Review: iPhone 15 Pro (versus iPhone 13 Mini)
December 16, 2023 — by Per Christensson
I didn't want an iPhone 15 Pro. I was happy with my iPhone 13 mini and wasn't planning on upgrading this year. But the two-year-old battery was barely lasting half a day, and the Face ID stopped working about two weeks after Apple released the iPhone 15 Pro. Coincidence? Probably. But the timing did make me go: 🤨
I checked with the Apple Store, and the cost to replace the battery and Face ID "TrueDepth camera" on my iPhone was roughly the same price as buying a new one. I liked the size of my Mini, so I definitely would have bought an iPhone 15 Mini if there was such a thing. But the 13 was the last of the Minis, so no more Mini for me. 🥺
My choice was between the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro. The decision was surprisingly difficult since the 15 felt noticeably lighter than the 15 Pro, even with the Pro's titanium frame. Sure enough, after checking the tech specs, the standard iPhone 15 is 171 grams, and the 15 Pro is 188 grams. But the main feature of the iPhone 15 Pro that interested me was macro mode, which the plain old 15 doesn't have. Moving to the 15 felt like getting a bigger version of my two-camera 13 Mini, while switching to the 15 Pro felt like a real upgrade. So I sucked up the 17-gram difference and bought the iPhone 15 Pro.
▶ You can read and watch dozens of iPhone 15 Pro color reviews and get as many opinions on which color is best. The most popular color is natural titanium, probably because it's new. But when I saw the titanium color at the Apple Store, I thought it looked kind of blah. I prefer a carbon fiber case on my iPhone, so I went with black like usual. It was the right decision.
At this point, I estimate roughly 10,000 people have posted reviews of the iPhone 15 Pro. So, instead of hashing out another typical review, I thought comparing the iPhone 15 Pro to the iPhone 13 mini would be more helpful.
The iPhone 15 Pro vs the iPhone 13 mini
The iPhone 15 is noticeably larger and heavier than the 13. I thought I would notice the extra size and weight in my pocket, but not as much when holding the phone. It turned out the opposite was true. I was pleasantly surprised to find the 15 Pro fits in my pants pocket (even my tight European jeans) without issue, including when I sit down. I notice the size and weight more when I hold the phone, especially with the additional weight of the Pitaka MagEZ case 4. The three cameras make the phone top-heavy, which causes it to feel even heavier.
People who have been using regular-sized iPhones (especially the Plus/Max models) since the iPhone X don't seem to care about the larger form factor. But the big size is a big deal to those of us who prefer smaller phones. It might be surprising, but the iPhone mini is larger than most of Apple's previous iPhones. Below is a photo of the iPhone 6, iPhone 13 mini, and iPhone 15 Pro. The Mini is in the middle. Can you believe the iPhone 4 was significantly smaller than the 6? RIP small iPhones.
It took me about two weeks to get used to the iPhone 15 Pro's larger size. After a month, I found the new size manageable, but still, I was not too fond of it. What about after two months? Stay tuned.
Benefits of the iPhone 15 Pro
There are two things that I like most about the iPhone 15 Pro:
- The camera's macro mode
- The 120 Hz display refresh rate
With my iPhone 13 mini, I couldn't take close-up photos of objects. The image would blur whenever I got within about 8 inches, and my phone would say, "Move further away." With the three-camera iPhone 15 Pro, I can move inside three inches of an object and take a high-quality photo. It's great.
I didn't know if the Pro model's 120 Hz refresh rate would be noticeable. But I noticed it immediately and wasn't even looking for it. Within five seconds of swiping through my iPhone 15 Pro for the first time, I was like, "Why does it feel so smooth?" Then I remembered the 60 Hz to 120 Hz bump on the iPhone 15 Pro's display. I'm not sure I can even go back to 60 Hz now.
It seems most people have gotten over "the notch," but for some reason, I just can't. The notch — ok, the "dynamic island" — still annoys me. It's especially bothersome when watching a 2:1 aspect ratio video in full-screen mode. Below is a screenshot from a video by MKBHD. A partial notch on the left and slightly rounded and cutoff corners? I just can't.
Migrating to USB-C
I have a feeling many people bought the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro just for the USB-C port. It's a nice change, but the transition was rougher than I thought. My three wired lightning EarPods are now useless. I bought a Lightning-to-USB-C adapter on Amazon, but it didn't work. I tried the adapter with my Sony Clock Radio, and that didn't work either. Neither the data nor the charging functioned with the adapter.
I searched for a USB-C clock radio for several days, but apparently, wired charging is no longer in vogue. So, I bought a new MagSafe charging stand and two new wired EarPods with USB-C connectors. Add the price of the Pitaka case, and that's an extra $200 on top of the cost of the new iPhone. At least the USB-C port makes traveling easier since I can now use the same power adapter for my iPhone, Apple Watch, and MacBook Air.
It's been two months, and I've gotten more accustomed to the iPhone 15's larger size. But the question remains: Do I like the iPhone Pro more than the iPhone Mini?
I miss my old phone. As much as I appreciate the macro mode and 120 Hz refresh, the new features don't make up for the sleek feel of the iPhone mini. I thought the larger screen would make watching videos on my phone more enjoyable, but surprisingly, it hasn't made a difference. Typing is slightly easier on the 15 Pro, but the difference is minimal.
I wouldn't mind a slightly larger than the iPhone mini, but the iPhone Pro is too big and heavy for me. It just feels clunky, even two months after using it. I hope Apple will make a smaller phone in the future.
- Useful camera macro-mode
- Best photos of any iPhone so far, especially in low light
- Smooth 120 Hz display refresh rate
- OLED display with excellent clarity and colors
- USB-C port
- Too big
- Too heavy
- Old Lightning peripherals are useless
- Doesn't sit flat on a surface
- Action button is just a silence button for me