The iPhone 14 Pro Max is a beast of a phone, and I’m not just saying that because of its larger lenses. This big-screen flagship packs a new 48MP camera, an always-on display and a new A16 Bionic processor that should once again lap the Android competition.
But during my iPhone 14 Pro Max hands-on time I was most intrigued by the new Dynamic Island feature, Apple’s replacement for the notch. This pill-shaped cutout morphs depending on what you’re doing, showing everything from music playing in the background to countdown timers.
I got a chance to spend a bit of time with the iPhone 14 Pro Max at the September Apple event, and I came away impressed with its new cameras as well, especially its low-light capabilities and new Action mode for video.
Here’s the pros and cons so far in my iPhone 14 Pro Max hands-on review.
iPhone 14 Pro Max release date and price
The iPhone 14 Pro Max has a release date of September 16, with iPhone 14 preorders starting September 9 on all four new models. The starting price is $1,099, which is expensive but sort of good news as there were rumors that the iPhone 14 Pro Max was getting a price hike.
The starting storage remains 128GB, which frankly doesn’t feel very Pro, but you can upgrade to 256GB for $1,199. Going to 512GB costs $1,399 and 1TB will run you $1,599.
iPhone 14 Pro Max specs
|iPhone 14 Pro Max|
|CPU||Apple A16 Bionic|
|Storage||256GB, 512GB, 1TB|
|Cameras||48MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom|
|Size||6.33 x 3.05 x 0.31 inches|
|Colors||Purple, gold, silver and space black|
|Rated battery life||29 hours video playback|
iPhone 14 Pro Max design and colors: Meet Dynamic Island
The iPhone 14 Pro Max looks different than iPhone models released since 2017 because it ditches the notch in favor of a new Dynamic Island. This pill-shaped cutout takes up less room and delivers alerts, notifications and activities.
For example, when I started playing a song in Apple Music and then went back to the home screen, I saw a little play window with album art and the track info. If you long press on the Dynamic Island, you’ll get a pop-up with more info.
If you then start a timer, you’ll see it added to the Dynamic Island on the right side, so you get a bunch of info in a small space. Even better, Apple is working with developers to take advantage of this features, so you could see sports scores in real time or the status of your Lyft ride.
Otherwise, the iPhone 14 Pro Max design is largely the same, though there’s one big exception. There’s no longer a SIM card tray, as Apple is instead focusing on eSIMs for carrier provisioning. Some will not like this feature being killed, and I’m among them.
Around back, the iPhone 14 Pro Max features larger sensors in the camera bump. The overall design is slightly thicker and heavier at 8.47 ounces, 6.33 x 3.05 x 0.31 inches versus 8.46 ounces, 6.33 x 3.07 x 0.3 inches for the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
You have four color options for the iPhone 14 Pro Max: deep purple, silver, gold, and space black. I’m partial to the deep purple as it pops the most.
iPhone 14 Pro Max display
I’m not joking when I say the iPhone 14 Pro Max has the best display on any phone I’ve seen so far. And this 6.7-inch panel is super bright, with a rated brightness of 1,600 nits. Outdoors the Pro Max is rated up to a whopping 2,000 nits.
Up close, I really appreciated the rich colors and detail as I watched a recorded video in the new Action mode. It’s like having a mini movie theater in your pocket.
It gets better. The iPhone 14 Pro Max has an always-on display that shows your widgets and notifications in a low power state but still in color. This is much better than anything Android phones have tried. And because the display scales down to 1Hz, it should use very little power.
iPhone 14 Pro Max cameras
The new 48MP camera on the iPhone 14 Pro Max gives you a lot of shooting flexibility. For one, you get a quad-pixel sensor that captures four times more information. This lets you crop in on images after the fact or you can have four pixels combined into one, which results in much brighter shots.
The other big camera upgrade is the addition of a 2x telephoto zoom option. So you get 2x or 3x, depending on what you want for a given photo.
Apple showed off some photo samples, and I was impressed with the low-light images. This is thanks to a new Photonic Engine computational photography feature that promises up to 2x better low-light performance on the Main camera, up to 3x on the Ultra Wide camera, up to 2x on the Telephoto camera, and up to 2x on the TrueDepth camera.
On the video front, there’s a new Action Mode that offers smoother recording when you’re on the move (the side-by-side example footage was compelling) and you can now record Cinematic mode footage at 4K resolution.
We have lots of testing to do, but the iPhone 14 Pro Max has the potential to top our best camera phone list.
iPhone 14 Pro Max performance
The iPhone 14 Pro Max features a new A16 Bionic chip using a 4nm process, and Apple claims that its 6-core CPU is up to 40% faster than the competition. There’s also an accelerated 5-core GPU with 50 percent more memory bandwidth.
What’s the point of all this power? The CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, and image signal processor are designed to work together to support the new camera hardware and perform up to 4 trillion operations per photo.
We’ll be putting this A16 Bionic chip to the test in our own benchmarks.
iPhone 14 Pro Max battery life and charging
Apple claims that the iPhone 14 Pro Max offers all-day battery life. That translates to a rated 25 hours of streamed video playback, though that’s the same as the iPhone 13 Pro Max. The good news is that the iPhone 13 Pro Max lasted more than 12 hours on our web surfing test, putting it on our best phone battery life list.
The bad news is that the iPhone 14 Pro Max offers the same 20W charging as before, so you should expect to get to 50% in 30 minutes. It would have been nice to get 30W charging, as had been rumored.
iPhone 14 Pro Max satellite and crash detection
When you can’t get a cellular connection, the iPhone 14 Pro Max will offer Emergency SOS via satellite this fall in the U.S. and Canada. This features allows the antennas to connect directly to a satellite, enabling messaging with emergency services.
Another safety feature coming to the iPhone 14 Pro Max is crash detection. The phone leverages a new dual-core accelerometer high dynamic range gyroscope, to detect a severe car crash and automatically dial emergency services.
iPhone 14 Pro Max outlook
The iPhone 14 Pro Max feels less like another iterative upgrade and more like a true leap forward for Apple’s flagship. You get a powerful new 48MP camera, a replacement for the notch that’s actually smart and an always-on display that can help make your life easier while saving battery life.
The regular iPhone 14 Pro looks great, too, but the iPhone 14 Pro Max is your best bet if you prefer a larger display and longer battery life. Stay tuned for our full rated iPhone 14 Pro Max review.