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Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max Long-Term Review: Bigger Might Actually be Better

Remember back when the first cell phones came out and then the race to make them smaller began? Shout out to that tiny Cingular phone. Well, something happened between then and now, and it seems like the race made a U-turn. Suddenly bigger is better. 

I made the switch to an iPhone in 2015/16 and got my 8th generation iPhones, and I couldn’t even begin to explain how cool I felt having a phablet. Since then, I’ve been after each of Apple’s largest models. Naturally, I’m obsessed with the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which I’ve been using since its release.

It consistently lands among the best smartphones, and for me, that is largely because of the screen real estate and resolution, the synergy between iOS devices, and the camera. After spending months using the phone, I have a lot more detail to share. 

iPhone 14 Pro Max Review: At a Glance


  • Superior camera quality
  • Super sharp Retina Display
  • Unique Dynamic Island experience
  • Ease of use


  • Could be clunk to hold for some folks
  • Grip
Dimensions6.33” x 3.05”
Weight8.47 oz
Display6.7” (diagonal) 2796×1290 Super Retina XDR display
Rear Cameras48 MP (wide), 12MP (telephoto), 12 MP (ultrawide)
Front CameraFront Camera: 12 MP (wide)
ProcessorA16 Bionic chip, 6 core CPU with 2 performance and 4 efficiency cores, 5 core GPU, 16 core Neural Engine
Storage128GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB
Battery4,323 mAh
Water ResistanceRated IP68 (maximum depth of 6 meters up to 30 minutes)

iPhone 14 Pro Max: Design

Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro line is undoubtedly the high-end version of their current devices if you couldn’t already guess by comparing the price tags. I’m a sucker for a piece of tech that works and feels luxurious at the same time. 

The matte glass back of the phone paired with the stainless steel edges delivers that premium feel. Sometimes I take my case off just to stare at it, knowing that I could never free-carry in fear of damaging the pristine lines. 

You’re still only getting one Lightning port, which helps with the sleekness but can get cumbersome when you have wired headphones I’and forget to bring the adapter. Though, after a few years of this experience, the calamity this once caused seems so distant. I’m happy there are few inlets for the dust to accumulate. 

Yes, the phone is large, but it’s never felt clunky to me personally. It’s still slim and streamlined in hand. Though, I can see how for some it could be too oversized.

The rounded edges help make the phone feel a little less like a tablet. While you can’t always stretch your thumb over to the complete opposite end of the phone, I rarely found myself having to do so. Everything has been fairly accessible with one hand.

The camera cluster is larger than the predecessor I had (iPhone 12 Pro Max), but the quality of the build and functionality makes their size easy to overlook. I’m also personally a fan of the triple came cluster, it’s giving luxury. 

The MagSafe capability, which is like a magnetic connection for accessories to your phone (including safer wireless charging), is seamlessly integrated into the phone and works right out of the gate.

iPhone 14 Pro Max Display: Crisper and Cleaner

The iPhone 14 Pro Max boasts a Super Retina XDR display, which means they’ve integrated an OLED display that makes it really hard to separate individual pixels, and is smooth. If you’re curious what that means to you, basically you can expect clean graphics, images, videos, and display without being able to see the pixels that actually make up the whole image.

Something new to the 14 Pro Line as a whole is Dynamic Island. If you’re an iPhone user, you’re probably used to the notch that most of the newer models employed before. That’s where the front-facing camera sat and it didn’t integrate into the screen. 

In this display, Apple decided to do away with the notch and gave us an island that integrates the camera and interacts with the display on your phone. It’s a little black bar that shows notifications corresponding to the apps you’re using. It’ll tell you when your Uber arrives, what song you’re listening to, when your Airdrop finishes, and much more. 

It’s a handy little tool that was a welcome change for me. Even though the notches of old were small, the Dynamic Island makes a big difference. I feel like I got more usable screen space back. 

Dynamic Island aside, overall you’re getting a 6.7” (diagonally) OLED display that keeps everything crisp.

iPhone 14 Pro Max Software: More of What You Know and Then Some

As someone who is not a coder and is just an avid user of Apple products, iOS 16 brings a few upgrades, but the overall user experience is largely unchanged. The Dynamic Island brings some new features and functionality with regard to notifications. It also allows you to quickly access apps in use rather than flip through multiple open screens.

The lock screen customization was one of the more notable features of iOS 16. I got the opportunity to customize the display (including adding an always-on feature) that allowed me to choose pertinent widgets and modify the design itself. I also get to save presets for the lock screen/home screen edits, so you can switch depending on your mood.

I personally love the lock screen customization. As someone whose mood is brightened by design, getting more hands-on control of this sparked much joy. 

One other notable feature for me was the notification stacking and organization on the lock screen. The upgrade in iOS 16 made the notifications feel less invasive. They stack at the bottom of the screen and only expand when you swipe through them. You can also collapse them completely or mute them with Do Not Disturb. As someone who feels chronically overwhelmed by notifications and to-do items, this was a welcome change.

iPhone 14 Pro Max Performance: Same Great Consistency

You know that feeling when you unbox your new phone and it starts up and you can already tell it’s moving faster than your last model and all is right in the world for a few moments? Usually, that honeymoon period expires after a few months. And yet, here I am, a little less than half a year after first unboxing my iPhone 14 Pro Max, and I still have that feeling. 

Typically, at around a year after the first turn-on, it feels like iPhones, even just smartphones in general, start to slow down. The battery life diminishes, storage is full, and performance is affected. I haven’t seen that yet with the iPhone 14 Pro Max. It’s a pleasant surprise!

The overall performance is responsive and fast. I don’t see lag when multiple apps are open. The battery life is still holding together as well. I’m still charging once overnight and lasting all day (that’s with filming content and working from my phone the majority of the day).

Geek Bench gave the iPhone 14 Pro Max a score of 5367 on the multi-core test, which is impressive! It definitely feels like you’re getting what you pay for here. 

iPhone 14 Pro Max Camera(s) Review: Do You Even Need Another Camera?

The triple cluster of cameras on the iPhone 14 Pro Max is not a new addition. This cluster has been around for a few generations, but we do keep getting improvements. 

One of my favorite features is the quality of the video. The 4K video on this phone looks better than in real life at times. As a full-time content creator, I would get jealous of the creators who could post videos that looked so high-def and real, it felt like you were part of the action. The cameras here deliver that. 

The selfie cam is also clearer than ever. If you spend FaceTime calls nervously looking at yourself on the mini screen to make sure you look all right (like me), you’ll notice how clear the image is. 

I also especially love the improvements to ProRAW. This is a shooting mode that processes photo files more like a DSLR or Mirrorless camera. That means that you can edit in software like Lightroom while retaining more information from the photo file. That means you get better editing capabilities with the Apple software.

The portrait mode for photos and cinematic mode for video has only gotten better. Every time I travel without my Canon camera, I feel pretty safe knowing the iPhone 14 Pro Max is in my pocket. 

It can be a little cumbersome to figure out which camera is actually shooting the footage on the back (no they don’t all work at the same time, it depends on what and how you are shooting), but typically the camera keeps up and it’s a smooth process to shoot.

The bottom camera of the cluster is your 48-megapixel lens. It seemingly does the bulk of the work as the default camera that boots up as the camera app is launched. It’s crisp and does very well in regular lighting. As a note, you have to turn on the iPhone’s ProRAW setting to get the benefit of the full 48 megapixels. Otherwise, you’ll be shooting at 12-megapixels.

The 12-megapixel telephoto lens sits at the top of the cluster and offers you better detail for up-close shots. It’s also the one that gets utilized for Portrait mode photos. You can see the difference in detail in the photo below.

The camera that sits on the outside edge, completing the triangular cluster, is your Ultra Wide 12-megapixel camera. This camera is great for capturing landscapes or expanding your view when you don’t have much room.

Lastly, you get a 12-megapixel front-facing camera that also stands up to the task. I’ve noticed much better clarity on FaceTime calls and selfies than in previous models. A lot of the grain that was prevalent in older models (even in good light) isn’t there anymore.

You can check out some of the other photos I shot around my apartment in medium/low light as well as some I’ve shot outdoors to get a taste of the camera power. Additionally, all the photos in this post were shot on an iPhone 14 Pro Max because luckily my partner has one as well.

iPhone 14 Pro Max Battery Life: Much Better Than Expected

After using it for some time now, I am still happy with the performance of the 4,323 mAh lithium-ion battery. Normally, by this point in my phone’s life, I’d expect a significant decrease in battery efficiency and overall life, basically charging it multiple times a day. 

I’m so pleased to report that I am still on one overnight charge with no reason to do more during the day. This is with regular use throughout the day. As a full-time digital creator and social media consultant, most of my work is on my iPhone. I’m averaging about 6 hours of screen time per day. 

I primarily stick to the fast charging cable and wall adapter for an overnight charge. The iPhone 14 Pro Max has smart charging built-in to learn your charging schedule to optimize how it charges your phone. That means it’s not overloading the battery with juice and helping to extend its overall life. 

On heavy video or photoshoot days, I noticed a faster battery depletion, but overall I’m usually good on one charge from 6 am to 11 pm at night. That’s mind-blowing enough for me as someone who used to freak out when my phones would lose 10% charge within an hour after charging. 

iPhone 14 Pro Max Review: Our Verdict

Yes, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is pricey, and if you’re a tried and true Android user, you’ll probably still feel like it’s behind on the capabilities when compared to those smartphones. But if you ask me, Apple succeeds again at delivering a highly capable and user-friendly phone. 

The improvements to functionality and design are noticeable and it even makes me think that the $1099 (depending on your model) price tag is worth it.

John Velasco | SPY