iPhone 12 Pro Max Review: 4 Months Later

I have owned the iPhone 12 Pro Max for four months and want to share my thoughts on my sixth iPhone.

There is always the temptation to change phones every year, but I am an ordinary consumer and can’t justify the expense of annual upgrades. I find it challenging to justify changing the iPhone two years down the line, especially when the technology does not advance significantly.

After having waxed lyrical about the latest iPhone and why you should “Go-Pro”, has the experience of the past four months changed my opinion?

The iPhone 12 Pro Max Camera

The camera on the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the reason I gave in to temptation and upgraded.

With an extra lens, larger sensor, and the latest iOS features, the quality improvements compared to my previous iPhone XS seemed substantial. The potential to capture higher quality images hooked me, and I have not been disappointed.

The camera can handle a wide variety of situations and is particularly good at low light shots. With the iPhone XS, I had usually been disappointed with low light results and knew when and when not to take a picture.

I will still challenge the camera in astro­photography and exploit its RAW capabilities.

The Pro Max Size

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is not much larger than the standard iPhone. My thoughts are shared here, but suffice to say the Max is excellent for watching videos, content creation and image editing.

However, with a folio case, the phone does bulk-up to the point of being awkward to hold. So much so, I take the case off when at home.

iPhone 12 Pro Max Design

During the pandemic, my iPhone has spent much of its time out of a case. I only use a protective case when venturing to the shops.

An iPhone only feels premium when it is naked. Once you protect the iPhone in a plastic or leather case, the iPhone feels just as good as that case.

So how does the iPhone feel in hand?

In a word – uncomfortable.

I never considered the design change when ordering the phone, but I missed the rounded edges after only a few days.

With the Pro Max, the squared steel edges feel sharp. The build quality is excellent, but in my large hands, my fingers never feel comfortable. The bottom left corner of the phone also digs into my hand below the thumb.

Holding the iPhone in a horizontal position for videos is entirely different with no issues.

Another feature I don’t like is the camera bump. Without a case, I am conscious of placing the phone down on its lenses, so I hope Apple made them of durable material. The fact the iPhone doesn’t lie completely flat is irrelevant; only the risk of lens damage is a concern.

I suspect, however, the screen isn’t of durable material.

Like all new iPhones in 2021, Apple has applied the new ceramic shield to the screen. The ceramic shield is a crystallised coating alleged to provide up to four times better drop protection.

Some YouTube creators warned that better drop protection could mean reduced scratch resistance.

How right they were.

After 11 years of scratch-free/damage-free iPhone ownership, my new iPhone has a 3mm × 2mm damage point on the screen.

A nasty little score.

How much damage will there be after two years, the duration of my loan?

Picture and Sound

I confess.

Without a Samsung 120 Hertz refresh rate for comparison, the 60 Hertz rate of the iPhone appears excellent.

The screen is beautiful in terms of HD, colours and motion. The speakers’ sound is impressive, and depending on the source, left and right channel shifts are noticeable. I can’t fault the phone on picture or sound.

One-handed Use

The ability to use the phone with one hand will depend… dare I say it, on the size of your hands. I can manage the phone quite well with one hand, but the comfort factor above lets down the experience.

Other Features on iPhone 12 Pro Max

iOS 14

While nothing to do with hardware, the latest and greatest iOS version is a joy to use on the new iPhone.

iOS 14 offers countless features I know I will never use, but the App Library is a godsend. My iPhone has two pages of apps, with the remainder consigned to the library.

In time I will get apps down to one screen and leave everything else in the library. Minimalism is an interest at the moment; even the text editor I’m using is called Minimal.

Steel and Fingerprints

Like many smartphones, you should enjoy the unboxing experience. Your phone will never look as clean and shiny again.

Buttons

Buttons have never been an issue on my phones, but the iPhone 12’s seem slim and not as robust as previous iterations. Time will tell if they are durable.

The Frosted Back

The back of the iPhone looks and feels premium. No issues of concern.

MagSafe Charging

Yes, I fell for the ploy and purchased another power adapter (20 watts) and the MagSafe charger. Now the phone charges just like the Apple Watch.

Concluding Remarks on iPhone 12 Pro Max

Well, that’s my take on the iPhone 12 Pro Max – a big phone, pricey with a fantastic camera.

Anyone considering a new iPhone, however, might want to try for the 11 series. The ceramic shield is dubious in terms of damage resistance, and while using a case could improve grip comfort, you shouldn’t have to buy cases for products at over £1100.

The bottom line is, if I had to choose again, I wouldn’t buy the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

I would have looked up the iPhone 11 Pro Max from my carrier, securing an updated camera and features with a scratch-resistant screen and a comfortable grip.

I have learned this; the latest isn’t always the best, whatever marketing tries to convince you.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a great phone, but the experience has taught me to stop upgrading every two years.

I wonder if a Mac user could get by with an Android phone?