iPhone 15, Pro and Pro Max: Tips and Tricks.

17 October 2023

Amy Carding

Have you treated yourself to one of Apple’s newest devices? Want to learn about how you can use the iPhone 15's new features to personalise your phone and give you the best experience possible? Of course you do! Read on to find out more.

The Action Button

Apple has replaced the physical mute switch of previous models with a new, customisable button on the side of your device. You can choose which function you want the Action button to perform when you press it, so it’s really convenient.

To decide which command you want the button to perform just go to Settings > Action Button. A zoomed-in image of the button will show on the screen and you just scroll from left to right to decide what you would like the action button to do.

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Some of the commands you can choose have multiple options. For example, if you want it to open the camera you can select which specific camera it opens- perfect for grabbing that quick selfie or capturing that funny video of your mates. 

One of the more exciting features is that you can program the action button to use the shortcuts folder which means you can use a single button to open multiple options at once. You can set it to show all your Shortcuts or just your favourites, so when you press the Action Button, you get a menu with your most useful Shortcuts on a card at the top of the screen. 

Of course, if you prefer the simple mute button of earlier generations, you can still set it up to do exactly that, but if you are feeling a bit more adventurous Apple has you covered.

Add Portrait Mode Background Affect to Standard Photos

With previous generations of the iPhone, you’ve only been able to add a ‘portrait mode’ style background blur and sharpened focus on an object or person by taking the photo with that setting on. With the iPhone 15, you can add this effect after the photo is taken.

To add the effect, go to the Photos app > select the photo you want to add a background blur to, then tap the ‘Portrait’ option in the top left of your screen. Easy peasy! 

Dynamic Island

Previously only available on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, Apple has rolled the dynamic island feature out across the whole of the 15 range.

Previously described as the ‘camera notch’ this feature uses that space to display features running in the background, as well as active tasks. It will change in size and shape depending on what it is showing (hence ‘dynamic’), for example, when receiving an incoming call the Dynamic Island will become a larger rectangle to show who is calling and the phone controls.

 You also don’t have to set up the Dynamic Island- if you are using a compatible application then the Dynamic Island will automatically display this, even if it is in the background.

For example, if you are listening to music on your Airpods, the dynamic island will show the Airpods are connected and a charge indicator. It will also show the logo of the streaming service you are using and a long-press will expand the island to give you additional controls- like skip, pause etc. 

Currently, there is no option to disable the Dynamic Island and the fact that they have included it as a feature on the whole iPhone 15 range (previously it was only available on the 14 Pro and Pro Max) suggests Apple is signalling it’ll be sticking around for a while yet.

Standby Mode

Want your phone to still be useful even when you’re not ‘actively’ using it? Apple have developed a new StandBy mode which allows you to display some features on the device screen when it’s not in normal use.

To start StandBy you will need to Connect your iPhone to a charger and set it down on its side, keeping it stationary. If you then press the side button you can swipe left or right to switch between widgets, photos and clocks and then up and down to choose different designs and options for these features. 

When placed on a charging dock this transforms your phone into a fancy bedside alarm clock. You also don’t have to worry about the bright display affecting your sleep because Apple has developed NightMode. In NightMode the screen adapts to lower light and displays in a red tint that won’t intrude on your dreams. To activate it just go to Settings> StandBy> and then flip the Night Mode switch to On. 

It’s pretty much up to you what widgets you would prefer it to display and if you are lucky enough to have multiple MagSafe chargers around you can even program it to show different displays based on location, so you could make it show family photos in the lounge and track timers while cooking in the kitchen. Clever huh?

If you don’t want to use StandBy, Apple does allow you to turn this feature off, just go to Settings> StandBy and then flip the switch to Off.


This is probably one of the more publicised changes Apple have made to the 15 range, and it opens up quite a range exciting of new opportunities, particularly alongside the new A17 Pro chip.

The faster data transfer capabilities of the USB-C cable means you can now use your iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max to record 4K video directly to an external hard drive, amazing for any budding filmmakers. 

The hard drive you decide to use will need to be capable of handling very fast write speeds (at least 220MB per second). Apple has also stated that it will need to be formatted using exFAT (Extensible File Allocation Table) and you will need a USB3 cable capable of 10 GB per second transfer speed.  

Currently, Apple is only allowing you to use this option when filming in ProRes video format since this takes up the most storage space. To record video to your external hard drive you will need to go to Settings> Camera> Formats and then tap to switch ProRes on, then just plug in the hard drive via the USB-C port and tap the record button. 

Helpfully it will also display an estimate of how long you can record for at the top of the screen and next to the record button it will say USB-C so you know the drive is connected. Apple has traditionally resisted allowing people to expand the internal storage on their devices so this is a big change.

Another new capability that comes with the USB-C port is reverse charging. Just connect a smaller Apple device to your iPhone and it will use your iPhone’s charge to boost your Apple watch or Airpods. As these devices tend to use comparatively less power than the phone it could make all the difference, allowing you to listen to your favourite podcast or tunes on your commute instead of making awkward conversation.

Finally, the new A17 Pro chip means that the iPhone 15 range is capable of displaying premium game titles like Assassin’s Creed Mirage and Resident Evil 4 (both planned for release in the App Store), and, with a cable that supports USB 3.1 or higher to HDMI, you can then plug it into your TV for 4K gaming!

You might also like:

Gadget insurance with Protect Your Bubble: get your devices covered now*.

iPhone 14: Everything you need to know about the previous generation. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: Release Date & Feature Rumours.

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