HomeAllTechNewsApple iPhone 13 Pro Max review: Minimal effort, maximum reward

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max review: Minimal effort, maximum reward

As the year draws to a close we’re treated to the usual flurry of high-end smartphones ahead of next-gen flagships. Those looking for one of the best phones in the business will undoubtedly have their eye on the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, Cupertino’s latest technological showpiece.

While the design may have barely changed since 2019’s iPhone 11 series, Apple continues to pour its latest hardware and software innovations into the Pro Max. This year’s model looks particularly promising for videographers, thanks to its all-new camera and display capabilities. So come and check out what the latest iteration has to offer in our Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max review.

About this Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max review: I tested the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max over a period of one week. It was running iOS 15. The unit was purchased by Android Authority for this review.

What you need to know about the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max on keyboard

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (128GB): $1,099 / £1,049 / €1,249 / Rs.129,900
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (256GB): $1,199 / £1,149 / €1,369 / Rs.139,900
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (512GB): $1,399 / £1,349 / €1,599 / Rs.159,900
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (1TB): $1,599 / £1,549 / €1,829 / Rs.179,900

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is Apple’s premium smartphone offering for 2021, sitting at the top of the iPhone 13 range. It’s accompanied by the regular iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, and iPhone 13 Pro models.

This year, both the Pro and Pro Max are showcases for the company’s best mobile technology. Including an upgraded processor, 5G improvements, and new camera capabilities. The handsets also sport a new 120Hz ProMotion display, MagSafe compatibility, an IP68 rating, a smaller display notch, and an improved front-facing speaker setup. The only changes between the Pro and Pro Max are the screen size and battery capacity, along with a $100 price difference.

Continuing last year’s controversy, there’s no charger in the box, just a Lightning to USB-C cable. Apple is happy to sell you an adapter for $19 or a wireless MagSafe charger for $39. Alternatively, any USB Power Delivery 2.0 plug rated for 20W or more will charge the iPhone as quickly as Apple’s official products.

See also: Buyers guide to Apple iPhone chargers

Between the four memory configurations and four color options (Graphite, Gold, Silver, and the all-new Sierra Blue — the one we tested), there are technically 16 different iPhone 13 Pro Max variants to choose from this year. Apple has upped the smallest memory configuration to 128GB on this outing and storage tops out at 1TB for those who haul around large on-device media libraries. There’s also 6GB of RAM on board, up from 4GB previously, so more memory all around. Apple has also increased the size of the battery in the hopes of extending the phone’s battery life.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max hit stores alongside the wider iPhone 13 family on September 30, 2021. It’s available to buy from Apple, Amazon, and many, many other third-party retailers around the world.

Design: Copy, paste

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max rear view showing cameras.

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

  • Ceramic Shield and Gorilla Glass, stainless-steel
  • 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm
  • 240g
  • Face ID, 3D depth sensor
  • IP68 water and dust resistance
  • 20% smaller notch
  • Stereo speakers
  • Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Sierra Blue colors

If you’ve seen a recent iPhone, you’ve seen the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Apple has changed very little about this year’s classic design, and why fix what isn’t broken? However, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is 12g heavier and 0.15mm thicker than the previous model. It’s a big, bulky, unwieldy phone.

The sheer size of the 6.7-inch display isn’t helped by the handset’s straight edges, relatively chunky bezels, and 19.5:9 aspect ratio display. It’s pretty hard to fit this thing in your pocket and difficult to use in one hand. The iPhone is broad compared to the 20:9 aspect ratio of Samsung’s flagships and felt downright corpulent to coming after my time testing Sony’s elegant and slimline 21:9 Xperia 1 III. Still, these are all familiar complaints that won’t deter Apple fans from the company’s latest and greatest. Perhaps we’ll see bigger design changes with the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

The iPhone’s now-familiar unattractive notch is, thankfully, about 20% smaller than last year’s model yet still houses all the necessary Face ID hardware in lieu of a fingerprint scanner. It’s another dated aspect of the iPhone’s design compared to modern punch-hole panels, in-display fingerprint scanners, and the early days of under-display front cameras. It’s also not ideal in an age of face masks (unless you have an Apple Watch Series 3 or later), but Face ID is powerful, fast, secure, and deeply integrated enough in Apple’s ecosystem to stick around.

See also: Our guide to all the phone accessories you’ll ever need

The iPhone 13 Pro Max packs an IP68 rating against dust and water resistance and a marginally better-sounding set of front-facing Dolby Atmos speakers compared to the iPhone 12 Pro range. The speakers sound good as far as phones go, although the presentation still isn’t crystal clear at the low end. The stereo presentation is good but easily ruined by tilting the phone even slightly off-axis. If you’re into wireless audio, Apple doesn’t support fancy Bluetooth codecs like aptX and LDAC. But AAC will still serve most headphones well enough.

There’s a familiar Lightning port for charging and data on the bottom and support for MagSafe/Qi wireless charging on the back. It’s infuriating that Apple stubbornly sticks with Lightning for its iPhones while its latest iPads have embraced the more ubiquitous USB-C. It’s not just another adapter cable to carry around, the iPhone won’t place nicely with many USB-C accessories out there either unless you carry a dongle around. There’s no headphone jack, of course — Apple abandoned that several generations ago. Apple’s signature power button, volume rocker, and mute slider are framed in a lovely stainless steel chassis.

It’s infuriating that Apple stubbornly sticks with Lightning for its iPhones.

Rounding out the design is Gorilla Glass protection on the front and back, paired with a scratch-resistant Ceramic Shield display with an oleophobic coating. Apple and Corning are hesitant to talk specifics on the grade of Gorilla Glass, but early testing has shown it’s a near equivalent to Gorilla Glass Victus.

Apple also has a new color option, Sierra Blue, the model I’ve been using. It’s a nice option for those who fancy a splash more style than Graphite or Silver without the gaudiness of Gold. Sierra Blue is more conservative and professional-looking than the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s Pacific Blue, and as such I’m a fan. Clearly, someone at Apple still has an eye for design.

Display: High refresh balderdash

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max display outside

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

  • 6.7-inch OLED with LTPO
  • 2,778 x 1,284 resolution
  • 458 pixels per inch
  • ~19.5:9 aspect ratio, 120Hz variable refresh rate

Reading past Apple’s typical buzzword and marketing gibberish, the iPhone 13 Pro Max finally joins the trend in high refresh rate displays. Sporting a “ProMotion” 120Hz LTPO-backed panel, animations and scrolling appear that bit smoother and more luxurious than before. As this is an adaptive refresh rate, the panel doesn’t run at 120Hz all the time to save battery life. However, at the moment this has the knock-on effect that 120Hz is actually seldom used.

For example, Safari only clocked in at 60Hz while rival Android phones are capable of hitting 120Hz in Chrome. The iPhone’s low power mode knocks this down to 30Hz. Apple notes that third-party developers have to enable 120Hz support, so many apps are not making the most of the phone’s display yet. Developer documentation is expected in the coming weeks so it could be many months before the technology is commonly leveraged, though considering the support for iOS it’s only a matter of time. However, it should be noted this could affect the phone’s battery life if more apps start using the mode.

Currently, third-party apps aren’t making use of 120Hz ProMotion.

This is the only blemish on an otherwise exceptional display. The updated panel boasts impressive peak brightness, contrast ratio, and color gamut specs and looks every bit as good as the numbers suggest. Colors are bright and vivid, HDR content looks great, details are crisp, and the panel’s 1,000 nits of peak brightness ensures outdoor viewing is completely glare-free.

For completeness, I ran the display through our display test suite. I turned True Tone off to disable the phone’s ambient brightness and color adaption control. Despite advertising a Wide Color P3 color space, the display appears to default to sRGB out of the box. But that comes with an incredibly accurate DeltaE of just 0.82 and a max error of 1.63. HDR content with a P3 colorspace doesn’t fare quite as well, as the panel can’t quite display the full-color gamut. Even so, it’s still a very good display.

Performance: Doesn’t get better than this

  • Apple A15 Bionic
  • Five-core Apple GPU
  • 6GB RAM
  • 128, 256, 512GB, or 1TB storage

As we’ve come to expect from Apple, the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s latest A15 Bionic processor is blazingly fast. The chipset packs more than enough performance for day-to-day apps and games. The addition of a fifth GPU core over previous iPhone silicon ensures that the most demanding mobile titles run without frame rate stutters while cranking up all the bells and whistles. This extra performance doesn’t come with too much of a cost to battery life either (more on that later).

The iPhone 13 Pro Max has the fastest smartphone chip around.

When it comes to benchmarks, the A15 Bionic leads the pack. Compared to last year’s iPhone 12 Pro and the A14 Bionic, we’re looking at about an 8% single-core CPU improvement and a 22% uplift in multi-core scenarios. Graphics-wise, the addition of a new GPU core in the Pro and Pro Max models boosts performance between 10% and 25% depending on the test.

In cross-platform testing, the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max tops our charts for GeekBench 5 and 3DMark by quite some margin, powering past the fastest Android phones on the market. During its launch presentation, Apple noted that its latest handset was 50% more powerful than “the leading competition,” i.e. Android phones. That’s not quite the full picture, but single-core CPU and graphics performance certainly meet and even exceed that metric, at least in these benchmarks.

The bottom line: The iPhone 13 Pro Max has the fastest smartphone chip around.

Apple is also packing sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G capabilities into the iPhone 13 Pro Max, depending on your region. The US is the only market with mmWave on board, so, in theory, can hit the fastest speeds, providing you’re in one of the few areas with mmWave available. The new model brings 5G carrier aggregation and a selection of new bands to improve regional support. Again though, these vary by country, so be aware if you plan to import an iPhone from a different region. It also supports eSIM technology, providing your carrier is supported.

Related: The best 5G phones you can buy right now

However, you won’t find all the networking bells and whistles here. The phone lacks the cutting-edge Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6E standards you’ll find on high-end smartphones like Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra. While still niche, we’d expect a phone commanding such a high price to be more futureproof in this regard.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max scores another notch higher than its predecessor in terms of both general performance and 5G — although it’s certainly not a revolution in either regard compared to last year’s model.

Battery: Two day’s worth

  • 4,374mAh battery
  • 20W USB Power Delivery 2.0 wired charging
  • 15W MagSafe wireless charging
  • 7.5W Qi wireless charging

With a bigger battery on board — 4,373mAh vs 3,687mAh last generation — Apple is looking to dispel the iPhone’s reputation for causing battery anxiety. It’s definitely mission accomplished, at least as far as the iPhone 13 Pro Max is concerned.

Of course, battery life varies depending on your use case. In my experience, basic web browsing, social media, and occasional video watching resulted in over nine hours of screen-on time. That’s almost certainly enough for most users to go through two entire days on a single charge. It’s very difficult to run this phone down and battery life easily rivals and often exceeds what you’ll get from Android smartphones.

See also: The best charging accessories

The handset is an efficient gamer too, chugging down just under 30% battery during a two-hour gaming session. Extrapolating, the Pro Max’s decent-sized battery offers around six hours of gaming time, fantastic for entertainment on long trips.

Two full days of battery life is one of the best in the business. It’s a shame the charging speed is not.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max offers a selection of charging options. The fastest is 20W wired charging via USB Power Delivery adapters, although 20W lags notably behind other premium smartphones. As the low wattage implies, the iPhone 13 Pro Max takes over a couple of hours to fully charge, although it reaches a very usable 50% in under an hour. For wireless power enthusiasts, the handset sports 15W MagSafe and 7.5W Qi charging options. While nice to have, these are definitely slower than wired charging and won’t have you back on your feet so quickly.

Camera: A creative toolkit

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max camera module ultra close

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

  • 12MP, dual pixel PDAF, dual OIS, ƒ/1.5, 1.9µm pixel size
  • 12MP ultra-wide, 120-degree field of view, five-element lens, PDAF, ƒ/1.8
  • 12MP telephoto, ƒ/2.8, dual OIS, six-element lens, 3x optical zoom
  • 12MP front camera, ƒ/2.2
  • TrueDepth 3D sensor (depth and biometrics)
  • 4K HDR 60fps and 1080p 120fps slo-mo video recording

We expect cutting-edge photography from the iPhone and the Pro Max boasts the best technology that Apple has to offer. Overall I’m pleased with the phone’s camera capabilities, particularly when it comes to colors, white balance, and details. Apple’s camera now asks you to pick from Photographic Styles on the first open, which offer customizable contrast and tint to your pictures. There are four presets, Vibrant, Rich Contrast, Warm, and Cool. I’ve left it on Standard for the samples you’ll see below.

Check out: The best camera phones you can get

Apple prefers a warmer white point than other camera phones but it’s not an issue as such and the camera otherwise balances colors very well. It’s hard to take a bad picture with this phone. However, I’ve used a lot of very good camera phones this year and the iPhone 13 Pro Max isn’t flawless, particularly when it comes to exposure.

For instance, Apple promises improved HDR photography capabilities this year, but my experience is a mixed bag, yet again. Apple’s HDR sensor and software technology has fallen behind the Android competition in recent generations. It’s tough to say if the iPhone 13 Pro Max is much better than the 12 Pro Max. It’s perhaps more consistent than its predecessor but the phone is still more prone to highlight clipping and underexposure than Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra and other smartphones I’ve tested.

Likewise, Apple boasts improvements to low light capabilities this generation. The iPhone 12 Pro Max, assisted by Night Mode, was passable in this regard, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max is a little better but certainly not game-changing. Generally, low-light shots come out less noisy than the competition (such as the S21 Ultra below) and have a fraction more color and exposure than last year’s iPhone. But there’s not a huge amount between the two without pixel peeping. Night mode helps out further and the handset can pull out a lot of color and detail from an otherwise drastically underlit scene. That being said, even with a wider aperture the ultra-wide and, to a lesser extent, the telephoto lenses are not quite as usable in the dark, although Night Mode definitely helps if you have steady hands.

An oddity that Apple seems to have introduced is automatic camera lens switching to ensure the best focus. For example, 3x won’t always use the telephoto lens if the environment is too dark or the subject too close. While this is a good idea in principle, this means that the phone regularly resorts to the inferior ultra-wide camera for macro and won’t engage the 3x telephoto at closer and medium ranges. Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra has a similar feature to help focus the main camera but prompts the user with a toggle to turn it on and off. The iPhone 13 Pro Max could use a similar option.

Still, the upgraded 3x telephoto lens takes some decent snaps at medium range. The phone’s usable zoom range extends out to around 5x but beyond that the side effects of digital zoom are apparent. Zoom image quality is marginally improved from last year’s 2.5x telephoto lens, mostly thanks to lower noise, but the iPhone 13 Pro Max is still missing the long-range capabilities of some rival phones. The ultra-wide lens provides a huge step back from the main sensor, with colors and exposure that almost perfectly match the main sensor. Kudos to Apple, as color and exposure matching is a problem we see on a lot of other phones. Overall, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is a consistently good shooter from 0.5x out to 5x, enough flexibility for all but the extremely demanding photographer.

It’s virtually impossible to take a bad picture with this phone.

Outdoor selfies are similarly solid, although Apple’s skin tones are a little on the warm side. The inclusion of depth-sensing data allows the iPhone 13 Pro Max to apply accurate and great-looking bokeh blur to your selfies. Fine stray hairs still cause a few edge detection issues but this is a common problem for software blur and you won’t notice unless you examine your pictures really closely. Unfortunately, the selfie camera fairs less well indoors with lower light levels. There’s a notable level of grain and face textures begin to smudge. Granted, it still holds up better than some front-facing cameras but it’s an issue we’d hoped Apple would address this generation.

One new feature Apple has included with the iPhone 13 Pro Max is a new Cinematic video mode. The option brings software bokeh to video capture with the added gimmick of autofocusing on faces looking at the camera. This works as advertised but can be finicky with multiple faces in the scene. And although this mode is targeted at creators, it doesn’t offer any control over frame rate or resolution, which you can find in the regular video mode.

Furthermore, ProRes video, Apple’s lossless video compression format for editing, will be making its way to this phone but not until “later this year.” Although the 128GB model will be limited to 1080p ProRes due to its high data consumption. Overall, Apple’s videography remains one of the best in the business and the iPhone 13 Pro Max adds new tools for those who like to dabble in mobile creativity, but serious movie makers will still want some more professional kit.

All these features are wrapped up in Apple’s traditional camera app. It’s still a mostly standard affair that will feel familiar no matter what phone you’re coming from. However the growing range of modes and icons has added to the app’s complexity. It’s not quite as easy or quick as it once was to find the option you’re after.

Despite Apple’s talk about a larger sensor for better light capture, marginally longer zoom, and improved HDR capabilities, I’ve not detected a huge amount of difference between the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the iPhone 12 Pro Max so far. The iPhone remains a very solid shooter but there’s nothing revolutionary that should cause you to rush out and upgrade. You can check out the full-resolution camera samples in this Google Drive folder.

Software: Faithfully Apple

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max app library

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

I don’t spend more than a few months with iOS in any given year but each time I return I’m equal parts impressed and infuriated with Apple’s mobile operating system and ecosystem. It’s no different with iOS 15.

If you’re big into Apple’s extended product ecosystem then its software setup is second to none. AirPods, Apple Watches, and iPads connect seamlessly and it’s effortless to transfer data between devices thanks to iCloud and AirDrop. Apple’s first-party apps are beautifully presented and expertly functional — although Apple is overly keen to push its Music, News, and TV subscription services onto you. So brace yourself for free-trial notifications for Apple TV Plus and Apple Arcade — the latter an Apple exclusive with access to some truly excellent mobile games.

iOS 15 offers everything you’d want from a modern mobile OS. Stackable widgets, introduced in iOS 14, are a particularly neat idea that builds on the classic Android formula. Merging news and weather into a single swipeable widget, for example, is great for seeing everything at a quick glance without cluttering up the home screen. Likewise, the App Library automatically sorts your apps, making them easier to find than eyeballing a cluttered home screen. Again, this isn’t a new feature, it was also introduced last year.

Instead, the move to iOS 15 is more about specific improvements than overhauling the traditional iOS experience. Focus Mode, for example, builds on the classic Do Not Disturb formula, allowing you to filter calls and notifications by contacts, apps, and the time of day or your location. Once set up, it’s an extremely powerful tool to help you manage when and to whom you’re available and limit notification distractions.

Other upgrades include various Maps improvements, Portrait Mode and spatial audio for Facetime, photo collages in iMessage, more user-friendly Safari navigation controls, and a redesigned weather app, to name some of the bigger changes. As such, the day-to-day iOS experience feels pretty similar to last year and even the year before that.

Expect the iPhone 13 Pro Max to be supported with iOS updates for a long, long time.

Instead, it’s specific apps that look and feel a bit different compared to iOS 14. Given that last year’s iPhones can already upgrade to iOS 15, the new software isn’t worth running out to buy a new phone for by itself. That’s a credit to Apple’s speedy and long-term update policy, which continues to put most Android manufacturers to shame. Case in point: the six-year-old iPhone 6S is eligible for an iOS 15 update. Expect the iPhone 13 Pro Max to be supported for a long, long time.

If you’re coming from an Android phone, iOS 15 is instantly usable but still features a number of design oddities. The lack of a universal back button and the one sometimes located in the upper left makes navigation less intuitive than it should be. Why settings for something as simple as camera gridlines are tucked away under camera in the universal settings app rather than in the camera app itself is even more bizarre. I’ll never understand why iOS allows for some settings to be kept so far out of reach while some apps, such as Chrome, are much more self-contained. Equally, the App Library to the right-most screen is more time-consuming to access than Android’s home button or swipe up equivalents. Siri, while perpetually improving, isn’t quite as flexible or powerful as Google Assistant either, particularly when it comes to broader smart home ecosystems.

Read more: All the key iOS 15 features and how they compare to Android

Of course, for regular iPhone users, these complaints may sound petty. But I’m equally exasperated by Android skins that pollute the OS with obfusticating layers of menus and options. iOS feels like it falls into a similar trap, failing to keep things as intuitive and simple as they could be. That being said, iOS 15’s new features add up and it’s still a mostly slick and highly functional mobile operating system, if not verging on a little bloated.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max specs

iPhone 13 Pro Max
Display 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
2,778 x 1,284 resolution
ProMotion 120Hz
HDR, True Tone
Wide color (P3)
2,000,000:1 contrast ratio
1,000 nits max brightness (typical); 1,200 nits max brightness (HDR)
Ceramic Shield front
Processor Apple A15 Bionic
Storage 128 / 256 / 512GB /1TB
Battery Qi wireless charging up to 7.5W
Up to 50% charge in around 30 minutes with 20W adapter or higher (sold separately)

Wireless charging up to 15W
Magnet array
Alignment magnet
Accessory Identification NFC

Cameras Rear:
-Wide-angle 12MP, ƒ/1.5, dual OIS, 7-element lens, 100% Focus Pixels, Night Mode
-Ultra-wide 12MP, ƒ/1.8, 120° field of view, 5-element lens, lens correction, Night Mode
-Telephoto 12MP, ƒ/2.8, dual OIS, 6-element lens

3x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out, 6x optical zoom range, digital zoom up to 15x, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3, Apple ProRAW

HDR video with Dolby Vision up to 60fps
4K video at 24fps, 30fps, or 60fps
1080p HD video at 30fps or 60fps
720p HD video at 30fps
OIS for video (Wide)
3x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 6x optical zoom range, digital zoom up to 9x

-TrueDepth 12MP, ƒ/2.2

Night Mode, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3

Connectivity 5G (sub‑6GHz and mmWave)
Gigabit LTE with 4×4 MIMO and LAA
Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2×2 MIMO
Bluetooth 5
Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness
Express Cards with power reserve
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou
Digital compass
iBeacon micro-location
Sensors Face ID
LiDAR Scanner
Three‑axis gyro
Proximity sensor
Ambient light sensor
Software iOS 15
Durability IP68
Dimensions and weight 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm
Colors Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Sierra Blue
In the box iPhone
USB‑C to Lightning cable

Value and competition

iPhone 13 Pro colors

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

The largest of the 2021 models with all the features in tow.

The biggest and best iPhone 13 brings all the bells and whistles. Not only does it have the largest display, but it also has the longest battery life, and every new iPhone feature Apple has up its sleeve.

With prices ranging from $1,099 to $1,599, the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max is one of the most expensive phones on the market. Even so, it’s going to be the go-to handset for Apple enthusiasts that want the biggest and best. For those willing to drop the size, the iPhone 13 Pro ($999) features nearly identical hardware to the Pro Max, is a slightly more manageable size, and costs $100 less. As such, the iPhone 13 Pro is a marginally better deal than the Pro Max, providing you don’t mind the slightly smaller battery. There’s also the regular iPhone 13 ($799) to consider, though you start to lose “Pro” features like the telephoto camera and the high refresh rate display.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra ($1,199) is the Pro Max’s clearest rival. Originally on sale for $1,199, the phone can now be found for under $1,000 on a good day. With an IP68 rating, wireless charging, excellent high-resolution display, S Pen support, and an even more robust camera package, it’s a compelling handset that still rivals Apple’s greatest a few months down the line. Plus it will be supported for the long haul thanks to Samsung’s improved update commitment, albeit not quite as long as Apple’s device.

Sony’s Xperia 1 III ($1,299) occupies the same premium price bracket. Boasting competitive features and some of the best multi-media capabilities around. Along with a fun and formidable camera setup, it provides an equally compelling creative toolkit as Apple’s most expensive iPhone in a form factor that’s much more manageable.

Finally, Google’s premium-tier Pixel 6 Pro is right around the corner too. Promising a new in-house chipset and vastly improved imaging capabilities, it seems foolish for Android enthusiasts not to wait and see what Google’s flagship phone has to offer.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max review: The verdict

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max rear view showing cameras taken outside

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Apple receives a fair amount of criticism for a lack of innovation these days, particularly from the Android side of the smartphone coin. The iPhone 13 Pro Max certainly won’t shake the hecklers, but I’d describe Apple’s approach as staid rather than shiftless. The company knows what works and the iPhone 13 Pro Max is an unadventurous but respectable continuation of that successful formula with just enough new twists to keep it near the top of the pack.

The drawback is that Apple’s ultra-premium flagship can’t really be said to be on the cutting edge. Apple’s ProMotion display is late to the 120Hz party and it’s going to be many more months until third-party developers leverage the phone’s capabilities. The phone certainly isn’t the fastest at wired or wireless charging either. Likewise, Apple’s photography rivals are forging further ahead with long-range periscope and dual focal-length designs.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is a respectable continuation of what Apple does best.

That said, the iPhone 13 Pro Max remains a photography, videography, and performance powerhouse. It’s a phone absent of glaring weaknesses and one that will serve even the most demanding users very well indeed. The software experience is also seamless enough to make the switch from Android without much hassle, should you be so inclined.

Whether you should upgrade is the pertinent question. With only incremental improvements on offer from the iPhone 11 to 12 and now 13 series, there’s little compelling reason to spend $1,099 on the iPhone 13 Pro Max, unless your current phone is four or more years old. Especially as Apple is rolling out iOS 15 back down the range so quickly and so comprehensively. Likewise, customers with a relatively recent Android flagship can rest assured that they’ve probably already experienced much of what Apple’s best iPhone has to offer.

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