Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Review

The iPhone 13 Pro Max (which starts at $1,099) is the perfect phone for professional multimedia creators. It combines Apple’s superior camera techniques and software with true two-day battery life for a big phone that’s always ready to accomplish your ambitions. While our Editors’ Pick and best choice for most people is the ordinary iPhone 13 (beginning at $799), the iPhone 13 Pro Max is a fantastic alternative for heavy users and artists, with its outstanding cameras and magnificent buttress of a battery.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Review
9.1
The ultimate phone for photo and video creators
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

PROS

  • Outstanding cameras
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Beautiful, silky-smooth screen

CONS

  • Cameras that are large and hefty aren’t a significant improvement over prior models.

APPLE IPHONE 13 PRO MAX SPECS

Operating SystemiOS 15
CPUApple A15
Dimensions6.33 by 3.07 by .3 inches
Screen Size6.7 inches
Screen Resolution2,778 by 1,284 pixels
Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing)12MP, 12MP, 12MP; 12MP
Battery Life (As Tested)18 hours

The Body Is Huge

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is quite the beast. It’s a massive, heavy phone that you won’t want to use in one hand, measuring 6.3 by 3.1 by 0.3 inches and weighing 8.5 ounces. That’s the price you pay for this kind of battery life (along with your $1,100). But, because it’s nearly the same size as the 12 Pro Max, you’re already used to it. It is, however, slightly heavier than the model from last year, which weighed 8.0 ounces.

This phone, like others of similar size, is more of a bag phone than a pocket phone. It fits in coat and jacket pockets, but most jeans pockets will have it sticking out.

At this size, there is one disappointment: the 13 Pro Max still has a Lightning port, rather than the USB-C port found on all “pro” iPads and even the iPad mini. USB-C would enable significantly faster charging and the interchangeability of chargers between iPads and MacBooks. When the European USB-C law takes effect in two years, this could alter.

A little smaller notch than on the iPhone 12 Pro Max gives a wide, narrow-bezel screen a little extra real estate; Apple claims the notch is 20% smaller than previously. The triple-camera setup on the rear of the Pro Max protrudes dramatically. I’d use a case to smooth it out, but you don’t need one for protection—the phone is waterproof to IP68 and features Apple’s durable “ceramic shield” screen coating.

Blue, gold, graphite (gray), and silver are the four colors available for the 13 Pro Max. As you can see below, the blue is incredibly cool and lovely.

Double the Pleasure on Display

The iPhone 13 Pro Max, like its predecessor, sports a 6.7-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2,778 by 1,284 pixels, a wide color gamut, and Apple’s TrueTone color management system. Apple has boosted the normal screen brightness from 800cd/m2 to 1,000cd/m2, but I can’t confirm this with my own eyes—I’ll have to wait for DisplayMate Labs’ investigation.

This year’s iPhone Pro models increase the screen refresh rate to 120Hz. For the time being, this is almost solely in Apple’s first-party apps; third-party app developers will need to update their apps to take advantage of the smoother animations.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Review

So while you won’t notice the effect of 120Hz everywhere, you will notice it in Safari. You don’t realize how much you miss 120Hz until you have it, but once you do, it’s difficult to go back to 60Hz. It now makes a significant impact while scrolling across web sites; the pages are less demanding on the eyes due to the smoother scrolling. Here’s a brief video that compares the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro:

The 120Hz screen on the iPad Pro and Samsung Galaxy Note devices improves stylus responsiveness significantly. Because there isn’t yet a killer app, the 120Hz screen isn’t necessary a reason to go Pro. But it’s a good feature to have.

The Battery: An Unstoppable Force

You don’t want your battery to be at 1% when inspiration hits when you’re out and about creating content. It’s unlikely to be the case with the iPhone 13 Pro Max. In our regular test, this phone had the longest battery life of any iPhone ever, with a staggering 18 hours of movie playback time. That’s two and a half hours more than the iPhone 12 Pro Max and three hours more than the iPhone 13. In practice, this means that two days of battery life is entirely conceivable.

You also have a variety of charging choices, which haven’t changed since the iPhone 12. Because the phone does not have a power adapter, you should purchase a 20W USB-C adapter for rapid wired charging. The phone also has 7.5W Qi wireless charging and 15W Apple MagSafe wireless charging.

Large GPU Boost for Speed and Performance

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is equipped with Apple’s A15 chipset and 6GB of RAM, as opposed to the iPhone 13‘s 4GB. It also boasts five GPU cores compared to the iPhone 13‘s four. It runs iOS 15, just like all recent iPhones.

The A15 processor is based on the same 5nm technology as the A14, and its CPU performance does not differ significantly from prior generations. That’s great; when I compared the A15 against the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, it was still the quickest mobile processor available.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Review

On some GPU compute evaluations, the 13 Pro and Pro Max GPUs showed a massive 35 percent boost, far more than the 20 to 25 percent improvement I expected from adding the extra core.

So, how does the 13 Pro Max make use of that extra GPU? It’s not required for things like UI responsiveness and gaming frame rates, which are already excellent on the iPhone 13. It’s very certainly there to manage the 120Hz display, and it does it admirably. In the future, more GPU computational capability could mean greater camera functionality.

Connectivity isn’t exactly new.

The Qualcomm X60 modem is found in all iPhone 13 variants, as well as the same radio system, which features Wi-Fi 6 (though not 6E) and Bluetooth 5.0. Other popular smartphones this year, such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, employ the X60 modem.

For the time being, the advantages over the iPhone 12 are in power efficiency—it aids in achieving that incredible battery life. The iPhone 13‘s new 5G features, on the other hand, largely prepare it for things our carriers haven’t yet done to extend the range and quality of 5G. None of them appear to be features that will significantly alter the 5G experience in the next two years.

We’re not waiting for better 5G phone modems at this point; the carriers, particularly AT&T and Verizon, must increase 5G signal reach and network quality. In our Fastest Mobile Networks testing this year, the two carriers’ performance remained unchanged while we wait for them to launch speedier networks using new C-band spectrum next year. The new bands will be supported by both the iPhone 12 and 13 lines, but not by previous iPhones.

And, while you might believe that a larger phone means greater reception, I can’t prove it. In my tests, all of the iPhone 13 models functioned similarly on Wi-Fi, as well as on the T-Mobile and Verizon networks.

The Camera Has No Drawbacks

It’s not just the specs that make the iPhone 13 Pro the best device for visual content creators. To snap images and create films during the last year, I’ve used either a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra or an iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The 10x zoom on the S21 Ultra is fantastic. When it comes to video, however, Apple’s algorithms consistently produce more constant focus and more consistent exposure balance. You need to rely on AI a lot when taking films of oneself because you can’t tamper with the settings, and Apple’s AI is still the smartest in the business.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max lacks some of the S21 Ultra’s most unique features. There are no 960fps super slow-mo or 8K recording options. However, when I spoke with actual professional video creators, they preferred Apple’s feature set over Samsung’s. Two important examples: More consumers appear to prefer Apple’s Dolby Vision HDR over Samsung’s HDR10+, as well as Apple’s new (for iPhone) ProRes video capture codec, which gives professional editors a lot of control over final video quality.

I’m also sad to inform non-Apple users that pro photographers and videographers often work within the iOS ecosystem. Third-party photo and video apps are released first for iOS, and iOS devices work easily with Mac PCs, which are used by most film and art teams (including ours).

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Review

Nobody is surprised that serious video artists still use iPhones. What makes the iPhone 13 Pro Max superior to the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the iPhone 13? I didn’t have a 12 Pro Max to compare the 13 Pro Max to, but I did have an iPhone 12 Pro to compare it to.

There’s the zoom, for starters. Moving from the iPhone 13 to the Pro or Pro Max unlocks a 3x optical zoom, which is significantly superior to the digital zoom seen on less expensive phones and also to the 2x zoom found on last year’s Pro and 2.5x zoom found on last year’s Pro Max.

Macro photography is now available on the 13 Pro and Pro Max, allowing you to snap super-sharp close-up images. As you can see below, earlier models have problems focusing at short distances. Macro photography has never appealed to me, yet it is a popular activity among more serious photographers.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max‘s camera has a bigger sensor, which promises better low-light photography, but I found it difficult to tell the difference in my testing. The iPhone 13 Pro Max’s larger aperture resulted in far less noise than the iPhone 12 Pro in this photo of a doll on a very dark rooftop. (However, the 12 Pro Max performed better in low light than the 12 Pro.)

At other times, I couldn’t discern the difference in night mode photographs. There is a slight improvement in the quality of the tiles in this photograph, taken in a relatively low-light environment but not night mode, but not enough to shake anyone’s world.

Compare Apple iPhone products

iPhone 13 Pro MaxiPhone 13 ProiPhone 13iPhone 13 mini
Display6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display5.4-inch Super Retina XDR display
CameraPro 12MP camera system (Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto)Pro 12MP camera system (Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto)Dual 12MP camera system (Ultra Wide and Wide)Dual 12MP camera system (Ultra Wide and Wide)
Front-facing Camera12MP TrueDepth camera12MP TrueDepth camera12MP TrueDepth camera12MP TrueDepth camera
Face ID or Touch IDFace IDFace IDFace IDFace ID
ChipA15 Bionic chip with 6-core CPU (2 performance and 4 efficiency cores), 5-core GPU, and 16-core Neural EngineA15 Bionic chip with 6-core CPU (2 performance and 4 efficiency cores), 5-core GPU, and 16-core Neural EngineA15 Bionic chip with 6-core CPU (2 performance and 4 efficiency cores), 4-core GPU, and 16-core Neural EngineA15 Bionic chip with 6-core CPU (2 performance and 4 efficiency cores), 4-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine
Water and Dust ResistanceRated IP68 (maximum depth of 6 meters up to 30 minutes) under IEC standard 60529Rated IP68 (maximum depth of 6 meters up to 30 minutes) under IEC standard 60529Rated IP68 (maximum depth of 6 meters up to 30 minutes) under IEC standard 60529Rated IP68 (maximum depth of 6 meters up to 30 minutes) under IEC standard 60529
Wireless ChargingCompatible with MagSafe accessories and Qi wireless chargersCompatible with MagSafe accessories and Qi wireless chargersCompatible with MagSafe accessories and Qi wireless chargersCompatible with MagSafe accessories and Qi wireless chargers

Should You Become a Professional?

It’s a little difficult to recommend the iPhone 13 Pro Max as a replacement for the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which offers a comparably good camera and long battery life. I just don’t see the enormous year-over-year camera advancements that are required to make a difference. However, since you’re unlikely to upgrade your year-old phone, this isn’t much of an issue. Everyone else should consider upgrading to the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which is a fantastic content creation powerhouse.

If you’re coming from a T-Mobile 11 Pro Max, 5G will make a significant difference, as our Fastest Mobile Networks testing demonstrate. Subscribers of AT&T and Verizon will most likely have to wait another year.

The improvements in low-light image and video quality coming with the iPhone 11 generation will change your photo and video landscape, so upgrading is absolutely worthwhile. The 13 Pro Max’s battery life ensures that it will be ready when you are.

In that regard, I believe the $100 price difference between the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max is justified. Again, fewer “advanced” customers will likely be just as satisfied with the basic iPhone 13, which costs $300 less and is our Editors’ Choice for the vast majority of buyers. When it comes to creating your next masterpiece, though, nothing beats a Pro, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the pinnacle of Apple’s offerings.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Review
9.1
The ultimate phone for photo and video creators
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

PROS

  • Outstanding cameras
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Beautiful, silky-smooth screen

CONS

  • Cameras that are large and hefty aren’t a significant improvement over prior models.

Recommended Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Accessories


Questions Frequently Asked

1. What exactly is a stored value card, and how can I use one? How do I pay for this stored value card subscription on a monthly basis?

Amazon employs a stored value card to send your monthly service payment to the cellular provider you choose to use for cellphone service for your chosen plan. We, Amazon, will charge your preferred payment method the same amount each month for the stored value card subscription, which will be automatically transferred to your wireless account by your carrier to pre-pay the following month’s cellphone service rates. You are not required to take any action. Unless cancelled, the saved value card subscription will automatically renew on a monthly basis.

2. Is a wireless provider monthly stored value card membership required to purchase this iPhone?

Yes. With the purchase of this iPhone, a wireless carrier monthly stored value card subscription is necessary.

3. Will my new iPhone include the new SIM card?

They are not bundled together.

4. Does this iPhone have a wireless carrier lock?

Yes, this iPhone is carrier-locked, which means it will only work on the network of that carrier. Please visit the website of your chosen carrier.

or contact customer service for more information on how long the device will be locked.

5. Can I use my stored value card membership with any carrier plan? Can I extend the functionality of my service?

No. The wireless plans stated in the package you choose are only covered by the stored value card subscription. The cellular service you choose is automatically renewed every month with this stored value card subscription. The package you choose does not allow you to add or delete other carrier services.

6. When I add this item to my cart, what will I see?

The iPhone, SIM kit, and stored value card subscription will all appear in your cart.

7. How do I manage my stored value card subscription on a monthly basis?

Amazon.com has a section called Your Memberships & Subscriptions where you may control your monthly membership. To preserve your phone number, you can change the credit card used for payment, cancel the subscription, or continue a previously cancelled subscription within 60 days.

8. How can I get help with my account, billing, activation, cellular service, or device warranty?

Please contact us if you have any account or billing questions. Please contact the wireless carrier with your phone number for activation or wireless service questions. Carriers will be able to walk you through every stage of the troubleshooting process. Please contact Cricket Wireless at 1-855-619-6021. Customer service can obtain the manufacturer’s warranty. To contact customer care, please click here.

9. Can I terminate my subscription to the saved value card?

Yes, you have the option to cancel at any moment. If you cancel your subscription after activating the service, you will be allowed to use the wireless service until the conclusion of the current service cycle for which you have already paid. For example, if your service cycle begins on the 15th of every month, you will be charged for a stored value card three days earlier to the commencement of that service cycle (i.e., on the 12th of the month). You will not be charged for the following month’s service if you cancel before the 12th, and you will be allowed to use your wireless service until the 15th of current month. If you cancel between the 12th and 15th of the month after paying for the following month’s cycle, you will be allowed to use the service until the 15th of the following month before it expires. You will not be billed for any additional monthly costs after you cancel the membership. Your Amazon gift card balance will no longer be credited on a monthly basis. If you change your mind after canceling, you can reactivate your subscription and keep your existing phone number within 60 days of cancellation. If you wish to continue using the service beyond the 60-day term, you’ll need to buy a new subscription and get a new SIM kit, which will give you a new phone number.

10. Why am I not getting charged taxes on my monthly membership to a stored value card?

The stored value card is comparable to a gift card, and the value will be credited to your cellphone carrier account immediately. They are not taxable, and the wireless carrier will decide all sales and telecommunications taxes when they are applied to your account.


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