Choosing between Apple’s top-tier iPhone Pro Max models is not always easy. We are not always sure if they are worth it, especially with cheaper options available in the same lineup. The iPhone 12 Pro Max was a groundbreaking device when it launched, while the iPhone 14 Pro Max pushed the boundaries even further. Let’s dive into the features, performance, and camera systems to determine if the latest and greatest is worth the investment, or if its predecessor can still deliver a premium experience.

Reasons to choose the iPhone 12 Pro Max

  • Significantly more affordable, especially in the used or refurbished market.
  • Still delivers excellent performance with its A14 Bionic chip.
  • Offers a very capable camera system, although it lacks the 48MP main sensor upgrade.
  • Same beautiful Super Retina XDR display size.
  • Virtually identical design if the Dynamic Island isn’t a major draw for you.

Reasons to choose the iPhone 14 Pro Max

  • Faster performance and better power efficiency thanks to the A16 Bionic chip.
  • Upgraded 48MP main camera for superior detail and low-light photography.
  • ProMotion display with adaptive refresh rates for smoother visuals and scrolling.
  • Unique Dynamic Island provides a new way to interact with the phone.
  • Longer battery life.
  • New features like Crash Detection and Emergency SOS via Satellite.

iPhone 12 Pro Max vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max: At a glance

FeatureiPhone 12 Pro MaxiPhone 14 Pro Max
Release dateNovember 13, 2020September 16, 2022
Display6.7″ Super Retina XDR OLED
60Hz
6.7″ Super Retina XDR OLED
ProMotion technology with adaptive refresh rates up to 120Hz
Dynamic Island
ProcessorA14 BionicA16 Bionic
RAM6GB6GB
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Rear cameras12MP (wide, telephoto, ultrawide), LiDAR scanner48MP (wide), 12MP (telephoto, ultrawide), LiDAR Scanner
Front camera12MP TrueDepth12MP TrueDepth with autofocus
Battery capacity3687 mAh4323 mAh
DesignStainless steel frame, notchStainless steel frame, Dynamic Island
Water resistanceIP68IP68
ColorsGraphite, silver, gold, Pacific BlueSpace black, silver, gold, deep purple
Max OS compatibilityiOS 17iOS 17
5G connectivityYesYes
Price (new)$1099 (discontinued)Starts at
Price (refurbished)Starts at Starts at

iPhone 12 Pro Max vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max: All the differences

While the iPhone 12 Pro Max remains a powerful device, the iPhone 14 Pro Max brings key upgrades and new features to the table. Let’s break down the most significant differences between these two Pro Max models to help you decide if the latest generation is the right choice for you.

Display and design

Both the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 14 Pro Max have 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED displays, renowned for their vibrant colors and deep blacks. However, the iPhone 14 Pro Max introduces significant refinements:

  • ProMotion: The iPhone 14 Pro Max features a 1-120Hz adaptive refresh rate. This means the screen can dynamically adjust its refresh rate depending on the content, providing ultra-smooth animations and scrolling when needed while saving battery life during static tasks.
  • Dynamic Island: Apple replaced the traditional notch on the iPhone 14 Pro Max with the Dynamic Island. This pill-shaped cutout houses the front-facing camera and sensors but also transforms into an interactive hub for notifications, music controls, and other live activities.
  • Brightness: While both phones offer impressive brightness, the iPhone 14 Pro Max takes it a step further with a higher typical brightness and the ability to reach a peak brightness of 2000 nits for stunning HDR content viewing.
iPhone 14 Pro Max with Dynamic Island
iPhone 14 Pro Max with Dynamic Island

The iPhone 12 Pro Max offers a resolution of 2778 x 1284 pixels, while the iPhone 14 Pro Max slightly increases this to 2796 x 1290 pixels. The difference is marginal and might not be noticeable in everyday use.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max introduces an Always-On display feature, a significant addition for users who appreciate having key information (like the time, widgets, and notifications) visible at a glance without needing to wake the device.

Lastly, each generation offers a distinct set of color options. The iPhone 12 Pro Max comes in graphite, silver, gold, and Pacific Blue, while the iPhone 14 Pro Max lineup features space black, silver, gold, and deep purple.

Performance

The iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with the A14 Bionic chip, which was Apple’s fastest chip at the time of its release. This chip is built on a 5nm process technology and features a 6-core CPU with 2 performance and 4 efficiency cores, a 4-core GPU for graphics tasks, and a 16-core Neural Engine for AI and machine learning tasks.

This setup offers a significant leap in performance from its predecessors, capable of handling high-end gaming, complex computational tasks, and enhanced photography processing with ease.

On the other hand, the iPhone 14 Pro Max comes with the A16 Bionic chip. This more advanced processor also utilizes a 6-core CPU layout but is built on an even more efficient 4nm process, offering improved performance and energy efficiency.

The A16 Bionic includes a new 5-core GPU that provides better graphics performance, essential for the latest games and professional applications. Additionally, the 16-core Neural Engine on the A16 has been optimized for even faster machine learning operations, enhancing everything from photography to real-time translation.

You can learn more in Nick Ackerman’s speed review here:

In real-world use, this translates to the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s ability to handle more demanding applications, more intensive multitasking, and a generally snappier experience across the OS and third-party apps. Whether editing 4K videos, playing graphics-intensive games, or using augmented reality applications, the iPhone 14 Pro Max offers a more fluid and responsive experience.

Cameras

Now, this is what you may be looking for when reviewing Apple’s Pro Max iPhones. The iPhone 14 Pro Max takes things to a new level. While the iPhone 12 Pro Max boasts a capable triple-lens camera, the 14 Pro Max makes a significant leap:

  • The most noticeable change is the jump to a 48MP sensor for the primary wide camera. This leap from the 12MP sensor in the iPhone 12 Pro Max translates to greater detail in your photos, better low-light performance, and more flexibility for cropping and editing without sacrificing quality.
  • While the ultrawide and telephoto lenses see less dramatic upgrades, the iPhone 14 Pro Max benefits from improved image quality with features like macro photography (thanks to the ultrawide lens).
  • Apple has further refined its computational photography with the A16 Bionic chip. This means better image processing, a smarter Night Mode, and the new Photonic Engine on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, specifically designed to enhance detail and color in low-light situations.
  • Both phones are strong video performers, but the 14 Pro Max has some advantages, like improved stabilization and the new Action Mode, which delivers incredibly smooth footage even in action-packed scenarios.
  • The iPhone 14 Pro Max offers advanced camera capabilities, including four optical-quality zoom levels ranging from .5X to 3X, utilizing both the ultra-wide and telephoto lenses.
Gold iPhone 12 Pro Max back and cameras
Gold iPhone 12 Pro Max

Battery life

Both the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 14 Pro Max offer solid all-day battery life. Apple lists video playback of up to 20 hours on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, while the iPhone 14 Pro Max offers up to 29 hours (take it with a pinch of salt). This increase is partly due to a slightly larger battery and the power efficiency of the A16 Bionic chip in the newer model.

While neither phone will leave you scrambling for a charger mid-day, the iPhone 14 Pro Max does offer a significant edge in video playback time, particularly if you are a heavy user. It’s important to note that battery life can be affected by factors like screen brightness, app usage, and signal strength.

Conclusion

The iPhone 12 Pro Max remains a powerful smartphone, delivering a premium Apple experience. If you’re looking to save money without sacrificing too much performance, it can be a fantastic option, especially in the refurbished market.

However, if you want the absolute latest innovations and the most powerful camera system in an iPhone, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the clear winner. Its ProMotion display, upgraded processor, Dynamic Island, and advanced camera capabilities make it a more future-proof choice.

If the price of a brand-new iPhone feels steep, exploring refurbished Apple devices on RefurbMe is a smart alternative.

Our platform provides a trustworthy platform backed by a professional warranty and trustworthy merchants, letting you find high-quality iPhones at more accessible prices.

Happy shopping! 🛍️


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