Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max initial review: The biggest and best iPhone? - MrLiambi's blog


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Friday, 9 September 2022

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max initial review: The biggest and best iPhone?

There are four new iPhones on the block and they come in the form of the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. 

The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus share the same features, but they differ in their physical size and battery capacities, and the same applies to the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. 

With the Pro models offering a refreshed design and more powerful hardware than their standard siblings this year though, is the iPhone 14 Pro Max the biggest and best iPhone the company has ever made? Here are our first impressions.

Refreshed design

  • 160.7 x 77.6 x 7.85mm, 240g
  • Four colours: Deep Purple, Space Back, Gold and Silver
  • IP68
  • Dynamic Island 

The Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max features a surgical-grade stainless steel frame, glass rear and it delivers a solid and super-premium build quality. There's also a refreshed design, just like its smaller sibling, the iPhone 14 Pro. 

It's a heavy device - heavier than the iPhone 14 Plus that opts for an aluminium frame and is therefore lighter - but the Max's weight is something you get used to over time, as we found out with the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

The flat edges - first reintroduced in the iPhone 12 - remain and while the glossy finish of the 14 Pro Max's frame is a fingerprint fiend, it adds to the premium appeal of this device. The left edge houses the silence toggle and volume buttons, while the right edge has the power button and SIM tray - or a frosted section in its place f or US models that have switched to eSIM only.

On the bottom, you'll find - perhaps disappointingly - the Lightning port and not a USB-C port, while speakers are positioned either side. There's also a speaker at the top of the display but it's not on top of the notch anymore. That's because the iPhone 14 Pro Max has said bye bye to the trusty notch we've seen grace the front of Face ID iPhones since the launch of the iPhone X in 2017.

In place of the notch is a wide pill-shaped cut out for Face ID and the front camera, which Apple is calling Dynamic Island. It's an adaptable cut out that pulls in information from certain apps, like the Apple Music app and Clock, making use of what would otherwise be redundant space.

The Dynamic Island adapts based on the app or notification being shown. For example, when unlocking your phone with Face ID, the Dynamic Island turns into a square, while when you switch the silence toggle, it widens. It's very cool in action, working seamlessly from our brief experience.

You can tap on the Dynamic Island once to expand the information, and tapping it again will open the app Dynamic Island is showing. Dynamic Island also splits into two if you open two apps, like Apple Music and set a timer for example.  

However, while the front of the iPhone 14 Pro Max is quite different from its predecessor, the rear sticks to its roots. The frosted glass panel features a large and prominent camera housing in the top left corner, with three lenses and the LiDAR sensor. The edges of the housing blend into the rear too, making for a smooth and seamless transition.

Always-On Display

  • 6.7-inch, OLED, 2796 x 1290 pixels, 460ppi
  • 1Hz-120Hz ProMotion, Always-On Display
  • 2000nits peak brightness

The Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max has a 6.7-inch OLED display on board and it's stunning. The blacks are lovely and black, colours are rich, vibrant and punchy and there's ample brightness from our experience so far. There's a peak brightness of 2000nits now, though the size and resolution - which is 2796 x 1290 pixels on the 14 Pro Max - pretty much matches that of the iPhone 13 Pro Max, and many of the same features are on board too, including True Tone, Haptic Touch and support for HDR. 

There's also ProMotion, but the iPhone 14 Pro Max has dropped the bottom refresh rate down to 1Hz compared to the iPhone 13 Pro's 10Hz. Although you can't control this yourself, ProMotion automatically adjusts your iPhone's display to what you are doing, and in theory, helps get more out of the battery. Ultimately that means it'll use the slower refresh rates when faster ones aren't needed, saving those for things that do, like gaming.

More exciting however, is the fact that the iPhone 14 Pro Max offers Always-On Display technology, possible thanks to the drop in bottom refresh rate. This allows some information to remain on the display in a dimmed state even when the screen isn't on, and it's something that should work well alongside the Lock Screen customisation options within iOS 16 - more on that in a minute. 

Always-On Displays are nothing new in the wonderful world of phones - Android devices have offered them for years and not just on flagship models - but it is new for iPhone. Apple has offered an Always-On Display on its Apple Watch models since the Series 5, but the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are the first phones from the company to offer the technology. It's also a coloured Always-On Display, which is slightly different to most Always-On Displays.

Hardware and specs

  • A16 Bionic Chip, 16-core Neural Engine
  • 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB storage options
  • Up to 29 hours battery 
  • 5G connectivity, Emergency SOS via satellite

The Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max runs on the latest A16 Bionic chipset, which offers a performance increase compared to the A15 that the standard iPhone 14 Plus runs on. We couldn't test the performance of the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the new chip during our brief amount of time with it but we will be sure to put it through its paces during our full review.

As you would probably expect, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is 5G capable, as all iPhones have been since the iPhone 12 models, though the iPhone 14 Pro Max offers something a little extra too. If you're stuck up a mountain with no signal in the US, the iPhone 14 Pro Max will have your back, offering Emergency SOS via satellite connectivity. You can read more about that in our separate feature. There's also a Car Crash Detection feature on board, which we have another feature on to get you up to speed.

In terms of storage, the iPhone 14 Pro Max starts at 128GB, with options for 256GB, 512GB and 1TB. As usual, there's no microSD support for storage expansion so you'll need to pick your storage wisely.

Along with the processor upgrade, the iPhone 14 Pro Max also gets a battery bump compared to its predecessor. Apple claims it will last up to 29 hours, which is one hour more than what the iPhone 13 Pro Max claimed to last. 

Naturally, we couldn't test the battery capacity during our brief amount of time wit it, but the Max has always been superior to the standard Pro so we'd expect the same this time too.

Upgraded cameras

  • 48MP main camera, f/1.78
  • 12MP ultra wide, f/1.8
  • 12MP telelphoto, f/2.8
  • 12MP front camera, f/1.9, autofocus

The camera department has always been an area of focus for the iPhone Pro models, and this year is no different. While it's no longer the only differentiating factor of the Pro models, there's still plenty to talk about here, with the iPhone 14 Pro Max seeing an upgraded main camera sensor and upgraded ultra wide sensor.

Like the iPhone 13 Pro Max, the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a triple rear camera comprised of a main sensor, ultra wide-angle sensor and a telephoto sensor. The main lens is now a 48-megapixel f/1.78 sensor though, which uses pixel binning technology, whereby the sensors use the extra resolution to capture more detail before producing a 12-megapixel end image. 

It's said the iPhone 14 Pro Max - along with the iPhone 14 Pro - will therefore offer much better low-light shots. There's also a Photonic Engine on board, which is also said to help improve low-light photography.

Elsewhere, the 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensor has a wider aperture than previously too, at f/1.8 compared to f/2.2, and there's a 12-megapixel telephoto sensor again too - though this remains the same as the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Several features move over from the iPhone 13 Pro too, including Cinematic Mode and Photographic Styles, as well as more standard features like Night mode and Portrait mode with Depth Control. New features have been launched on the iPhone 14 Pro too, including an Action Mode for video, and Cinematic Mode in 4K up to 30fps.

On the front, the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a 12-megapixel sensor like the iPhone 13 Pro Max, but there's a wider aperture than previously at f/1.9, which should allow for better low-light shots, and there's autofocus on board this time too.

Though testing the camera capabilities wasn't possible during our brief amount of time with the iPhone 14 Pro Max, this is an area we are expecting it to perform well in. The resolution increase is substantial for iPhone, with 12-megapixels being the maximum up until now, so it will be interesting to see how much of a difference the new sensor and technology makes when we test it out in full.


  • iOS 16

The Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max runs on the latest iOS 16 software. This was previewed in June during Apple's WWDC, and it's been available as a public beta since July so you might already be familiar with it.

It's not exclusive to the iPhone 14 models of course, with compatibility offered on all models from the iPhone 8 and newer.

That said, there are plenty of features to take advantage of, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max - and iPhone 14 Pro for that matter - both have hardware to enhance some of those features. For example, the customisable lock screens will allow you to see some detail on the Always-On Display of the Pro models, and there's also the Car Crash Detection feature that we briefly mentioned, which hopefully you will never need.

There are a number of other features worth checking out too though, including in Messages, Mail and Photos. You can read our separate iOS 16 feature for all the new features.

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