023

iPhone 15 Pro Max review: the best just got better
6:57 am |

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Editor's Note

• Original review date: September, 2023
• Apple keeps improving iOS 17
• Spacial video is now possible with Apple Vision Pro

Update: April 2024. Apple continues to show the rest of the smartphone world how to update phones, and iOS 17 has added new features to the iPhone 15 Pro Max as well as every iPhone released in the last five years. With new discovery features, Apple's new Journal app, and plenty more, iOS 17 is the gift that keeps on giving. The iPhone 15 Pro Max also now has the capability to record videos with an added depth component. These videos take advantage of Apple's spatial computing platform, Apple Vision Pro, and give you a more realistic, 3D look at whatever you record, as long as you watch the videos while wearing Apple's new headset. 

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Two-minute review

Leave it to Apple to make titanium sound sexy, while also putting me in mind of my somewhat aging joints. 

I know, Apple enthusiastically told us how the iPhone 15 Pro Max (and Pro) uses the same titanium as was used by NASA on the Mars rover. I buy that, and it sounds impressive; but when I think of titanium, I usually think of hip or knee replacements. The low-corrosion, lightweight, and high-strength material is favored by surgeons for those properties, and it's for those same reasons that it makes perfect sense as the new frame material for the iPhone.

Patients sporting new titanium knees and hips will likely never get to touch the metal, but if you buy an iPhone 15 Pro Max or – as I did – test it, you'll find that it's smooth yet solid, with a brushed surface that feels cool but not cold. Holding the 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Pro Max is a distinctly different experience compared to handling the iPhone 14 Pro Max; it's lighter, and the titanium feels a little warmer than the polished steel of its predecessor.

It's not just the titanium, though; Apple has made a small yet subtle change to the frame, removing just enough metal to add contoured edges all around. It's one of the smallest yet most impactful changes I've seen a smartphone manufacturer make to a design, and it truly changes how the phone feels in the hand.

Staying with the frame, Apple's retirement of the silence / ring button is one of the most welcome and useful changes. It takes a dull, one-trick-pony analog feature and transforms it into a sleek, customizable button that can be almost anything you want it to be.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max REVIEW

Apple contoured the edges on the iPhone 15 Pro Max (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The biggest change for some iPhone fans, though, will be the introduction of the USB-C port in place of Lightning. I know there's a fair amount of frustration over the change (all those now-useless cords in your home, office, and car) but it doesn't change the operation of the phone, and at least Apple supplies you with a woven USB-C-to-USB-C cable. I will miss the old port, but believe we'll all soon forget it.

Naturally, if those external changes were the only differences between this phone and its predecessor, the iPhone 15 Pro Max might be a disappointment. However, this is a significantly more powerful phone than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, with Apple's all-new A17 Pro silicon that, for the first time ever, brings console-quality gaming to the iPhone line. Granted, console games like Resident Evil: Village were not designed for a 6.7-inch display, even Apple's high-definition Super Retina XDR OLED panel, although at least that display now benefits from the smallest iPhone bezels I've seen.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max's triple-camera array looks unchanged from the iPhone 14 Pro Max's, but looks can be deceiving – there are upgrades both inside and out that help to deliver one of the best photography experiences you'll find on any phone.

While Apple appears to have used the same 48MP primary camera sensor as in last year's Pro Max, it's basically rebuilt its image processing pipeline.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max REVIEW

The three-camera array looks the same, but there's now a more powerful 5x optical zoom lens (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

There's a new 24MP default image size that cannily combines 12MP of pixel-binned image data with full-sensor 48MP information for images that are, in almost all instances, true-to-life (Apple may be over-blueing the sky a little).

The new setup is more versatile too. I never had to decide if I wanted to shoot portrait mode now or later – in most instances, if the iPhone 15 Pro Max could read depth information, it stored all the detail I'd need to change a photo to portrait mode and choose the focus subject post-shoot.

If you were hoping for 10x optical zoom on an iPhone, though, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will disappoint you (though not as much as the 3x optical iPhone 15 Pro). I was frustrated when Apple announced that it had only raised the maximum optical zoom on its largest smartphone to 5x; after all, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has an excellent 10x optical zoom, plus the wild, AI-assisted 100x Space Zoom (which may add too much 'artificial' information for my taste, but it's an option if you need it).  Apple does do a remarkably good job of competing with just half that zoom range, largely because the image quality at that extended focal length is simply excellent, rivaling and sometimes beating Samsung's best camera.

The combination of its new 3nm chipset, a display that can stop down to a power-sipping 1Hz, and smart power management may account for excellent full-day-plus battery life; though your experience will depend on how you use the iPhone.

In short (this is my two-minute review, after all), this is my favorite iPhone ever. I usually don't like Apple's largest iPhone, but the iPhone 15 Pro Max is lighter (and a tiny bit smaller) than the iPhone 14 Pro Max which – along with the new contoured edges – makes it feel comfortable in my hand. Add to all that excellent photography, fast performance, and seemingly unlimited potential and you've got a lock for a place at or near the top of our best phone list.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max REVIEW

There's your new USB-C port (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Specs

iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Price and availability

  • Starts at $1,199 / £1,199 / AU$2,199
  • You now pay more for Apple's best iPhone
  • There's more starting storage (and memory)

Apple unveiled the iPhone 15 Pro Max alongside the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, and iPhone 15 Pro at its 'Wonderlust' event on September 12. Since then I've been putting all the new handsets through their paces, so when you're done here be sure to check out my iPhone 15 reviewiPhone 15 Plus review, and iPhone 15 Pro review.  

The iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at $1,199 / £1,199 / AU$2,199 , which is a price hike over its predecessor – the iPhone 14 Pro Max – but you do get twice the storage in the base model: 256GB. This also puts the iPhone 15 Pro Max in line with the starting price of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (both now start at 256GB). 

The iPhone 15 Pro Max became available to buy in-store and online on September 22, and if you're interesting in picking one up, head over to our iPhone 15 Pro Max deals page for a roundup of all the best offers available now.

It's not entirely accurate to say Apple raised the price of the iPhone 15 Pro Max (from the iPhone 14 Pro Max base price) because what it actually did was remove a tier and settle on the 256GB storage and $1,119 as the new base model. This makes the iPhone 15 Pro Max a little less affordable (no less so than the similarly configured Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra) but, as I see it, 256GB should really be the base storage on all smartphones nowadays, especially as we continue to shoot higher resolution photos and videos (and manage our lives on them).

If storage is your jam, you can pack the iPhone 15 Pro Max (or iPhone 15 Pro) with up to 1TB of storage and pay $1,599 / £1,599 / AU$2,899 for the privilege. What you won't get for that price, though, is more memory. While the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra raises the RAM level to 12GB – starting with its 512GB model, the iPhone 15 Pro Max seemingly sticks with 8GB through all tiers.

There's no getting around that this is Apple's most expensive iPhone, but at least there are numerous payment options, including those from Apple which can start as low as $33 a month in the US. As for whether or not the iPhone 15 Pro Max is worth the money, its design, build, quality, and exceptional capabilities convince me it is. Even at this price, I suspect it will be Apple's best-seller.

  • Value score: 4.5 / 5

iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Design

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max REVIEW

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is lighter and a little easier to hold (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Titanium!
  • Contoured edges make it a pleasure to hold
  • It's lighter and slightly smaller
  • Exquisite build

In case you haven't heard, Apple's 2023 Pro-level iPhone has traded in its shiny stainless steel frame for a brushed titanium one. It's tough (though not necessarily harder than steel), corrosion-resistant, and – perhaps most importantly for your hands, pockets, and bags – a lighter material.

Apple made a handful of other changes that give the phone a new look and feel beyond changing up the outer metalwork, however. First are the new contoured edges. It's true that this iPhone can, at a glance, look almost exactly the same as the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but close inspection reveals rounding along the sides that give the phone a softer look and make it – especially at this size – much more comfortable to hold. Additionally, the Super Retina XDR display looks larger (and the Dynamic Island looks smaller), thanks to a noticeably thinner bezel.

The phone feels different because the dimensions and weight are different. Where the iPhone 14 Pro Max was 77.6 x 160.7 x 7.85mm, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is 76.7 x 159.9 x 8.25mm. That means it's just a hair smaller than the last model, a fact I confirmed when I tried slipping the iPhone 15 Pro Max into an iPhone 14 Pro Max leather case (Apple is no longer selling leather accessories) and it was loose inside it. It is worth noting that the new phone is almost a millimeter thicker than the last model.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max REVIEW

This side of the iPhone 15 Pro Max looks just like the iPhone 14 Pro Max (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

However, thanks to the titanium body and new recycled aluminum frame, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is 19 grams lighter than the iPhone 14 Pro Max (221g vs. 240g). That's a noticeable difference.

Another major design change is actually a functional one: the new USB-C port. It's a little bit larger than the departed Lighting port but will – if you have the right cable – bring some 10Gbps high-speed data transfer capabilities (the cable Apple ships with the iPhone is not a high-speed one).

The body is covered on the front and back with what Apple calls "tough glass-based materials", and on the front is also their Ceramic Shield, designed to protect the glass from damage. I'm not in the business of dropping my phones, so I could not tell you much about the strength of these glass materials. I did, though subject the phone to a dunk in a water fountain. The IP68-rated phone handled it just fine. That was just for a moment, but the phone is rated to handle swimming in up to six feet of fresh water for 30 minutes. If you dunk your phone, just remember that you can't plug it into a charger again until it's completely dry.

Apple didn't mess with the power/sleep/Siri button or the pair of volume buttons but right above that is Apple's other big design/functionality change: the new Action button, which is only available on the iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max REVIEW

Goodbye silence/ring switch, hello Action button (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

This tiny little button replaces the long-surviving silence/ring switch (still available on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus). Instead of a single-function switch, the Action button is programmable via one of Apple's most high-designed utility interfaces ever.

The Action button defaults to ring/silence control but instead of a switch, it takes a press to check the status of your phone (ring or silent) and a long press to change it. Many people may leave well enough alone here, but then they'd be missing out on all the hidden utility. Action button can enable a preferred Focus Mode (with detailed controls inside the Action button settings page), turn the flashlight on and off, launch voice memos, turn your phone into a digital magnifying glass, run your favorite Shortcut, offer instant access to accessibility features, launch the camera, or even turn off all Action button features (a waste, really). If you miss the ring/silent control you can still find it under the updated Control Center too.

Action Control settings

Apple's Action Control settings are look unlike any other iPhone feature settings (Image credit: Future)

After trying out the Action button in default mode, I quickly switched it to control the camera. From there, I could use a long-press to instantly open the camera and then use a quick press to take a picture.

The only downside to this new button is that if you are in the habit of taking a lot of screenshots by simultaneously pressing the power and volume up buttons, you may accidentally press the new Action button instead because, well, it's now the top button on the left side of the phone. I expect this to become an iPhone 15 Pro Max meme ("When you press Action instead of Volume Up").

In total, I think the iPhone 15 Pro Max design retains what was good about the last model while making ergonomic and functionality tweaks that move the familiar into the future, with a lighter chassis, smoother lines, a bigger screen, and more functional buttons and ports.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max REVIEW

Doesn't that button look at home next to the two volume buttons? (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Design score: 4.5 / 5

iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Sustainability

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max review

The iPhone 15 Pro Max's new FineWoven case. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Over the years, Apple has been rethinking its packaging and, increasingly its products, with an eye toward sustainability. I can still remember when Apple started using biodegradable packaging on its EarPods. The corn-based material would dissolve in water. Now, Apple's efforts extend to its Apple Watch Series 9 (Apple claims the product is now carbon neutral) and iPhones.

This iPhone 15 Pro Max has a 100% recycled aluminum interior and uses recycled cobalt in its battery. Beyond the phone, Apple is whittling away at its carbon footprint by using more earth-friendly materials. In past years, I would usually get leather cases to protect my iPhone test unit but leather is not exactly carbon-friendly. This year, Apple is using a new material, FineWoven, on cases and MagSafe Apple Wallets.

Those cases, by the way, still feel luxurious. My wife thought they were faux suede, but I pointed out the ultra-fine weave.

iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Display

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max REVIEW

The iPhone 15 Pro Max's Super Retina XDR screen's 2,000 nit max brightness can beat back the sun (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
  • Surrounded by ultra-thin bezels
  • Unchanged resolution. Still supports ProMotion adaptive refresh rate
  • Always-on display

If you liked the 6.7-inch display on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, you'll probably like the iPhone 15 Pro Max's screen just that little bit more.

Apple shaved millimeters off the black bezel surrounding the Super Retina XDR OLED screen to make it seem larger (this also makes the Dynamic Island look smaller). Between that and the newly-curved edges, it really looks as if the screen extends all the way to the outer edge of the phone.

To be clear, the screen is slightly larger but the resolution, 2796 x 1290 and 460ppi is unchanged from the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Essentially, this iPhone is just giving those pixels a little more breathing room.

It remains a beautiful and bright screen, with a maximum brightness of 2000 nits, which means I had no trouble using it outdoors in bright sunlight. Its wide color gamut means visuals are rich and the 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio endows it with support for the inkiest of blacks. Looking at everything from photos to games, apps, websites, and videos on this display is a pleasure.

ProMotion support means the iPhone 15 Pro Max is as adept at handling web page scrolling as it is at videos and gaming. All motion looks smooth. Plus, the phone's ability to stop down to 1Hz means that, when it needs to, it sips power while still providing you information; ideal for always-on functionality.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max REVIEW

Everything, including streaming videos looks great on the big 6.7-inch display. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

I put the iPhone 15 Pro Max on a Belkin Boost Charge Pro 2-in-1 Wireless charge stand with MagSafe, which automatically puts the phone in iOS 17's new Standby mode, and then set it up on my nightstand. Overnight, the Always-On display was just bright enough that I could glance at it in the middle of the night and see the time.

This is still an excellent smartphone display, though I wonder why, now that Samsung's flagship has an integrated pen and supports not only touch but stylus input, Apple can't finally add Apple Pencil support to its biggest and best smartphone. Even so, I understand that not everyone needs or wants pen input and that may be something Apple intuits as well.

Basically, what you have is Apple's top-notch screen technology, slightly embiggened and now supported by some excellent new iOS 17 functionality.

  • Display score: 4.5 / 5

iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Cameras

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max REVIEW

The iPhone 15 Pro Max camera array (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Dedicated 5x optical zoom camera
  • New 48MP primary sensor
  • Impressive new portrait photography capabilities

If you read the iPhone 15 Pro Max's specs, see 48MP, and think little has changed since the iPhone 14 Pro Max, you would be mistaken.

Before I dig in, take a look at those specs:

  • Main: 48MP f/1.78 w/ OIS
  • Ultra-wide: 12MP f/2.2 w/ 120º FoV
  • Telephoto: 12MP, f/2.8 w/ 5x optical zoom & 3D sensor shift OIS
  • Front-facing TrueDepth: 12MP f/1.9

Leaving aside the obviously-different 5x optical zoom camera (even the iPhone 15 Pro doesn't get that new snapper), let's look at the leading 48MP sensor. It's not the same one as was introduced on the iPhone 14 Pro Max (or the new iPhone 15). It's larger and, reportedly a Sony-made IMX903. And Apple is using this sensor in ways it has never done before.

Every default image I shot with the iPhone 15 Pro Max comes rendered at 24MP resolution. Yes, that's a new resolution for iPhones and Apple manages it by first pixel binning 48 megapixels-worth of data into the best possible 12 megapixel still and then combining that with the full detail of the 48MP sensor. The only downside is that 24MP images will be larger than 12MP stills (by about a megabyte). Apple mitigates the storage cost a bit by automatically storing photos in HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format) format. You can also shoot in 48MP RAW format for uncompressed imagery, ready for editing.

The result is some truly eye-popping images. The colors are brighter and, with the exception of maybe a just too-blue sky (possibly a result of more aggressive use of smart HDR), the most accurate I have ever seen from a smartphone. Even in direct comparison with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, the iPhone 15 Pro Max won. The colors in flowers are perfect and the sharpness is startling. My macros are levels above what I gathered with the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. The skin tones are exact. It didn't matter the skin tone, the iPhone 15 Pro Max understood it and reproduced it. I, for instance, look just as pale and freckled as I do in real life. 

Apple has stuffed this iPhone full of more pro-level photography tools than ever before. In particular, you can now choose physical camera-like digital lenses, from 13mm to 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 48mm, and 120mm for the 5x zoom.  You can see these measurements in the camera app by holding down on one of the main magnification levels. You can also go into settings and set one of the lenses as a default.

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Apple iPhone15 Pro Max digital lenses

You can change digital lenses on the fly. Here's the 13mm view, (Image credit: Future)
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Apple iPhone15 Pro Max digital lenses

Here's your 24mm lens. (Image credit: Future)
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Apple iPhone15 Pro Max digital lenses

This is the 28mm lens. (Image credit: Future)
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Apple iPhone15 Pro Max digital lenses

Here's the 35MM lens. (Image credit: Future)

For most consumers, though, this might be more control than they want or need. It might help to understand what millimeters (mm) in lenses actually mean. The mm defines the degree of magnification and field of view. Lower mm means a wider field of view and lower magnification. Obviously, you can ignore this or act like a pro photographer and start switching up digital lenses during a shoot.

Apple's decision to use just a 5x optical zoom is a source of frustration but I can't really argue with the result. The lens, which uses an unusual tetraprism (four turns of the light between the lens and the image sensor), captures some lovely images. So while this is a long way from 10x optical zoom, I think Apple fans will still be pleased with this result. You can zoom quite a bit further with digital zoom but these images never hold up upon close examination.

Working in conjunction with that zoom is the new 3D sensor shift optical image stabilization which does a much better job of keeping shots stable, especially on digitally zoomed videos. I was impressed with the stabilization when I was capturing a video of a robin who was perched up in swaying branches at least five yards away from me.

The entire iPhone 15 line essentially refines portrait photography. There's still a specific mode, but you no longer need to use it to get the same result. As long as the iPhone 15 Pro Max's cameras can capture depth information, you can turn almost any photo into a portrait shot after the fact, even if it was shot with only the main camera.

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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max portrait mode controls

This photo started off as a standard image. I changed it to portrait. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max portrait mode controls

You can see the controls here. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max portrait mode controls

With portrait turned off. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max portrait mode controls

I tapped the car to switch focus. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

You can tell if the camera is seeing any depth while you shoot because a little "Portrait f" will appear in the upper righthand corner. You can tap on it and then select Portrait (On or Off) to see what the photo would look like in portrait mode. it doesn't always work because, if the camera does not 'see', say, a person, or pet or fails to capture any useful depth information, then you can't change a photo to portrait mode; in my experience, most photos were convertible, however. As with traditional Portrait Mode shots, you can set the depth of field but additionally, you can now also tap on different subjects to change the focus point. This works just as advertised and makes you feel like a god of portrait photography.

Portrait photography – including that taken with the front-facing TrueDepth camera – got a huge upgrade with access to Apple's Photonic Engine (I know, Apple, loves it's tech labels) that just makes portrait photography look more authentic and less computational than ever.

Apple has made some leaps in low-light and night photography. The iPhone 15 Pro Max's ISPs (image signal processors) collect more light and make better use of it in even the most challenging situations. It's not vastly better than what you get with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, but I think Apple achieves parity.

Night photography is better, too. I noticed less green in the star photography and more stars. The one thing I still can't do as easily as I can with the Galaxy S23 Ultra is take star trail photography (without a third-party app).

The iPhone remains a great video capture tool, with a wide variety of lens options, Action mode for shooting your child's soccer game without nausea-inducing judder, and Cinematic mode for when you want to shoot auteur-quality video. The last, by the way, works just like portrait mode photography in that you can, while capturing video, shift focus from one subject to another with just a tap (in filmmaking, this is the job of the focus puller). What the iPhone 15 Pro Max can do that you can't with the traditional film is change the focus point of the video after shooting. It's more than a neat trick and could be useful if you happen to forget to focus on the right subject during the initial shoot.

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Camera samples

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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

This photo started out as a regular shot with the main camera. I tapped to convert it to portrait. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

The iPhone 15 Pro Max can capture action shots (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

A front-facing camera selfie. The blue sky might be a little over-baked. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

This was an impressive lowlight shot that captured me and the night sky (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

New Yorker "P.pataci on Instagram" was kind enough to pose for me and let me try out the new potrait features. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

A city shot with the ultrawide camera (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

Stepped up to the Main camera (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

Using the 2x zoom that uses the center 12MP of the 48 MP main camera (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

Using the 3x optical zoom camera. The sky was blue. Was it THAT blue? (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

An untrawide city shot (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

A shot with the Main camera (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

Using the 2x zoom mode (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

Using the 3x optical zoom (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera sample

A macro shot (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

Flower that looks just like this in real life. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

A city bird (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

Ultrawide city shot (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

Main camera (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

2x zoom (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

3x optical zoom (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

Ultrawide shot (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

Ultrawide shot (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

Main camera (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

3X zoom of a challenging light shot (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

Main camera (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

Main camera (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

2x zoom (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

3x optical zoom (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

Night photography (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

Low light shot (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera samples

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The phone now maxes out at shooting 4K 60fps ProRes, while I'd say leaving out 8K video shooting capabilities (which some rivals support) could only be a problem if I thought anyone actually had an 8K TV in their home.

Even as Apple dips its toes further into the pro-level smartphone photography waters, its camera app does not yet feel as deep and versatile as Samsung's, which may go a bit too far and accidentally bury some really useful features.

Again, I think Apple knows its consumers better than most and is being careful about what it presents to iPhone users; not wanting to confuse them while also not holding them back, either. It's a delicate balance. In the end, Apple mostly pulls it off and the real proof is in the fantastic image quality, which should make any smartphone owner envious.

  • Camera score: 5 / 5

iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Performance

  • Hello new A17 Pro
  • 8GB of RAM
  • More base storage (for a price)

Ever since Apple launched Apple silicon, it's been pushing the boundaries of what's possible, with system-on-chips (SoCs) in laptops, desktops, and mobile that rival and often beat the competition, and sometimes they even take generational leaps.

I think it's fair to call the A17 Pro a leap forward from the A16 Bionic in the iPhone 14 Pro Max (the chip now also powering the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus). As compared to the A16 Bionic, the A17 Pro is built on an even-smaller 3nm process, which should improve efficiency (think battery life), with a CPU that is 10% faster and a six-core GPU that's not only 20% faster but supports on-hardware Ray Tracing.

iPhone 15 Pro Max performance

Geekbench 6 comparison (Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 15 Pro Max Geekbench 6 results support Apple's performance claims. It shows that the A17 Pro is running at a 3.78GHz clockspeed, as compared to 3.46GHz for the A16 Bionic and 3.36GHz for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 inside the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Numbers, naturally, only tell part of the performance story. For me, it's what I can do with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. One of the promised experiences is playing console-quality games natively. Not gonna lie, I was skeptical. Console gaming is not mobile gaming and never the twain shall meet – until they do on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max REVIEW

Playing Resident Evil: Village on iPhone 15 Pro Max (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Capcom gave me test flight access to the ported version of Resident Evil: Village. It was a large file that I needed to download at home on WiFi. Once it loaded up I immediately saw a problem. The game is designed for consoles and their controllers. Without one, Resident Evil put the controls on-screen – all the buttons you would usually find on a console controller were crowding the 6.7-inch display. I realized I needed a physical controller, so I borrowed one of my son's extra Xbox controllers and connected it to the phone via Bluetooth.

I'm not much of a gamer, but the visuals, especially on the cut scenes, look quite good on the 6.7-inch display. Still, on such a small console gaming screen, losing even a little bit of space to the Dynamic Island is frustrating.

The graphics never stuttered or tore. I only noticed one spot of pixelation early in the game, where a shadow didn't quite hold together on the snow. This was a repeatable experience which makes me wonder if it's less about the A17 Pro and more about the game port from console to mobile.

The game was otherwise responsive and the sound was excellent. When I put in my AirPods Pro, I was presented with a really captivating and immersive experience; an experience good enough for me to proclaim that console-quality gaming has finally arrived on the mobile phone.

Outside of gaming, every action on the iPhone 15 Pro Max was as responsive as I expected and wanted it to be. I tried editing multiple 4K 60fps clips in iMovie and found no issues with it or the output. The speed of the latter was no faster on the A17 Pro than it was on the A16 Bionic on the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

iPhone 14 Pro Max review SIM slot

The SIM tray started to disappear with last year's iPhone 14 series in the US. It's still available on 15 models elsewhere in the world, however. (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

As with last year's iPhone 14 Pro Max (pictured above) in the US, my test unit was eSIM-only. It's incredibly easy to transfer your phone number from an existing phone to these new eSIM variants, but it also means you can no longer easily swap in and out SIM cards without carrier assistance and support.

This is also a 5G phone, though your 5G experience will depend largely on the proximity of cell towers and how many people are sharing them. Lately, 5G speeds are making me pine for still-under-development 6G.

Call quality is good. My wife remarked I sounded good, clear, and "younger". I don't know if that's a product of the connection or if the iPhone 15 Pro Max includes a time machine for free; if it's the latter, Apple should adjust its marketing to place a little more emphasis on that particular upgrade.

This is also Apple's first Wi-Fi 6E iPhone, which is good news if you have a Wi-Fi 6E router in your home or office. In my anecdotal tests, the iPhone 15 Pro Max had consistently faster download and upload speeds (as measured by Google's online Speet Test) than the WiFi 6-supporting iPhone 15 and my iPhone 14 Pro (also WiFi 6).

There's also a new Ultra Wide-band chip (across all iPhone 15 models) that should help with precision finding of not only your Apple stuff but other friends carrying iPhones too.

Apple is also expanding its integrated Satellite services support beyond Emergency SOS to free (for two years) roadside assistance. The idea is that in areas where cell service is poor or non-existent, the system can guide you to connect with an orbiting satellite and then message nearby road services.

  • Performance score: 4.5 / 5

iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Software

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max review

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max on a Belkin MagSafe charger showing off iOS 17's StandBy feature. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • iOS 17 out the box
  • Nice quality-of-life improvements
  • No major changes otherwise

iOS 17, which will come pre-installed on your new iPhone 15 Pro Max is, in total, a relatively lightweight update to what is already a very rich and deep platform, of which I suspect most iPhone owners barely scratch the surface.

The StandBy feature turns the iPhone 15 Pro Max into one of the best bedside clocks and at-a-glance-info hubs around. New Contact Posters are a nice extension of some of the features first found in the impressive Lock Screen update. I also like the new Name Drop feature, which utilizes AirDrop to instantly share contact information with another iPhone placed next to it. Just know that this feature is on by default and if you have two phones near each other with this enabled it might automatically connect. If and when you get your iPhone 15 (of any model), I'd suggest you go into settings and turn this off until you learn how and when to use it.

When I made a FaceTime call – which looked fantastic, by the way – I used iOS 17's new gestures to send thumbs ups and balloons, some of which appeared behind me; it was a neat effect.

  • Software score: 4.5 / 5

iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Battery life

  • Same quoted battery life as iPhone 14 Pro Max
  • Marginally larger capacity YoY
  • USB-C charging (and data speeds up to 10Gbps)
  • Power adapter not included
  • MagSafe for iPhone

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max REVIEW

The new USB-C-to-USB-C cable that ships with the iPhone 15 Pro Max (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Apple never shares the battery capacity and one can only assume that the iPhone 15 Pro Max battery is at least as big as the one in the iPhone 14 Pro Max (independent sources suggest it's fractionally larger). Battery size, though, is only part of the story. Managing battery life is a product of mAhs (milliampere-hours), processor efficiency, and onboard intelligence (often AI-based), to manage battery consumption.

All of this, I would say, is done well on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which managed 28 hours of mixed-use. This is an anecdotal measure and your results will vary depending on what you do with the phone. Remember that part of my time with the phone was not using it while I slept for five hours (I did not charge it).

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max REVIEW

The new USB-C port (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Apple says the iPhone 15 Pro Max can recharge to 50% in 30 minutes with an optional 20W USB-C adapter. Mine charged 47% in that time. It took another hour and a half for it to fully charge. I'm not sure why Apple can't get fully on board with faster wired charging.

As for how you charge the iPhone 15 Pro Max, now you'll use the new USB-C port and the included USB-C cable. I was surprised to see that the cable is now woven – as opposed to the classic plastic/rubber protective jacket. This is similar to MacBook and HomePod cables and may prove more durable than the old cables.

The phone also supports Qi and, obviously MagSafe charging (and accessories).

  • Battery score: 4 / 5

iPhone 15 Pro Max review: Verdict

The iPhone 15 Pro Max raises the bar, not only for the iPhone family but for smartphones in general. From the new materials to some of the best smartphone cameras we have ever used; Apple's big flagship satisfies your smartphone needs in virtually every aspect. It falls just short of perfection thanks to a slightly higher price tag than the last model, the lack of true fast charging, and Apple's frustrating insistence in presenting 5x optical zoom as the apex of smartphone telephoto technology.  Still, these end up being minor quibbles for a broadly exceptional iPhone experience. 

Should I buy the iPhone 15 Pro Max?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

iPhone 15 Pro Max review: also consider

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 
If the myriad of mentions didn't give it away, the most like-minded rival to the 15 Pro Max right now remains Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra. It can zoom further, boasts a larger battery and stylus support too.

Google Pixel 7 Pro*
Google's current flagship boasts and excellent similar-sized display, a clean take on Android, designed by Google itself and a camera experience that stands ahead of its competitive price tag. *The caveat is that the Pixel 8 Pro is set to arrive on October 4.

iPhone 14 Pro Max
Some phones don't hold up the further from launch you get, but Apple's previous flagship will not only cost you less but still deliver a great all-round experience.

How I tested the iPhone 15 Pro Max

I tested the iPhone 15 Pro Max for four days, using it to take pictures, play games, watch videos, listen to music, and do a variety of other mobile tasks. I ran anecdotal battery tests and various benchmarks, but I have also included benchmark and battery results from Future Labs.

I bring almost 20 years of phone testing experience and 32 years of technology media experience to my review work and have tried or reviewed almost every iPhone since Apple first released them in 2007.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed September 2023

Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate review: a luxurious keyboard that asks way too much of you.
11:08 pm | August 27, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

ASUS ROG Strix Flare II: Two-minute review

In my experience, the best gaming keyboards tend to come in two flavors: a simple, modest keeb or a complicated, feature-packed device. The Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate absolutely fits in the latter.

There's nothing subtle about this keyboard. It's a device that demands your attention, serving as the centerpiece of a PC setup second only to the rig or maybe the monitor. You can't ignore it even if you wanted to. It's a big boy too, measuring 435mm x 165mm x 38mm (about 17 x 6.5 x . 1.5 inches). It takes up a lot of space and unapologetic about it.

One aspect of its heft because it is a full-sized keyboard, so it was always going to take up a lot of room. The other half is what's there apart from the keys. On the left you have media control buttons for consuming content. On the top right, you have a fully animated LED graphic; hence the word "Animate" in its name. Of course, the Flare II sports RGB lighting ready to bathe your room with a rainbow array.

Clearly this keyboard is talking the talk. All eyes on the Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate. But the question can it walk the walk? Can this gaming keyboard perform at a high level? As a matter of fact, it can. Under the hood of my review unit, the Flare II came with ROG NX Red switches, delivering lighting fast performance performance and a smooth, linear feel. The lightest touch of your finger sends out an input. 

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ASUS ROG Strix Flare II Animate keys

(Image credit: Future)
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ASUS ROG Strix Flare II Animate closeup of keys

(Image credit: Future)

Typing on the Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate was a nice experience overall. It is a full-sized keyboard, which is my preferred layout. It offers the perfect amount of room for my hands. 

As I said earlier, my review unit came with ROG NX Red switches. These have an actuation of 2mm and a total travel distance of 4mm. A light tap is all you need for the keyboard to register an input. You don't have to mash buttons, and as a masher myself, I enjoy not having to do that. I expect and appreciate consistency with my keyboards. The NX Reds deliver great consistency. Plus, the Strix Flare II has anti-ghosting software ensuring the appropriate presses are sent and no phantom presses occur.

To give you some concrete examples, I won several games of Valorant, which I chalk up to this keeb. The response time is down to a millisecond, allowing me to juke my opponents before they knew what hit them. Thanks to their speed, I managed to break my bad habit of mashing buttons whenever I play Final Fantasy XIV. I was able to put my complete trust in these keys knowing my action or skill would come as intended.

I do have to say, had I been given the choice, I would actually go for the ROG NX Brown switches. Those are also an option. I prefer Brown-capped mechanical switches since those tend to be tactile – easier on my hands and, speaking as someone who does a lot of writing, can be a life saver. Neither the Reds or Brown offer that clicky feedback that many people like. If you're in that group, I recommend the ROG NX Blues.

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ASUS ROG Strix Flare II Animate lights

(Image credit: Future)
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ASUS ROG Strix Flare II Animate animation icon

(Image credit: Future)

Performance is where the Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate really shines because it's the only aspect of this device that's straightforward. 

I found the keyboard to very cumbersome to use. Each of its features seem like a good or interesting idea on paper. However, in practice, it becomes a total mess. Features either dampen your overall user experience or just aren't fully fleshed out.

One problem with the Strix Flare II is the top portion. The media controls are great –you have a dial for the volume, a switch to skipping or going back to certain songs, and a Pause/Play button on the side. 

My issue are with the two other buttons present: a Win Lock button to disable your Windows key and a brightness button. The Win Lock can save you from accidentally bringing up the Start menu when you meant to hit the spacebar while the brightness button is for lowering and increasing the brightness level of your RGB lights. These are good to have, yes. I just wish they were implemented better. They add unnecessary bulk in my opinion, and I would've preferred if they were secondary actions of certain Function keys. 

Another issue here are the LED lights. You can change the animation using the Armory Crate desktop app. Choices include the ROG eye logo, a lightbulb, and some hearts. This is cool for like 15 minutes, but the novelty wears off when you realize they do much else other than add bulk. I might've changed my tune if you could add your own animations, but you can't.

Asus  ROG Strix Flare II Animate media controls

(Image credit: Future)

But what really gets me is the two-meter-long woven cable. It ends in a pair of USB-A plugs: one to power the keyboard, the other to enable USB passthrough for peripherals. The passthrough port, located at the top of the Asus Strix Flare II, is a good idea as it allows the keyboard to make up some of the space it takes up – assuming you have all the drivers. I connected my ROG Chakram X mouse after installing the latest patch, and it was great. It even works with my PlayStation 5 controller. Awesome.

But you're stuck with a six-and-a-half foot long nylon rope on your desk. You can't use Bluetooth because it doesn't support it. Nor does it support 2.5GHz wireless. And you can't remove it either because the cable is embedded into the back of the keen. You're stuck with this monster. It adds so much to desk clutter.

Yeah, you can rearrange your setup so that the Flare II's cable is not in the way, but do you really want to move furniture or would you rather play video games?

Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate: Specs

Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate: price and availability

  • How much does it cost? Available on Amazon for $174.99 / £199.99
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US and UK

First time buyers will probably be put off by that price tag. At nearly $200, it's pretty expensive. It's actually one of the more expensive options out there. I do want to mention the $179 option for the Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate sporting the ROG NX Red linear switches. You can also buy the model with ROG NX Brown tactile switches on Amazon for $220. Asus claims there's a RX Blue switch option for people who want a more clicky feel, but at the time of this writing, we can't find it online.

Would I buy this keyboard? If it was deeply discounted, sure. I just think there are better options out there like the Razer Huntsman v2 Analog. It's a full-sized keyboard too, but a lot less bulky. For something smaller, I recommend the Cherry MX 8.2 TKL keyboard. I like that one way more.

SHOULD I BUY THE Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate: Also consider

How I tested the Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate

  • Tested the keyboard over a week and a half
  • Did my work on the Flare II
  • Played games during down time

My testing period lasted over a week and a half, almost two. I spent it mostly doing work, including this very review, and my own personal writing. Throughout all the hours I spent typing away, I didn't suffer any hand fatigue or anything. But as I said stated earlier, I would go for the Brown switches. I stay proactive by trying to mitigate or eliminate any potential risks to my health as much as I can.

Gaming is where the Strix Flare II really shines. As mentioned earlier, I played Valorant, Final Fantasy XIV, plus the Resident Evil 4 remake. All wonderful experiences. I didn't experience any issues or annoying moments while gaming that wasn't a result of the enormous woven cable. Performance is top notch here.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed August 2023

System Shock review: a SHODAN showdown
7:12 pm | May 30, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off
Review information

Time played: 15 hours
Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: PC 

System Shock feels like a homecoming. You can draw a clear line of inspiration from the 1994 first-person adventure game to immersive sims like 2000’s Deus Ex, 2007’s Bioshock, and 2017’s Prey. But it all started here, a battle of wills between a hacker and a rogue AI.

That’s the history lesson. Remake developers Nightdive Studios have made an entire career out of treating gaming history with reverence, and System Shock is no different. It’s a celebration of everything that made the original so great, blending in some of the parts from 1999’s System Shock 2. However, a few systems feel long in the tooth and might hinder the enjoyment of people coming to the game for the first time. 

The biggest improvement in this remake is System Shock’s aesthetic. First, you’re in an apartment littered with trash-tier future tech, cyberpunk detritus that betrays the dystopian universe of System Shock. This grim future continues on Citadel Station, a space station full of a thousand twinkling lights, of neon flaring through dark corridors filled with the grumble and moan of cyborgs. 

Look at you, hacker

System Shock remake

(Image credit: Prime Matter)

System Shock is working on a budget and occasionally you’ll see this with some low-quality textures, supposedly by design to capture the original’s vibe. Many players might see this as cut corners, but the style and presentation throughout the game is always consistent. Wherever you are on Citadel Station, you’ll feel the same way: the future is here, and it’s awful. While later areas look much fancier, there’s still a layer of grime on everything. 

The story sticks close to the original. Decades of jokes and references have made it nearly impossible to hide the reveal of evil AI SHODAN, but such was the impact of System Shock and evil AI movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey that just hearing the name SHODAN makes you realize what’s up. 

Sadly, characters in System Shock aren’t so genre savvy. The game kicks off by having your character - known as the Hacker - remove SHODAN’s ethical restrictions. Six months later, you get to reap what you’ve sown, rattling around Citadel Station to try and stop SHODAN’s reign of terror.

The game doesn’t do a lot differently. This isn’t a remake like Final Fantasy 7 or Resident Evil 2 where the original game is a jumping-off point for adventures in the same world.

System Shock remake

(Image credit: Prime Matter)

This is a retelling of the same yarn, and not only were several areas of Citadel Station easily recognizable, but several enemies were located in the same spot. Walking up to the first locked door, I entered the now-legendary 451 code (once the door code of original System Shock developers Looking Glass Studios and now an immersive sim staple) and the door slowly opened. 

This is very much a retread of that first game, albeit fleshed out in a lot of places. While the original game was more menu than game, with the huge UI taking up most of the screen while you observe the action astronaut style through a little window - here Nightdive has offered up something that, in play, feels a lot more like the 1999 sequel System Shock 2

Luckily, the story being largely the same shape means you’re spending most of your time going toe to toe with SHODAN, and this buoys the entire game because boy, SHODAN is a hell of a villain. Original voice actor Terri Brosius returns and is often terrifying, with every line delivered with phenomenal contempt. This venom, the fact SHODAN does not like you, makes it feel personal and drives you through the campaign out of sheer bloody-mindedness. 


System Shock remake

(Image credit: Prime Matter)

It’s a long time before you can deliver any real harm or discomfort toward SHODAN but until then you’ll be waging war on the robots, mutants, and security systems of Citadel Station. Combat is a little clunky throughout, however. 

The early wrench provides terrifying fights as you try to dance around your enemies, but there’s a wide assortment of weaponry in the game and all of it feels slightly clumsy while the game rations ammo out so that every missed shot is felt as if you had turned the gun on yourself instead. Compared to more recent shooters, the flow of combat feels off somehow, and while immersive sim fans will likely enjoy it, those coming here hoping for the white-hot adrenaline rush of proper firefights will be left wanting.

...the world design, writing, and sense of style still impress.

The slightly unwieldy nature of the guns and movement helps to sell the survival-horror atmosphere, something System Shock flirts with but never fully adopts. At least that is until you get a game over screen and you’re treated to a short video of you being turned into a cyborg or bolted to another robot to help act out SHODAN’s evil plans. 

Still, death is actually one of the biggest irritations with System Shock. Checkpointing is inconsistent and at one point during my playthrough, I lost an hour of progress because I hadn’t been saving manually and was sent back to the last big story beat.

This error is mostly my fault because I am a big idiot, but it still grated in a world where most games throw autosaves and checkpoints at you to ensure you’re not having to retread areas several times. Even System Shock’s substantial charm diminishes when you have to replay an area after a hulking mech blows your arms off for the third time in a row. 

For digital tourists hoping to spelunk the depths of video game classics after experiencing the many many spiritual successors inspired by the original game, System Shock might feel old hat. However, despite the slightly aged systems - no longer offering the wow factor of the 1994 release - the world design, writing, and sense of style still impress. This is a worthy update and the best way to revisit one of gaming’s very best doomed space stations. 

Sony Inzone M3 review
1:05 am | April 18, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Sony Inzone M3: Two-minute review

Sony’s PlayStation brand has been making a huge push recently into the competitive gaming space through its Inzone line of headsets and 27-inch monitors. This includes the Sony Inzone M3, the 1080p sibling to the higher priced 4K resolution capable M9. 

All of the standard gaming monitor standards within its tier group are there including HDR abilities, 1 ms pixel response time and 1000:1 contrast ratio. There’s also a respectable amount of ports for various display inputs in addition to various USB connections. 

When it comes to gaming performance, PS5 owners won’t currently have a need for a 250Hz mode as most games max out at 144Hz which itself requires a game to support VVR (Variable Refresh Rate). Considering many console gamers in the competitive scene play fighting games like Street Fighter V and Dragon Ball Z Fighters or sports games like FIFA and NBA2K, having such a high refresh rate seems more empty bragging than something absolutely required of the best gaming monitor for PC gaming. 

For general PS5 usage, playing first-party games like God of War: Ragnarok or The Last of Us: Part I look made for the Inzone M3. Meanwhile, though performance is on par with other gaming monitors on PC, overall image quality isn’t the best and HDR doesn’t help much either. For streamers, there’s also an Auto KVM Switch for usage of one keyboard and mouse for two devices.

The Inzone M3 stands out due to PlayStation 5-focused features such as Auto HDR Tone Mapping alongside Auto Genre Picture mode. That doesn’t even take into consideration the remarkable design that stands reasonably well next to the white and black PS5 colorway. 

Owners of Sony’s current-gen console who are aspiring competitive gamers or in the esports scene while making sure they stay color-coordinated may have much to appreciate about the M3. More traditional PC gamers will definitely have better options elsewhere. 

The Sony Inzone M3 shines the brightest design-wise. As mentioned previously, the black and white angular stand that holds the display up looks cool, alongside a PS5 and various accessories. Because of the stand’s design, it’s not all that intrusive and viewing adjustment is easy. 

Some may have an issue with the fact that the display can’t tilt vertically but considering the PS5 focus, I can’t fault it too much. One thing's for sure, though, the Sony Inzone M3 is one of the best monitors for PS5 you can buy if you want to really create a complete setup. 

A Sony Inzone M3 gaming monitor on a table next to a PS5 and a mini PC

(Image credit: Future)

Though the PS5 obviously requires an HDMI cable, there’s an extra one available for other consoles like an Xbox Series S or Nintendo Switch and DisplayPort. Beyond that is a USB-C, USB-B for upstreaming, three USB-A and 3.5 mm headphone jack. M3 users will most definitely need some headphones as the internal speakers suffer from a flat, hollow sound. Too bad there wasn’t a way for Sony to implement Spatial Audio, which is a huge PS5 feature. 

Between the slew of accessibility options in games like The Last of Us Part 1 and the upcoming Project Leonardo, Sony has put heavy emphasis on accessibility. The same goes for the M3 as it’s easy to put together and connect things to their respective port. Weighing around 15 lbs altogether, the M3 is light before putting the neck, base and display together. 

Be mindful that connecting the base to the neck does require a screwdriver which may be an issue. Most importantly, there aren’t any weight shifts once everything is connected. Once used, the power button and menu joystick are easily accessible on the back panel for adjustments. Pivoting the display for eye-level comfort works well too. Inzone M3 usage feels as simple as the minimalist design.

PS5 games were the clear focus of the Sony Inzone M3. Playing games like Resident Evil 4 remake or the slew of high-class first-party games like Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us Part I on the gaming monitor is a joy. Image quality is good but not good enough to justify the high price tag even though features like Auto HDR Tone Mapping do a great job of optimizing HDR for M3. Supporting VRR improves the visual quality of games that support it like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection

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(Image credit: Future)

 Then there’s Auto Genre Picture mode that changes colors alongside motion settings when switching from game to video content. Again, this does enhance PS5 experience when playing more competitive games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone. As an added measure, there is a crosshair toggle which makes aiming in first-person-shooters a better experience. When it comes to motion performance, the M3 does well with screen smoothness and low input lag. Gaming on this gaming monitor feels fantastic on a PS5 or PC and will make the most use out of the 240Hz refresh rate despite some problems there. 

Those issues come down to below-average image quality when using a PC. General computing usage on a 1080p gaming monitor this expensive shouldn’t be this problematic. Color settings have to be changed to even read certain text while browsing websites or checking emails. Even working with Adobe Suite led to ineffective color correction. Playing games like Forza Horizon 5 and Call of Duty Modern Warfare lacked the vividness and contrast of cheaper 1080p monitors. On a positive note, the M3 is G-Sync compatible though the lack of official FreeSync support is strange considering the PS5 is made up of AMD components. There’s also an Inzone app to fine-tune the experience through settings customization. When it comes to pure PC gaming, there are simply better options out there. 

The onscreen menu for the Sony Inzone M3

(Image credit: Future)

Sony Inzone M3: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost?   $499 / £699 (about AU$725) 
  • When is it available?  It is available now.  
  • Where can you get it?  Available in the US and UK 

Buying the Sony Inzone M3 is more of a diehard investment into the PlayStation brand. Aesthetically, it does match Sony’s current minimalistic design philosophy. During the review, the monitor sat well next to a PS5 and PSVR2. The M3 is geared more toward console gamers. 

With that said PC Gamers who also own a PS5 have better options out there as the $499.99 price point is a bit much. For that amount of money, users can look into the Acer Nitro, AOC C27G2Z, and ASUS TUF Gaming VG279QM. Those options may lack PS5-leaning features or USB ports, but they’re great 27-inch HD displays that can reach 250Hz between $200 to $300.  

  • Value: 2.5 / 5

Sony Inzone M3: Specs

Should you buy the Sony Inzone M3?

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

You want an affordable 1080p 240Hz monitor
PC gaming enthusiasts should know there are better options for a 27-inch 1080p monitor because $499 is a tad bit too high.

You require better image and audio quality for PC 
Image quality isn’t the best on the M3 when using PC and HDR doesn’t make things much better. Then there are the sub-par internal speakers as well.

You are looking to make the most out of your PS5 visuals 
PS5 owners more concerned with higher resolution should consider Sony’s M9 or other 4K gaming monitors available. 

Sony Inzone M3: Also consider

If my Sony Inzone M3 review has you considering other options, here are two more 27-inch monitors to consider. 

How I tested the Sony Inzone M3

  • I spent a week testing the Sony Inzone M3
  • PC games played include Cyberpunk 2077, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II and Forza Horizon 5.
  • PS5 games included Ghost of Tsushima, God of War Ragnorock and Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection.
  • Creative apps used were Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro

Over a week of testing on PS5, many games were tested including Ghost of Tsushima, God of War Ragnorock, and Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection among others. When it comes to PC games, I played Cyberpunk 2077, Forza Horizon 5 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, extensively.  

I also tried more PC-focused apps including Google Chrome and Adobe Photoshop which I used to edit the photos used in this review. General computing on this gaming monitor wasn’t the most pleasant experience due to image quality but gaming was much better. 

I’ve tested dozens of gaming monitors over the years and I've seen both the best gaming monitors and the worst, so I know what a good monitor should offer for the price you're paying. 

Read more about how we test

First reviewed April 2023

Epos H3Pro Hybrid headset review
12:50 pm | April 6, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

There’s very little that the Epos H3Pro Hybrid gets wrong. It delivers on its relatively high price bracket with a suite of high-end features that you typically won’t find with cheaper gaming headsets. It nails the fundamentals, offering superb audio quality, backed up by 7.1 surround sound support, strong active noise canceling and an acoustic seal to blot out unwanted background noise.

If you prize immersion from the best wireless gaming headsets, and indeed the best PS5 headsets, the H3Pro Hybrid is a frontrunner in this regard. It’s supportive of long gaming sessions, too, thanks to cushioned cups and adjustable headband resting snugly on heads of various sizes. Battery life is a standout here as well, offering up to 38-40 hours depending on connection type and features enabled.

Add in a detachable mic that offers crisp vocal output and you’ve got a headset that justifies its asking price. The H3Pro is so good that its only real drawback is that it’s slightly lacking in overall build quality, which is apparent when stacked up against more affordable headsets like the Razer BlackShark V2 Pro or the SteelSeries Arctis 9. Even still, the H3Pro Hybrid won’t easily break under normal circumstances, and is serviceable in this area.

Epos H3Pro Hybrid: price and availability

The Epos H3Pro Hybrid will run you $279 / £239 / AU$399 at retail price, and is available from Epos’ official store page. Separate versions for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S compatibility are available to buy, and both also work with Nintendo Switch via Bluetooth connectivity as well as PC and mobile.

Epos H3Pro Hybrid: design and features

Epos H3Pro Hybrid

(Image credit: Future)
  • Slightly above average build quality
  • Extremely comfy
  • Robust, yet simple button layout

Out of the box, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Epos H3Pro Hybrid isn’t much to write home about. Build quality isn’t quite up to par with competing headsets, and its lightweight nature lends an initial feeling of cheapness. That weightlessness ends up working in the headset’s favor, though, as it rests gently on your head and never irritates. That’s also helped by the cushioned cups and adjustable headband, providing a supreme level of comfort that’s hard to beat.

The box also contains a USB dongle for wireless connectivity, a USB cable, USB-A extension cable and a 3.5mm jack for wired play. It’s a no-nonsense package offering a variety of methods of connectivity that should suit both wireless and wired preferences.

On-headset features aren’t particularly busy, which is great for those looking for a plug-and-play headset. You have the power button, a circular volume slider, ANC (active noise canceling) toggle and ports for wired connectivity. Most interesting is the Bluetooth connectivity button, which doubles as a smart button. By pressing instead of holding, you can switch between multiple EQs. Downloading the Epos Gaming Suite app will also let you switch the smart button’s behavior to a surround sound toggle.

Lastly, the detachable mic can be removed and reconnected magnetically, and an included cover plate will hide the port, keeping the headset looking presentable when you want to go micless. The mic itself is durable and adjustable, making it versatile and doesn’t obscure your view when not in use.

Epos H3Pro Hybrid: audio quality

Epos H3Pro Hybrid

(Image credit: Future)
  • Exceptional sound quality
  • 7.1 surround sound support
  • Top-shelf ANC

Sound quality is certainly the chief reason to buy the Epos H3Pro Hybrid. Not only is the overall auditory experience fantastic, the amount of options the headset grants is seriously impressive.

Typically, my first port of call with any headset is to get a feel for its soundscape. I put the headset through its paces with a few tracks before jumping into a game. I’m happy to say that the H3Pro Hybrid excels for general music listening. The rich, multi-layered electronic sound of mobile game Punishing: Gray Raven sounds divine here, with the headset able to pick up on even the subtlest notes. Similarly, the sweeping overworld melodies of Genshin Impact feel vibrant and alive; the headset’s spatial audio lending an embracing layer of immersion.

The H3Pro Hybrid’s ability to pick up on even the faintest notes works wonders in-game, too. It’s a fantastic headset for absorbing yourself in the hustle and bustle of Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City; its busy streets and back alleys benefiting greatly from 7.1 surround sound. Over to Resident Evil 4’s remake, I’ve never felt more placed into the action than here with the H3Pro Hybrid. The dread-filled ambience of the castle and subtly menacing village sections really come alive here.

Of course, a solid gaming headset is practically a requirement in more competitive environments. And once again, the H3Pro Hybrid is an excellent pick here. The headset’s bespoke BrainAdapt technology hones in on quieter, distant sound effects like footsteps and gunfire. It’s excellent for games like PUBG: Battlegrounds and Warzone 2 where situational awareness is paramount to success.

During use, you may want to enable ANC , too. This helps to almost completely eliminate ambient background noise, allowing you to focus on gaming or listening to music. The feature is excellent on the H3Pro Hybrid, and well worth using if you’re looking to maximize your immersion.

EPOS H3Pro Hybrid: Performance

Epos H3Pro Hybrid

(Image credit: Future)
  • Strong battery life in all modes
  • Near-instant connectivity
  • ANC battery life could be slightly better

The EPOS H3Pro Hybrid puts on yet another strong front in regards to battery life. Via Bluetooth connection with no extras enabled, you’ll get roughly 35-40 hours on a full charge. If you’re using the dongle instead, that drops slightly to around 30-35 hours.

If you want to enable active noise canceling while using the headset, you’ll incur a pretty steep hit to overall battery life, but you’ll still get around 20-25 hours via Bluetooth and approximately 18 hours with the dongle. Overall, battery life is very impressive, but I do wish the headset could squeeze a little more with ANC enabled.

Via both dongle and Bluetooth, I was impressed by the headset’s ability to pair and connect quickly in both scenarios. Headsets like the Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 Max and the RIG 800 Pro can take a good few moments to recognize the pairing. But the process was close to instantaneous on the H3Pro Hybrid.

I found that you’re able to walk a good distance away from your connection without audio cutting out, too. A good barometer for me is to walk to my kitchen and make a coffee with the headset on, as it’s a few rooms apart from my home office. Thankfully, the H3 Pro Hybrid maintained connection throughout this process, without cutting out even slightly. I’d say that makes the headset an excellent choice if, say, you’re doing other things at home like chores or preparing food.

Should I buy the EPOS H3Pro Hybrid?

Epos H3Pro Hybrid

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

You’re after a seriously powerful gaming headset
The H3Pro Hybrid sounds fantastic, has a good quality mic and a strong wireless connection.

You want an immersive multiplayer experience
With a crystal clear mic and strong directional audio performance, the H3Pro Hybrid works wonders in online multiplayer environments.

You like ANC
The headset’s active noise canceling is some of the best in the business, cutting out unwelcome background noise almost completely.

Don't buy it if...

You’re on a tight budget
The H3 Pro Hybrid is an expensive bit of kit. You’ll certainly get your money’s worth, but you may wish to look for a cheaper option if money is an object.

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