Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max Review

By Yvonne
2023-01-11
PROS

High-quality hardware

Always-on display includes widgets

Top-notch cameras

Stellar wireless performance

CONS

Pricey

Dated design and Lightning connector

Operating System iOS 16
CPU A16 Bionic
Dimensions 6.33 by 3.05 by 0.31 inches
Screen Size 6.7 inches
Screen Resolution 2,796 by 1,290 pixels
Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing) 48MP, 12MP, 12MP; 12MP
Battery Life (As Tested) 19 hours

The iPhone 14 Pro Max, Apple's most powerful and multifunctional smartphone, begins at $1,099. Although the iPhone 14 Pro's smaller screen is only $100 more, we believe the Max has a better display and lasts longer. The Pro Max is also more powerful than the iPhone 14 Pro thanks to the Dynamic Island, its always-on display and dynamic processor. Apple's iPhone 14 Pro Max has been awarded Editors Choice for its upgraded main camera, powered by a Photonic Engine and featuring safety features like Crash Detection, Emergency SOS via satellite and Crash Detection.

Body: Boring by Design

The appearance of the iPhone 14 Pro Max is identical to the iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Pro Max. It is something you have previously observed. The new device is very similar to its predecessors, with the exception of color selections (includes Gold, Graphite and Silver and, newly this year, Deep Purple), and the Dynamic island at the top.

The phone measures 6.33 by 3.05 by 0.31 inches (HWD) and weighs 8.47 ounces, which are nearly identical to last year's model within fractions of a millimeter and 0.01 ounces, respectively. This makes the phone heavy and large, although Pro Max customers should already be familiar with these dimensions. In terms of dimensions, it's roughly on par with both the Google Pixel 6 Pro (6.45x2.99x 0.35inches) and Samsung Galaxy S22 U (6.43x3.07x 0.35inches) The slightly smaller iPhone 14 Pro is an option if the Pro Max seems too big. It measures 5.81 by 2.81 inches by 0.31 inches.

Although the design may not be very exciting, Apple is still a leader in materials and build quality. Apple's Ceramic Shield protects the iPhone 14 Pro Max's stainless steel frame, which is different from the regular iPhone 14. Apple says that its Shield is more durable than other glasses, however, we are unable to verify this claim.

Google and Samsung phones ship with Gorilla glass Victus/Victus+ from Corning, the highest-quality material. It has the same IP68 rating as most flagship smartphones. This means that it is resistant to dust and submersion in shallow water for up to 30 minutes. It is not a high-end device, but it is a pleasant feature nonetheless.

This phone features the same flat sides as Pro Max model 2 and 3 with control buttons scattered all around. Flat-edged phones are less pleasant to hold than those with rounder frames, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max is no exception; yet, that stainless steel feels great. Left of the screen are the volume and ringer switches. The right side has a power/screen lock combination button. Both the switch and buttons provide excellent feedback and travel.

The phone's ten-year-old Lightning port, Apple, is located at the bottom of the device. Apple should have switched to USB-C, the standard industry USB-C connector for charging and connecting cables. Apple relies heavily on USB-C to power its iPad Pro and iPad Air as well as some Mac models. Perhaps Apple may make this move before the EU's 2024 USB C mandate.

A second glaring oversight in the US hardware? There is no physical SIM tray. An actual SIM tray is not included in the iPhone 14's international models.

Your old case will not fit because of how large the iPhone 13 Pro Max's rear camera module is. Also, the dimensions of the iPhone 13 Pro Max are slightly different. Despite Apple's claims that the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a tough exterior, it is still made from glass. You can find many cases, both from Apple and other third-party companies.

A Bright and Speedy Screen That's Always On

While the iPhone 14 Pro Max retains many of its basic features, there are some notable improvements. You may see trimmer edges around the edge of your screen. The screen measures 6.7 inches diagonally and has the same Haptic Touch and True Tone colors as the HDR. Apple has upped the resolution from the iPhone 13 Pro Max's 2,778 pixels by 1,284 pixels to this device's 2,796 pixels by 1,290 pixels. This gives the iPhone 12/13 Pro Max a pixel density that is 460ppi. Although it isn't enough to make the distinction, the pixel density of 460ppi makes the iPhone 12/13 Pro Max very sharp.

The contrast ratio is still two million to 1. While the average max brightness is 1,000 nits, it's not as bright. The maximum brightness of the iPhone 14 Pro Max is 1,600 nits, which is 400 nits brighter than its predecessors. Outdoor peak brightness now measures 2,000, when the iPhone is exposed to direct sunlight. Does this make the iPhone 14 Pro Max display more visible outdoors? The 14 Pro Max's display is actually more striking than the 13 Pro Max when compared side-by-side.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max has a 120Hz high-speed screen, just like many other flagships. The display is refreshed at 120x per second instead of the 60x per second standard. ProMotion is now in its second generation for the iPhone. It provides a more fluid experience with many apps, such as Safari and Twitter.

The horrible notch has been removed. Apple abandons the notch, which has appeared on most iPhones since the 2017 iPhone X, including non-Pro iPhone 14 models, in favor of the Dynamic Island, a new display design element. While Android phones are now using more than just notches for their front cameras, Apple's Face ID module and front camera module require some space. The Dynamic Island therefore is more of an oval than a cutout.

Dynamic Island is a hub for notifications, live events, and other interactive occurrences. It is designed to reduce certain notifications and call attention to background activities such as music or timers.

Many third-party and Apple-developed apps already support Dynamic Island, so you don’t need to wait for them to implement it. The system will notify you when the device is charging, NFC interaction, and accessories are connected.

You can also see real-time activity when using Apple Maps, personal hotspot, or navigating through Apple Maps. Although it's useful, I found myself having to search for it. The tapping gestures used to interact with the content weren't always intuitive. It's a useful tool, and I am looking forward to how Apple and other developers use it.

Apple's new Always-On display (AOD), which is something Android phones have been offering for over a decade, will now be available on the iPhone 14 Pro. An AOD does not make the entire screen dark. Instead, it activates a small portion of the screen to display basic information such as the date and weather.

The majority of Android smartphones have a black screen with the only illumination being the time. Apple decided that the iPhone 14 Pro Max would keep all of the screen lit at the same brightness, but with a lower level. The Pro Max's 1Hz refresh rate enabled by Display Engine means that the Pro Max's AOD should be able to sip rather than consume power.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max's AOD allows you to glance at the screen, just like it does with Android phones. This makes it much faster to see the time and notifications or measure the weather. You can customize it to some degree, and it works exactly as described.

Impressive Battery Life

The battery life of the iPhone 13 Pro Max last year was amazing, thanks to its 4,352mAh cells that made it last longer than any other iPhone. The iPhone 14 Pro Max has a slightly smaller 4,323mAh battery than the iPhone 13 Pro Max. However, the efficiency improvements in A16 Bionic processor more than compensate for the difference.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max was capable of uninterrupted video streaming for 19 hours. This is a 1 hour improvement over the previous year. The test involves turning the brightness up to the maximum, then streaming YouTube videos over Wi-Fi as long as it lasts. The iPhone 13 Pro Max ran 18 hours while the Pixel 6 Pro was 22 hours long and the Galaxy S22 Ultra ran 12 hours.

Apple is yet to implement rapid charging on its iPhones. The 14 Pro Max, like its predecessors can be charged at a maximum wired speed of 20W when using a compatible charger. Apple does not ship the charger with the iPhone, so you will need to purchase an additional charging brick.

The battery achieved a 50% charge in just 37 minutes. This is slightly longer than Apple's claim of 35 minutes. The full charge took almost 90 minutes. Samsung Galaxy S22 families can be charged in as little as 75 minutes with the Samsung high-speed 45W charger. OnePlus 10 Pro 5G, which uses its 65W SuperVOOC charging technology to fully charge the battery, can take 35 minutes to recharge it.

The wireless charging speed is limited to 15W when using a MagSafe compatible wireless charger. The iPhone 14 Pro Max can only charge at a rate of 7.5W when used with regular Qi-based chargers.

Using Power Wisely

Apple will also be introducing its new A16 Bionic processor to the iPhone 14's. The system-on-a chip isn’t too far from last year’s A15 Bionic processor. Apple maintains the A15 processor in both the iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 14 Plus.

Apple's move to a new 5nm process allows them to pack an extra 1 billion transistors on the chip. This equals sixteen billion. A16 retains six cores, comprised of two performance cores and four efficiency cores. The A16 features a 5-core GPU and a 16-core Neural engine that are 7% quicker than their predecessors.

Apple doubles the memory bandwidth of the GPU, which is crucial for graphic-intensive games. Apple keeps the basic 6GB RAM of last year's model. However, the Pro models get LPDDR4 RAM and LPDDR5 RAM. A16 Bionic has a new ISP that powers the photonic engine and a Display Engine that manages the display.

Apple has never permitted expanded storage via microSD card, but the 14 Pro series is available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB configurations—more than enough for your cat movies and selfies.

The A16 scored significantly higher than the A15 or other rivals in testing. The A16's single core Geekbench score increased from 1,721 points to 1,874, while its multicore score rose from 4,629 points to 5,445, compared to the 13 Pro Max powered by the A15. Geekbench 5 scores for both the Google Pixel 6 Pro (and its custom Tensor CPU) were 1,021 to 2,813 respectively in single-core and multi-core testing.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor beats the Pixel but falls behind the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which had Geekbench scores of 1,232 & 3,433. Additional A16 results included a score 1,045 in the Geekbench ML testing, 54.48fps for the GFXBench AztecRuins test and 3,377 in the 3DMark Wildlife Extreme tests. AnTuTu wouldn't work all the way. The Pro Max actually heated up and stopped the test from running.

Important to note that the iPhone 13 models last year were faster than flagships equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Apple's iPhone 14 Pro has an improved A16 Bionic, which puts it even further ahead of other phones. Not even November or December will see the announcement of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 which will power 2023’s flagship Android smartphones.

Practically, the 14 Pro Max works flawlessly. The phone runs flawlessly on Apple's iOS 16 operating system. Gaming is a joy with the phone. Both the easy Alto's Adventure game and the complex Genshin Impact were tested. The games run smoothly on the iPhone 14 Pro Max without stuttering, hiccupping, or frame drops.

Amped-Up Connections

iPhone 14 Pro Max has the highest connectivity Apple products ever. The iPhone 14 Pro Max is a significant wireless upgrade to the iPhone last year thanks to new capabilities and specs.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max replaces the earlier Qualcomm X60 modem with the more recent X65. The modem increases the theoretical maximum 5G download speed by 7.5Gbps up to 10Gbps. The modem also improves MIMO performance and power efficiency. It can be upgraded via software. Wireless network providers will be required to utilize these newly discovered capabilities.

In Northern New Jersey, the signal test was undertaken. Both AT&T and Verizon 5G networks were tested. We found that the iPhone 14 Pro Max did well, while speeds and availability of 5G varied between devices. The maximum download speed on Verizon 5G was 86Mbps, while the Pixel 6 Pro recorded 96Mbps. The upload speed of the 14 Pro Max was 8.28Mbps, compared to the Pixel's 4.52Mbps. At&T's model scored 80Mbps downloads and 18.6Mbps uploads.

These speeds are nowhere near the statistics we recorded for either network in our Best Mobile Networks review, but that's another story—peak and average speeds on AT&T and Verizon should be substantially faster, but our testing areas were limited.

Apple keeps the Wi-Fi radio version 6 rather than the 6E. This would have made the phone more future-proof. Despite this, Wi-Fi speed was exceptional in our testing. The iPhone 14 Pro Max and the Pixel were right next to each other with Verizon Fios routers offering 940Mbps service. Both phones achieved maximum download speeds of 435Mbps, with the Pixel reaching 475Mbps. Both phones were unable to download apps and maintained connection at 3.47Mbps and 362Mbps respectively.

Bluetooth radio on the iPhone 14 has seen a significant upgrade from version 5.0, to version 5.3. The phone can transmit at lower power levels and maintain a continuous connection with Bluetooth gadgets. AAC, Apple Lossless and FLAC all support codecs. Our tests revealed that music streaming to true wireless headphones with FLAC support worked well, and connection was strong at distances of up to 10 meters.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max, a powerful multimedia device that can also play audio, is an excellent choice. The phone has stereo speakers built in, one of which is located at the earpiece. A second driver that points downwards from the bottom edge serves as the lower speaker. Music and video sound fantastic on this phone with the volume set at normal (or about 50%).

The speakers have balanced lows and highs. The Knife’s "Silent Shout" bass track is a great example of this. It has a clear soundstage, and the beats seem to float along nicely. The limitations of the iPhone’s speakers are evident in the fact that you can crank things up to the max. There was significant distortion at both the high and low ends of the spectrum. This caused a loss in definition. A good Bluetooth speaker will be more useful, which is not surprising.

Voice calls are last but not the least. While testing the iPhone 14 Pro Max, I was able make a variety of HD voice calls via Verizon's network. The conversations were clear and I received them in high quality. There were no drops or noises and I was able to make calls even in busy areas like shopping centers and city streets.

eSIM-plicity

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max US models use an eSIM rather than a traditional SIM card. This means that you can no longer swap SIM cards when switching carriers at home and abroad. The phone can activate eSIMs via software. An iPhone 14 can store up to eight eSIM profiles. You may have two of them active at a time. Although it sounds complicated, the process is not difficult.

To begin with, many US providers, including AT&T and T-Mobile, enable eSIM. The carrier will assign the eSIM to your phone if you purchase an iPhone 14 at a retailer. After your first boot, the iPhone will automatically guide you through activating an eSIM card. Apple provided an unlock iPhone 14 Pro Max and an AT&T activation card. The activation process was initiated by scanning the QR code found on my AT&T card. I couldn't wait to get home and relax so I did the scan.

Quick Transfer is also available. This allows you to move your service from one SIM card on one device to another SIM in an iPhone. You will need to have the ability to log in to your carrier account online, call a representative on the phone or bring everything into a store to let them know that you are doing this. Although it takes a little longer than the other two, this is still a pretty quick operation. After activation using Quick Transfer is completed, the SIM card stored in the phone's physical SIM card is removed.

All three major US carriers say that activating an eSIM for an existing service line is free. This includes transferring your phone number to another. The carriers will not charge for you to transfer your service to an eSIM-enabled phone to another. If you activate an E-SIM for a new service line, an activation fee will apply (typically between $35 and $45)

Although this is an impressive move by Apple, it seems like it was made at the request of US carriers. International iPhone 14s will continue to use physical SIM cards. It's still too early to tell if this will be the catalyst for more widespread eSIM adoption.

Car Crash and Satellite Features

Apple cares about your safety. The iPhone 14 Pro has two new features that will help you in an accident, or lost in the wild.

Crash detection is easy. All iPhone 14 models have the same onboard sensors, and new algorithms. They can use data from a crash to establish whether or not an accident occurred. The dual-core accelerometer and high-dynamic range gyroscope are able to detect high G-forces in crashes up to four times faster than the previous version.

The phone is equipped with GPS information and sounds such as crackling tires and breaking glass, and has been trained using over one million hours worth of crash data. It can also detect passenger vehicle crashes such as pickups and cars. The iPhone can call 911 and notify emergency contact if you are unable or unconscious to call.

For those who need extra assistance, the Emergency SOS via satellite tool can be used. These are people who go off-grid and explore the backcountry. You can use this service to contact emergency services by satellite even if there is no Wi-Fi or cellular coverage (and only for those situations).

Apple claims that the iPhone 14 Pro has special antennas which connect to specific satellites (Globalstar), and can provide basic communications. This app allows you to aim your iPhone in the right direction to ensure the fastest connection with the satellite. It must be within line-of sight. This is not a real satellite phone service that allows you to get to know your neighbor. Only for emergencies.

The launch of this service will not occur until November.

Pixel-Rich Cameras

Apple has clearly spent a lot on improving the iPhone's camera this year with new sensors and lenses as well as new algorithms.

Its 48MP main camera is its star. The sensor, which is larger than the iPhone 13 Pro's at 65%, uses sensor-shift optical imaging stabilization (redesigned) to capture sharp photos. Although there is 48 MP, final images can be produced by the camera at 12MP. If desired, full 48 million pixels can be captured in ProRaw mode.

The sensor can capture more light thanks to this binned method, making it easier for night shots. Ultrawide and telephoto cameras retain their 12-MP resolutions, while the telephoto camera has faster lenses. The iPhone 14 Pro Max has 0.5x to 1x zoom from the main camera and 2x to 2x and 3x optical zooms (the equivalent of 13, 24, 48, 77 and 77mm respectively). Although you can zoom further with a pinch, the results will not be as sharp.

Apple's image signal processing marketing tool, the Photonic Engine performs Deep Fusion calculations in an earlier stage of the computational photography pipeline. Apple claims that the Photonic Engine analyzes multiple images to determine the best. This mathematical brouhaha is what iPhone 14 Pro Max owners can expect. Colors that are brighter and more brilliant, with a wider dynamic range.

These casual photos of daylight taken with my phone are great. They have sharp focus and lots of contrast. Apple has cooled down its white balance a bit, which was a good thing as older iPhones' photos were too warm. There will be lots of sharpening (and I do mean a lot), which can detract from certain photos. The 14 Pro Max produces excellent results with all three of its cameras.

Photos taken at night are also extremely good. At a recent concert, the iPhone was able to capture some stunning live photos.

Another winner is the Apple's revamped selfie camera for its 14 Pro Max. The aperture on this TrueDepth 12MP camera is f/1.9. This allows in 38% more light that the selfie cam from the 13 Pro Max. The Face ID camera's IR dots are now used to aid in autofocus. This makes for cleaner selfies. These are some of the greatest samples I've seen from a user-facing camera.

Apple has upgraded the iPhone 14 Pro Max's video experience. Cinematic mode, which allows you to focus sharply on your subject with blurred background and blurred backgrounds, now supports 4K24 (and 4K30) capture for better results. If you want, you can change the focal point even after the fact.

Action mode is the real trick. It reduces video resolution from 4K up to 2.8K, in order to remove any jittery, bouncy action shots. It's real. Even though the resolution is lower, Action mode video looks more like it was shot on a handheld stabilizing gimbal. This could be really beneficial to some people.

The Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max Max camera phone is a top-rated one when it comes photography and video. The Google Pixel 6 Pro or the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra might be better for still photographs, but the iPhone is the clear winner when it comes video.

The Best iPhone 14

Smartphones can be expensive. Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max is priced at $1,099, and goes up to $1,599 for the 1TB model. The iPhone 14 Pro Max is less expensive at $999. It offers many of the same capabilities as the iPhone, but a considerably smaller screen.

The Pro models are a step above the iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 14 Plus, which start at $799, but have less cameras, less innovations and slower processors. Despite its large footprint and high price, iPhone 14 Pro Max has the most advanced and basic features. It was awarded Editors' Choice.

The best flagship rivals to the iPhone are the Pixel 6 Pro at $899 and the Galaxy S22 Ultra for $1,199. If you want the best Android camera experience and Android OS, the Pixel is the way to go. The S22 Ultra offers superior optical zoom (10x) and a stylus. The Pixel 6 is being replaced by the Pixel 7 in a few weeks.

Apple and its carriers partners offer aggressive trade-in values and other deals to lower the iPhone 14 Pro Max's effective price. If you're able to swap between carriers or have something to trade, it is possible to get one well below the $1,099 base price. The iPhone 14 Pro Max's price is not affordable, but we highly recommend it if you can afford it.