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The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a big phone. The biggest iPhone ever made, in fact.
The Pro Max’s 6.7-inch display is the largest screen ever on an iPhone. It has the biggest camera sensor of any iPhone, including the three other iPhone 12 models hãng apple announced this year. It has a 5G radio, and it’s got a bigger battery. It is without question the most iPhone you can get.
And while it’s expensive, it’s not that much more expensive than the smaller iPhone 12 Pro: it’s just $100 more at every storage level, starting at $1,099 with 128GB of storage & going up to $1,399 for 512GB of storage. For that money, you get a larger display, a bigger battery, và a very different camera system. I’ll just cut to lớn the chase and say it’s absolutely worth it over the standard 12 Pro if you can deal with the size — but it’s a lot of size. Và the camera is worth exploring in depth, because there’s a lot going on.
Like I said, it’s the most iPhone you can get.
Our review of iphone 12 Pro Max
Verge Score 9 out of 10
iPhone 12 Pro Max CameraAside from the large size, the main thing that sets the iPhone 12 Pro Max apart from the rest of the iPhone 12 line is the camera system, which is substantially different và more capable than the cameras on the smaller 12 & 12 Pro.
The basics are the same as the 12 Pro: three cameras including a wide, an ultrawide, & a tele, with a LIDAR sensor that enables portrait photos on the wide camera in Night mode. Night mode is available at all three zoom levels now, which is an improvement over the iPhone 11.
The ultrawide camera is the same as on the 12 and 12 Pro, & it’s a noticeable improvement over the ultrawide on the 11 Pro. I think it’s useful and fun to lớn have an ultrawide, but it still takes medium-quality photos compared lớn the main camera.
It’s the main wide camera và the telephoto that are very different on the 12 Pro Max. The wide has the same f/1.6 lens as the 12 & 12 Pro, but it also has a 47-percent larger physical sensor that can capture more light with less noise. The wide camera is also stabilized differently than the other iPhone 12 models, which have traditional lens-based optical image stabilization to lớn reduce vibrations & thus blur.
The 12 Pro Max uses sensor-shift stabilization, which moves the sensor itself around khổng lồ reduce vibrations. Táo bị cắn tells me the move khổng lồ sensor-shift stabilization on the 12 Pro Max was more about making this sensor kích thước work to its standards than overall performance, but that the system on the 12 Pro Max is slightly more effective at reducing a wider range of vibrations than the OIS on the 12 Pro.
(As an aside for camera nerds, táo bị cắn dở keeps calling this “sensor-shift OIS,” which doesn’t quite make sense because the lens isn’t involved. It’s more lượt thích the in-body stabilization you’ll find on Sony và Panasonic mirrorless cameras. But I digress.)
The bigger sensor also has an impressive maximum ISO, which is a measure of light sensitivity. The iPhone 11 Pro had a top ISO of 3,072, the regular iPhone 12 Pro has a đứng đầu ISO of 5,808, and the 12 Pro Max has a top ISO of 7,616. As the numbers go up, the amount of noise at any given ISO tends khổng lồ go down, which means images from the iPhone 12 Pro Max are generally less noisy than the 12 Pro’s.
The upshot of all this is simple: the wide camera on the iPhone 12 Pro Max is one of the most confident điện thoại cameras I’ve ever used. It can take great photos in a huge variety of situations, và rarely feels pushed beyond its limits.
You won’t always see the benefit from that increased capability; it really depends on what kind of light you’re taking photos in. In sunlight & other bright situations, photos from the 12 Pro Max and 12 Pro look identical to me — we’re at the point where photos from all the major flagships are starting to lớn look the same. Yes, there are differences: the pixel 5 is a little more contrasty, the iPhone still boosts shadows the most aggressively, and the note 20 does some weird things with reds and yellows, but when any of these cameras gets enough light, they produce photos that are more alike than different.
But when the light gets dimmer, the 12 Pro Max really starts to stand out.
Take this photo I took at sunset: all the phones did a fine enough job, but the 12 Pro Max has far less noise, better and more accurate colors, và more detail.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, điện thoại iphone 12 Pro, Google px 5, Samsung chú ý 20 Ultra. The Pro Max captures better colors and more detail as the light starts to lớn drop.
Under slightly darker conditions, most of the phones automatically shifted to their respective night modes, where they take multiple long exposures and merge them together. But the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s bigger sensor, with its higher maximum ISO, means it doesn’t automatically go into Night mode as often. Và when the iPhone 12 Pro Max does go into Night mode, it does so with shorter exposures than the 12 Pro — in situations where the 12 Pro would take a three-second exposure, the 12 Pro Max only needed a one-second shot, resulting in a sharper photo.
iphone 12 Pro Max left, apple iphone 12 Pro right. The 12 Pro took a 3-second night mode shot here, while the Pro Max only needed a 1-second exposure.
điện thoại apple iphone 12 Pro Max left, Google px 5 right. The Pro Max captured far more detail in a night mode portrait shot.
(Night mode itself has been improved across the iPhone 12 line: the iPhone 11 took Night mode shots by merging together frames with a one-second maximum exposure time, but the iPhone 12 lineup can capture two-second stabilized frames, allowing for better shadows with less noise. And if the phone detects that it’s on a tripod, it will turn off image stabilization & capture three-second frames, for a maximum 30-second night mode shot composed of ten three-second frames. The iPhone 11 would take thirty one-second frames.)
The LIDAR sensor lets you shoot portraits in Night mode using the wide camera, which, combined with the better overall low light performance, means that Night mode portraits are better & more detailed on the 12 Pro Max than the 12 Pro and px 5. It’s impressive.
Overall, when it comes lớn low light, it feels like no contest: the iPhone 12 Pro Max consistently took better, more detailed, and less noisy photos than the pixel 5 và Samsung Galaxy lưu ý 20 Ultra. Look at how muddy the px 5 looks in this basic sunset photo compared khổng lồ the Pro Max, và look at how washed out the image of the truck from the lưu ý 20 looks. Táo has noticeably moved ahead of the pack here.
You might be expecting some dramatic change to lớn depth of field because of the brighter aperture và bigger sensor — I certainly was — và while close-up photos vì chưng have a slightly increased background blur, it’s not particularly more noticeable khổng lồ my eye than the 12 Pro. If you’re looking for that dramatic DSLR-style bokeh, you’ll still need lớn turn on Portrait mode.
The benefits of the bigger sensor are less apparent in đoạn clip — & really, they’re only really noticeable if you’re watching on a larger screen like a TV. At night, you’ll see a little more detail & less noise in the shadows compared lớn the 12 Pro, and there’s the tiniest more detail in bright light, but you have khổng lồ go looking for it. We already thought the 12 Pro was far ahead of the pack in terms of video, and the 12 Pro Max is maybe a tiny bit better, but it’s not nearly as dramatic as the improvement in stills.
(I did a deep dive on Dolby Vision in our 12 Pro review, and all the promise is there, as are the compatibility challenges, so go watch that video for more. & there’s still a lot of lens flare going on. Táo bị cắn told me that there shouldn’t be any increased lens flare over the iPhone 11 line, but that the improved low-light performance means people are noticing it more, which feels roughly equivalent to lớn saying “I’m a perfectionist” when someone asks you for your biggest weakness. Sure.)
The telephoto camera is less straightforwardly improved. It is essentially the same sensor as the 12 Pro, but with a longer 2.5x zoom & a less-bright f/2.2 lens instead of the 2x f/2.0 lens on the regular 12 Pro. So: a longer zoom that can pick up less light. It’s a tradeoff, but I found I really enjoyed having the tighter zoom, & I went to lớn use it more than the telephoto on my 11 Pro. It performed slightly worse in lower light than the 2x zoom on 12 Pro, but I think it still has the upper hand compared to the chú ý 20 Ultra and pixel 5 — Apple’s Smart HDR 3 is really good this year, with excellent noise reduction and vibrant colors that are still accurate.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max’s telephoto camera has a slightly longer reach the the 12 Pro’s, but it’s grainier in low light. | Left: apple iphone 12 Pro Max, Right: điện thoại apple iphone 12 Pro
All in all, the combination of the larger sensor, faster lens, improved stabilization, LIDAR, & processing power nguồn means that the iPhone 12 Pro Max has the best smartphone camera I’ve ever used — it produces terrific, colorful photos with excellent detail in lighting situations where other phones start to struggle. We’ve seen game android phone makers like Samsung & Huawei use much bigger sensors this year with a variety of complicated techniques to lớn make them work, but Apple’s approach of pairing a moderate sensor kích thước jump with its focus on improved processing has kept it in the lead. I’m intrigued by Apple’s new ProRAW format that promises the editing flexibility of RAW images from this sensor with the processing of Smart HDR… but it’s not out yet, so we’ll have khổng lồ wait.
Lastly, I have to mention the selfie camera, which is stubbornly the same as the other iPhone 12s. Many people will use the selfie camera more often than the telephoto or ultrawide cameras; it’s well overdue for a serious improvement.
iPhone 12 Pro Max DisplayApart from the cameras, the rest of the iPhone 12 Pro Max is very similar khổng lồ the iPhone 12 Pro. The display is obviously bigger, but it’s just as bright và colorful, and the pixel density is essentially the same. & there’s not a ton more information presented on the big screen by default. I think that’s a shame — this thing is veering into tablet territory in terms of size, và I’d lượt thích to see táo khuyết allow ứng dụng developers khổng lồ make better use of all this real estate.
Every other flagship phone this year has a 120Hz display, it’s odd for the vị trí cao nhất of the line iPhone lớn not have it
Disappointingly, the iPhone 12 Pro Max still has a 60Hz-refresh-rate display, while virtually every android phone above $600 is now at 120Hz. This was maybe passable on the standard 12, but on the 12 Pro và especially the Pro Max, I think it’s a miss — it’s the most expensive iPhone with the biggest battery, và the display shouldn’t be one tick behind the competition. Maybe next year.
The 12 Pro Max adds the same MagSafe magnetic wireless charging system as the other iPhone 12s, but Apple’s charging adapters are expensive & suffer from the usual USB-C spec confusion. I am eagerly anticipating the first wave of MagSafe car mounts & other accessories — MagSafe has all the potential lớn be terrific, but Apple’s ability to lớn build & nurture accessory ecosystems around its connector ideas is iffy at best. (See: the near-total lack of ipad keyboards that use the Smart Connector.)
5G on the iPhone 12 Pro Max
I tested the 12 Pro on Verizon’s network, which offers ultrafast millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G on various street corners & sports stadiums around the country, so for the 12 Pro Max I used AT&T’s network. & 5G in the US continues khổng lồ be a deeply mixed bag that is barely worth discussing.
Speeds where I could find AT&T’s standard 5G service were not so much better than really good LTE, and AT&T’s mmWave network is essentially nowhere to be found. & AT&T’s 5G plan automatically enables a “feature” called Stream Saver which streams all video clip at 480p because this so-called “unlimited” plan has complicated limits. So you’ve got a huge phone with a beautiful display and a fast connection that displays most video clip in… DVD resolution. C’mon.
I don’t mean to just dunk on AT&T: Sascha Segan at PC Mag just released data showing that 5G in the US is slower than anywhere else in the world. So 5G is not only hard lớn find, it’s slower. If there was ever a “race to 5G,” the United States has lost.
Anyway, I cannot stress this enough: 5G in the United States is more hype than reality, and you should not buy a phone because of it. Just ignore it for another year. It’ll be fine.
iPhone 12 Pro Max Performance and Battery LifeThe iPhone 12 Pro Max is a big phone, và as such, it has a big battery. Và so battery life is terrific. At home, on WiFi, I saw screen-on times of as long as 14 hours as I doomscrolled through our interminable election, with an average of well over eight hours in more reasonable (and healthy) use over the course of a week. Now, I’m not leaving my house as much as I did before the pandemic, & I didn’t chạy thử a lot on 5G or even LTE, but with numbers lượt thích that, I’d expect battery life overall to be tremendous in almost any circumstance. Big phone, big battery, big battery life. It makes the lack of a 120Hz display puzzling.
I’m just going lớn say it again: the iPhone 12 Pro Max is a very big phone. Big ambition, big camera sensor, big… size. I’ve been using it for a week, & I still haven’t gotten used lớn how big it is. I’m curious lớn see how accessory makers handle the size.
But the kích thước allows for what I think is easily the best và most capable điện thoại cảm ứng camera on the market right now, và a battery that seems to last forever. If you can deal with the size, I think it’s worth passing over the 12 Pro and getting the 12 Pro Max. Those are two dramatic and meaningful improvements for the money. This is a tremendous phone.
But I can’t shake the feeling that the iPhone 12 Pro Max very much feels like the perfect phone for the life I led before the pandemic. I used to lớn spend a lot of time commuting, & on airplanes, and otherwise out & about getting work done on my phone. I used to go to lớn a lot of events at night và take a lot of photos in bars. My notes indicate that I used khổng lồ care a lot about di động network speeds. This phone would have made significant improvements khổng lồ all those things, but right now it just feels lượt thích another screen for social media on the couch.
I have a kid, và I always buy the latest phone to have the best camera. Và there’s no question that this is the best camera. But if you’re feeling that usual tug lớn upgrade và you don’t need to, I vì think you can wait this one out. Maybe 5G will be better next year. Maybe we’ll get that 120Hz display.
Also: did I mention that it’s big?
Agree khổng lồ Continue: iPhone 12 & iPhone 12 Pro
Every smart device now requires you to lớn agree lớn a series of terms & conditions before you can use it — contracts that no one actually reads. It’s impossible for us khổng lồ read và analyze every single one of these agreements. But we’re going khổng lồ start counting exactly how many times you have to lớn hit “agree” lớn use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people don’t read và definitely can’t negotiate.
To use an iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro, you have to lớn agree to:The táo khuyết terms of service agreement, which you can have sent to you by emailApple’s warranty agreement, which you can have sent to you by email
These agreements are nonnegotiable, and you cannot use the phone at all if you don’t agree lớn them.
If you add a credit thẻ to táo bị cắn dở Pay, you have to lớn agree to:The terms from your credit card provider, which vị not have an option to lớn be emailed
Final tally: two mandatory agreements, six optional agreements for táo apple Cash, one optional agreement for táo bị cắn Pay