iPhone 12 Pro Max Review Roundup: Bigger and Better

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 9 Nov 2020

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max

Ahead of the release of the iPhone 12 Pro Max later this week, the first set of reviews of the device have hit the internet. If you plan to buy the iPhone 12 Pro Max, check out what some of the major publications have to say about Apple’s biggest iPhone to date in our review roundup.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is similar to the iPhone 12 Pro but comes with a bigger display, better battery life, and a better primary camera. These factors could lead to a lot of people considering the iPhone 12 Pro Max over the iPhone 12 Pro, especially since the former is only $100 more expensive.

Read iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: Which One Should You Buy?

iPhone 12 Pro Max Review Roundup

The Verge

iPhone 12 Pro Max camera

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is big, but if you can live with its size, you are rewarded with an impressive camera.

There’s just no getting around it: the iPhone 12 Pro Max is a very big phone. The measurements don’t tell the whole story — by the numbers, it’s just a little bit bigger than the 11 Pro Max, but the new design with flat sides makes it feel much larger than it is, and makes it slightly harder to hold than a phone with curved sides. It’s also a bit heavier than other big phones like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and iPhone 11 Pro Max, which makes it feel even bigger.

Live with the size to enjoy the impressive camera.

The upshot of all this is simple: the wide camera on the iPhone 12 Pro Max is one of the most confident smartphone cameras I’ve ever used. It can take great photose in a huge variety of situations, and 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 and 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 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.

The bigger sensor means the iPhone 12 Pro Max does not take as long night-exposure shots as other iPhone 12 models.

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. And 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.

The bigger sensor has allowed Apple to move ahead of other smartphone cameras.

Overall, when it comes to 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 and Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Look at how muddy the Pixel 5 looks in this basic sunset photo compared to the Pro Max, and look at how washed out the image of the truck from the Note 20 looks. Apple has noticeably moved ahead of the pack here.

The battery life is another plus point of the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a big phone, and as such, it has a big battery. And 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.



iPhone 12 Pro Max

Engadget’s title of their iPhone 12 Pro Max review perfectly sums up the device: Better, not just bigger.

If you are already used to the size of the iPhone 11 Pro Max, you will find the iPhone 12 Pro Max even more comfortable to use.

It’s also important to note that the iPhone 12 Pro Max is slightly thinner than last year’s big iPhone. If you break out the calipers, the difference seems minimal, but trust me — every fraction of a millimeter counts when we’re talking about large devices you’re going to hold throughout the day. That said,iIt’s also a little heavier than the iPhone 11 Pro Max, but not to the point where most people would make a fuss. On the whole, Apple’s nipping and tucking means the 12 Pro Max is more comfortable to use than last year’s model, and that’s a big deal.

Engadget’s review of the iPhone 12 Pro Max camera is not that impressive.

This camera also has the same f/1.6 aperture as the smaller iPhone 12 Pro, which basically lets more light hit the sensor But there’s a twist: The pixels on the sensor are physically bigger, so they capture even more light. In daylight, I don’t think you’ll see much of a difference; this mostly means in some cases, the camera won’t automatically fire up Night Mode as frequently, or that it doesn’t need to run for as long when it does. I’ve been testing the iPhone 12 mini alongside the Pro Max, and I’ve seen that happen a few times. The resulting photos look surprisingly similar, which is impressive when you consider the mini had to combine multiple exposures into a single photo.



The squarish design makes the iPhone 12 Pro Max difficult to hold, something that’s more clearly felt on this device due to its sheer size compared to other iPhones.

This is a great piece of kit and as mentioned even smaller than previous Max models with the same size screen. But in my opinion, the squared off edges of this year’s aesthetic make this phone harder to hold, not easier at this size. This is essentially the opposite effect from the smaller models. For a phone this size I’d imagine everyone is going to use a case anyway so that’s probably moot, but it’s worth noting.

The primary camera on the iPhone 12 Pro Max is definitely better than other iPhone 12 models.

Wide angle shots from the iPhone 12 Pro Max display slightly better sharpness, lower noise and better color rendition than the iPhone 12 Pro and much more improvement from the iPhone 11 Pro. In bright conditions you will be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two iPhone 12 models but if you’re on the lookout the signs are there. Better stabilization when handheld in open shade, better noise levels in dimmer areas and slightly improved detail sharpness.


You can also check out some iPhone 12 Pro Max reviews below.

What are your thoughts about the iPhone 12 Pro Max? Will you buy it over the iPhone 12 or the iPhone 12 Pro? Drop a comment and let us know!