The iPhone 13 Pro Max is biggest and baddest of the latest iPhone line up but is it worth the upgrade?

We have spent more than a month using Apple's top-of-the-line iPhone 13 Pro Max as our daily driver and have a good idea about its pros and cons. Personally, coming from an iPhone 12 Pro Max, the differences were pretty minimal, but there are a couple of nice additions that could tempt an iPhone 12 user over.

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But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Here are three reasons for and against getting the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Buy it for: a dazzling display with fluid motion

Advancements in display technology in recent years left last year's iPhone 12 models, even the Pro and Pro Max, feeling a little dated as they lacked the faster and smoother refresh rates on Android phones. Fortunately, Apple has finally updated its two Pro models: the iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 13 Pro with high refresh screens called 120Hz ProMotion.

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If you are wondering what all the fuss is, just know that high refresh screens increase the number of frames displayed on the screen, making it appear smoother. Depending on what you are doing, the ProMotion display offers what is called an adaptive refresh rate that switches between the headline buttery smooth 120Hz during fast-paced games down to 10Hz when you are just casually scrolling down through a webpage.

Buy it for: its all-day battery to stay productive

The iPhone 13 Pro Max boasts the largest battery in the iPhone 13 range and knowing how well last year’s model performed, I had very high expectations. Fortunately, those expectations were met because I was floored by how long-lasting the iPhone 13 Pro Max's battery was.  

For context, on a recent work trip, I had the phone fully charged and used it throughout the day: shooting 4K quality videos (a very demanding task) continuously, constantly checking emails, Slack, and browsing the web

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If the iPhone 13 Pro Max can last through a heavy day of use on a trip, it can easily get through your typical workday with 40 per cent of power in the tank. This is easily a two-day battery life phone that you can count on when you need to get things done. 

Buy it for: a great camera to take stunning photos and videos

When it comes to cameras, both the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max have the best camera in the line up. The distinct three-camera array on the back is a clear indicator of the Pro range. You get a wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto camera onboard, providing you with great flexibility to capture any situation. All three cameras are 12-megapixel with the default wide camera having the largest sensor and widest aperture to let in more light, resulting in better low light shots.  

The ultra-wide camera has also seen improvements this year, capturing more light and doubles as a macro camera. I really enjoyed shooting objects like flowers, bugs, and textures that were just 2cm away.

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Last but not least, the telephoto camera now has a 3x optical zoom range, up from the 2.5x zoom on last year's model. The added reach still is not as useful as those found on flagship Android phones but at least it's more useful now for capturing subjects from a distance. 

Beyond the improved hardware, Apple has added a new Cinematic mode that functions like Portrait mode in photos, whereby it keeps the subject in focus and simulates a blurred background effect. I found it useful when I wanted to focus specifically on a subject, be it a person or a pet. The one drawback is that it is limited to capturing Full-HD quality only and not the higher 4K resolution. 

Don't buy it because: the inconvenience of unlocking with Face ID

Apple’s Face ID is one of the quickest ways to unlock your phone and it remains the only way after Apple threw out Touch ID in 2017 with the iPhone X. This was all great until the onset of Covid-19 and we all had to don face masks to protect ourselves.

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What was once a super convenient feature is now rather cumbersome, and we are relegated to unlocking iPhones by entering our passcode number. Given the fact that we have to unlock our phones more often to register with the MySejahtera app, this gets annoying very quickly.

While you can technically unlock your iPhone with a mask on, this is only enabled if you own an Apple Watch (Series 3 or later with watchOS 7.4 or later). That is a hefty additional investment you need to make to regain the convenience of unlocking your phone with your face.  

Don't buy it because: it still has a Lightning port

Time and again, the Cupertino company has refused to switch from its proprietary Lightning port to USB-C, a standard that is in the vast majority of tech products today. This includes some of Apple's products like the MacBook and iPad (except for the base model).

Honestly, there isn't much sense in holding on to the Lightning port as a standard. The charging speeds are slower than USB-C, meaning it takes longer to charge up your phone. This isn't great if you are in a hurry and your phone is low on battery. Not only that but you need to carry another cable to charge your phone.

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While some may argue that the inclusion of the MagSafe Wireless charging feature from the iPhone 12 onwards has rendered this argument null, the fact is MagSafe offers a slow charging speed, meaning you need to wait a long time to top up your phone’s battery. 

Don't buy it because: its big screen has no big benefits

We mentioned earlier that the iPhone 13 Pro Max's a great-looking 6.7-inch screen. While it is great for consuming content, the additional screen real estate is severely underutilised. In essence, there are no functional advantages to the larger display as apps on the Home screen is scaled similarly to other iPhones, even right down to the smallest, the iPhone 13 Mini. 

There isn't even any form of split-screen or multitasking features, similar to those found on the iPad. Essentially, you are carrying around a larger and heavier phone without any inherent benefits of the beautiful screen that is installed on the iPhone 13 Pro Max.  

To put it simply, if you want the Pro experience and prefer something more pocketable, go with the iPhone 13 Pro as it has virtually all the same specs and features as its larger cousin.

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