iPhone 14 Pro Max review

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iPhone 14 Pro Max review

The iPhone 14 Pro Max’s clever Dynamic Island, powerful cameras, always-on display and super long battery life make it the best phone money can buy.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max has the upgrades I was waiting for — and one I didn’t know I needed. Yeah, the always-on display is well overdue, but the biggest upgrade is actually Dynamic Island, delivering alerts and live activities like your music, turn-by-turn directions, timers and Face ID animations. Buy iPhone 14

It’s clever — and I admit it’s just fun to use.

I also got a kick out of using the camera’s new Action mode for capturing video. Other smartphones have a similar feature, but the combination of the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s video quality and its super steady footage feels a bit like magic. Also magical is the ease with which you can switch between multiple phone numbers using this flagship’s eSIM functionality, though some will lament the utter lack of a physical SIM card tray. Buy iPhone 14

The iPhone 14 Pro Max is on sale now and has a release date of September 16

. The starting price is $1,099 / £1,199 / AU$1,899, making it one of the most expensive flagship phones around. 

The starting storage remains 128GB, which frankly doesn’t feel very Pro. But you can upgrade to 256GB for $1,199 (£1,309/AU$2,099). Going to 512GB costs $1,399 (£1,529/AU$2,419) and 1TB will run you $1,599 (£1,749/AU$2,769).

For more, see our iPhone 14 deals guide to get the biggest discounts, and our iPhone 14 delivery date guide to see when you can expect to see your phone if you buy it right now.

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iPhone 14 Pro Max review: Design

When I picked up the iPhone 14 Pro Max for this review I noticed two things immediately. The first is that the notch has been replaced by a pill-shaped cutout (more on the Dynamic Island below), and the second is that the camera bump is even bigger.Buy iPhone 14

All three camera lenses on the back of the iPhone 14 Pro Max are larger, as is the flash, so this area takes up a lot of room. This is also a slightly heavier and thicker phone than its predecessor: The iPhone 14 Pro Max measures 6.33 x 3.05 x 0.31 inches and weighs 8.47 ounces, compared to 6.33 x 3.07 x 0.3 inches and 8.46 ounces for the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

What’s missing? That would be the SIM card tray. Like the headphone jack before it, Apple has removed this feature for U.S. models, replacing it with eSIM technology. The good news is that we found it quite easy to add a line to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and you can have two active numbers at once (say, one for your personal number and one for business). The bad news is that some overseas carriers don’t yet support eSIM, so you’ll need to check if your provider is compatible before you travel overseas. 

If you want to keep your iPhone 14 Pro Max looking box-fresh then check out our round up of the best iPhone 14 Pro Max cases.

iPhone 14 Pro Max review: Meet Dynamic Island

Now this is innovative. Apple didn’t just shrink the iPhone’s notch and move it down; it found a way to make this area useful and even fun. In addition to housing the TrueDepth camera, the Dynamic Island acts like a mini dashboard, providing access to the info you need no matter what app you’re in.

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If you open up Apple Music or Spotify, for example, and then swipe back to the home screen, you’ll see the album art displayed on the left side and there’s a mini waveform animation on the right. And if you press and hold on the Dynamic Island, a larger window will pop up showing the track progress and playback controls. Or you can press once just to launch into the app.

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There’s lot of other apps that take advantage of Dynamic Island. You can see the status of your timer there, the next direction to take in Maps, the status of incoming and outgoing calls and more. You can even have two live activities displayed side by side in the Island.

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Later this year Apple will make a Live Activities API available to developers to deliver more Dynamic Island experiences like sports scores, food delivery status, ride sharing info and more. I can’t wait to be able to see how far away my DoorDash delivery is or Uber ride without having to constantly dive back into the app. 

The uses of Dynamic Island extend to other activities as well, such as Face ID, and the animations are fluid without being intrusive. This is just a killer feature and frankly a good reason to get the iPhone 14 Pro Max over the regular iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Plus.

iPhone 14 Pro Max review: Always-on display and screen quality

Apple is definitely playing catch-up with Android phones when it comes to the iPhone 14 Pro’s new always-on display, and yet Apple’s implementation delivers a more robust experience — if you’re willing to take the time to set it up.

Because the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s display refresh rate can scale all the way down to 1Hz, Apple designed its AOD to essentially mirror the lock screen (in color) but at a much lower brightness level. So you can still see your wallpaper, lock screen widgets like weather, calendar and activity ring and notifications coming through.

The always-on display is smart enough to turn off if you put the iPhone 14 Pro Max in your pocket or upside down on a table. I personally appreciated having the always-on display for simply displaying the time without having to fully turn on the display, as my dogs usually see that as a sign they can go outside no matter the time of night.

In a way, I prefer the simplicity of the Pixel 6 and Galaxy S22 Ultra with their always-on displays, showing just the basics like time, battery status and notifications. But I like that there’s more customizations options for the iPhone 14 Pro Max. 

Otherwise, the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s Super Retina XDR display is amazingly bright and vivid. In fact, this panel is rated for up to 1,600 nits of brightness with HDR content and 2,000 nits outdoors in bright sunlight.

This panel dazzled as I zoomed in on footage of a fountain, as I could make out the drops of water hitting the pool below and creating a fizzy bunch of bubbles. And I got lost in a tropical paradise when playing the AirTwister air shooting game, with fluid animations to match the 120Hz ProMotion display.