I Played With an iPhone 15, and Here’s Why I’m Considering an Upgrade

iPhone 15 displayed in Target.

I Played With an iPhone 15, and Here’s Why I’m Considering an Upgrade

Key Points

  • The author has been using an iPhone XR for five years and is considering upgrading to the iPhone 15.
  • The iPhone 15 impressed the author with its fast performance and powerful A16 Bionic chip.
  • The camera quality of the iPhone 15 is exceptional compared to the author’s XR.
  • The fluidity of iOS and the overall smoothness of the iPhone 15’s movement stood out to the author.
  • The author is still undecided about upgrading to the iPhone 15 due to the higher cost compared to their current XR.

It’s been five years since I last upgraded my iPhone. I last traded in my iPhone 8 for an iPhone XR in October 2018. It’s been me and my XR ever since. Today, the poor thing is covered in scratches, cracks, and dents. No doubt it’s seen better days. Its performance isn’t much better, either. Lagging apps, freezing screens, overheating during heavy use… the phone is clearly in all sorts of trouble. I’ve been wanting to upgrade for a couple of years now, but I haven’t been truly impressed by a new iPhone in just as long. Nevertheless, I headed up to Target to see the iPhone 15 for myself.

Using the iPhone 15

iPhone 15 on display at Target.
You can try out the iPhone 15 for yourself at your local electronics store.

Before I decided on whether or not to finally abandon my XR, I knew I needed to get my hands on an iPhone 15 first. Now, because no one in my immediate circle had made the upgrade just yet, I also knew I’d need to get creative. Without a nearby Apple Store, my next best option was my local Target. Seeing new iPhones from previous generations on display there in the past, I hoped the latest release would be out and available to play with.

Thankfully, my hopes were in the right place. I made my way to the electronics department and found an iPhone 15 strapped to the end cap. It looked like there might have been a 15 Pro or a 15 Pro Max next to it at some point, but not anymore. The display also lacked any information on pricing for me to look at, but no matter — I’d have to make my upgrade at the Verizon store, anyway. I swiped up on the screen and started to get a hands-on feel for the iPhone 15.

First Impressions of the iPhone 15

An unlocked iPhone 15 on display at Target.
There are some big changes between the iPhone 15 and previous generations.

My immediate first impression of the iPhone 15 was how fast it was. With all the lagging, glitching, freezing, and other unpleasant -ing suffixes going on with my XR, I was delighted to use a new iPhone that was completely absent of all these problems. Swiping from page to page and even opening various apps, it was clear to me just how powerful the A16 Bionic chip inside was. I wondered how much better the A17 chip was in the 15 Pro Max, but alas, it wasn’t there to try.

Because the phone was bolted to the end cap, I couldn’t get a good feel for its weight or its feel in my hand. This was a little bit of a bummer, but I can only assume it must have felt more or less the same as my XR. Even without being able to physically handle it, I could tell that it had a great aluminum enclosure without the rounded edges of my XR. With these first impressions out of the way, I dug a little deeper into the device.

What Stands Out About the iPhone 15

Dynamic Island on display in Target.
The Dynamic Island at the top of the screen is a clever idea, but it gets a little distracting.

I spent the next ten minutes or so really digging deep into the iPhone 15. I wanted to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. After spending some time with it, I think that’s exactly what I found. These are the things that stuck out to me the most during my time with the iPhone 15. As I continue to consider an upgrade, these are the elements that have stuck with me the most in the days since my demo.

Dynamic Island

As a longtime iPhone XR user, the biggest standout to me with the iPhone 15 was probably the Dynamic Island. Situated at the top of the screen and shape-shifting as I moved from app to app, I was feeling conflicted about how it compared to the tab at the top of my XR’s screen. While I did think it was cool to see how it adapted to each feature and app on the 15, I feared it might get distracting with time. My XR simply has that obtrusive, unmoving tab. It’s hard to say which I prefer.

Camera Quality

One thing I’m not uncertain about? The exceptional quality of the iPhone 15’s camera. Whether it be the front-facing camera, the assortment of rear-facing cameras, or the many different camera features built into the Camera app’s interface, I found myself really impressed by the whole operation. The difference between the 15’s camera quality and my XR’s camera quality is like night and day. Today, it’s one of my biggest motivations behind wanting to make the jump and get a 15.

Fluidity of iOS

Lastly, there’s that sleekness and smoothness I mentioned in my first impressions. Across the board, the iPhone 15’s movement felt so fluid. Swiping and scrolling through the library of pre-installed apps on this demo phone, I couldn’t believe how nice it all felt. It completely blows the performance of my XR out of the water. I could certainly get used to the obtrusiveness of the Dynamic Island if it meant getting to enjoy the camera quality and overall performance of the 15.

Is It Worth Upgrading to the iPhone 15?

An iPhone XR resting on a laptop.
The iPhone XR falls short of the iPhone 15 in every way but price.

A few days after my iPhone 15 demo, I’m still trying to decide if I’m ready to officially make the switch and give up my XR. On paper, it feels like a no-brainer. The 15 far surpasses the benchmarks set by the XR. (Not to mention, it’s probably long past time for me to put this poor phone of mine out of its misery.) In camera quality, in software performance, in look and feel, the 15 beats the XR every time. There’s one thing not yet mentioned, though: The actual cost of upgrading to the iPhone 15.

After five years with my iPhone XR, the phone hardly costs me a thing to keep using. It was paid off years ago, and now I only have to pay for the usual charges you can expect with any smartphone with unlimited data in this day and age. However, if I decide to upgrade to the iPhone 15, I’m going to be giving up these savings in exchange for a more expensive bill each month. I’m still trying to decide if it’s worth the extra fees.

Sure, my iPhone XR might be lagging more often these days. It might even start overheating if I use it for too long. And there’s no denying my frustration when the device completely freezes up on me at random times. But — call me unreasonable — I’m willing to put up with it all until the price comes down a bit on the 15. If my local Verizon runs a good deal on upgrades soon, perhaps I’ll finally take the plunge. The upgrade absolutely seems warranted, but the price… maybe not so much.

How the iPhone 15 Compares to my iPhone XR

iPhone 15iPhone XR
Release DateSeptember 22nd, 2023October 26th, 2018
Display6.1″ Super Retina XDR6.1″ Liquid Retina HD
ChipA16 BionicA12 Bionic
Camera(s)24MP and 48MP12 MP
BatteryUp to 20 hoursUp to 16 hours
5G SupportYesNo
Special FeaturesDynamic Island, Crash Detection, USB-C chargerLightning charger
Price$799 and upVaries per local reseller
Impressive Camera
Apple iPhone 15, 128GB, Black - Unlocked (Renewed)
  • 6.1inch Super Retina XDR display
  • Dynamic Island display
  • Advanced dual-camera system
  • Great battery
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/23/2024 09:01 pm GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some standout features of the iPhone 15?

The iPhone 15 comes with a new redesign on the classic iPhone look along with more advanced cameras, a USB-C charging port, and a Dynamic Island at the top of the screen.

What chip does the iPhone 15 use?

The iPhone 15 is equipped with the A16 Bionic chip. It provides reliable performance with its speedy CPU, smooth 5-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine for private, secure machine learning.

Does the iPhone 15 support 5G?

Yes, the iPhone 15 supports a 5G connection. As far as other forms of connectivity are concerned, the iPhone 15 also allows for USB‑C connectors, MagSafe wireless charging, and eSIM support for worldwide connectivity.

How much is the iPhone 15?

The price of an iPhone 15 will depend on how much storage you want. The phones are available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage options, with the lowest storage option starting at $799 and only going up from there.

Can you still buy an iPhone XR new?

New iPhone XRs are getting harder and harder to come by these days. This particular iPhone is over five years old now, meaning you can probably only find them from trusted resellers.

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