iPhone 12 Pro Max: In-Depth review of the biggest and best

On 13th November 2020, Apple released the iPhone 12 Pro Max alongside the iPhone 12 mini. Releasing the biggest and best iPhone left many wondering, "Is it too big?" "Is it worth the extra $100?". Thereby, staying true to Apples past it became a topic of controversy and excitement. Read on as I explore the iPhone 12 Pro Max giving you a run-through of the specs, features, and final verdict.

Iphone 12 Pro Max picture

What's new on the iPhone 12 Pro Max?

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the biggest and best offering by Apple in the 12 series, released alongside the 12 mini on the 13th of November 2020. As expected Apple has introduced a host of new features and updated hardware over the previous lineups. Particularly, incorporating the Pro models with the latest and most innovative features for users looking to experience the absolute Apple has to offer.

At first glance, the most apparent change noticeable is the updated design language, which shares subtle similarities with the iPhone 5 series. With a significantly larger display & battery, updated camera setup, and a variety of new color variants. Plus a new ceramic shield front protecting the larger display.

Moving from the updated exterior to the hardware in the device, there are a multitude of improvements made with the introduction of the new A14 Bionic chip, 5G connectivity support, and the lowest storage variant being bumped up to 128gb to enhance performance . Additionally, all devices in the lineup have been given the new MagSafe feature. Also, the camera setup has been improved upon by the addition of a LiDAR scanner, sensor-shift image stabilization (IBIS), and the ability to record HDR video recording with Dolby vision up to 60 fps.

Specifications

FinishSilver, Graphite, Gold, Pacific Blue Ceramic Shield front Textured matte glass back and stainless steel design
Capacity128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Size and Weight160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4 mm, 8.04 ounces (228 grams)
DisplaySuper Retina XDR display 6.7 inch all-screen OLED display 2778 x 1284 pixel resolution at 458 ppi Scratch-resistant ceramic glass, oleophobic coating Dolby Vision Wide color gamut True-tone
Splash, Water, and Dust ResistantRated IP68 (maximum depth of 6 meters up to 30 minutes) under IEC standard 60529
ChipA14 Bionic chip
Camera12-megapixel (wide) 1.7µm, dual pixel PDAF, sensor-shift stabilization (IBIS) 12-megapixel f/2.4, 120˚, 13mm (ultra-wide)12-megapixel  f/2.2, 65mm (telephoto) 1/3.4", 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 2.5x optical zoom
Front-facing camera12-megapixel  f/2.2, 23mm (wide), 1/3.6"
Video capture4K
RAM6GB
Mobile softwareiOS 14.1, upgradable to iOS 14.2
Special featuresLidar scanner; 5G enabled; MagSafe; wireless charging; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM), Face ID, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, Siri natural language commands, and dictation
BatteryLi-Ion 3867 mAh, non-removable (14.13 Wh) Fast charging 20W, 50% in 30 min (advertised) USB Power Delivery 2.0 Qi fast wireless charging 15W
Full specifications of the iPhone 12 Pro Max from gsmarena.com

Pricing and Availability of iPhone 12 Pro Max

The iPhone 12 Pro is priced at the following rates according to the official Apple website, for any color variant:

128GB – $1,099.00

256GB – $1,199.00

512GB – $1,399.00

With options available for trade-in discounts for numerous devices including older iPhones and Android devices. Visit the apple trade-in site to check for eligible devices.

In-Depth Analysis

The following is a comprehensive look into the updated hardware and newly introduced features:

Design of the iPhone 12 Pro Max

The 12 series is somewhat reminiscent of the iPhone 5 and iPad Pro models with the revised design ques such as the squared edges paired with the flat-back and slimmer bezels . The all-glass front and back of the device is sandwiched between a stainless steel frame. Replacing the Aluminum used in previous generations to provide more durability and scratch resistance. The various color options also sport matching glossy frames. While the pro models are differentiated with a glossy camera bump and textured glass back, the 12 and mini are styled with a glossy back and matte camera bump instead.

Apart from the changes discussed above, the device still carries forward the notch on the display housing the TrueDepth camera, speaker, and microphone. While the volume rockers and silent button are placed on the left side, the power button on the right, and the lightning connector along with the stereo speaker and microphones positioned on the base of the phone.

iPhone in hand

Camera setup of the iPhone 12 Pro Max

The iPhone 12 Pro Max features a triple-lens rear camera setup along with the TrueDepth front camera. Along with the new addition of a depth-sensing imaging technology called LiDAR and sensor-shift image stabilization (IBIS). 

The triple-lens rear camera setup consists of a 12MP f/1.6 wide lens, 12MP f/2.2 2.5x telephoto lens, and a 12MP f/2.4 ultrawide lens. The upgraded wide lens from an f/1.8 aperture to the f/1.6 aperture lens allows for slightly better low light performance. Apple claim that the new 7-element lens allows 27% more light into the sensor. Consequently, improves sharpness and reduces noise in the shadows.

The LiDAR scanner works by measuring the time taken for light to reflect off objects, to create a depth map of your environment. This technology enables you to capture low-light pictures by focusing up to 6 times faster. Also, it boosts the AR capabilities of the device.

Sensor-shift image stabilization or IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization) essentially makes use of a floating sensor to counterbalance any movement within the camera. Provides image stabilization to all the lenses. As a result, you can capture blur-free images and videos no matter which lens is being utilized. Whereas, the rest of the iPhones utilize optical image stabilization which only provides image stabilization to 2 lenses. 

A few of the new camera features are:

  • Night mode now available on the wide, ultrawide, and selfie lenses as opposed to only the wide on the previous model.
  • New smart HDR 3 and Deep Fusion technology introduced on all 4 lenses.
  • Faster image processing due to the new A14 chip.
  • 4K Dolby vision video recording at 60fps.
  • Night mode enabled for video recording.
  • ProRAW mode.
image taken on iPhone 12 Pro Max
Image taken on the iPhone 12 Pro Max

Display

The iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 6.7 inch super retina XDR OLED display with a resolution of 1284 x 2778 pixels and 458 pixels per inch. A peak brightness of 1200 nits (for HDR photos and viewing videos) and a typical max brightness of 800 nits. The display has a wide color gamut, for providing true to life colors while True Tone ensures an easier viewing experience by matching the white balance on display to the ambient lighting. And this display is in fact the largest display on any iPhone.

Protecting the screen is a scratch-resistant ceramic shield and an oleophobic coating for smudge resistance. Further, haptic touch support is retained, enabling haptic feedback.

Battery

Due to the larger size of the phone, it has been able to accommodate a much bigger battery to support the updated hardware. The battery is a 3687 mAh Li-Ion which is actually a considerable bump in size over the 12 Pro model which has a 2815 mAh battery. Apple claims video playback up to 20 hrs and audio playback up to 80 hrs. It is also fast charge capable and advertised to reach up to 50% charge in 30 mins via the 20W adapter. Also, Qi wireless charging up to 7.5W and MagSafe wireless charging up to 15W are available.

Chipset

The new A14 Bionic chip is the first 5-nanometer chip in the industry. It has increased efficiency for better battery life and faster CPU and GPU compared to any other smartphone chipset currently available. The 12 Pro Max model has an upgraded 6GB of RAM.

MagSafe

A magnetic ring placed in the rear center of the phones in the 12 series enables it to be used by different accessories. Apple currently offers accessories such as cases, Snap-on wallets, and wireless chargers. And it is worth noting that the charger and wallet can be attached simultaneously to the phone over the case. With the MagSafe charger being capable of charging up to 15W. Moreover, you can look forward to seeing newer accessories from 3rd party manufacturers in the near future.

MagSafe accessories

5G connectivity

The new series is the first to feature 5G connectivity. To ensure that you remain connected in most places, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has been equipped with the most 5G bands amongst all smartphones capable of supporting 5G. In addition, Apple has also custom-engineered antennas and radio components for higher sensitivity.

5G connectivity enables faster download and upload speeds. Causing a speedup of web page load ups and downloads. Also increases bandwidth for streaming services and Facetime. However, these increased speeds come at the cost of a faster battery drain, and to deal with this issue the phone will automatically switch to LTE when faster speeds aren't necessary.

Controversy

In September of 2016, Apple created an uproar within the tech community by opting to not include a headphone jack in the iPhone 7. Nevertheless, over time the rest of the smartphone manufacturers have followed suit and omitted it too.

Apple has done it again! This time with their decision to not include a power adapter in the box along with the phone. They have cited environmental concerns as reasoning for this omission, claiming that they are reducing carbon emissions drastically by reducing packaging size and avoiding mining of precious metals. Although Apple points out that most adapters go unused, the issue arises since the USB C cable shipped along with the box is not compatible with the USB A power adapters of previous models except for customers who purchased the iPhone 11. As the iPhone 11 was the only device to be shipped with a USB C power adapter.

However, in Apple's defense, the USB A to lightning cable of previous models are still compatible with the newer phones. As for Apple's attempt at providing a more environmentally conscious product, they have made remarkable progress with the iPhone 12 Pro Max. And this is highlighted in the "Product Environmental Report."

Reviews of the iPhone 12 Pro Max

The iPhone 12 Pro Max has received a mixed bag of reactions. The main aspect leaving customers in a dilemma is Apple's new pricing strategy, whereby they are attempting to offer an iPhone at all price points. As a result of this, the 12 Pro Max is set to be competing with the 12 Pro model which is only $100 cheaper than the base Pro Max model.  

The 12 Pro Max design, with the matte glass back and the glossy camera bump has been preferred amongst most users. Although the shiny steel frame is a fingerprint magnet.

The camera upgrade has received both praise and criticism. The introduction of LiDAR has been well received; people are praising its performance with low light photography and AR capabilities. While the additional telephoto lens has not been a hit with many, as the primary lens seems to perform better than the telephoto lens at its job in certain instances. Although compared to the rest of the 12 series, users struggle to see any drastic improvements.

The battery life of the device has been deemed to be great, lasting longer and providing excellent standby times. Most users claim to get through a day’s use comfortably with around 20-30% charge to spare. 

The large display has created somewhat of a divide amongst people, debating whether the device is too big. And also a slight disappointment due to the lack of a high refresh rate unlike other high-end offerings released this year. Nonetheless, the display is excellent with the larger size making the notch seem somewhat smaller.

Final Verdict

Overall, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the largest in the 12 lineup with great battery life, a giant screen, and excellent video and photographic capabilities. If you can comfortably use the larger form factor and price is not of concern, this is the phone for you. Although, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models are strong contenders.

Author of Get Basic Idea - Knowledge Base.

Chamath Perera

Author of Get Basic Idea - Knowledge Base.

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