Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max Review – Pros and cons, Verdict | 91Mobiles


Verdict

The iPhone 14 Pro Max delivers a solid all-round experience as Apple’s latest and greatest smartphone offering of the year. Barring the high pricing, which isn’t surprising at all, the device scores in most aspects of smartphone usage, including display, performance and camera.

 

“It’s a shapeshifting, multitasking, head-turning, game-changing iPhone experience that blends fun and function like never before…”.

This is how Apple likes to describe Dynamic Island, the new feature it’s added on top of the pill-shaped notch on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. Hats off to the marketing wizards at Cupertino, because the Applespeak does make the new feature sound life-changing. Let me assure you — it’s not. It’s not game-changing either, but truth be told, most other bits in that description are fairly accurate. Then there’s a new processor, a revamped photography setup with upgraded sensors and new capabilities like an action camera mode, always-on display, and more. There’s even a new crash detection feature that detects if you’ve been in a car crash and alerts emergency services automatically.


I have the iPhone 14 Pro Max in my hand, and it’s a loaded device for sure, And yet, it doesn’t come across as a significant upgrade when compared to its predecessor, at least at first glance. You see, the design is largely the same, and many other aspects are similar too. Look closely though, and you’d notice some interesting, useful new additions. 

Before I dive into my two cents worth on this Apple flagship, it might be worth your while to check out these detailed FAQs.

iPhone 14 Pro Max: All your questions answered

Design

The iPhone 14 Pro Max uses the same IP68-rated glass and steel chassis as before, and from a small 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 around as well. I was expecting to see a Type-C port this year, but hey, there’s always next year. The Max variant is fairly large and heavy — which sounds like a pretty obvious thing to say but maybe I’m feeling it more, coming from the smaller, handier, 13 Pro.


One of the most noticeable changes this time is that the signature wide notch is now gone, and in its place is a smaller, pill-shaped notch that hides the sensors that enable Face ID, along with a punch hole notch that has the selfie shooter. Many, including yours truly, have been clamouring for a smaller notch and this pill is Apple’s reply. It might be a bitter pill to swallow, pun intended, but it’s increasingly looking like Apple can’t really shrink the notch size further without comprising on the security promised by Face ID, unless it can figure out a way to miniaturise that hardware inside. Regardless, the new notch is a refreshing change from before and the experience is enhanced by the addition of the Dynamic Island. This brings me to…

Dynamic Island


Dynamic Island is the most happening place to be, thanks to the hype Apple has been able to build around it. Apps that try and mimic its look and features are a rage on Android as well, and the enthusiastic devs on the iOS side of the fence have even come up with a few basic games that make use of Dynamic Island in an interesting way. In essence, Dynamic Island is a smart way to cover up the pill notch with notification alerts and ongoing activity details, with the long-press action giving you some level of interactivity on top. For example, playing music via supported apps like Apple Music and then exiting to the home screen displays a black bar with tiny album art and a waveform, and a long press on this expands it into a larger window that gives you playback controls. A few other notifications and alerts are just non-interactive animations — like apps that use Face ID authentication, for example. It’s nice and fun but does feel a tad bit disconnected from the rest of the UI. Hence the Island in the name. More on Dynamic Island here.

A trip to Apple’s Dynamic Island

Display


6.7 inches of AMOLED goodness, complete with LTPO that goes up to 120Hz is in the offing here. It’s a lovely screen, no doubt, and the brightness levels have been bumped up to 1,600 nits this time. Scrumptious visuals make using it a treat. Apple has even added the much-awaited always-on feature this time, but frankly, the implementation isn’t great. It just seems like a dimmer version of the lock screen, and affects battery life too. I turned it off after a couple of days.

Cameras


There’s a fair bit to talk about when it comes to the snappers. The iPhone 14 Pro Max (along with its smaller Pro sibling) has finally moved up to a high-res 48MP camera sensor. You still get 12MP photos, but they’re now pixel binned. You also have the option of capturing full 48MP shots, but you need to dive into 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 as well that uses the power of the 48MP sensor to give you a zoomed shot without loss of quality. And then there’s the new imaging pipeline in the form of the Photonic Engine that promises better colour and detail.

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Overall, the results are good, and regardless of the lighting conditions, the iPhone 14 Pro Max can churn out well-detailed, natural-looking shots. I just wish it controlled light flare better. Worth mentioning that the likes of the Google Pixel 7 Pro and the Galaxy S22 Ultra can handle night shots and digital zoom better too. But other than that, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is right up there among the best camera smartphones of this year. Video quality is stellar as usual, and is aided by the addition of the new action mode that almost turns it into a GoPro, smoothening out and eliminating shake from video footage. Selfies get a boost too, thanks to the inclusion of autofocus. Links to a couple of camera comparisons below, just so you can get a better idea on how it all stacks up.

Related read: Google Pixel 7 Pro vs iPhone 14 Pro Max camera comparison

Related read: Apple iPhone 13 Pro vs iPhone 14 Pro Max camera comparison

Software


On the software side of things, there’s the new iOS 16 platform. Visually it’s the same as the previous iteration but packs enough changes and features under the hood, with one of the most noteworthy ones being the lock screen customisation, allowing you to set up multiple lock screens and map them to different focus profiles, Live Text for video, the ability to lift the subject from photos and share it directly over other apps, additions to health and fitness, Mail, iMessage etc. There are some more details on this link below if you’d like to take a gander.

iOS 16 first look

Performance


It can’t be a new flagship iPhone without a new chip, and sure enough, the A16 Bionic SoC makes its debut with the iPhone 14 Pro siblings. 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 was already quite powerful and adept at handling the most intensive of tasks, and while the A16 Bionic seems to offer marginal improvements over it in terms of pure numbers, there’s no doubt that it’s an extremely capable chipset that won’t leave you wanting more in the performance department. Do check out this performance comparison video to get a sense of how the A16 Bionic matches up against Qualcomm’s flagship chipset and its own predecessor.

Battery


The phone can last about a day with medium usage, so the battery life is still pretty decent. Charging speeds aren’t stupendously fast though, so that’s a bit of a bummer. There’s no charger in the box, and with the supported 27W charging speeds and a compatible charger, you can expect the iPhone 14 Pro Max to charge to 100 percent in a little over 2 hours. Of course, the device can be charged wirelessly, and like before, supports MagSafe charging too. On a side note, I got hold of Belkin’s Boost Charge Magnetic Wireless Power Bank that comes with a 2,500mAh battery, and it proved to be a very handy accessory to have, especially while travelling and on days when I was out for long hours.

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While it can’t really charge the iPhone 14 Pro Max fully and offers slow charging speeds, it’s extremely compact and lightweight. It attaches magnetically to the back of the iPhone thanks to the MagSafe tech, and even supports passthrough charging, allowing you to charge your iPhone (or other Qi-enabled devices) while it’s being charged. It’s priced at Rs 4,499, and I do recommend you give it a close look.

Final verdict


On the face of it, the iPhone 14 Pro Max doesn’t look like a major upgrade. And for those who own one of last year’s Pro models, it really doesn’t make for a worthy buy. But for others, the iPhone 14 Pro Max brings quite a bit to the table. At a starting cost of Rs 1,39,900, it’s pricey, sure, but for your money, you’ll get a daily driver that’s able to deliver a top-notch user experience that check marks almost all aspects of smartphone usage. Of course, at this price, you have the option of choosing an Android flagship too, and the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Galaxy Fold4 are the first ones that come to mind. But an iPhone is an iPhone, so they say, and as Apple’s latest and greatest, the 14 Pro Max shouldn’t leave you wanting for more. Between the Pro Max and the smaller Pro, I’d say the larger variant makes a lot of sense for those looking to squeeze the most out of their daily driver in terms of productivity and/or entertainment, while the smaller model is definitely the handier of the two.

Editor’s rating: 4 / 5

Pros:

  • Dynamic Island is fun
  • Gorgeous display
  • Good performance & cameras
  • Crash detection

Cons:

  • Always-on display drains battery
  • Misses out on superfast charging
  • Pricey



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