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IPhone 12 Pro Max Review

IPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone 12 Pro Max: is it worth your purchase?

Punctuation: *****

If you want to have the best camera you can find on an iPhone, accompanied by a great battery life, this is the iPhone model you were looking for. Now, don’t expect great manageability and usability with this screen size. 

Retail price (RRP)

  • $ 1,090

IPhone 12 Pro Max Review

Apple has four new models of iPhones this 2020. Normally, the iPhone Pro and Pro Max models don’t have much to differentiate them beyond size and battery life, but in 2020, the Pro Max model has extra features compared to the Pro. .

The question is whether these additional features are good enough to justify not only the extra cost, but also the added bulk of this phone which happens to be much larger. 

Of course, what interests you may be precisely that, that the screen is larger, but it could also be a disadvantage if you do not feel comfortable carrying it daily and using it. 

In this in-depth review, we’ll tackle these questions and examine some of the most impressive features of the new iPhone 12 Pro Max, the flagship iPhone for the 2020 and 2021 season. 

Dimensions: A giant among iPhones

If, like me, you are initially convinced of the impressive feature set of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, when you have the phone in your hands, you might be surprised at how gigantic it is. 

If you are used to the size of the iPhone XR (similar to that of the iPhone 12 Pro), and you place it next to the new iPhone 12 Pro Max, you will see that it is much taller: 9.9 mm taller than the XR, and 14.1 mm higher than iPhone 12 Pro. 


iPhone 12 Pro family

In width, the difference is slightly smaller: 2.4mm for the XR and 6.6mm wider than the Pro. Note that the camera lens still sticks out, but that is not included in the measurement.

There is less difference between the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the iPhone 12 Pro Max, as the 2019 model is 2.8mm shorter and 0.3mm narrower than the 2020 iPhone. Something to keep in mind, though is that the iPhone 12 Pro Max is thinner than last year.

We insist so much on these figures because these measurements are important if you want to be able to use the phone comfortably, and even more so if you want to use it with one hand. This is not a handy phone since your thumb will hardly reach the entire screen. 

To get an idea, here is a visual representation of the area that we can reach with our thumb on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, leaving a lot of uncovered area. 

iPhone 12 Pro Max reach with thumb

Obviously, this is not a problem unique to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, as we could not reach the entire screen of the iPhone XR either, but it means that you will most of the time need both hands to use it. 

This is the type of thing that matters if you often have to hold on to public transport somewhere, or you are the type to hold a baby. If you identify yourself, then you should probably consider the smaller iPhone 12 Pro.

Of course, there are people who want a bigger phone, for whom the large 6.7-inch screen is the main attraction of the iPhone 12 Pro Max. It’s the largest screen ever seen on an iPhone, with the added bonus that Apple has done it without being much larger than the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

If you want to watch videos, view photos, read books or simply view more than one web page or consult your social networks, the big screen will be a great advantage. For example, when reading text in iBooks, you’ll see around five more lines per page (great for those with some presbyopia). 

One last thing to note, about the dimensions of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, is its weight. The iPhone 12 Pro Max weighs the same as the iPhone 11 Pro Max (again, impressive considering you have a larger screen). 

But compared to the other iPhones, at 226 grams it is up to 39 grams heavier than the 187 gram iPhone 12 Pro, and 32 grams heavier than the 194 gram iPhone XR. It is also 64 grams heavier than the iPhone 12, which weighs 162 grams.

Design and style

Saving the differences in dimensions between all of them, the design of the iPhone 12 Pro Max does not differ from that of the iPhone 12 Pro. Both are available in gold and silver, as well as graphite and pacific blue. Product Red is only an option for the iPhone 12 and 12 mini. 

Here’s how Apple typically distinguishes Pro models from standard iPhones: You get a more ‘professional’ look and sleeker materials with Pro iPhones. Standard models offer more color.

My colleague who reviewed both the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro had this to say about the differences in design, specifically in color finishes: “The 12 and 12 mini are an interesting compromise between the thunder of the 11 and the XR. , and the sobriety of the professional Pro models. ” Adding that: “They have more vibrancy than the silver, gold, and black offered with the 12 Pro.”

We have the gold model for this review. The sides are shiny gold, stainless steel, with a gold finish, but from the back we would describe it as beige. 

We are less happy with the finish of the glass on the back and front. The entire iPhone 12 series offers a new Ceramic Shield glass on the front, which is supposed to increase toughness and strength. 

So it should be sturdier and less likely to break, but the back of the phone is still Gorilla Glass. Gorilla Glass is supposed to be tough, but we’ve already broken the glass on the back of an iPhone and we’re sure we’ll do it again.

It is for this reason that we recommend the use of covers unless you do not mind spending the money on replacement and repair of screens. We have this roundup of the best cases for the new generation of iPhone 12 .

The fact that we have more protection on the front is a guarantee, but it does not mean that you must proceed to cover the screen of your new iPhone with an appropriate screen protector. 

Another thing in favor of the iPhone 12 Pro Max (and indeed all iPhone 12 models) is that the new design, which has straight rather than curved edges, is less likely to slip out of your hands. But be careful anyway. 

iPhone 12 Pro Max edges

These edges remind us of the iPhone 4 that was launched in 2010 ten years ago. Some have described the new design as retro for this reason. The iPhone has been curved since the arrival of the iPhone 6 in 2016, so it’s probably time for the change.

In terms of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the straight edges don’t make it particularly comfortable to hold, which is something you can do with a case. Keep in mind that the mobile is now standing on a flat surface. 

Camera: Top Sensor

If you love photography, cameras will probably be the great attraction to opt for the iPhone 12 Pro Max. As we said before, the camera on the iPhone Pro and Pro Max models is usually the same, but this time it is not.

If you are one of those who comes to use an iPhone XR, you will know that you have an aperture of ƒ / 1.8 and a digital zoom of 5x. But if your last mobile has been an iPhone 11 Pro Max, you will see that it also has three apertures and a 10x zoom. 

iPhone 12 Pro Max cameras

Well, the iPhone 12 Pro Max lets you choose between three different focal lengths: ƒ / 2.4, ƒ / 1.6 and ƒ / 2.2 (the latter is ƒ / 2.0 on the iPhone 12 Pro and on the iPhone 11 Pro Max). When framing a shot, you’ll see three indicators to switch between (0.5x, 1x, and 2.5x). 

iPhone 12 Pro Max camera mode

The iPhone 12 Pro has a 2x zoom like its predecessor, while 2.5 corresponds to a 65mm focal length. For its part, a 2x zoom is 52 mm. In essence, you will be able to zoom up to 12x, while the 12 Pro only supports 12x. 

iPhone 12 Pro Max photo

For the uninitiated, switching between 0.5x, 1x and 2.5x is like changing the zoom level, but there is more to it than that. Aperture also has an impact on the amount of light that is let in when you take the photo, so you get better photos in low light. 

In contrast, when you choose a 2.5x zoom, the iPhone 12 Pro Max actually has a smaller aperture than the iPhone 12 Pro, which could theoretically mean less light consumption, but our Swedish colleagues couldn’t see any difference. in terms of photographic quality in low light. 

There are other features that only the Pro Max offers that should be a benefit for low-light photography. Specifically, the main sensor on the iPhone 12 Pro Max is larger (47 percent larger in fact) and uses 1.7-micron pixels. 

With more area per pixel, you get a higher sensitivity to light. The sensor can be 12 MP like the other iPhones, but obviously the result is not the same. 

This sensor is one of the reasons that Apple can claim an 87% improvement in low-light performance compared to the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Unfortunately, I don’t have an 11 Pro Max to check with. 

However, our colleagues at Macworld Sweden do. They said: “According to Apple, the Pro Max should be 87 percent better at shooting in the dark than the other iPhone 12 models. 

What “better” means is in quotes, but we can say that it is significantly faster in night mode. The end result is an image with more detail in dark areas and more in line with what we see in reality. ” 

(The photos we have captured are below.)

iPhone 12 Pro Max night mode

There’s also an improved lens-based “sensor shift” stabilization on the Pro Max, which should provide faster and more stable autofocus similar to what you get from a DSLR. 

This stabilization adjusts the position of the sensor itself, rather than simply compensating for lens movement, or compensating for movement digitally. This technology should be a real benefit for night photography.

That’s not all: the iPhone 12 Pro Max also improves on the night mode feature introduced with the iPhone 11 models. For example, the Pro and Pro Max now offer portraits in night mode and night mode in the selfie camera . 

I found the Portraits in night mode a bit unpredictable, but part of the problem was that I was taking photos of children not standing still.

The new LiDAR sensor, which it shares with the 12 Pro, should also have a positive impact on photography thanks to the addition of depth scanning. 

That LiDAR sensor will stand out with applications to scan real-world items and make 3D copies of them, or plot a 3D representation of your living room. As for what it can add to your photography, it should improve focus speed and accuracy. 

If you want to know in depth what the LiDAR sensor of the iPhone 12 Pro is,

We were impressed by the night photography, but as we anticipated before, as an iPhone XR user, I am testing for the first time some of the features that were already present in the iPhone 11 models. 

Compared to the iPhone XR, the focus was much faster and there was less delay in taking the photo, which was a real benefit. The only thing I would say is that the resulting image is much better lit than the one I saw with my own eyes (the lights were off and the room was dark when I took the image below).

iPhone 12 Pro Max photo

Some of you may wonder, is there enough difference in the camera of the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the Pro model to justify the jump? In theory, yes, but in practice, the images that my colleagues around the world got from the iPhone 12 Pro were excellent in all its modes.

My colleagues at Macworld US noted that they couldn’t get a better low-light photo with the Pro Max, stating that both phones produced good results. 

There’s a lot more to say about the 2020 iPhone cameras, including the fact that you can record in Dolby Vision HDR. However, this is not really a remarkable feature for the average consumer.

In conclusion, I suggest you don’t buy the Max just because the camera is officially better. On paper, it all looks very impressive, but in practice it’s not much of a difference, and if you don’t want a huge phone, it’s not worth it.

Big screen but not high refresh rate 

The cameras aside, the other big significant difference between the two Pro phones is the screen size. On the iPhone 12 Pro Max the screen is 6.7 inches, the largest screen we’ve ever seen on an iPhone. 

The giant screen is ideal for viewing videos and photos, as well as playing games. You can read web pages and iBooks. I used to read books on an iPad, but have been doing it on this iPhone for some time, and reading on this phone is great at reasonable print sizes. 

Aside from the screen size (and the number of pixels as a result of that) there is no difference between the 12 Pro Max and 12 Pro display. 

Display specs are the same as above: DCI-P3 color gamut, TrueTone, 800 nits peak brightness (up to 1,200 nits HDR peak brightness), 2,000,000: 1 contrast ratio, and so on. 

iPhone 12 Pro Max with iBooks

However, these figures are better than the iPhone 12, which only reproduces a maximum brightness of 625 nits.

We have already mentioned the fact that the screen has a Ceramic Shield front, which Apple claims will offer “4 times better performance against drops”. We’re not sure how Apple tested this and we’re not going to test how many times we can drop the phone before it breaks. 

However, it should mean the screen is less likely to get scratched or cracked, which has to be a good thing.

There has been some criticism about the fact that the 2020 iPhones didn’t introduce the highest refresh rate on 120Hz displays, staying at just 60Hz. Especially when there are some Android phones that already offer 120Hz and much more. 

Here’s the refresh rate: a 60 Hz screen updates 60 times per second, while a 120 Hz screen updates 120 times per second. A faster refresh rate could be a benefit for games, but it also affects the battery and its consumption.

If you’re really interested in getting a 120Hz iPhone, rumors suggest that it will arrive with the 2021 models. 

Battery duration

Here comes another difference between the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max: the battery. One of the benefits of a larger iPhone is that there is room to fit a larger, higher capacity battery. 

The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro have a 2,815 mAh battery compared to the Max’s 3,687 mAh battery. The 12 Pro Max needs a little more power for that big screen, but not much more, so the extra battery capacity extends its range. 

Apple claims up to 20 hours of battery life from the 12 Pro Max (the same as the 11 Pro Max), while the iPhone 12 Pro offers 17 hours of battery life. Apple’s measurement was based on video playback with local video. 

To get an idea of ​​how much better the battery is, we tested with the Geekbench 4 battery test with the display set to 200 nits. The battery took 10 hours and 20 minutes to drain, which was considerably longer than the 12 Pro achieved and the best score we’ve seen on an iPhone.


The processor in the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the same as the 12 Pro, 12 and 12 mini, however the shared A14 Bionic chip does not mean that all four phones offer the same in terms of performance.

Compared to the 12 and 12 mini, the Pro models have more RAM, which is a benefit. But in addition, the fact that the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a larger chassis, should result in improved performance because it can better distribute the heat of the processor. 

If you were really pushing the iPhone, with a heavy work application or graphics intensive game, things might slow down to avoid overheating. 

We ran the Geekbench 5 tests to see how the new iPhones stack up. In the Multi-core CPU test, the iPhone 12 Pro Max scored 3,795 versus the iPhone 12 Pro’s 3,797, very close. 

The iPhone 12 scored 3,746 points. To be honest, these scores are very close, what is more significant is that the figures for the iPhone 11 series were lower, so you can expect an improvement compared to any previous generation.

The iPhone 12 series is blazingly fast, regardless of the phone you buy. 

Do you need the speed? There is certainly nothing on the iOS App Store right now that will push the 12 series beyond its limits, but in the future, they will.

For that reason, we suggest that betting on the iPhone 12 series is betting on a phone for the future. 

5G connectivity

If you live in a capital or major city, or travel regularly, 5G can offer practical benefits right away. The technology will mean that you can expect 50-100% higher connection speeds versus 4G LTE.

But the reality is that 5G has only just taken off, here and around the world. If you are based in a big city, you may have access to 5G on some networks, but if you are in the countryside, you will not take advantage of this feature. 

That said, 5G is rolling out across the country, so 2021 is likely to be the year that 5G starts to have a bigger impact. 

If you want to be ready for when 5G hits where you live, then buying a 5G-compatible phone is a good idea. Meanwhile, you will be able to use it on the 4G network as expected.

By the way, those who have 5G available locally report that the new standard is likely to drain the battery more quickly. 

For many of us, this is a question of protection for the future, and anyone who buys a new smartphone in late 2020 should really be looking for 5G support if you want the mobile to last you for years to come. 


On paper, there is some impressive technology associated with the camera inside the iPhone 12 Pro Max, but the iPhone 12 Pro’s camera is so good that unless you really want a bigger screen and superior battery life, the iPhone 12 Pro is more suitable. 

If you want a big phone, in which case the camera improvements are a bonus, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is definitely the best choice. But if size, portability, and usability are your priorities, think twice before shelling out your money.

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