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The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a super-size phone with all the flagship features. But is it the one for you?
If you want the best Apple has to offer, and can justify the price and size, then the iPhone 12 Pro Max is a brilliant choice.
The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max is the zenith of recent iPhones, honoured as the largest and most powerful smartphone to come out of Cupertino.
As the name suggests, it takes things to the max, manifesting beast mode and delivering across performance, camera skills, screen, design, and battery life.
Following the design of its iPhone 12 counterparts, you’ll find the flat-edged boxy aesthetic, a matt glass back, and shiny stainless steel trim, just like the iPhone 12 Pro. ‘Ceramic Shield’ coats the stunning OLED display for added protection too.
And like the iPhone 12 Pro, the 12 Pro Max sports a trio of cameras on the back, plus a LiDAR sensor. You get 5G, of course, Apple’s fastest processor, the A14 Bionic chip, and MagSafe technology too.
However, the iPhone Pro Max leaves the rest of the series in the dust when it comes to size. The iPhone Pro Max physically stands out, owing to the 6.7-inch OLED screen, with HDR video and a stereo speaker system that packs one helluva punch, helping to make it the most cinematic iPhone in the series.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the most luxurious (read: expensive) option, with all the flagship features in glorious super-size form. But does that mean it deserves a place in your pocket? (if it’ll fit).
The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the top-of-the-range iPhone from the series. It’s the biggest too, with an enormous 6.7-inch screen, but it’s very similar to the iPhone 12 Pro in many other respects. With the larger size, Apple has managed to fit it with a larger battery, so it’ll easily see you through two days of use, unlike the other members of the iPhone 12 family. It’s got a trio of 12MP cameras on the back, plus a 12MP front-facing camera. Like the iPhone 12 Pro, there’s a LiDAR sensor, which is handy for nighttime photoshoots and forays into AR. This all costs a pretty penny, but with 5G and MagSafe on board, it certainly won’t feel dated for a long time.
The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max costs £1,099 off-contract or is available to purchase through a number of networks on pay monthly contracts.
Paying over £1,000 for a flagship smartphone isn’t unusual by today’s standards, but it’s still got to be compelling enough to take the plunge. Thankfully, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is both style and substance, so anyone with deep pockets is going to be satisfied. With 5G, the A14 Bionic Chip, an unbeatable camera and stellar battery life, the only thing that might seem disappointing is the refresh rate of the screen, but in reality, it’s not noticeable. There are cheaper smartphones available that offer similar perks, and there are even sub-£1000 iPhones like the iPhone 12 (£799), so while it’s good value for what is clearly the most-accomplished iPhone, you don’t need to spread your net far when considering alternatives that’ll be kinder on your wallet.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max dwarfs all other iPhones in size, yet the internals don’t diverge hugely from the base iPhone 12. That’s mostly thanks to the A14 Bionic chip, Apple’s fastest and most competent processor ever.
Just like the other iPhones in the series, it comes with an IP68 protection rating, which translates as submerging your phone for 30 minutes as deep as six metres, and it’ll be hunky-dory. MagSafe is a great addition too, which allows for speedy charging, should you buy a compatible accessory. And of course, it comes with the must-have of flagship smartphones, 5G.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max has a superior camera system to the iPhone 12 Pro, with a larger main camera sensor and a slightly better zoom. It also comes with Dolby Vision recording at 4K at 60fps, which is a boon for movie enthusiasts.
FaceID works a treat using the True Depth camera on the front, and you can now even unlock your iPhone when wearing a face mask, with iOS 14.5 and the help of an Apple Watch.
It might require you to operate it with two hands, given its size, but the iPhone 12 Pro Max is Apple’s most feature-rich iPhone.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max camera is astounding. With Apple’s latest computational photography upgrades, paired with the hardware, the picture quality is unbeatable for a smartphone.
Hardware differences from the iPhone 12 Pro are marginal but not insignificant: a 2.5x zoom instead of a 2x zoom, and there’s a larger sensor in the main camera. There are still three 12MP cameras and a LiDAR sensor, just like the iPhone 12 Pro. However, the slight differences result in better quality close-ups, and the larger sensor allows more light to be processed, which results in clearer images, especially in low light scenarios.
The LiDAR sensor is useful in Night Mode, improving autofocus speed, so edges are crisper and more detail is retained. Night Mode can be used on a long exposure on the iPhone 12 Pro Max for up to 30 seconds, which is incredible for very dark scenes. Tripod necessary.
Smart HDR 3 is powered by Apple’s A14 Bionic Chip and works alongside Deep Fusion to cleverly piece together shots from multiple exposures to optimise them for detail, colour and vibrancy.
These are features that all iPhone 12s benefit from, and the difference from the iPhone 12 Pro is slight, yet the additional hardware to harness the computational photo wizardry puts the iPhone 12 Pro Max firmly in a league of its own.
A smartphone so large must pack a beefy battery, right? Well, it’s certainly the biggest battery from its comparatively diminutive siblings, but it’s still not huge. The A14 Bionic chip is incredibly adept at keeping tabs on power consumption, though, so the iPhone 12 Pro Max won’t let you down.
A day of heavy use will leave you with plenty left before bedtime and even the next day. However, once it jumps onto 5G networks, the battery is going to have to work a little harder, so that’s something to consider for the future when it’s more readily available.
Apple claims that the iPhone 12 Pro Max will charge from 0-50% in 30 minutes, with a 20w charger (which you’ll have to buy separately as Apple doesn't provide one in the box). We found this to be spot on. Although the charging slowed down significantly after that, it’ll take over two hours to charge fully.
The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max is built from glass, and stainless steel squared-off edges, with a full 6.7-inch OLED display.
It’s Apple’s biggest iPhone ever, and while it may look the part, it’s unwieldy when using it one-handed, unless you’re blessed with Michael Jordan sized mitts, that is. Apple claims it’s four times tougher than last year’s models, and the ‘Ceramic Shield’ Glass which coats the screen, offers protection from scratches.
The OLED display, or what Apple calls ‘Super XDR OLED display’, is up there with the best screen technology possible on a smartphone. The size of the OLED on the Pro Max makes it an excellent mini-TV for films and for viewing HDR content. Plus, it’s great for creating content with Dolby Vision 4K recording. It’s also bright enough to be easily viewed at multiple angles, even in bright sunlight.
There are no EarPods or power block in the box, as with all the smartphones in the iPhone 12 series, so you’ll need to buy one separately or perhaps take advantage of MagSafe and take a wireless Apple charger. It’s a USB-C to Lightning cable instead of the older USB-A cables you’ll be familiar with.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max is available in a sophisticated array of colours: graphite, gold, silver and blue.
If you want the latest and greatest Apple has to offer, and have pockets deep enough to do so, then the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the smartphone you’re looking for.
The larger size and extra camera features give it marginal gains over the iPhone 12 Pro, and yet it’s only £100 more, which seems reasonable when you consider what that’ll mean in the future when 5G is more ubiquitous.
The screen is stunning, the camera unbeatable, and it deals with multi-tasking and hefty processing as elegantly as a ballet dancer.
Size matters. So if you don’t want a smartphone that’ll protrude out of your pocket, and require two hands to use, then it’s worth considering the smaller iPhone 12 Pro.
Overall rating: 5/5
Not sure which of the series is the best iPhone for you? Read about each model's pros and cons in our iPhone 12 vs mini vs Pro vs Pro Max guide, check out our best iPhone guide, or compare with the rival's flagship in our Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review.