iPhone 12 Pro Max review: Design and display
On the face of it, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has the same ‘new’ design as the entire iPhone 12 range. The sides are squared off that make it looks really classy. The stainless steel frame combined with the frosted glass back give it a gorgeous look. Not just that the phone — despite its size — is comfortable enough to hold. Apple has used the Ceramic Shield technology which covers the screen. While not really unbreakable, we are happy — and equally relieved — to report that the iPhone 12 Pro Max can survive those accidental drops and falls. Twice, we dropped the iPhone 12 Pro Max accidentally and there were no scratches or cracks on the screen. The frosted glass back doesn’t attract too many fingerprint smudges but we can’t say the same about the stainless steel frame. Having said that, there won’t be too many people who don’t use this iPhone without a protective case, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
This is a seriously big phone. If we had to compare it with the iPhone 12 Pro then it is 9% taller, 9% wider and 20% heavier. Also, at 226z grams, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is one of the heavier phones available in the market. It’s really impossible to hold it with a single hand and using it for long hours isn’t really easy. Carrying it in a jeans pocket means that you always have an ‘attachment’ to you that gives you a heavy feeling. It’s really difficult to fit in women’s jeans pockets as well. Surprisingly, it’s still not the biggest smartphone. The OnePlus 8 and Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra are bigger than the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Thanks to the hard edges, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is more comfortable to hold than the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
The 6.7-inch OLED display is great to look at. It is crisp, bright and gives you a tablet-like feel while viewing content. If size was an ‘issue’ then the display more than makes up for it. Be it watching videos, playing games, browsing — everything looks better on the iPhone 12 Pro Max because of the large screen. There is an audience out there that consumes video content strictly on their mobiles phones and the iPhone 12 Pro Max scores big on that.
Many might feel that Apple hasn’t given 90 or 120Hz refresh rate display but trust us you really don’t need it on this iPhone. The scrolling of apps and switching remains as smooth as you will see on a 90Hz refresh rate display. A lot of it is down to iOS 14 that does a fine job at optimisation.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max review: Camera
The setup might look the same here are subtle differences in the cameras of iPhone 12 Pro Max and 12 Pro. For starters, the 12MP sensor is 47% larger. What this does is that at the same image resolution, each pixel is bigger and bigger pixels lead to more light making photos crispier.
There are three cameras at the back of the iPhone 12 Pro offering 12MP sensors — wide, an ultra-wide, and a telephoto. What you also get is a LiDar sensor that comes in handy to shoot portraits with the wide camera in Night mode. Apple refuses to succumb to the megapixel race and it really doesn’t need to. The iPhone 12 Pro Max — in good lighting conditions — shoots pretty much same quality of shots as iPhone 12 Pro. Highly detailed images, excellent colour accuracy. We clicked images in almost every lighting condition and every mode and it’s safe to say that this is the most consistent camera of 2020. It’s difficult to take a bad picture with the iPhone 12 Pro Max. When low light sets in, the iPhone 12 Pro Max really shines. There’s very little noise, colours are retained perfectly and the details are accurate. The Night mode is toggled on automatically and it takes images much quicker than most smartphones out there.
A lot of people have been curious about the LiDar sensor and it really makes portraits stand out when shot in the night mode. It uses the wide camera to shoot more detailed portraits in low-light than any other smartphone we have come across.
The telephoto lens on the iPhone 12 Pro Max brings 2.5X zoom compared to the 2X zoom found on 12 Pro. Apple has also improved smart HDR 3 and as a result you see vibrant images with very little noise.
Then there’s the newly introduced ProRAW — with iOS 14.3 — that makes the iPhone 12 Pro Max camera every more versatile. ProRAW is meant to bring professional level shooting and editing to the iPhone 12 Pro series. We tried our hand shooting in the ProRAW mode and have to say that it isn’t for everyone. But it works really well for those who take deep interest in photography. It works really well on certain kind of images but truth be told, it’s not a mode that we will find ourselves using a lot.
The selfie camera is as good and consistent as other cameras and clicks detailed and colour accurate images.
Video capabilities is where the iPhone 12 Pro Max has done a stellar job. The introduction of Dolby Vision HDR means that the iPhone 12 Pro Max has the edge over competition. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and there are many HDR formats but iPhone 12 Pro is the first to feature Dolby Vision HDR. There’s a catch here though. Videos shot on Dolby Vision HDR can be viewed best on Dolby Vision displays only. It works on MacBooks — only with macOS Big Sur — and of course it works on the iPhone 12 Pro series as well. There’s no support for Dolby Vision videos on Instagram or YouTube. The videos shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max using Dolby Vision are really bright and colourful. Even videos shot at 4K HDR at 60fps are really really good. Unfortunately, the Delhi climate and smoggy skies are hardly the place to see the best of iPhone 12 Pro Max. It’s not just shooting videos that’s great on this iPhone but even editing them is a breeze.
Over the years, people have ditched their DSLR cameras because the iPhone has become so good. The iPhone 12 Pro Max takes it to — use an overused cliche — a whole new level. This is undoubtedly the most versatile camera we have seen in a smartphone. Is it worth the extra moolah Apple is demanding? The moolah isn’t for the camera to be honest as every iPhone 12 of 2020 is really great. To the naked eye, the iPhone 12 Pro Max camera is perhaps equally good as iPhone 12 Pro, so it’s not worth it. However, if you are a ‘serious’ photographer then the money will be well spent.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max review: Performance, battery
The iPhone 12 Pro Max runs on the A14 Bionic processor, which is the fastest kid on the block. The iPhone 12 Pro Max doesn’t need 12GB RAM or those headline grabbing specs because combined with iOS 14, the A14 Bionic delivers as smooth a performance you can find on a smartphone. The all-round performance is really slick — be it playing games, editing videos or photos — and that is true for all iPhone 12 series phones.
The other area where the iPhone 12 Pro Max scores heavily is the battery life. It has class leading battery performance which ensures that the phone has enough life even after rampant hours. A bit embarrassing to admit but our screen time one week on the iPhone 12 Pro Max was more than 13 hours — and the iPhone 12 Pro Max never went below 30% battery life. It takes 30 minutes to charge the iPhone 12 Pro Max to 50%. It reaches about 90% in 73 minutes and full charge is just over two hours and 10 minutes, using the 18W Apple charger. With MagSafe, it takes more than three hours to charge the iPhone 12 Pro Max. These numbers might sound too slow compared to what Android makers are giving with their smartphones. Speaking of MagSafe, that’s the latest ‘toy’, which Apple has introduced with the iPhone 12 series. It’s a bit early to say which way MagSafe will go but it’s safe to admit that this is just the start of something new from Apple. There are immense possibilities that lie ahead with MagSafe and it will be interesting to see how Apple explores it. As of now, at Rs 6,500, the MagSafe charger is an accessory that you can safely skip. The cord attached to it is relatively small and if you are already carrying a charger then as of now there’s no need for a MagSafe charger. Though it does come in handy to charge the AirPods Pro for sure.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max review: Verdict
Apple charges a premium for its Pro products. Add Max to it and you are staring at a whole lot of cash. The iPhone 12 Pro Max starts at Rs 1,29,900 and goes up to Rs 1,59,900. Look at it from any perspective and you will know that this is meant for a certain target audience, an audience that is not willing to make any compromises in their smartphone. For that audience, this is the best iPhone money can buy. The size might be an issue for some but bigger at times means better and that’s what the iPhone 12 Pro Max is. It is big in size and has a big display — perfect for those who watch content on devices but makes it difficult to lug around in jeans pockets. The iPhone 12 Pro Max has the most versatile camera setup you will come across on a phone in 2020. As we said earlier, it’s tough to click a bad picture with it and what shines is the consistency it delivers.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max isn’t a smartphone for everyone, considering its price. But if you are looking for a smartphone that does everything remarkably well, then don’t look beyond it. It is the best iPhone of 2020 and one of the best smartphones money can buy.