With the iPhone 14 Pro Max, Apple Gave Me Everything I Didn’t Know I Wanted

With the iPhone 14 Pro Max, Apple Gave Me Everything I Didn’t Know I Wanted

Apple this month revealed its 2022 iPhone lineup, with the top-of-the-line, iPhone 14 Pro Max starting at a cool$1,899. The new ‘Pro’ phones have an upgraded camera, a new thing called ‘Dynamic Island’ and a bunch of new safety features.

After a few days of using the iPhone 14 Pro Max I have some thoughts. And they’re mostly all good.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are mostly the same phone – one is just a little (a lot) bigger than the other. The Pro boasts a 6.1-inch screen, while the Pro Max comes in at 6.7-inches.

We list all the specs of both devices over here but the TL;DR is a better camera, a better battery life, A16 Bionic chip, a super bright screen, an always-on display and basically a phone built for Apple’s iOS 16.

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs iPhone 13 Pro Max

As someone who uses the iPhone 13 Pro Max, I thought it best to compare the two side-by-side rather than opting for the smaller model for this review. I’ve only spent 48 hours with the phone but the most noticeable difference, when using as an everyday user, is the always-on display.

Always-on display

Always-on display is basically what it says on the tin: when the phone is locked, the screen remains on just enough for you to see the time and info like what is playing via Spotify. Tapping the phone’s screen will light up the whole device as it would on previous iPhones.

This is cool but it’s going to take a lot longer than 48 hours to get used to – I have been constantly thinking notifications are going off or that my phone requires my attention for whatever reason. Nope, not loved, just always-on. Android users would know this feeling quite well. Popping your phone in a pocket or a bag will turn the display completely off. You can also deactivate always-on, if you can’t get used to the lit screen.

iPhone 14 Pro Max
Boston just hanging out. Always-on (left) vs when you tap to wake (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Dynamic Island

Dynamic Island is the next noticeable difference. It’s a terrible name for the little pill-like bar that replaces the notch on both the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max but I actually think it’s brilliant. This is where your Face ID is handled and it’s also where notifications pop up. But the best part is how it handles apps that have integrated the Dynamic Island into their use. In the screenshots below, you can see that using Spotify shows the song in the mini bar, with the little sound bars moving along to the beat and the colour scheme is determined by the colour scheme of the album the song is from. Pressing and holding will expand the pill to a more widget-like experience, allowing controls such as pause/skip. Tapping it will open the app the music is coming from, in this example, Spotify.

iPhone 14 Pro Max
Spotify stream (top left), press and hold (top right), added timer (bottom left) and incoming call (bottom right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Dynamic Island allows you to add more than one ‘thing’, in the next example you can see I’ve got a 20-minute timer set. The circle shows how long is left of the timer. If I was to close Spotify, the timer would take over main position. When a call is received, it overrides everything you can see. Everything you can see within Dynamic Island is visible in other apps.

Battery life is brilliant

This is the best battery an iPhone has ever had and even going from an iPhone 13 Pro Max I can notice the difference. The main caveat here is that I have been using the phone a lot the last two days – I wanted to test e v e r y t h i n g. Apple reckons you’ll get up to 29 hours of video playback on a single charge, this is condensed to up to 25 hours when that video is streamed. For context, I performed Gizmodo Australia’s usual battery test (Avengers: Endgame on full brightness, high-quality stream, max volume) to see how the iPhone 14 Pro Max battery life stood up. After 1.5 hours the battery was down to 83 per cent from 100 per cent and by the end of the third hour, it was down to 63 per cent. I made a TikTok, been using it to play tunes and I took a bunch of photos for this review and I’m still at 48 per cent.

For everyday use, you’ll definitely get a day out of the battery without having to move to low-power mode.

Brighter, louder, stronger

With my eyes being terrible in low-light, the max brightness of the iPhone 14 Pro Max is definitely noticeable. With the sun finally coming out to play, this allows for the screen to be seen in bright situations with a tonne of glare and sunglasses dimming the display even further. 120Hz refresh rate allows for seamless scrolling.

When it comes to sound, there’s now a speaker at either end of the phone – meaning when watching something on landscape mode, you’ll get a more surround sound experience. You probably wouldn’t notice this without it being pointed out, but once you hear it you can’t unhear it. The sound is also a hell of a lot more clear and crisp than on the iPhone 13. Which wasn’t bad, but sound from a phone isn’t usually pleasant and the iPhone 14 Pro Max is more than tolerable without speakers/earbuds. At least for mindless TikTok scrolling, anyway.

The phone also feels tougher. I know it’s the strongest glass yet that Apple has used, but it just feels more sturdy. I still wouldn’t suggest going without a case or a screen protector, but I’d be interested to see how this thing goes being dropped onto concrete (something that completely shattered my iPhone 11).

A16 chip

Enabling all of this is the A16 Bionic chip, touted by Apple as being “generations ahead of the competition”. We dive into what this bad boi does a little more over here, but honestly, all you need to know is that Apple silicon is doing its thing and its thing is fast, powerful and allowing the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max to be kickass phones.

iOS 16

Everything else that makes using the iPhone 14 Pro Max a good experience comes down to iOS 16. Yeah, you can get a lot of the good parts of iOS 16 from your software-updated iPhone from two-three years ago, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that Apple is releasing new software with its latest phone in mind. I had been using the iOS 16 beta for a few months before getting my hands on the iPhone 14 and there are a lot of things that make more sense now. You’ll still benefit from the smarts, however. Everything is faster on the new iPhone.

iPhone 14 Pro Max camera

The part you were waiting for. Apple has given the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max a 48MP main camera, placing it alongside the 12MP ultra-wide and 12MP telephoto lens that is just ridiculous (thanks mostly to software). The selfie cam also has a boost, and the shots from this are….overwhelming. You can’t hide much from this phone’s camera, that’s for sure.

Standard shot, 1x using main camera.

iPhone 14 Pro Max (left) vs iPhone 13 Pro Max (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

You can see the colour in the iPhone 14 Pro Max is a little crisper and that the 48MP camera handles the glare a little better. There’s also more in the frame.

Using the 3x zoom (telephoto) lens on both phones is a drastic difference.

iPhone 14 Pro Max (left) vs iPhone 13 Pro Max (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Here’s the same set of pics, just zoomed in more.

iPhone 14 Pro Max (left) vs iPhone 13 Pro Max (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Close-up on some pretty flowers.

iPhone 14 Pro Max
iPhone 14 Pro Max (left) vs iPhone 13 Pro Max (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Now with raindrops.

iPhone 14 Pro Max
iPhone 14 Pro Max (left) vs iPhone 13 Pro Max (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Both handle macro shots quite well.

Very low light:

iPhone 14 Pro Max (left) vs iPhone 13 Pro Max (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

You genuinely wouldn’t know that there was barely any light in the bathroom when I snapped these pics – the software is working very hard on both. The main difference with how the iPhone 14 Pro set of phones handle AI rendering is that machine learning grabs the pic before it’s taken now, rather than after.

Portrait mode is also quite different on the 2022 device, blurring the foreground as well as the background. I’ll update this article with a comparison of portrait mode on both when I have a model (my cat wasn’t very cooperative). The same goes for selfie mode. Let’s just say the iPhone 14 Pro Max doesn’t leave anything out of the snap.

On the video front, you’ll also get a tonne of improvements, noticeable ones, too. Action mode is one standout, allowing the frame to be steady even if you’re filming while on the run.

The verdict: is it worth upgrading?

The iPhone 14 Pro Max is Apple doing the most Apple thing ever: giving you a bunch of features you didn’t know you wanted, mostly ones you don’t need, but definitely ones you’ll use. The iPhone 14 Pro Max is much the same as the iPhone 13 Pro Max, the camera is better, yes, but the camera was already brilliant (especially when you’ve got software doing a lot of the heavy lifting). If you’ve got the iPhone 13 Pro Max should you upgrade to the iPhone 14 Pro Max? Probably not. But if your iPhone is still in the single digits, this thing will amaze you. It’s a fantastic phone that sees Apple somehow upgrade its predecessor to make it a brand new phone that would have you considering dropping $2,000 less than 12 months after you already did on a top-of-the-line phone.

TL;DR: the iPhone 14 Pro Max is better than the iPhone 13 Pro Max, but the upgrades are minimal in the scheme of things. It’s the best phone Apple has ever made and I somehow say that every year. If you’re someone who likes their iPhone to be as big as possible – both for specs and physical size – then the 14 Pro Max is the smartphone for you.

Where to buy the iPhone 14 Pro Max?

We’ve rounded up all of the iPhone 14 Pro Max preorder plans available through Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. But you can also head to Apple’s website. Outright pricing is as follows:

  • 128GB RRP $1,899
  • 256GB RRP $2,099
  • 512GB RRP $2,419
  • 1TB RRP $2,769

Cheapest 24-month iPhone 14 Pro Max (128GB) plans

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