Apple laid out its pitch for the new iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro in its usual slick, perfectly manicured fashion. It’s easy to get to the end and think, “wow, they thought of everything this year!” … but with just a couple minutes of reflection you start to realize what they tactfully chose to omit. This year, disappointingly, that was battery life.
In its full 85-minute presentation, Apple didn’t boast about the battery life on any of the four iPhones it introduced, even the big-screened iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Just to double-check, I went over to Apple’s comparison tool to look at the numbers:
For all the bluster about the new A17 Pro chipset being more powerful and efficient, with billions of transistors and trillions of operations per second, Apple wasn’t able to eke out any amount of extra battery life on the iPhone 15 Pro or 15 Pro Max. And it’s the same story with the base model 15 and 15 Plus. There’s a lot to like about what the iPhone 15 offers, and even though the 15 Pro isn’t a huge year-over-year upgrade, I’m tantalized by the titanium body and camera changes. But I would’ve given up other features just to get some more battery.
I don’t want to say there’s a crisis with the iPhone’s battery life, but it’s clear that people aren’t particularly pleased with the longevity situation on their current iPhones. Every day in the last month, I saw a new complaint on X (Formerly Twitter) or Threads talking about how much someone’s iPhone 14 or 14 Pro battery life had tanked, accompanied with a screenshot showing the “battery health” settings page with a maximum capacity well under 100%. Batteries lose usable capacity over time, I know it’s normal, and Apple seemingly manages this as best it can. But the iPhone 14 Pro was already playing with thin margins — and now it’s in a rough spot.
Yup, just like most people, my daily-used iPhone 14 Pro has lost a full 10% of its battery capacity in the last year, which takes away the cushion that was a nice buffer early in my ownership and meant I didn’t worry about battery life. Yes even with the Always On Display and minimal use of Low Power Mode, I never really had much concern about battery life outside of travel days. But now, a year on, I’m hitting that red zone far more often than I’d like — and it made me hopeful for some sort of upgrade with the iPhone 15 Pro. But I didn’t get it, outside of the vague promise of “All-day battery life” that we see time and time again.
At least I’ve now invested in a MagSafe charger in my kitchen and a MagSafe battery for when I’m on the go, and the iPhone 15 Pro finally has USB-C so I can ditch my unitasker Lightning cables. Is that a consolation prize I should be happy with?
This all puts me in a very tough spot. The iPhone 15 Pro doesn’t promise any better battery life than my iPhone 14 Pro did 12 months ago … but at the same time, I’m in a situation where my phone now offers me 10% less battery life than it used to — and it’s only going to get worse if I hold onto it. So by buying an iPhone 15 Pro, I get to just get back to where I was last year? That rubs me the wrong way.
I have a few more days to think about it, before I make my choice on whether to once again drop a cool $1,099 on an iPhone.