The iPhone 14 Pro Max is Apple’s latest smartphone. A powerful A16 Bionic chip, always on Display, Dynamic Island and a new 48MP camera are welcome additions. But are they enough to warrant purchasing or upgrading from an iPhone 13 pro max? Let’s find out.
Design – Can it get any bigger?
Just when you thought the iPhone 13 Pro Max was big enough, the 14 Pro Max comes along being slightly heavier, thicker and features a larger camera cut out and protrusion. It has the familiar premium feel and finish of its predecessor, with a matte glass back and a shiny stainless frame.
Last year was the year of sierra blue. Now, we have an elegant deep purple colour.
It’s classy, sophisticated, and looks much better in person.
Welcome to Dynamic Island
Upon first glance, you’re greeted with a dynamic island and a brighter 1000 nits of typical max brightness 6.7-inch display, which can go up to 2000 nits brightness in direct sunlight.
The Dynamic Island takes advantage of the smaller notch of the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The Island splits from the top bezel and includes some cool software around the notch, turning it into an interactive and playful area with charming animations. While still hiding the array of front cameras and Face ID sensors.
The Dynamic Island displays everything from music playback controls to alerts from paired AirPods to low battery warnings, but ordinary notifications and texts, for example, don’t show up, which is a missed opportunity.
For me, Dynamic Island is more visible and bold than the notch and takes up more space. However, its functionality makes up for it, although it would be great if it could do more. With the arrival of iOS 16.1, it will be interesting to see what third-party developers do with it for their apps. Generally, Dynamic Island is a step in the right direction.
An Always on, Always on Display
Always on display is something I’ve been fooking forward to since initial rumours of it for the iPhone 12 Pro, and now it’s here. A darkened version of the lock screen with alerts, widgets and the full colour of your wallpaper is now visible when you press the sleep button. It’s an entirely different implementation from what we’ve seen on any phone.
Because the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s display refresh rate can scale down to 1Hz, Apple designed its Always on Display to mirror the lock screen (in color) but at a much lower brightness level. It is smart enough to turn off if you put the iPhone 14 Pro Max in your pocket or upside down on a table. I like having the always-on display to look at the time without entirely turning on the screen. Although it would be nice to have the option to have the background fully black as I sometimes forget the always-on display is enabled.
Biggest Camera leap yet
The iPhone 14 Pro Max continues Apple’s trend of excellent camera performance, which has been going on for a few years. Since the iPhone 6s, Apple has only used 12MP camera sensors, but the iPhone 14 Pro Max features a 48MP primary camera.
The sensor’s increased resolution enables the 48MP primary camera to double as a 2x optical zoom lens without sacrificing image quality.
The new 12MP front-facing camera now has autofocus and a faster f/1.9 aperture for better low-light images. Better low-light performance is a common trend with this phone, as it features a Photonic Engine powered by the A16 Bionic chip to provide brighter and more vibrant photographs.
Suppose you have an iPhone 13 Pro Max. You probably won’t notice anything substantial in the camera department, as the 13 pro max has an already good camera. But once you enable Apple ProRaw and set the ProRaw resolution to 48MP on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, it goes beyond any iPhone camera. You get almost DSLR quality and can zoom in without losing any detail. Since you’re taking Raw images, you’ll have to edit on Lightroom to get the best results for the image.
Still, even there, you’ll be blown away by the dynamic range of the 48MP sensor. Bare in mind that using ProRaw will result in larger image sizes, with a single ProRaw image ranging up to 80MB. So make sure your device has enough storage to handle these large files.
Fast and consistent performance
With iPhone, performance is rarely a source of complaint. That’s still true with the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which is no surprise. The iPhone 14 Pro Max features Apple’s new A16 Bionic chip. The A16 is quicker and more energy-efficient than the A15 since its 4m design is smaller than the 5nm architecture of the A15.
The phone flawlessly meets all of my demands.
The A16 Bionic has proven to be a performance powerhouse in our tests for everything task we throw at it. And when you add 6GB of RAM to that, multitasking becomes a seamless and consistent experience.
Battery life – Very Good but not Great
While the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a more efficient chip, the battery capacity is smaller at 4323 mAh compared to 4,352 mAh on the iPhone 13 Pro Max. And with the added features like a brighter screen, always on display, and more demanding camera features with the 48MP sensor, the battery life is not as good as the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which had an insane almost 1-and-a-half day battery life. Don’t get me wrong; the 14 Pro max has very good battery life, probably one of the best around. Just not as good as its predecessor. To give context, I could start the day at 8 AM and end at 9 PM with 30-40% left on my iPhone 13 pro max. With the 14 pro max, it may be 15-20%
How long the iPhone 14 Pro Max will last for you will depend on how hard you push it and what tasks you do with it. If you lower the brightness, turn off always on display, limit some background features and avoid intensive tasks like high-end gaming, then it’s a two-day phone. Stream lots of HDR video, shoot RAW photos and hammer 5G, and you’ll have to charge it in the middle of the day. But with software updates, it may improve in the future.
Insanely High Prices outside the US
While Apple keeps the iPhone 14 Pro Max at a starting price of $1099 for the 128GB model in the US. In Europe, the 128GB model starts at 1,489 euros, a 210 euro increase from last year’s model, and when we look at the 1TB model, it is a whopping 2139 Euro as opposed to 1599 dollars in the US. That price tag makes buying the phone a tougher choice, especially if you have an iPhone 13 Pro Max. Hopefully, it’s just an inflation thing, and we will see a lower price next year when or if the inflation reduces.
iPhone 14 Pro Max – Conclusion
The powerful, large-screen iPhone 14 Pro Max has an amazing camera and a fairly long battery life. It’s not a massive improvement over the 13 Pro Max. Still, this is the iPhone to have if you want a large and bright display with an always-on feature and an enormous camera upgrade.
However, some simple adjustments could improve it even further.
For example, the lightning port takes longer than it should when uploading large video files over a cable. Hopefully, we will see the switch to USB C soon enough. Otherwise, overall this is a good phone, and I highly recommend buying it if you’re in the US and need a powerful big-screen device or just looking to upgrade your current iPhone, even if you already have a 13 Pro Max just for the camera upgrade.
However, if you live in Europe, the incentive to pay a lot more for an iPhone this year may be a hurdle in the decision-making process. With that said, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is a device that’s hard to resist and certainly one of the best phones you can buy right now.