If you had any doubts that the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max is a durable phone, go ahead and cast those away. Many latest video shows the top iPhone being scratched, burned and bend-tested and in keeping with its peers and predecessors, the iPhone 13 Pro Max survived.
There were no surprises. If you’re familiar with the durability test then the iPhone’s screen scratched at a level 6 like any other glass display on a current smartphone, the stainless steel frame’s glossy coating scratched with a razor, the phone didn’t nudge when bend tested. The burn test was interesting – the iPhone 13 Pro Max’ OLED display’s pixels didn’t burn after nearly a minute over the lighter.
Yes, it’s a bit of a tired trope to moan about how expensive the iPhone can get at the top end, but Apple has charged top dollar for its best iPhone year on year, and yet they still remain among the most popular models, meaning ‘too expensive’ is starting to become rather subjective when it comes to reviewing.
Well, ‘best’ is heavily subjective here, but if you can handle the gargantuan proportions of a phone with a 6.7-inch screen, then this is easily the best iPhone Apple has ever made… until the iPhone 14 makes an appearance, of course.
The design is almost identical to that of the 12 Pro Max that appeared in 2020, with the flat, industrial-looking stainless steel frame surrounding the massive OLED screen.
The large camera protrusion at the rear is noticeable (and it now sticks out even further to enable greater photography prowess). The new Pro comes in a fetching Sierra Blue too this year, which is a nice-looking, powdery color to enjoy.
The screen has been improved to not only include a 120Hz refresh rate, called ProMotion (which iPhone users have been asking for for years, but which to our eyes adds very little) but also higher maximum brightness and a smaller notch.
The shrinking of the notch is good, but it’s not game-changing – Apple needs to shrink it out of existence. However, the overall screen quality is stunning, whatever you’re looking at. The key thing you’d buy the iPhone 13 Pro Max for, in our opinion, is its battery life. Apple has improved this again over the 12 Pro Max, which offered pretty good longevity, to the point where it’s no longer an issue.
The cameras, as we’ve alluded to, enable you to take a huge variety of snaps in a wider range of scenarios than ever. Apple has made a big deal about adding improved low-light capability and Night Mode to all of the three 12MP sensors on the rear, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max also comes with a nifty macrophotography mode.
This means the handset will automatically shift to the ultrawide camera when you get close to objects, and the effects are stellar. Apple has balanced an impressive amount of power with ease of use, so you can take great snaps in auto mode, but you’re also easily able to play around with various settings for a more hands-on experience. However, we’re not taken with the new Cinematic mode, which will automatically shift focus depending on where people are looking – it’s cool, but it doesn’t really add much.
Finally, another reason to save up and buy the iPhone 13 Pro Max is its performance – it’s ridiculously powerful, and is able to play games to a high graphical standard and perform intensive tasks like encoding video at a pretty nifty rate.
Most people buying this phone will never scratch the surface of what it can truly do, but videographers will really appreciate the increased storage, the number of shooting options and speed at which it can process edits. Really, 1TB is only for those who are going to be using the iPhone 13 Pro Max for movie making and generating reams of 4K video at 60 frames per second, or thousands of maximum-resolution photos; most people won’t need more than 512GB.We’ll get this out of the way now: if you’re looking at the iPhone 13 Pro Max as your next phone, you surely have to know you’re getting a massive handset. And it is massive. This is not a phone for those wanting something that you can wrap a hand around or even reach a thumb the whole way across – you want screen, you want battery, and you’re ready to sacrifice the feel in the hand for it.
What was noticeable was that the screen scrolled in a far more ‘stable’ way, meaning that our finger flicks were far more accurate, and we didn’t send the rows of text flying around with the merest quiver of a digit. Text was also clearer as it flew by, showing that there is a benefit here, even if it’s a modest one.
While we have called this a luxury feature, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is presented as one of the most luxurious phones on the market, so a 120Hz screen is something that Apple really should have added by now, and its presence feels more like a box-tick than an impressive new feature.
Another purported advantage of a 120Hz screen is for gaming – the increased frame rate is supposed to yield superior play thanks to smoother motion and the ability to react that much quicker in games – but quite honestly, we couldn’t see a difference compared to older screens.Don’t get us wrong, it looks good, but it’s hard to see what 120Hz is adding here other than a touch more fluidity. Developers will likely need to optimize some games to make full use of the slickness of 120Hz, so perhaps that’s what we’re seeing here – we’ve asked for more clarification.
Apple is also touting greater outdoor brightness on the iPhone 13 Pro Max, with higher peak levels of 1200 nits (read: brighter than a lot of other smartphones out there). Compared to the 11 Pro Max, it was easier to see what was on the screen in brighter conditions, although it’s still something of a squint-fest when you’re trying to watch a movie in direct sunlight.
However, that screen brightness increase makes the 13 Pro Max more usable than any iPhone before it and a good example of Apple focusing on the changes that really will make a difference in day-to-day use.