iPhone 12 Pro Max, in gold.

This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.


If you're a gadget fanatic, you would choose the "top of the line" without a word. You may disagree, but that's the way it should be. From that point of view, I think the iPhone 12 Pro Max is something you'll be interested in. In this article, I've been tinkering with the actual device and pondering the value of the "high end of the iPhone 12 generation".

iPhone 12 Pro Max box, black like the Pro, slightly larger for the size of the unit.

The silver side finish on the iPhone 12 Pro and the gold side finish on the 12 Pro Max. Both have a pretty strong coating sheen.

The bezel has been narrowed to make it "the largest iPhone ever"

When I touched the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the first word that came out of my mouth was "it's big". It's simply because I compared it to the iPhone 12 mini, which arrived at the same time as the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

I laid out the four iPhone 12 series models. From left to right, 12 Pro Max, 12 Pro, 12, and 12 mini. The largest Max and the smallest mini still stand out.

When compared side-by-side with the iPhone 11 Pro Max, the 12 Pro Max is just slightly larger. In addition, the distance between the edge of the screen from the edge of the device (the so-called bezel) is narrower on the 12 Pro Max. The result is a screen size of 6.7 inches, compared to 6.5 inches on the 11 Pro Max. This difference contributes to the impression that it's "bigger" than the body size.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max (left) and the 12 Pro Max (right). The size is slightly larger on the 12 Pro Max.

The 12 Pro Max on the left and the 11 Pro Max on the right. Note that the 12 Pro Max's bezel is just under half as thick as the 11 Pro Max's.

I usually use the 11 Pro Max as one of my main phones. So I should have been used to the size of this thing. But when I first compared them, I thought "it's a lot bigger," which is not a false impression.

In terms of how it fits in my pocket, I don't think this size difference will have any effect on people who have used the Pro Max up to now, because it remains "big" without much difference. However, the psychological perception of "bigness" will be different. The bigness is a good thing for those who consider the large screen to be a plus and are actively choosing the Pro Max, but for those who prefer a smaller size but are reluctantly choosing the Pro Max because of the camera and other features, I would advise them to "look at it for yourself first".

Incidentally, I like the size of this phone because I'm choosing a larger phone for the reason that I'm starting to get old eyesight and holding it with both hands and typing QWERTY.

Same performance as the Pro, with 6GB of memory

So what about the performance aspect? This can be seen as soon as you take a benchmark. To put it bluntly, it's a familiar conclusion on the iPhone: "If it's the same series in the same year, they're all the same".

Geekbench 5 test results for the iPhone 12 Pro Max on the left and the iPhone 12 on the right. The values are not much different in both cases.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max has 6GB of memory, just like the iPhone 12 Pro, which means that standard models have 4GB and the Pros have 6GB.

As for the 5G support, I didn't see any difference between the two as far as I could tell. It's not surprising, since there is no difference in specs.

As for the display, although the size is different, I felt that there is no big difference in brightness and color gamut.

This means that as far as comparing the iPhone 12 series, it's OK to choose your iPhone based on camera, size, design, etc.

The new "wide-angle" camera is strong at night, but ...... the obvious value is the enhanced "telephoto"

The key factor in deciding which iPhone 12 to choose is still the camera. In terms of specs, the big difference between the iPhone 12 Pro and the Pro Max is the camera.

The main "wide-angle" camera sensor is larger and the image stabilization method has changed from lens shift to sensor shift. So, I think the details in the photos are more accurate and more resistant to shake.

iPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 11 Pro Max

The photos above were taken in daylight with the 12 Pro Max, 12 Pro, and 11 Pro Max wide-angle cameras. I have the impression that the 11 Pro Max is slightly less clear, but there is not much difference between the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max.

iPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 11 Pro Max

iPhone 11 Pro Max

The photos above were taken at night with the 12 Pro Max, 12 Pro, and 11 Pro Max wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle cameras. The two 12 series are still brighter and clearer.

The 12 Pro Max may be a little crisper when zoomed in. In the center of each photo, there is a "ghost" that seems to be caused by the internal reflection of the lens cover.

But when it comes to brighter scenes, it's hard to tell the difference between them.

If you dare to take a bad shot in a bad situation, you'll certainly find that the Pro Max is worth it. Specifically, in a scene where you're "pulling your phone out of your pocket in a slightly dark place and hurriedly taking a picture with one hand" or "moving your phone around at night to take a video", the 12 Pro Max is less blurry and "harder to miss" than 12 Pro.

Also, in places where the light is hitting the scene gently, the 12 Pro produces a "solid" look, perhaps to eliminate noise, while the 12 Pro Max produces a more realistic and gentle image.

It's fair to say that the 12 Pro Max is better than the 12 Pro in terms of "shooting any scene". But if you don't know where the failures appear in your photos, you may not notice the difference right away.

But I think this isn't so much about the ineffectiveness of the sensor change, as it is about the fact that the iPhone 12's camera capabilities are already good enough to take decent photos in the first place if you're "blessed to be taking photos".

At least for sensors small enough to fit in a smartphone, the evolution of computational photography, which uses software to improve the quality of photos, is strongly competing with the changes in the sensor, and I think this has had an impact on the evolution of the photography function.

In this sense, the change in the telephoto camera is more obvious. I found the 2.5x increase in the telephoto ratio compared to the wide-angle ratio to be a positive and attractive feature. The lens is a bit darker than the Pro (2x wide-angle ratio), but I don't think the impact is that great.

iPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone 11 Pro Max

The photos above are a comparison between the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the 11 Pro Max. The photo taken with the 12 Pro Max has brighter colors and is a bit "closer".

Considering this, the value of choosing the iPhone 12 Pro Max is in its "hard-to-fail wide-angle" and "telephoto" which allows you to get a little closer, and if you can compromise on that, then the iPhone 12 Pro would be fine.


Related Articles:

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is bigger and the iPhone 12 mini is smaller than we expected

iPhone 12 mini, a large screen in a small package, is a 5G phone that meets Japanese demand

The iPhone 12 Pro Max's camera comes to life in this scene, as we compare and contrast shots. The differences between it and the others are both big and small

It's even smaller and lighter than I imagined! Check out the iPhone 12 mini in this video

iPhone 12 Pro Max Video Review: The largest screen in iPhone history is overwhelming in your hand


This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.