The iPhone 14 Pro Max delivers a solid all-round experience as Apple’s latest and best smartphone offering of the year. Barring the high price, which is not surprising, the device scores in most aspects of smartphone usability, including display, performance and camera.
“It’s a formative, multitasking, head-turning, game-changing iPhone experience that combines fun and performance like never before…”.
Apple likes to explain the Dynamic Island, a new feature added above the pill-shaped notch on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. Hats off to the marketing wizards in Cupertino, because Applespeak makes a life-changing new feature. I assure you – it is not. It’s not game-changing, but to be honest, most other bits of that description are pretty accurate. And then there’s the new processor, revamped photography setup with upgraded sensors and new capabilities like Action Camera Mode, Always-On Display and more. There’s also a new crash detection feature that detects if you’ve been in a car crash and automatically alerts emergency services.
I have iPhone 14 Pro Max I have it in hand, and it’s certainly a loaded device, and yet, at least at first glance, it doesn’t look like a significant upgrade compared to its predecessor. You see, the design is mostly the same and many other aspects are also similar. But look closer and you’ll notice some interesting, useful new additions.
Before I get my two cents worth on this Apple flagship, it might be worth checking out this detailed FAQ.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max uses the same IP68-rated glass and steel frame as before, and from a short distance, you’d be hard-pressed to find any differences between this model and its predecessor. The buttons and port placement are the same and the lighting port is still there. I was hoping to see a Type-C port this year, but hey, there’s always next year. The Max variant is bigger and heavier – it seems obvious to say, but coming from the smaller, handier, 13 Pro I feel it more.
A noticeable change this time around is that the signature wide notch is gone and replaced by a punch hole notch that houses the selfie shooter as well as a smaller pill-shaped notch that hides the sensors that enable Face ID. . Many, including you, have been yearning for a smaller notch, and this pill is Apple’s answer. This may be a bitter pill to swallow, pun intended, but unless Apple can figure out a way to miniaturize that hardware inside, it looks like it won’t be able to shrink the notch size further without having the security promised by Face ID. Regardless, the new notch is a refreshing change from the previous one and the experience has been enhanced by the addition of a dynamic island. This brings me to…
Dynamic Island is the most happening place, thanks to the hype that Apple has been able to build around it. Apps that emulate and mimic its look and feel are also rampant on Android, and some rudimentary games that use Dynamic Island in an interesting way have even been created by enthusiastic devs on the iOS side. In essence, Dynamic Island is a smart way to cover the pill notch with notification alerts and ongoing activity details, while the long-press action gives you some level of interactivity. For example, playing music through supported apps like Apple Music and then exiting to the home screen reveals a black bar with a small album art and waveform, and long-pressing it expands it into a larger window that gives you playback controls. Some other notifications and alerts are just non-interactive animations — like apps that use Face ID authentication, for example. It’s cool and fun but feels a bit disconnected from the rest of the UI. Hence the name of the island. See more about Dynamic Island here.
6.7 inches of AMOLED goodness, complete with LTPO up to 120Hz is available here. It’s a lovely screen, no doubt, and this time the brightness levels have been bumped up to 1,600 nits. The stunning visuals make it a treat to use. Apple has also added the much-awaited always-on feature this time around, but frankly, the implementation isn’t that great. It looks like a dimmed version of the lock screen and also affects battery life. I turned it off after two days.
There’s a fair bit to talk about when it comes to snappers. The iPhone 14 Pro Max (along with its smaller Pro sibling) has finally switched to a higher-res 48MP camera sensor. You still get 12MP photos, but they’re now pixel binned. You also have the option to capture full 48MP shots, but you have to go into the settings and select the ProRaw format for that. For zooming, there’s the same 3x optical zoom from before, but there’s a new 2x zoom option that uses the power of the 48MP sensor to give you a zoomed-in shot without losing quality. And then there’s the new imaging pipeline in the form of a photonic engine that promises better color and detail.
Overall, the results are good, and regardless of the lighting conditions, the iPhone 14 Pro Max can produce nicely detailed, natural-looking shots. I wish it could control the light flare better. It’s worth mentioning that the Google Pixel 7 Pro and the Galaxy S22 Ultra can handle night shots and even digital zoom better. But other than that, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is among the best camera smartphones this year. Video quality is stellar as usual, and the addition of a new Action mode makes it almost GoPro, smoothing out and removing shake from video footage. Thanks to the inclusion of autofocus, selfies also get a boost. Below are links to some camera comparisons, so you can get a good idea of how it all stacks up.
Related Reading: Google Pixel 7 Pro vs iPhone 14 Pro Max Camera Comparison
Related Reading: Apple iPhone 13 Pro vs iPhone 14 Pro Max Camera Comparison
On the software side of things, there is the new iOS 16 platform. Visually it’s similar to the previous iteration but packs enough changes and features under the hood, lock screen customization being one of the most important, allowing you to set up multiple lock screens and map them to different focus profiles, live text video, lift the subject from photos and more. Ability to share directly through apps, attachments to health and fitness, mail, iMessage, etc. This link has some more details if you want to take a gander.
It wouldn’t be a new flagship iPhone without a new chip, and of course, the A16 Bionic SoC will debut with the iPhone 14 Pro sibling. This new SoC uses 4nm fabrication and is more powerful and power efficient than before. The A15 Bionic we saw in the iPhone 13 Pro is already very powerful and adept at handling the most intensive tasks, and while the A16 Bionic seems to offer slight improvements over it in terms of pure numbers, there’s no doubt that it’s very capable. The chipset doesn’t impress you much in the performance department. Watch this performance comparison video to understand how the A16 Bionic stacks up against Qualcomm’s flagship chipset and its own predecessor.
The phone lasts about a day with medium usage, so battery life is still pretty good. Charging speeds aren’t very fast, so that’s a bit of a bummer. There is no charger in the box and with the supported 27W charging speed and compatible charger, you can expect the iPhone 14 Pro Max to charge to 100 percent in 2 hours. Of course, the device can be charged wirelessly and like before, it also supports MagSafe charging. On a side note, I grabbed the Belkins Boost Charge Magnetic Wireless Power Bank that comes with a 2,500mAh battery and it’s proven to be a very handy accessory, especially on the go and on days when I’m out for long hours.
It doesn’t really fully charge iPhone 14 Pro Max and offers slow charging speed, it’s very compact and lightweight. It magnetically attaches to the back of the iPhone thanks to MagSafe technology and allows you to charge your iPhone (or other Qi-enabled devices) while charging, also supporting passthrough charging. Its price is Rs. 4,499 and I recommend you take a closer look at it.
On the face of it, the iPhone 14 Pro Max doesn’t seem like a big upgrade. And for those who own one of last year’s Pro models, it doesn’t really make for a worthwhile purchase. But for others, the iPhone 14 Pro Max brings a little more to the table. Rs. 1,39,900 starting price, it’s expensive, sure, but for your money, you get a daily driver that can deliver a top-notch user experience that checks almost all aspects of smartphone usage. Of course, at this price point, you might as well opt for an Android flagship, and the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and Galaxy Fold4 spring to mind. But an iPhone is an iPhone, so they say, and Apple’s latest and greatest, the 14 Pro Max, won’t leave you wanting more. Between the Pro Max and the smaller Pro, I’d say the larger variant makes more sense for those looking to make the most of their daily driver in terms of productivity and/or fun, while the smaller model is definitely handier. In both.
Editor’s Rating: 4/5
- Dynamic Island is fun
- Awesome show
- Good performance & cameras
- Crash detection
- An always-on display drains battery
- Loses superfast charging