iPhone 14 Pro Max Review: 100% Worthy of The Hype?



Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro Max isn’t only the best iPhone Apple’s ever made, but it also features the company’s best upgrades in years.


iPhone 14 Pro Max
5.0

Apple is back to innovating again. The iPhone 14 Pro Max is the sharpest, most potent, and, importantly, different-looking iPhone we've seen in years. If you want the absolute best Apple has to offer and you can handle the price, this is 2022's ultimate phone right now...

Pros:
  • New Always-On display
  • The new Dynamic Island replaces the Face ID notch
  • New 12MP ƒ/1.9 front-facing camera with autofocus
  • New triple-lens Pro camera system (48MP Main, 12MP Ultra Wide, and 12MP Telephoto)
  • 4K HDR Cinematic mode at 30fps
  • Better low-light photos with Photonic engine
  • Faster, more energy-efficient 6nm Qualcomm 5G modem made by TSMC
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • Satellite connectivity for SOS messages
  • Penta-core GPU
  • New deep purple color
  • HDR gyro and high-g accelerometer for the new Crash Detection service
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iPhone 14 Pro Max Review

If you’ve been waiting for years to upgrade your iPhone, 2022 is the year for you. Apple has now unveiled its iPhone 14 series for the year and while the entry-level iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus models have a lot to offer, it’s the iPhone 14 Pro models that have grabbed the world’s attention.

The main reason for that is both the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max have received the biggest design overhaul to the iPhone since 2017. Why? Because with the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, Apple has officially killed the notch.

Love it or loath it, the notch is officially dead – at least on the Pro models. But don’t worry, the Pro models still have Face ID it’s just the biometric camera system that powers it is now hidden behind a new pill-shape design called the Dynamic Island. Pretty weird name, right? But we’ll delve into that in just a bit.

Other improvements to the iPhone 14 Pro line include a completely new display technology for the iPhone – it’s now an always-on display – and a new triple-lens rear camera system.

The design of the iPhone 14 Pro Max isn’t too dissimilar to what came before. If the phone is switched off, so the screen isn’t active, you’d struggle to tell them apart. The big changes – design or otherwise – are more subtle. Apple’s more or less happy with the overall aesthetic and design of its iPhones which is why it has left it mostly alone.

But unlike the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the iPhone 12 Pro Max, people on the street WILL know that you have an iPhone 14 Pro Max. And the reason for that is Apple’s new Dynamic Island. You simply cannot miss it; the entire frontage of the iPhone 14 Pro Max and iPhone 14 Pro has been completely changed.

The journey from the iPhone 12 Pro Max to the iPhone 13 Pro Max, save from the perspective of a few things, is best described as being fairly dull, kind of incremental. But the jump from the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the 13 Pro Max to the iPhone 14 Pro Max is way more pronounced: Apple has really pulled out all the stops with this phone, adding in a plethora of new and, perhaps most importantly, innovative features.

And all of this results in a phone that is much more complete, much more interesting, and considerably different from 2021’s iPhone 13 Pro Max. The same, however, cannot be said for the iPhone 14 – it is just far too similar to the iPhone 13 to warrant any iPhone 13 users upgrading to it.

For this review, we’ll focus on the differences between the iPhone 13 Pro Max / iPhone 12 Pro Max versus the iPhone 14 Pro Max as that will be the deciding factor for many in whether to upgrade. Let’s dive in…

Hello, Dynamic Island

What is Dynamic Island
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With the iPhone 14 Pro Max, you get the new Dynamic Island. This is the black pill-shaped cutout that has replaced the notch. I know, I know…what’s the big deal? Android phones have had hole-punch or pill-shaped cutouts for their front cameras for years.

But the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro Max far outshines any existing cutout camera space on any iPhone. Why? Because Dynamic Island combined hardware and software to make a seemingly organic utility bar at the top of the iPhone’s screen.

Dynamic Island allows the cutout to look as if it’s growing and expanding while giving users additional controls or details depending on what they are doing on their iPhone 14 Pro Max.

In other words, Apple found a way to innovate on cutout camera holes – and no one saw it coming. Apple describes Dynamic Island as bubbling up when you need to see the information. For example, Dynamic Island morphs to show you the Face ID symbol when using the technology. Or, it can allow you to change music tracks even when in another app. Dynamic Island can also morph to show you numerous other types of information – sports scores, call information, and more.

With Dynamic Island, the iPhone appears more organic than it’s ever been, and, more importantly, it shows Apple can still innovate.

The Always-On Display Update

While the Dynamic Island is by far the most eye-catching feature of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, it’s not the only eye candy Apple added. 

The iPhone 14 Pro Max now has an always-on display that shows you all the elements of your lock screen even when you aren’t using it. Of course, always-on displays are nothing new, and it’s about time Apple added one. But, Apple’s implementation is pretty impressive in its own right.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max’s always-on display still manages to show pretty vivid colors even when dimmed. More importantly, the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s always on display is intelligent. It can sense when the iPhone 14 Pro Max is display-down on a table, or in a purse or pocket.

In such scenarios, it automatically shuts the always-on display off to save on battery power. But the second you take the phone out of your pocket, the always-on display is back.

The combination of the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s Dynamic Island and always-in display make the phone a visual stunner, even when compared to last year’s iPhone 13 Pro Max.

The Camera Updates

iPhone Storage Size Guide
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But Apple isn’t done yet. The iPhone 14 Pro Max has gotten massive camera upgrades when compared to the iPhone 13 Pro Max. While both phones have a 12MP TrueDepth front camera, the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s front camera has a better aperture at ƒ/1.9, includes the Photonic engine, which delivers brighter photos and better low light shots, and now it also has autofocus.

But the real camera system on the iPhone 14 Pro Max KILLS the iPhone 13 Pro Max camera system even more. That’s because Apple bumped up the main camera from 12MP to 48MP – 4x more! And while the ultra-wide and telephoto lenses retain their 12MP size, all three lenses see better apertures when compared to the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

The camera lens improvements, when combined with Apple’s new Photonic engine, mean the iPhone 14 Pro Max takes low-light photos that are at least 2x better than before. And the iPhone 13 Pro Max was no slouch in this department either.

And when it comes to video, the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s camera system now features Action Mode, which uses algorithms to digitally stabilize traditionally shaken video – such as video you shot while mountain biking down a trail.

Performance Updates

The display and camera updates on the iPhone 14 Pro Max are so significant, they can make the performance enhancements of the phone seem a bit “meh.” 

The iPhone 14 Pro Max features the new A16 Bionic chipset. As the A15 in the iPhone 13 Pro Max, the A16 features a 6-core CPU, a 5-core GPU, and a 16-core Neural Engine. In real-world use, you’re likely to see about a 17% bump in processing power, which isn’t that notable compared to the previous chipset.

Still, the GPU features 50% more bandwidth, which can really help when rendering game graphics. Its Neural Engine also performs 17 trillion operations per second – not too shabby. However, these improvements are hardly a reason to upgrade from the iPhone 13 Pro Max (the display and camera updates, on the other hand, are…)

Also, note that both the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the iPhone 13 Pro Max have 6GB of RAM.

Safety Updates

The final big set of features on the iPhone 14 Pro Max revolve around personal safety. The iPhone 14 Pro Max now features Emergency SOS via satellite. Yes, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is now a sat phone…but…

It’s not a traditional satellite phone where you can make a call anywhere in the world. Instead, the Emergency SOS via satellite feature is limited to making emergency calls and texts via satellite. This is great if you’re ever stuck on a mountain with a broken leg or floating on a raft out at sea.

With a little luck, the Emergency SOS via satellite feature of the iPhone 14 Pro Max will be able to alert emergency responders to your situation.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max also features Crash Detection, which means the iPhone can detect if you’ve been in a car crash. It does this thanks to a number of sensors in the iPhone 14 Pro Max, including the HDR gyro and high-g accelerometer – the barometric sensor can even detect if an airbag has gone off.

If you are unconscious in a crash, Crash Detection will automatically alert emergency services.

Should You Buy The iPhone 14 Pro Max?

iPhone 14 Pro Max Review: 100% Worthy of The Hype?
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Whether you should buy any new phone always depends on the phone you currently have. But our two cents is if you have an iPhone 11 Pro or earlier, now is definitely a great time to upgrade to the iPhone 14 Pro Max. There are just too many new features that make such an upgrade feel like a huge step forward.

Even owners of an iPhone 12 Pro should consider upgrading. The Dynamic Island, Always-On display, and camera updates will still feel like a huge leap forwards.

But what about iPhone 13 Pro Max owners? Should they upgrade? That’s a tough one. But if you’ve got the cash, it may be worth it…thanks again to those major display and camera updates – not to mention the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s new safety features.

iPhone 14 Pro Max Reviews

You’ve had our hot-take on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, now take a look at what some of the other reviewers had to say. As you can see, the consensus is pretty clear: the iPhone 14 Pro Max sees Apple going back to what it does best – innovation.

100

Pocket Lint

95

Tech Radar

100

Tom’s Guide

80

The Verge

95

MASHABLE


Final Thoughts…

For those looking for a totally new and fresh iPhone experience in 2022, the iPhone 14 Pro Max and its smaller sibling, the iPhone 14 Pro, are the best options right now.

You get access to all the new features, things like Dynamic Island, Apple’s new 48MP sensor, faster 5G, thanks to the Pro models’ new Snapdragon modem, and best-in-class battery life, as well as the new always-on display.

If you’re running and iPhone 11, iPhone 12, or even an iPhone 13, the iPhone 14 Pro Max makes a pretty good case for itself. You will notice lots of differences with respect to performance, how you interact with it on a daily basis, and how the camera performs.

Bottom line? The iPhone 14 Pro Max is the best update we’ve had from Apple since the release of the iPhone 11 way back when. It ups the ante considerably over what came before, it shows that Apple can still innovate with the best of them, and it performs like an absolute monster.

If you want badass design, performance, and an amazing camera, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the phone you have been looking for.

iPhone 14 Pro Max
5.0

Apple is back to innovating again. The iPhone 14 Pro Max is the sharpest, most potent, and, importantly, different-looking iPhone we've seen in years. If you want the absolute best Apple has to offer and you can handle the price, this is 2022's ultimate phone right now...

Pros:
  • New Always-On display
  • The new Dynamic Island replaces the Face ID notch
  • New 12MP ƒ/1.9 front-facing camera with autofocus
  • New triple-lens Pro camera system (48MP Main, 12MP Ultra Wide, and 12MP Telephoto)
  • 4K HDR Cinematic mode at 30fps
  • Better low-light photos with Photonic engine
  • Faster, more energy-efficient 6nm Qualcomm 5G modem made by TSMC
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • Satellite connectivity for SOS messages
  • Penta-core GPU
  • New deep purple color
  • HDR gyro and high-g accelerometer for the new Crash Detection service
GET THIS PHONE
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Michael Grothaus

Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.

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