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iPhone 13 Pro Max Review

updated by Chad Evans
October 6, 2022 at 3:40 p.m.
  • The iPhone 13 Pro Max launched on September 24, 2021, with the base model priced at $1099.
  • Apple’s most expensive phone in the 2021 lineup features an A15 Bionic processor and 6.7″ ProMotion display capable of 120 Hz refresh rates.
  • The iPhone 13 Pro Max is the first model with a significantly upgraded battery, providing over 12 hours on a full charge.
  • The phone retained the same notch as previous models, housing a camera and sensors for Face ID and other features.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Overview

Despite the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s similarity to older iPhones, inside, it’s an entirely different beast. With a 4,352 mAh battery, it’s a significant improvement over older models and even contemporary models in this year’s lineup.

iPhone 13 Pro Max with 4352 mAh Battery
image credit: iFixit; Apple employed an “L” shaped battery design to power the iPhone 13 Pro Max all day and beyond.

Apple has long-equipped the iPhone with wimpy batteries, relying on efficient processors and software to attain all-day battery life. With a beefy battery, the iPhone 13 Pro Max lasts beyond all day.

iPhone 13 Pro Max New Internal Layout

In everyday use, I could often go a few days without charging if I was on WiFi. While traveling, I rely on my iPhone’s hotspot for Internet access. I was delighted to use my iPhone heavily while connecting my laptop to its hotspot without running down the battery rapidly. Most can make it through the day on a single charge, even with heavy use.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Battery Health
I used my iPhone 13 Pro Max heavily over the past year. Beyond its smartphone capabilities, it served as an excellent Wi-Fi hotspot when I needed it. Despite the 7% deterioration in battery health, it still holds a charge for a long time, thanks to its high-capacity lithium-ion battery.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max’s large 6.7″ display is a joy to use. Once you experience a 120 Hz display, going back to 60 Hz seems almost like going from color to black and white television. Flagship Android phones had 120 Hz displays years before Apple.

Asus ROG Smartphone with 120 Hz Refresh Rate Display
image credit: Asus; This Asus smartphone launched back in October 2018 with a 120 Hz refresh rate display. An external fan helped cool the device for extended gaming.

It’s sad to see that even with the iPhone 14 lineup, only the Pro models get this upgrade. Apple is very stingy with displays and RAM, but they almost make up for it with cameras and software.

iPhone 13 Pro Max With ProMotion Display Capable of 120 Hz Refresh Rate

iPhone 13 with 6.7" ProMotion Display
image credit: Apple

Cameras were significantly upgraded, with amazing new features for video. Cinematic mode enables everyday users to create almost-professional videos that focus on a subject and dynamically change focus based on who’s talking. This is a remarkably advanced feature and a selling point for many creators.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Camera System
image credit: Apple

The device resembles past iPhone models, with a notch and similar camera configuration. You have to be an Apple fan to tell them apart. Ceramic Shield and other innovations make for a remarkably durable phone. I dropped my phone twice, hard, on the floor, once on the leg of a metal table. My iPhone 13 Pro Max didn’t suffer a single scratch or dent. The only protection was a transparent “screen protector” cover for the back, which is surprisingly fragile and expensive to fix — much more than the screen, which is well-protected.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Features Ceramic Shield on Front Screen

Now that we’ve looked at the most vital aspects of the iPhone 13 Pro Max let’s take a closer look at the exterior design and inner workings of this remarkable smartphone.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Exterior

As usual, Apple’s excellence with material science shines through with the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Every aspect of its construction helps retain aesthetic qualities and protect the device’s inner systems.

Surgical steel bands surround Apple’s top-of-the-line iPhone. Using a unique vapor deposition process that resists corrosion and abrasion, Apple ensures that your iPhone will look good even if you drop it a few times.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Stainless Steel Band

Ceramic Shield protects the iPhone screen better than any other technology. I dropped my iPhone a few times, once on a metal table leg, with no damage whatsoever. Numerous online drop test videos demonstrate the iPhone’s rugged design.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Ceramic Shield

The back of the iPhone 13 Pro remains vulnerable, as it’s constructed out of more fragile glass than the front. If you decide to go without a case, I strongly recommend using a back glass protector. Although you can usually still use an iPhone with broken glass on the back, it could result in injury, and it doesn’t look good. Fixing the back glass is far more expensive than the screen, as it requires replacing components attached to the back panel. They basically replace the guts of your iPhone along with the glass.

This seems to be a cynical trick. The front glass is strong, giving the user a false sense of security. Most don’t consider the back of the phone and are unaware that it’s constructed from glass. To the casual observer, the glass appears protective, if it’s visible at all. In reality, it’s incredibly fragile and costly to repair. Why did they put fragile glass on top of a metal back? It seems to be for the sake of profiting from iPhone owners’ misfortune.

If you damage the back of your iPhone and need replacement, Apple charges $599 for the service unless you have Apple Care+. I can’t stress this enough: if you don’t use a case, apply a back glass protector.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max comes in Alpine Green, Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Sierra Blue. The latter color is in high demand, as the finish requires a unique ceramic layering process. I have this model. The finish looks less impressive than the process it took to create it. The movie is usually better than reality, and Apple’s events provide more overkill and hype than any Hollywood feature.

The notch is 20% smaller while retaining all components, including Apple’s TrueDepth camera system. If you were hoping the iPhone 14 Pro Max would maintain this design sanity and launch with an even smaller notch, you might be disappointed. Apple replaced the notch with an oval cutout a few millimeters below the edge of the screen. Indeed, with the Apple 14 Pro Max out, many may wish to buy a 13 Pro Max to avoid this unfortunate design decision.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Twenty Percent Smaller Notch

The 13 Pro Max also offers IP68 water resistance. If you’re vested in Apple’s MagSafe charging technology, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is a perfect fit.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Supports MagSafe Accessories

iPhone 13 Pro Max and the A15 Bionic Processor

Benchmark tests reveal that the iPhone 13 Pro Max features a speedy processor. While this statement is factual, the iPhone 13 Pro Max seems slower than flagship Android devices in real life. Much of this results from iOS and its tight coupling with cloud services. Also, iPhones have less RAM than Android flagships, giving the latter a performance edge.

Apple’s A15 Bionic processor is a fantastic feat of engineering. Its six-core CPU uses two high-performance and four efficiency cores to balance speed while maintaining battery life dynamically. The iPhone has always been remarkably efficient; however, the best Android phones can run even longer due to higher-capacity batteries. Unfortunately, Samsung downgraded the battery capacity in its S22 flagship, and it’s weaker than the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

A15 Bionic Processor Specs

The best thing about the A15 processor is its ability to balance speed with efficiency. As someone who also uses a flagship Android smartphone, my old OnePlus 8 Pro seems faster than my iPhone 13 Pro Max. With more RAM and a faster operating system, some three-year-old Android devices feel faster than the iPhone. Specs are one thing, and real-world performance is another.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Features Five Core GPU

You can find all sorts of statistics demonstrating the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s superiority. However, using iOS, there are a lot of lags. Apple Music’s UI is more sluggish on the iPhone than on my old Android device. In fact, many of Apple’s first-party apps seem slow, particularly on a cellular connection during peak hours. This leads me to believe that iOS is much too dependent on “the cloud” to the extent that apps slow down along with your network. Android doesn’t seem to get bogged down in this way.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Geekbench Results

Geekbench 5 Specs for iPhone 13 Pro MaxGeekbench 5 displays specs for the iPhone 13 Pro Max. You can see Apple puts minimal RAM into its iconic device. Flagship Android devices often feature 12GB to 16GB of RAM, enabling the entire runtime (OS kernel, runtimes, apps, services) to load in primary storage. Apps pop up instantly, and games are buttery smooth on top-shelf Android devices, even with less powerful CPUs. The iOS user experience is surprisingly sluggish, particularly over a cellular connection. Beyond a lack of RAM, poor architecture choices for iOS bog down the system. It is over-engineered to the detriment of the end user.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Geekbench 5 CPU Results

Benchmarks reveal the iPhone 13 Pro Max to be one of the fastest smartphones on the market, even in late 2022. Keep in mind, benchmarks simply show how fast a processor performs specific algorithms. They don’t necessarily equate to a faster user experience or smoother gaming performance. My OnePlus 8 Pro feels faster than my iPhone 13 Pro Max. This may be due more to an over-reliance and poor implementation of cloud computing than a hardware shortcoming.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Geekbench 5 Single-Core Comparison This Geekbench 5 screen compares the iPhone 13 Pro Max to other smartphones and devices. It’s interesting to see the iPhone 13 Pro slightly outperforms the Max version. Also, my iPhone 13 Pro is faster than average. People often think Apple products are perfect. Like every product, there are variations in quality between different units. Different iPhones of the same model — even produced in the same run — will have varying scores on benchmark tests. These variations result from manufacturing imperfections, operating system performance, and wear from usage. Nothing is perfect in our temporary, physical reality — not even Apple products.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Camera System Delivers High-Quality Photos

Camera technology makes further improvements with the iPhone 13 Pro Max. The iPhone still cannot replace a high-end DSLR camera. When Apple labels a product as “Pro”, it applies to many professions. A social media influencer can fare quite well with an iPhone 13 Pro Max. Audio Visual professionals are still going to use high-grade, standalone cameras. Even famous content creator Marques Brownlee uses a Canon EOS for his videos, which ironically seem to assert the iPhone camera’s professional status.

Let’s be honest and admit that the iPhone 13 Pro Max delivers higher quality photos than the last model. If you’re posting photos on social media or creating videos at a semi-professional level, it’s adequate. I guess “iPhone 13 Semi-Pro Max” doesn’t pop with consumers, but that’s the reality. It does take excellent photos, but Android devices like Google’s Pixel also seem to capture outstanding images.

Taking excellent photos is a skill that takes time to develop. Modern cell phones employ algorithms to process images based on assumptions, whereas a professional photographer makes these adjustments manually. Also, there’s no way a device manufacturer can place a better camera on a phone than on a standalone, dedicated camera device with massive, interchangeable lenses. Apple buys its camera optics from Sony. Some buy theirs from Zeiss or Hasselblad. All flagships take excellent photos but will never be as good as a standalone camera operated by an expert.

The specs seem impressive, only if you’re ignorant of the Android world. Along with rationing 120 Hz screens to only the most expensive models, luxuries such as telephoto lenses are absent on the base iPhone 13. The cameras are nothing spectacular, with only 12 MP sensors. Apple’s strategy is to use fewer yet larger pixels to produce brighter photographs. However, when I take 48 MP photos with my OnePlus and zoom in on them, I get detail that the iPhone could never offer.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max takes excellent photos for a smartphone. The top Android devices also take remarkable photos. If you look at online comparisons, you’ll see it all depends on the subject. For some photos, a Google Pixel will outshine an iPhone. Other settings will produce different results. You’ll often develop a headache trying to discern the difference.

iPhone 13 Pro Max: A Great Smartphone for Apple Fans

Overall, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is an excellent choice if you’re enamored by Apple and steeped in its ecosystem. We all have reasons to use an iPhone. Some feel they’re superior or easier to use. Many do so out of peer pressure, particularly surrounding the Messages app. 

Messages is one of the most essential features of the Apple ecosystem, mainly because Millennial and Gen-Z consumers will ostracize those who push green text bubbles onto their phone. The iPhone is a status symbol, like Air Jordans or a Louis Vuitton bag. That blue bubble confirms that you’re not “one of them.”

I need to own and use an iPhone to write for this site. I buy a new iPhone yearly, trading in last year’s model. Although I also own an Android device, it’s not my daily driver. I purchased it out of curiosity and was impressed with the experience.

Apple won the smartphone war in the United States and many other nations. For better or worse, the iPhone is ubiquitous, as no single Android device enjoys such a large market share. The iPhone recently surpassed all Android phones’ combined market share in the US. Thus, writing about the iPhone gives us more eyeballs than writing about OnePlus or Samsung.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is a respectable smartphone; however, it could be a better value. Starting at $1099, there are comparable, well-built Android devices that match or surpass these features for hundreds of dollars less. Even mid-level Android devices offer displays with 120 Hz refresh rates and the batteries to support them. 

Android phones are great options if you don’t care what other people think and want to save a few bucks. Android can do many things iOS can’t, such as scheduling text messages. That came in handy while communicating with people abroad. I still prefer the camera on my OnePlus 8 Pro to my iPhone 13 Pro Max. There are many other subtle differences, but, for the most part, the user experience is identical.

In many ways, Apple lags behind the smartphone world, but most people want a Coke, not some generic equivalent. The iPhone is the safe bet. You can rest assured that Apple will be around to keep taking your money. Your friends will remain in contact because you send beautiful blue bubbles full of Animoji and Stickers. The iPhone won, and you can’t go wrong with the 13 Pro Max. There are other options, but the iPhone is always a good choice.

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