The upcoming iPhone 14 Pro Max may not be big enough for the previous-generation model, but for those who own the two-year-old iPhone 12 Pro Max, it might just be the right phone to upgrade.
With major performance gains, several improvements to the camera, and an expected big jump in battery life, the iPhone 14 Pro Max may look like the 12 Pro Max, but inside it’s a completely different beast.
- Thinner bezel, higher aspect ratio
- i-shaped cutout for Face ID (instead of notch)
- Faster A16 Bionic Chip
- New 48MP main camera
- Higher starting price
Design and display quality
Brighter screen with thinner bezels
The iPhone 14 Pro Max retains the design that promoted the iPhone 12 Pro Max to the world with flat edges, a stainless steel frame and a frosted glass back.
However, Apple is said to shrink the bezels around the display, notably changing the infamous notch that houses the front camera and Face ID hardware for a more discreet i-shaped shape.
Expect the same IP68 water and dust protection on both devices, the same Lightning port used for charging and the same lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack.
In terms of colors, you get a choice of four colors on both models. Three of them are nearly identical: graphite, silver, and gold, but the fourth is rumored to be a new shade of purple on the iPhone 14 compared to the Pacific Blue shade we had on the 12 Pro Max.
There’s also not much difference when you open the box: the iPhone 14 is expected to come with only a Lightning cable in the box, no charger included, just like the 12 Pro Max.
Face ID remains the biometric security solution of choice for Apple, and despite the new cutout shape, it works exactly the same on the iPhone 14.
The higher peak brightness of the newer 14 Pro Max is another argument in its favor.
Otherwise, though, both devices are expected to have excellent color calibration and both fully support HDR content.
Performance and software
Higher speed on the newer model
Under the hood you have the Apple A16 Bionic chip on the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the A14 on the 12 Pro Max. The newer chip is expected to be made on the more efficient 4nm process and should not only deliver faster speeds but also consume less energy.
Both also have 6GB of RAM, with one minor difference: the newer model comes with faster LPDDR5-type RAM versus LPDDR4 on the older model.
In terms of software, both will have iOS 16: the 14 Pro Max at launch, and the 12 Pro Max should also get the iOS 16 update within a few days after that. With 5 or 6 years of software support, both devices are also perfectly future-proof, but keep in mind that two of those years have already passed on the 12 Pro Max.
In terms of connectivity, both have 5G, and it’s good to know that the older 12 Pro Max will also support C-band 5G frequencies that are becoming crucial for Verizon and AT&T.
We’ve also heard rumors of satellite connectivity on the 14 Pro Max that lets you send an emergency message if you’re in trouble and out of coverage, and that could be a life-saving feature.
A new 48MP sensor could bring the next great leap in video quality
Camera systems have only gotten bigger and the iPhone 14 Pro Max will only continue that trend. Both phones use a triple camera system on the back, but with a new and larger 48 megapixel sensor for the main camera, the 14 Pro Max camera was further expanded.
- Wide camera: 48MP on 14 Pro Max vs 12MP on 12 Pro Max
- Ultra-wide camera: 12 MP on both, f/1.8 on newer model vs f/2.2
- Telecamera: 3x zoom vs 2.5x zoom
Having this bigger camera opens the door for Apple to introduce 8K video recording on this new iPhone, plus just the ability to shoot full-resolution 48MP photos sounds great for landscape shots, for example.
But of course it’s not just about the hardware. A number of features are not available on the older 12 Pro Max. Chief among these has to be Movie mode, which lets you blur the background in videos, just like Portrait mode does in photos. You also don’t have Photographic Styles or the larger zoom range.
We’ll be adding more details about the new camera features on the iPhone 14 Pro Max here as more details emerge.
Audio quality and haptics
While the iPhone 12 Pro Max sounds good, it was the next generation that made a quantum leap in both volume levels and richness, and we expect further improvements in the 14 series, so those who appreciate great audio from their phone should consider the newer appreciate model.
We don’t expect any changes to the Taptic Engine driving the haptics or the vibration feedback, but it’s been excellent from the get-go, so that’s no cause for concern.
Battery life and charging
Big boost in battery life
We expect the iPhone 14 Pro Max to have the same or larger battery than its predecessor, which is a big leap from the 12 Pro Max.
So those who value long battery life may enjoy the 14 Pro Max, and this alone could be a good reason to upgrade.
- iPhone 12 Pro Max: 3.687mAh
- iPhone 14 Pro Max: 4,352 mAh or more (+20%)
On the charging front, both use the Lightning connector with slight differences in the charging speed. The 12 Pro Max can charge up to 20 watts, while the 14 Pro Max can go up to 27W. Due to the different size of the batteries, the charge time from 0 to 100% on both is approximately 2 hours.
Both also support MagSafe wireless charging at 15W speeds.
*iPhone 14 specifications are based on leaks and rumors and are not final.
Summary and final verdict
So, is it worth upgrading from the 12 Pro Max to the newer 14 Pro Max? While we don’t know everything about the 14 Pro Max yet, it’s a significant upgrade. The increase in battery life is arguably the most significant improvement, next to the 120Hz ProMotion display.
We’re not sure how many people will care about 8K video recording or higher resolution photos. The camera geeks certainly will, but we’re not sure about the rest. But it’s the whole range of improvements you get with some nice trade-in deals that might just be convincing enough.
Don’t forget that there are rumors of a price hike, and it’s possible that the newer iPhone 14 Pro Max is also slightly more expensive.
What would it take to upgrade from the 12 Pro Max? Is a certain function missing or do you want to see it improved?