Review: iPhone 12 Pro Max

I think since the release of the very first iPhone, I have only missed 2 years of upgrades. In fact, I have owned 9 different models of the iPhones including the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone Xs Max, iPhone 11 Pro Max, and finally the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Make no mistake, every year the improvements range from modest to some pretty major upgrades. Although I consider my self a techie kinda guy, my biggest reason for upgrading is more about the camera than it is about chip-sets, screen sizes and other video capabilities.

So this review will pretty much skim over most features of this iPhone and focus (no pun intended) on the camera and photography features of this phone. If you want the technical information or the processor information, then your best bet would be to check out the numerous YouTube videos that discuss these items.

This is the largest iPhone that Apple has ever released. The iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 6.7″ screen which is about .2″ larger than the iPhone Xs Max and the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Some have said this is a “huge” iPhone. But if you’re coming from any of the iPhone MAX phones, then the difference is MINIMAL. Let me repeat, this barely, minimally larger than the previous MAX cameras. Truly…it’s negligible. Most of the additional 0.2″ screen size increase is from thinner bezels on the screen of the iPhone. Again, if you have owned a MAX sized phone, this is not a big deal. If you owned a PLUS iPhone, the difference is moderate, but by no means should it cause you any issues with holding…especially if you use your phone (typing, texting, etc) with two hands (I’m a two handed user…even when I was using the smaller iPhones).

The weight of this phone is slightly heavier than the iPhone 11 Pro Max and in my opinion a noticeable change. It’s not something that should bother you, it’s just something that you will probably notice. I don’t consider it a negative thing, actually it has a feel of quality that you don’t have in some of the lighter and/or plastic phones.

A lot has been made about the flat, sharper design of this iPhone. It’s reminiscent of the iPhone 4 with flat edges and more industrial feel. This particular model, the iPhone 12 Pro Max, feels better in your hand and is less slippery than the older models. Overall it’s a much more more secure feel in your hand.

The screen size is very nice for viewing videos and images. And while this is the largest iPhone Apple has ever made, it’s really not much different than the previous MAX models. Regardless, the screen colors and resolution is one of the best on the market.

As I said in my opening. I buy a new iPhone most years for the camera and not necessarily the other features of the iPhone. Yes, this iPhone feels more “zippy” than the iPhone 11 Pro Max in all aspects. Is it something that most people will marvel at…no not really. This iPhone is fast, and most of the speed I’ll see will be in the camera area. If you think this iPhone is to slow for your needs…you’re nuts.

OK…every year there is a lot of discussion about the battery life of these iPhones. Right now, I’m speaking of ONLY the iPhone 12 Pro Max, but of all the impressive upgrades on this phone…THE BATTERY IS EXCEPTIONAL! I’m getting EXCELLENT battery use…I normally have an almost empty battery by the end of my day, but with this iPhone I’m left with more than 50% of my battery left at the end of the day. VERY IMPRESSIVE!!

The iPhone 12 Pro Max comes in 3 storage sizes. It comes in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. Most people can get by with the 128GB model which I believe is about $100 less expensive than the 256GB model. However, if you can do the other $100, I highly recommend you getting the 256GB model for two reasons. First, that’s enough storage of your photos for someone that takes a LOT of photos and you’ll have no worries about filling it up…BUT, another reason is that the resale value will be much better and easier should you decide to upgrade in the future. (NOTE: always keep the box, the earbuds and paperwork with the box…that also helps in resale).

One thing to remember when speaking of camera upgrades, especially these last few years is that the quality of images are improved every year. But here’s the deal, most smartphone cameras can take really good images in good lighting conditions (in photography…lighting is EVERYTHING). So while I can see some improvement in optimal conditions, the real changes are two fold…first you have the telephoto lens that is upgraded from 52mm to 65mm, and secondly you have much improved night photography stetting that is very impressive.

Regarding the lenses of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, there are several improvements. The 13mm ultra-wide angle lens has been improved and also includes better lens distortion correction. The 65mm telephoto lens increases focal length from 52mm to 65mm optically. Between the 18mm ultra-wide lens and the 65mm telephoto lens, it gives the iPhone 12 Pro Max a 5X optical zoom capability (and a 12X digital zoom capability). But the biggest and most improved lens is the 26mm wide angle (sometimes called the normal lens) with an increased sized sensor (better less noise in low light conditions – the sensor allows more light to reach the sensor). In fact, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has one more feature…the LIDAR module. It allows 3D rendering, but also the ability to assist in FOCUSING in minimal lighting conditions.

OK…with all the technical crap out of the way…does it take good pictures. Why yes, YES IT DOES!!

OK, the daytime (good lighting) images are only slightly better than the iPhone X and the iPhone 11. There is a little more detail in the iPhone 12 Pro Max images and the iPhone 12 Pro Max does handle DYNAMIC RANGE quite a bit better. So what is dynamic range… It’s the ability of the sensor (camera) to capture BOTH highlights (bright things) in an image and also shadows (dark things) in an image with the ability to show more details in the images. If there was a knock, or negative I can say about the images…it’s that the post processing done by the iPhone 12 Pro Max does a little more “sharpening” of the image than I like, but its really just a minor annoyance.

The conclusion I provide here is nothing more than MY OPINION. So here goes. If you own an iPhone X or iPhone 11, then this upgrade is not necessary for great daytime (and some low light) images. Those cameras are not obsolete and still take wonderful looking pictures. Speaking only to the iPhone 12 Pro Max model (not the smaller iPhone 12 models), then this bigger phone (which is not huge as some people say…especially if you like the larger screen)…this bigger phone has 3 lenses, has the larger sensor on the normal lens which makes low light or night photography GREAT…will be the one you’re looking for. The telephoto to me makes more difference than I was expecting, and that’s a good thing.

If you’re like me, I buy a new iPhone almost every year. I save for it and I like always having the latest technology and that’s how I validate spending as much as I do on a new phone every year.

Bottom line, and just like every year…this is the best iPhone that Apple has ever made. PERIOD. (Next year’s model will be the best then too…you catch my drift right). Regardless of the reason for ordering this phone, whether it be that you NEED to upgrade because your current smartphone is obsolete, or you have a vacation coming up, or grandkids being born…or even a wedding you’d like to capture you will not be disappointed in the product. If you’re a techie kinda person or just want the latest and greatest…you too will not be disappointed.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a well built smartphone, the best in the world in my opinion, it’s faster than any other smartphone and the image quality is excellent with little or no editing. ANYONE can take beautiful images with this camera. And finally, the battery life on this phone is phenomenal. REALLY, the battery life is better than any phone I have ever owned.

Below are just a few resized (but NOT edited) photos right out of the iPhone 12 Pro Max. I think there is a portrait or two, some closeup images and some landscaped images. Once I get a chance to do some nighttime photography I will post a few of those examples here too. I had hoped to get some fall colors or some of the Old Mill, but those plans just did not work out. I’ll be posting images to my Facebook page over the coming days, weeks and months though.


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