If iPhone 12 series was arranged in adjective form, iPhone 12 Pro Max would come at the superlative position. It is the most powerful, largest, heaviest, and technically the best iPhone out there with plenty of features that make it a pretty piece of craftsmanship with sheer performance, excellent camera setup, a top-of-the-line smartphone to pick if you are ready to sell out Rs.1,30,000/- at an average for this offering.
Also Read: iPhone SE 2 – 5 Reasons To Buy Or Skip
Well, I know you can’t resist the feeling to get one for yourself but hey, here’s a detailed review that will help you make your decision stronger.
Prices in India, Variants, Availability
iPhone 12 Pro Max arrives in four colour options i.e. Pacific Blue, Gold, Silver, and Graphite. The device with a 128GB storage variant is available at Rs.1,29,900/- on Apple.com. The price tag on Amazon India starts at Rs.1,24,700/-. The 256GB variant is available at Rs.1,39,900/- on Apple.com while it starts at Rs.1,32,200/- on Amazon India. Finally, the highest variant with 512GB is available at Rs.1,59,900/-. You get a USB-C to Lightning cable and no charger in the box. Trade-in on Apple.com from Rs.7,500/- to Rs.45,900/- on iPhone 7 or newer, and you can even trade non-iPhone smartphones.
iPhone 12 Pro Max comes in an all-new packaging by Apple which misses the fast charging adapter or say, any charging adapter at all. You won’t even find the lightning earpods in the retail box this time. Without these, the box looks slimmer and stylish. An iPhone 12 Mini Box includes:
- iPhone 12 Pro Max device
- USB-C to lightning cable
- User Manual and Apple Sticker
Specs at a glance
Before we talk in detail about the iPhone 12 Pro Max let’s see what the on-paper specs look like?
- Display: 6.7-inch (17 cm diagonal) Super Retina XDR Ceramic Shield display
- Processor: Apple A14 Bionic chipset
- Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
- Software: iOS 14
- Rear cameras: Pro camera system with 12MP Ultra Wide, Wide and Telephoto cameras, LiDAR Scanner
- Selfie Camera: 12MP TrueDepth front camera
- Weight: 228g
- Dimensions: 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4 mm
Design and Build
I am not a big fan of iPhones mainly because of their hefty price tags. I can’t deny that these are the most powerful phones out there if I have to be unbiased for reviews. iPhone 12 Pro Max is the heaviest, largest, and powerful iPhone out there and its design is something that I (and 100s of other reviewers) consider as a piece of pristine craftsmanship. The phone is huge but not bulky thanks to its well-distributed weight.
Talking about the design, iPhone 12 Pro Max shares its design with other iPhone 12-series smartphones, and in fact, it is simply stretched from both width, and height so that you have almost similar designs here just like the previous series.
On the back, you get a nicely cut quad-camera setup housed in a square assembly. It doesn’t protrude much above the back panel, unlike its Android counterparts. All three sensors are covered with sapphire glass for scratch resistance and toughness. The back panel has Corning Gorilla Glass for protection against drops and falls. The back is frosted and looks super premium although it is slippery.
Also Read: iPhone 12 Full Review
On the front, you get a giant OLED panel and a Ceramic Shield on top that makes the display dapper than any Android counterpart. The display is flat with tiny bezels on the sides that makes it look premium. What I am more concerned about is the frame which is made up of stainless steel. It is super glossy and super flat which means it is both slippery and a fingerprint magnet. Yes, you will have to hold the phone in the right way and carefully to avoid slipping. On the contrary, the glossy appearance means you will have to constantly clean the frame, or else it looks shabby.
iPhone 12 Pro Max is IP68 rated which means it can withstand water at 6m for 30minutes as well as it is dust resistant. You get a power button to the right; a volume rocker, a silencer, and a single SIM card slot on the left; and finally, a speaker, microphone, and a lightning port at the bottom.
For your information, the phone is slim at 7.4mm, has a notch the size of all other iPhone 12 devices, and a bit heavy at 228g.
The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max is a top-of-the-line iPhone and offers a great display tech. Speaking of which, it is a 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display with HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The display has a 1284×2778 pixels resolution and has a super-rich 458 PPI density on it. There’s a ceramic glass on top for scratch resistance along with an oleophobic coating to smudges.
iPhone 12 Pro Max gets a flat Retina XDR OLED panel on-board just like all other siblings. It is larger at 6.7-inch offering 1248 by 2778 pixels resolution. To put things into perspective, Apple managed to get a larger display on the same form factor of iPhone 11 Pro Max with the same sharpness. Plus, the display comes with Ceramic Shield protecting against falls and more.
Talking about the quality and performance of the display, it is at its highest thanks to various factors. First up, the display supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10 content and has excellent haptic touch, wide colour support, and true tone tuning on-board. All these features ensure you get the experience using the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
However, even the top-of-the-line iPhone has a limited 60Hz refresh rate when Android smartphones have literally reached 144Hz. Although the processor under the hood and the highly optimized software make the transitions and animations on the display super smooth, it still lacks a higher refresh rate which would have been a lot better. At least the 120Hz touch sampling rate ensures that the display is more responsive than before.
Moving further, we recorded a max brightness of 822 nits and minimum brightness of 2 nits. This comes up to the iPhone 12 Pro’s 1200 nits, getting 822 nits is great even for using the phone under extreme sunlight. The iPhone 12 Pro Max supports DCI-P3 colour space, has an excellent colour accuracy in the range of 1.8 of deltaE and deviation of 2.5 against sRGB colour space. In any case, the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s display won’t let you down whatsoever.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with the latest and flagship Apple A14 Bionic Hexa-core chipset fabricated on a 5nm node. The chipset has two 3.1 GHz Firestorm cores with four 1.8GHz Icestorm cores along with an Apple 4-core GPU on top of it. The device uses 128/256/512GB of NVMe storage along with 6GB of RAM. In true essence, it maxes every specification possible in the performance sector along with others.
Having an Apple A14 Bionic chipset under the hood is great for those who are power-hungry. The A14 has 40 per cent more transistors than A13 thanks to its 5nm fabrication process which translates as more powerful. The device has a 16-core NPU for machine learning as well which tends to increase its AI performance by 70 per cent. Plus, a 6GB RAM is 50 per cent higher than non-Pro models and offers much better performance, slower app loading times, and more. Plus, A14’s ISP offers improved performance in a tonne of camera features including Night Mode, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3, Dolby Vision, and more.
iPhone 12 Pro Max’ A14 chipset offers much better performance than the previous iterations and even the other siblings in the series. GPU performance has been enhanced outperforming all of its previous and current-gen of iPhones. FOr those who want to connect iPhone 12 Pro Max performance with iPhone 12 Pro’s, you are right because the performance exhibited by both of these smartphones is almost identical.
I played a few games because that is how I test out performance on phones around here. Turns out iPhone 12 Pro Max can even churn out good gameplay even if you are playing graphics-intensive titles. However, the phone gets heated playing heavy titles like COD: Mobile which is something I wouldn’t want on a 1.29L smartphone irrespective of the brand name. That disappointed me a lot.
There’s a LiDAR sensor at the back that enables AR applications. You can use the LiDAR scanner for depth detection, scan objects that you can use in augmented reality with its 3D representations, and more. It essentially fires laser beams at objects and creates 3D representations and records reflections for AR-based applications.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with iOS 14.1 pre-installed. I used the device on iOS 14.1 at the time of writing this which brings a string of new features, emojis, AR capabilities, and more. Dynamic Widgets are a big thing on iOS 14.x allowing users to get details on apps in an instant. Just like Android, iOS 14.x supports grouping of apps in their respective categories called App Library that looks fantastic, to be honest.
I have been a fan of iOS for ages and it keeps on improving with every iteration. Back Tap is something new on iPhones as you can configure it and it will act as a shortcut to launch or trigger an action whenever the user taps on the back panel. Other features big on iOS 14 are Dark Mode, enhanced UI, App Clips, summon Siri by Power button, and more. Since it is the iPhone 12 Pro Max we are talking about, it will remain under software updates for at least 5 to 6 years straight so don’t worry about missing out on new features for years to come.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max packs in a quad-camera setup on the back. This includes a 12MP primary shooter with dual pixel PDAF, IBIS, f/1.6 aperture; a 12MP telephoto sensor with f/2.2 aperture, PDAF, 2.5x optical zoom, OIS; a 12MP ultrawide shooter with f/2.4 aperture, 120-degree field of view, and finally, a 3D ToF LiDAR scanner for depth perception. This completes the rear camera setup while the front has a 12MP shooter with f/2.2 aperture and an SL 3D for biometrics and depth perception.
Apple has made a few changes when it comes to the camera. iPhone 12 Pro Max is using sensor-shift stabilization which means that the sensor makes some adjustments on its axes rather than the lens itself which is known as OIS. Another change is a larger sensor size at 47 per cent with bigger pixels that translates into improved low-light performance compared to 12 Pro. Everything else remains the same between the two Pro models.
First up, daylight photography on iPhone 12 Pro is pretty awesome. I was able to take images, magnify them and not even lose a bit of detail with optical zoom although digital zoom is different. Having sensor shift is better than OIS in low-light photography since it enables longer shutter speeds and more. Details are on-point however, intricate objects are something the post-processing needs to work on a bit more.
The ultrawide snapper can capture a pretty wider field of view. There’s no stabilization here but hey, once you tap the phone on a tripod, you can capture impressive photos like no other. There’s a night mode for the ultrawide snapper too. Overall, the ultrawide photos were excellent at daytime at 12MP with proficient distortion corrections. You can even turn the distortion correction off in case you want a wider field of view and worry less about the warping in the corners.
I used the telephoto sensor and was stunned by the 2.5x optical and 12x digital zoom it can capture. Details are rich, colours are near accurate in extreme zoom and whatnot. The 2.5x optical zoom is superb and captures proficient details for most parts of the shot. The telephoto sensor also works at night with a dedicated night mode. 2.5x shots are amazing but you can take it further as well.
You can take portrait shots where the LiDAR sensor can aid excellent edge detection and separation that you wouldn’t get disappointed with. In fact, it allows smooth and fast autofocus even in low-light conditions as well.
Selfies on iPhone 12 Pro Max are surprising albeit similar to iPhone 12 Pro. Portrait mode works even in low light and night mode on the selfie camera is something you will love. Details were on-points with accurate colours and exposure. True to life, well-handled noise, above-average dynamic range, and a few things that you must know about the selfie cam.
When it comes to video recording, you can capture shots at various frame rates and resolutions with all the cameras on board. In fact, you can shoot from all four cameras at once. All various are EIS-based with sensor-shift on the main and optical stabilization on the telephoto sensor. You can capture videos at up to 4K@60fps with Smart HDR or go up to 240fps with 1080p and more. There’s also Dolby Vision dynamic HDR video format available.
Unlike Android smartphones whose batteries could go upwards of 6000 mAh, iPhone 12 Pro max has a 3,687 mAh battery which is slightly smaller than that of iPhone 11 Pro. Even with that, the battery is capable of taking you throughout the day with moderate usage with some juice left till you connect the phone to a charger at night. When tested, the phone offers 16 hours and 52 minutes of HD video loop playback which is good, to be honest.
Talking about charging speed, first up, there’s no charging brick in the retail box. It’s either you already have it or you will have to buy a new charger such as Apple’s 20W PD which is capable of juicing up the battery to 55 per cent in half-hour. It takes another half hour to fill up to 86 per cent and less than half an hour more to fill up completely. You do get the wireless charging option from MagSafe but it will take pretty long to charge the battery wirelessly. It has a 15W wireless charging support that should take around 2 hours to juice up the battery.
Audio, Connectivity, Biometrics
Just like the rest of the iPhone 12-series iPhones, iPhone 12 Pro Max also sports hybrid stereo speakers. It has a bottom-firing loudspeaker and an earpiece that doubles as a loudspeaker with spatial audio support. The stereo speaker on-board the device has an oomph factor to it as it sounds more balanced, and has a Very Good score in the loudness test. In fact, it has one of the best stereo speaker setups in the recent series with deeper bass and the richest mid-tones. It is something that will probably leave you stunned and rocking on the tunes.
iPhone 12 Pro Max is undoubtedly on top of the performance and flagship hierarchy unless iPhone 13 Pro Max is announced. The device simply has too many connectivity features which include a dual-band Wi-Fi 6 support along with Bluetooth v5.0 with LE and A2DP, GPS with QZSS, Galileo, Glonass, and A-GPS. There’s an NFC on-board as well as a USB 2.0 Lightning port, Ultra-Wideband support, and more.
iPhone 12 Pro Max has 5G support which means you can connect to the next-gen cellular network for faster downloads and more at ease. However, the 5G network is still a distant dream in India and thus, it would still take a few years for the infrastructure to be widely available. When it comes to 4G cellular reception is on-point although some users have reported issues with missing signals. However, I didn’t find any hassle connecting to calls both making or receiving a call or accessing the internet from Jio and Vi although the latter has some issues at times that’s from the carrier and not Apple to blame.
There’s no fingerprint scanner here but only FaceID. You can use Apple’s highly secured FaceID and let you access the phone in a jiffy, though if you are upgrading from a flagship Android, you might see it as a bit slow. Or you can use a PIN for locking the phone if you want.
Pros & Cons
- Best-in-class performance with Robust A14 chipset
- Gorgeous in design with Ceramic Shield Back Glass
- Super Retina XDR OLED display
- LIDAR camera technology
- 4K HDR video recording
- No 64GB variant
- No improvement in battery life
- No in-box charging brick
If it wasn’t for the extremely high price tag, I wouldn’t have any problem switching to the iPhone 12 Pro Max. However, that’s my preference and I am quite sure others may not have the price tag in mind.
iPhone 12 Pro Max has more USPs than flaws and that is what makes it a further upgrade from iPhone 7 or X. I wouldn’t recommend upgrading from iPhone 11 Pro Max as you are already on top of the ladder here. There’s no charger in the box, no headphones, the camera tech is almost the same, there’s no fingerprint scanner, and the refresh rate is stuck at 60Hz which are some of the many flaws according to me.
Yet, if you are okay spending a fortune and get an iPhone 12 Pro Max with years of software support, absolutely brilliant design, majestic camera performance (but same), you should go for it.
Some of the potential alternatives are Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, OnePlus 9 Pro, Oppo Find X3 Pro, among others.