iPhone 14 Pro Max Review: A Masterclass In Big Flagships

Apple has once again knocked it out of the park this year

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max Review
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Before jumping into this iPhone 14 Pro Max review, let me give you a quick backstory. So it’s been like 2 weeks now that I have been using the most hyped phone of 2022—the iPhone 14 Pro Max. If you don’t know about me, it’s been 2 years since I switched to the Apple ecosystem.

My daily driver before using this phone has been the iPhone 13 Pro Max and I use a MacBook as my daily driver as well! And after seeing all the cool and exciting stuff during this year’s Apple event like this new notch, the new camera hardware, and an even faster A16 Bionic chipset, I pre-ordered it right away. However, it is still being delayed. So I had to go to scalpers and pay NPR 2 lakh 65 thousand to get this thing, which roughly converts to USD 2,000!

And scalping is a common practice in most markets like Dubai, Qatar, Hong Kong, and India as well. If you’re planning on importing it from the US though, make sure your current network carrier supports eSIM because the US variants of the iPhone 14 series exclusively support eSIM and not the traditional nano-SIM. Anyway, since I am a reviewer, I have to get them as quickly as possible, although I’d suggest you wait a while when the prices get back to normal and stocks are easily available.

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iPhone 14 Pro Max Review: Specifications

  • Body: 77.6 x 160.7 x 7.85mm, 240gm, Stainless steel frames, Corning Gorilla Glass back, IP68 dust/water resistant
  • Display: 6.7-inches Super Retina XDR OLED, 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate, Ceramic Shield protection, Always-on Display (AoD)
  • Other Properties: Dynamic Island, 2,000 nits peak brightness (outdoor), HDR, True Tone, Wide Color (P3)
  • Resolution: (2796 x 1290 pixels), 460 PPI, 19.5:9 aspect ratio
  • Chipset: Apple A16 Bionic 5G (4nm mobile platform)
  • CPU: Hexa-core:
    – 2x “Everest” (3.46 GHz)
    – 4x “Sawtooth” (2.02 GHz)
  • GPU: Apple 5-core GPU
  • Memory: 6GB LPDDR5 RAM, 128/256/512GB/1TB NVMe storage (fixed)
  • Software & UI: Apple iOS 16
  • Rear Camera: Triple (with Adaptive True Tone LED flash);
    – Wide: 48MP, f/1.78, Second-gen sensor-shift OIS, 7-element lens
    – Telephoto: 12MP, f/2.8, 77mm, OIS, 3x optical zoom, 6-element lens
    – Ultrawide: 12MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 120° FoV, 6-element lens
    – LiDAR Scanner (night mode portraits)
  • Front Camera: 12MP, f/1.9 TrueDepth camera, 6-element lens
  • Audio: Built-in stereo speakers, Built-in microphones, No 3.5mm jack
  • Security: TrueDepth camera for Face ID facial recognition
  • Sensors: High-g accelerometer, High dynamic range gyro, Barometer, Proximity, Dual ambient light
  • Connectivity: Dual-SIM (Nano + eSIM) or Dual eSIM (US only), WiFi 6 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (Dual-band), Bluetooth 5.3, GPS / AGPS / Galileo / Glonass / QZSS / BeiDou / iBeacon, Lightning port, NFC, 4G LTE (VoLTE), 5G
  • Battery: 4323mAh with up to 27W fast charging, 15W MagSafe / 7.5W Qi wireless charging (no power adapter provided)
  • Color Options: Space Black, Silver, Gold, Deep Purple
  • What’s Inside The Box: iPhone 14 Pro Max, USB-C to Lightning cable, User manual and other documents
  • Price in Nepal: N/A (launching soon)
    • Starts at USD 1,099 (US) or INR 139,990 (India)

iPhone 14 Pro Max Review:

Regardless, I am really enjoying my time with my 14 Pro Max! The iPhone 13 Pro Max was almost a perfect phone; in fact, it’s still better than most Android flagships of 2022. And with the 14 Pro Max, I think the gap is only getting bigger and bigger! So I am really hoping the upcoming Galaxy S23 Ultra and other Android flagships will bring some major upgrades! Otherwise, I think a lot of Android users will be tempted to switch to an iPhone more than ever.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max - Design 2

It’s not just because of how good the new iPhones are, but in this part of the world, iPhones are also considered a status symbol, a bragging tool. And I realized it last week because since the launch of the iPhone 14 series, at Gadgetbyte, we have received a ton of calls & messages from iPhone 13 Pro Max users asking about the availability of the 14 Pro Max.

Design & Build

  • 77.6 x 160.7 x 7.85mm, 240 grams
  • Ceramic Shield front, Glass back, Stainless steel frames
  • IP68 dust/water resistant

But let me just tell you that you won’t find that many differences or huge improvements between these two phones for you to upgrade! Your iPhone 13 Pro Max is just fine! And even if you are an iPhone 12 Pro user, I think you should wait for next year’s iPhone 15 series instead.

However, if you’ve been rocking the iPhone X, the iPhone 11—or an ancient one with a touch ID—this is going to be a heck of an upgrade! I was also expecting some big design changes this time around. But it looks and feels pretty much the same as last year, except for a slightly bigger camera lens and the location of the power button.

In terms of color options, there’s this new deep purple variant, which I think a lot of people are going to end up getting because that is what visually separates the 13 Pro Max and the 14 Pro Max from the back. The gold and silver color remains the same, but the black option is now much darker and is called “Space Black” instead of graphite.

I would have liked it if Apple had also continued the “Sierra Blue” variant from the iPhone 13 Pro Max though!

Anyway, I have never been a big fan of how heavy the Pro Max series of iPhones is! I understand Apple is using premium, dense materials like stainless steel and glass back which contributes to the overall weight here, but the 14 Pro Max feels a bit too bulky and heavy for someone with small hands like me. You will get used to it eventually though, but I hope Apple engineers will find a way to make future iPhones a little more lightweight!

Display

  • 6.7-inches Super Retina XDR OLED display
  • ProMotion 120Hz refresh rate
  • Ceramic Shield protection, Dynamic Island

Over on the front, I am loving this new notch—which Apple calls “Dynamic Island”. It’s not a game changer by any means, but this little animation here when interacting with the phone is pretty dope. I know there are a lot of people complaining that it’s just a gimmick and a marketing stunt, but after using it for a while, I think it’s a really interesting quality-of-life improvement that needs to be appreciated.

I like how it shows up charging or low battery message, or the fact that it has made interacting with Spotify and Apple Music a lot easier as well.

But what’s interesting to understand is that Dynamic Island will only get more fun and more productive once Apple opens up the door for third-party developers to make the most out of it. For instance, I use the Livescore app a lot to stay updated with Premier League games, and they could add a feature into Dynamic Island to notify you as soon as a team scores a goal! That would be pretty cool!

Not much of an upgrade in the display itself

Now, about the core quality of the display itself, I gotta be honest… I didn’t notice that much of an improvement coming from the 13 Pro Max. It can get quite bright outdoors, so you will be able to properly use it on a bright sunny day, which was a slight struggle on last year’s model. But under indoor conditions, there’s not much of a difference, to be honest.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max - Display 1

Still, the iPhone 14 Pro Max has one of the best displays you can find on a smartphone. Even according to DXOMark and Displaymate’s lab test, this is the best display on a smartphone! It has great color uniformity, it processes HDR videos really well, and I haven’t noticed even so much as a hint of stutter here. Plus, this is also the second-gen iPhone to feature a 120Hz refresh rate. So, all the issues we had with some apps running on 60Hz on the 13 Pro Max have been resolved. And almost all the apps now run at a smooth 120Hz refresh rate!

What about the always-on display?

However, I can’t say I like Apple’s Always On display implementation. And for me, Android phones still do it better! It’s unique—that’s for sure. But right now, it just dims the brightness of the lock screen and that’s it. Many people have also been complaining about its brightness being a little too high as well, so maybe Apple could add a custom slider to toggle the brightness of the always-on display.

Plus, the widgets I can add to the always-on screen are pretty limited as well. I would have also liked it more if I could add widgets for Gmail, WhatsApp, and other useful apps here. And because its brightness is so high, I am also losing like 1% battery per hour. So, I am disabling it for now. I think it’s been so long since Apple last introduced such an unpolished feature to the public.

Battery

  • 4323mAh with up to 27W fast charging support
  • 15W MagSafe / 7.5W Qi wireless charging

Now about the actual battery life, with always on display turned off, it’s as good as the iPhone 13 Pro Max. I was, however, expecting it to be slightly better because this display can now dip as low as 1Hz vs 10Hz on the 13 Pro Max. But I am absolutely not complaining. You see, most Android flagships can hardly make it through a day under my heavy usage, but the 14 Pro Max always has like 30-35% charge left before I go to sleep.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max - Lightning Port

So, this is the only high-end phone that lasts me for 1.5 days or even 2 days if I don’t use mobile data! Charging speed, on the other hand, remains the same. I’m using a 20W wired Apple charger that can take the phone from 0 to 80% in an hour, and then it starts fueling up really slowly to ensure strong battery health. As a result, it takes an hour more to reach 100%.

Apple should switch to faster charging speeds

If you ask me, I think Apple is playing it too safe. It’s not just the charging speed that affects the overall battery health, but factors like gaming and taking 4K videos for hours, and how you charge your phone also makes a difference. So I would love to see Apple upgrade to 30W or even 65W fast charging next time.

And don’t even get me started with the lightning port!

I was honestly expecting Apple to bring a Type-C port with this year’s iPhones, but we are still stuck with a super-slow USB 2.0 Lightning connection. So, say you are a videography enthusiast looking to copy a 50GB ProRes video that you just shot, it’s going to take a lot of time to send it to your desktop. However, what’s improved here are the stereo speakers. It sounds crisper and fuller with a wider soundstage.

Performance

  • Hexa-core Apple A16 Bionic 5G SoC (4nm)
  • 6GB LPDDR5 RAM, 128GB to 1TB storage (fixed)
  • Apple iOS 16 (upgradeable)

When it comes to performance, iPhones have been dominating the smartphone industry for over a decade now. The A15 Bionic from last year is already faster than current Android flagship chips. And with the new A16 Bionic on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, that difference is getting even bigger.

Apart from the numbers, Apple has also massively improved the display dimming issue we previously encountered with the last year’s models. So, the display on the 14 Pro Max doesn’t dim itself even after 30 minutes of Genshin Impact gameplay or 4K recording. I reckon Apple has improved the thermal cooling design on the 14 Pro Max too. With this and the power of the A16 Bionic, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is easily the best gaming phone right now as it can deliver the highest fps and stable sustained performance, even in the most demanding games.

And the A16 Bionic is not just about pure performance either. It also has the Snapdragon X65 5G modem, which is both faster and produces less heat while you are on 5G data! It even has “band n53” support which allows the new Emergency SOS feature via satellite to work. At launch, this feature is only available in a handful of regions like the US and Canada though. I’m also pretty surprised to see no WiFi 6E support here as the iPhone 14 series is still limited to WiFi 6.

Cameras

  • Triple camera setup at the back
  • (48MP wide, 12MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide)
  • 12MP TrueDepth camera with Face ID

Alright, let’s talk cameras! This time, Apple has significantly upgraded the camera hardware since we finally get a 48MP primary lens on an iPhone, which is not just big in terms of megapixel count, but it’s a 65% bigger sensor than the 13 Pro Max’s main camera as well. We also get a new 12MP ultrawide lens, although the 3x telephoto zoom lens remains the same. Over on the front, Apple has finally introduced OIS and autofocus in its selfie camera too.

Normal Images

So, these are actually great upgrades. And pair that with the new ISP (Image Signal Processor) and DSP (Digital Signal Processor), I am also getting better results from the 14 Pro Max compared to its predecessor.

It’s not that drastic, but you will find the 14 Pro Max’s images to have better dynamic range, less contrast, and an overall pleasing look! This is not noticeable in all instances, but most of the time, photos from the 14 Pro Max look better!

Portrait Images

Similarly, I found the portraits to have even better bokeh and skin tone on this guy as well. Once again, it’s not a huge difference, but you will definitely like the photos coming from the iPhone 14 Pro Max more.

The 48MP main camera also allows for 2x lossless zoom and they are much better than the previous gen. The same goes for selfies, ultra-wide, macro, and even the 3x zoom shots.

Traditionally, iPhone’s photos used to be slightly contrasty with a warm hue, but this time around, I feel like they have taken some inspiration from Pixel and Galaxy devices, and tuned it to be more likable.

Lowlight Images

Apple also promises 2x improvement in low-light conditions, but I didn’t find it to be that significant of an upgrade. Yeah, the 14 Pro Max does take better shots at night—sure—but it isn’t twice as better as Apple would have you believe!

And I still think that when it comes to extremely low light conditions, Vivo and Samsung are doing a much better job with night mode!

Videography

I am also a little sad to see there’s no 8K recording yet, although this 48MP camera is technically capable of shooting 8K videos. That being said, iPhones still remain the king in terms of videography! And I found the stabilization to be even better here thanks to the second-gen sensor-shift OIS technology.

But more importantly, Apple has finally introduced a super steady mode called the “Action Mode”, which is something we have seen on a lot of Android phones! It basically crops the video and delivers super smooth and incredibly steady videos, even if you are running! I’m sure moto vloggers will find this feature really useful!

iPhone 14 Pro Max Review: Conclusion

So, there you have it guys, that was my review of the new Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max after using it for two weeks! With every generation, I am seeing Apple making its iPhones better and better! Of course, it’s still not perfect by any means, but it’s almost there! And like always, that’s kinda bad news for Android!

Because I feel like the gap between Android flagships and this year’s iPhone 14 Pro models is bigger than ever! If you look at this graph, every year, the sales of the iPhones are on the rise, whereas the sales of flagship devices from Samsung and OnePlus are declining year by year!

Apple iPhone 14 vs 13 Pro Max - Design
Left: iPhone 14 Pro Max | Right: iPhone 13 Pro Max

And the reason why I think that’s happening is because brands like Samsung are more focused on foldables these days, which is not a bad thing because I love foldables! I think that’s where the smartphone industry is eventually headed, but it will take some time before we get there.

In the meanwhile, Apple is absolutely nailing the smartphone industry by perfecting their iPhones every year! Thus, if you are looking for a banger of a phone and have got the money to spend, you should probably go and get this guy!

  • Watch our video review of the iPhone 14 Pro Max

iPhone 14 Pro Max Review: Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Top-notch display
  • Dynamic Island is fun and useful
  • Excellent battery life
  • Reliable performance
  • Decent camera upgrades

Cons:

  • Might be a bit too bulky for some
  • Poor Always-on Display
  • Slow charging speed
  • Lightning connection
  • Some features are region-locked
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Build
9
Display
10
Performance
10
Back Cameras
10
Front Camera
9.5
Software & UI
9.5
Battery
9.5
Speaker & Haptics
10
Value for Money
9
iphone-14-pro-max-reviewApple has taken everything it's learned from last year's iPhone 13 series and come up with the iPhone 14 lineup with a bunch of meaningful and exciting upgrades. And the iPhone 14 Pro Max perfectly encapsulates Apple's ambitions by delivering this year's biggest and best iPhone experience.