In our early testing, the iPhone 14 Pro Max doesn’t look that much different on the outside than the 13 Pro Max. But the differences here are more than skin deep – and the Dynamic Island is a genuine change for the device. A lower-than-expected price is welcome, but will it be enough for prospective upgraders?

Hands on: iPhone 14 Pro Max review

The iPhone 14 Pro Max is the ‘underground’ star of the Apple Far Out event. It might not be the most searched-for, but it’s certainly the one that impresses the most, especially over the so-so iPhone 14.
While very similar to the iPhone 13 Pro Max launched last year (and the 12 Pro Max the year before that), there are some significant upgrades in the camera, screen tech, notch and functionality that make this the phone most people should be checking out this year…
…if they can afford it, that is. We’ve put our hands all over it to find out whether it’s likely to be worth your excitement (and, eventually, hard-earned cash).
There’s no slow-down on when you’ll be able to hold the devices though – iPhone 14 preorders open from launch day, September 7, and you can get your hands on the iPhone 14 Pro Max from September 16.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max isn’t going to differ significantly in design over the 13 Pro Max, as mentioned above. However, if you’re looking for something that’s going to fit that expensive case you bought for the 13 Pro Max, you’re out of luck; while the dimensions are pretty much the same, the camera bump at the rear is much longer.
Holding the new Pro Max is a really familiar feeling if you’ve used the 12 or 13 Pro Max before. The sharper, squared-off edges are just where your fingers are used to them being and most people’s thumbs will need to perform the normal gymnastics to reach across the screen.
The physical mute switch remains (which will be hugely pleasing to many who live in fear of not being able to quickly silence their mobile), and there’s no USB-C connector at the bottom, as you might have expected.
Apple is going for Lightning for at least one more year, and that will be of relief to all of those wondering if they’d have to replace their chargersThe stainless steel band around the outside is still the fingerprint magnet that it always has been, as you can see in our hands on photos, and look – there’s no SIM tray on the side below the volume buttons. How people will take to that if they upgrade their handset SIM free will be interesting, but it got mumbles of unhappiness in the room when launched.
The main change, in terms of design, isn’t in the chassis though, but in the screen – so let’s look at that.The iPhone 14 Pro Max display has got one huge change: the notch is gone, to be replaced by one long pill. Or is it really one long pill?
Nope, that’s just software doing the hard work for your eyes – by filling it in for you, Apple’s iOS 16 is creating this pill, and can use the screen in between to show small notification lights, which is a nifty touch.
It’s called the Dynamic Island, which got a laugh when it was announced but will probably quickly go into standard Apple vernacular in no time at all.
What’s nice with this is that it morphs and moves depending on what you’re doing – when we played with it, you could start music and have the album art in the top, have the timer sit next to the notch or just tap it to get to your playing music.
It’s a genuinely cool feature, and Apple has sprung something of a surprise, turning an eyesore into something really helpful when navigating around the phone.
It takes some getting used to if you’ve been fine with the notch for years (and even more so if you’re coming from an Android phone with only a single camera hole), but when it dynamically moves it seems to make more sense.
We suspect that in a few days of use you’ll stop seeing the holes in the screen, but in our early testing of watching a movie or two it seemed rather prevalent thanks to the fact the screen wrapped around it, rather than the notch which was at least to one side.The iPhone 14 Pro Max screen has got the rather cool new always-on display. Let’s not call it revolutionary or anything, as brands like Samsung have been offering this feature for literally years.
However, it looks nice and is something iPhone users have been crying out for for many years – needing to tap or lift the phone in order to see what the time is can be a hassle and also wastes battery by waking up the phone.
While the always-on display will suck down more power – our iPhone demonstrator wasn’t able to tell us by how much – it could actually save battery for those that use their phone as a clock.
This new feature has been enabled by the fact the OLED display tech used in the phone now has the same capabilities as the Apple Watch, where it can slow down to just one refresh per second and still display some content on the screen.
It’s more feature-rich than we expected, with widgets, wallpaper and the clock all still showing when the phone is locked and off – you’ll need to do some playing with that to decide whether you want to show all the widgets or not.
If you’ve never used an iPhone with an OLED screen before – which is possible if you’re coming from one of the older iPhone 11 models – you’ll be hugely impressed with the clarity and color reproduction, the fluidity and the general expanse you get with this 6.7-inch display.
However, if you’re upgrading from a 12 or 13 Pro Max… notch aside, we didn’t spot that much of a difference.The iPhone 14 Pro Max camera upgrade is mostly centered around one element: the 48MP sensor. This enhanced tech means that you can have a wider gamut of photography styles, take higher-res pictures or get improved low-light capabilities.
The combination of the more pixels can manifest itself in a number of ways, but one of the most impressive will likely be (because we can’t really test it now) the ability to combine the 48MP into one 12MP image, smooshing together the pixels for high-res, low light imagery.
Apple is claiming twice as good low light imagery in its testing, and although we couldn’t see the same in the bright testing area, the onboard processing seems smart.
As you can imagine in our early testing, the camera is smart and snappy, with images focusing in within an instant and the switch between video and photography rather swift indeed. There’s no reason to expect this not to be the case, given the enhanced internals, but it’s still good to spot nonetheless.
At full resolution and zoomed in, there’s real clarity to the images that Apple has likely achieved by putting together the enhanced pixels and computational photography from the new A16 chipset.
The overall effect is strong, and there’s also now a 2x optical zoom, where the phone crops in from the 3x sensor to give you a middle ground between the 1x and 3x zoom lens. The sensor is the largest Apple has ever placed in a phone, and the 48MP snapper’s 1.9 micron size is going to let in a lot of light.
One thing that you will notice when using the new iPhone 14 Pro Max, at least initially, is the larger protrusion of the camera bump on the rear. That’s how the new 48MP sensor is enabled here and why Apple has likely jumped: if you have a higher-MP sensor in the same footprint as normal, the pixels get smaller, can capture less light etc.
So you need someone like Sony (which is rumored to be the one that made this sensor) to make a larger sensor and allow for larger pixels to grab all that lovely light. Yes, it makes the phone even thicker at the back, but in our opinion that’s worth it for better snaps.
There’s also a new Action Mode, like Cinematic Mode (but not as easy to toggle) that will allow you to have smoother videos when you run – another one that’s going to need a good test to monitor, but does look a lot smoother thanks to the onboard smarts of the 14 Pro Max.

Source: TechRedar