iPhone 12 Pro Max in the test: the ultimate iPhone?

 New design, 5G support and an improved camera: a lot has happened with the iPhone 12 models. We took a close look at the largest and best-equipped 12th generation iPhone.

iPhone 12 Pro Max in the test: the ultimate iPhone?


CONTENTS

1 Fantastic display with one downside

2 Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max in the test: the hardware

 Hardware rating in detail:

3 Finally 5G - but with restrictions

4th Future-proof software

5 Three cameras and an exclusive feature for the iPhone 12 Pro Max

 The camera modules at a glance

 New lidar sensor

 Simple camera app

6th No USB-C, sparse scope of delivery and expensive storage: that's what bothers us about the iPhone 12 Pro Max

 No charging plug for environmental reasons

 Connection chaos has remained

7th iPhone 12 Pro Max: battery life and charging time in the test

8th MagSafe - New accessories not just for charging

9 Conclusion: This is how the iPhone 12 Pro Max fares in the test

10 Alternatives to the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max


The iPhone 12 Pro Max costs 1,249 to 1,599 euros . Certainly not a bargain, but also no more expensive than its predecessor. At first glance, the new design immediately catches the eye: the rounded edges have given way to an angular design that is reminiscent of the 4th and 5th generation iPhones or the current iPads.


The Pro models of the iPhone 12 come with a shiny frame made of stainless steel and a matt back made of glass. The matte back not only looks chic, it also reliably hides fingerprints. The angular frame, on the other hand, is a total fingerprint magnet.



For a 6.7-inch smartphone, the iPhones 12 Pro Max is relatively compact. At first glance, the display bezels look thin like those of the predecessor, but the rounded sides are saved due to the angular design. The weight has remained the same at 228 grams, but still makes the iPhone 12 Pro Max one of the heaviest smartphones.


The iPhone 12 Pro Max stands out due to its angular design

FANTASTIC DISPLAY WITH ONE DOWNSIDE

The screen of the iPhone 12 Pro Max is one of the best smartphone displays on the market. The AMOLED panel has a resolution of 1,284 x 2,778 pixels, which corresponds to a pixel density of 458 ppi. Thanks to the P3 color space and excellent contrast values, content can be displayed very realistically. With Apple's True Tone technology, the screen can also automatically adjust to the ambient light. The normal brightness control is also carried out via this sensor and works better than with almost all other smartphones. Night Shift can also reduce blue light according to a fixed schedule or after sunrise and sunset. A dark mode has been an integral part of the system since iOS 13 .


However, the screen of the iPhone 12 Pro Max has one major disadvantage: the refresh rate is still at the standard 60 Hertz. All other flagship smartphones this year offer at least a 90 or even 120 Hertz refresh rate. The iPad Pro has also been equipped with a 120 Hertz screen for over two years. In everyday use, however, the slower display is less noticeable than expected. Thanks to the fast processor and smooth animations in iOS, a difference can only be determined in a direct comparison with the iPad Pro. It is still a shame, as the iPhone 12 Pro (Max) lacks a distinguishing feature to the almost identical screen of the normal iPhone 12.


The display of the iPhone 12 Pro Max

In order to better protect the screen against breakage, Apple relies on a newly developed glass. This technology called "Ceramic Shield" was developed together with Corning, the manufacturer behind Gorilla Glass. The display of the iPhone 12 Pro Max should withstand falls from a height of up to 2 meters. Before it was 1.6 meters. Conventional Gorilla Glass is still used on the back.


APPLE IPHONE 12 PRO MAX IN THE TEST: THE HARDWARE

The hardware built into Apple's iPhones is difficult to compare with other smartphones. The battery is significantly smaller than that of smartphones from other manufacturers. Nevertheless, the runtime can be convincing. The processor is an in-house development with few cores, but a lot of power, which also needs comparatively little RAM.


The iPhone 12 Pro Max is no exception here. The Apple A14 processor is manufactured using the latest 5 nanometer process and has 6 cores. The single core performance, i.e. how much power a single core offers, is roughly twice as high as with a Snapdragon 865 Plus. The overall performance is slightly above the Snapdragon processor. The performance of the iPhone 12 Pro Max is also convincing in everyday life. The smartphone reacts quickly in all situations and can also run large apps without long waiting times. The software is excellently optimized and the available 6 gigabytes of RAM are sufficient to have countless apps open at the same time.


Hardware rating in detail:

Workmanship and design: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Display: 4 out of 5 stars

Equipment and performance: 4 out of 5 stars

Camera: 5 out of 5 stars

Software and multimedia: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Battery: 4 out of 5 stars

Overall hardware rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

FINALLY 5G - BUT WITH RESTRICTIONS

The big new feature besides the new design is 5G . The iPhone 12 models are the first smartphones from Apple to be equipped with the new cellular standard. There are no differences between the normal iPhone 12 and the Pro version. Globally, only sub-6 GHz frequencies are supported; mmWave antennas are also installed in selected markets such as the USA . This is not the case in Germany - the technology will not be supported here for at least the next 5 years anyway.


To save energy, Apple does not switch 5G on permanently. As soon as you are in an area with 5G coverage, the iPhone shows 5G in the status bar, but is still in the 4G / LTE network. Only when you download a large file or start a video call does the smartphone really switch to the 5G network . This method works perfectly in everyday life. However, if you want to be permanently on the 5G network , you can also specify this in the settings and deactivate the automatic.



Since the iPhone XS , all iPhones are dual SIM capable. You can use either a nano SIM and an eSIM or two eSIMs for this. However, 5G reception is currently being restricted. As soon as you want to use a second SIM card in the iPhone 12 Pro Max, 5G will be deactivated for both cards. This limitation will be resolved with the update to iOS 14.5 in March or April.


FUTURE-PROOF SOFTWARE

As on every iPhone, the current version of iOS is also used on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Whether you prefer Android or Apple's software is subjective. Here you should find out about the advantages and disadvantages of the respective systems before buying a smartphone. Also, not every app is available for both systems. Objective advantages of iOS are a better quality of the apps, simple backups of the complete system and a simple change to a new device with all its apps and data.


Switching from Android to iPhone: Everything You Need to Know

The biggest advantage of the iPhone software, however, is the long update supply. Exemplary manufacturers of Android smartphones such as Samsung or Google themselves deliver function and security updates for their devices for three years. In addition, there are months of waiting for function updates, depending on the manufacturer. On the iPhone, on the other hand, you get every update directly on the day of publication and over a period of five to six years. Important security updates will be delivered even longer. For example, the iPhone 5S , which is over 8 years old, is still regularly supplied with security updates.


THREE CAMERAS AND AN EXCLUSIVE FEATURE FOR THE IPHONE 12 PRO MAX

In my opinion, the camera of the iPhone 12 Pro Max is currently the best camera in a smartphone. Even if other smartphones perform better in individual categories or benchmarks, the iPhone 12 Pro Max delivers a well-rounded overall package. In everyday life, the smartphone always impresses with excellent and, above all, realistic photos.


Like the previous model, the iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with three cameras on the back. In addition, Apple is installing a lidar sensor. This is actually intended for AR applications, but also provides depth information for photography.


Three cameras and a lidar sensor

As is typical for Apple, the manufacturer doesn't do things by halves. All three cameras offer almost identical image quality and there is no need for "blender modules" with 2 megapixels just to be able to specify an additional camera in the data sheet.


The camera modules at a glance

Standard camera: 12 megapixels, aperture ƒ / 1.6, sensor image stabilization

Ultra wide angle camera: 12 megapixels, aperture ƒ / 2.4,

Telecamera: 12 megapixels, aperture ƒ / 2.2, OIS, 2.5x zoom

Lidar sensor

There is nothing wrong with the image quality. Pictures are sharp, have great colors and can also score with a little depth. With the additional ultra-wide-angle and telephoto zoom lenses, all important setting options are offered.


Full resolution photos for download

Compared to the bigger improvements in the previous year, the innovations are smaller this time. The night mode has been further improved and is now available with all lenses. In contrast to the night mode used by many other manufacturers, Apple does not try to turn night into day, but maintains a more realistic lighting situation. With Apple ProRAW, a new file format is also available for professional photographers.


For the first time ever, the Max model offers different and slightly better cameras than the smaller iPhone 12 Pro. The telephoto zoom camera in the Max model offers 2.5 instead of 2 times zoom and the main camera is equipped with a new type of sensor image stabilization. This means that camera shake can be compensated for with an accuracy of 5,000 times (instead of 1,000 times) per second.


New lidar sensor

The lidar sensor is used for AR applications. Apple's own measuring tape app works much more reliably and without waiting on the iPhone 12 Pro Max compared to older iPhones. The app can be used to measure people or furniture. The accuracy is around ± 1 centimeter. But the new lidar sensor also does a good job with portraits with a bokeh effect and helps to separate the subject from the background.




With the help of the lidar sensor, portraits with a perfect bokeh effect are possible.


.. no matter whether from humans or animals and in every light situation.

Simple camera app

Last year, Apple redesigned the camera app and optimized it for one-handed operation. This is a real advantage, especially on the large iPhone 12 Pro Max. The app is very tidy and has no nested menus. All important options can be reached with a swiping gesture above the shutter release with a finger. The integration of the wide-angle camera is cleverly implemented. If it makes sense to switch to this, a preview of the wide-angle image is displayed outside of the viewfinder.


However, passionate photographers might lack a Pro mode in some situations. Here you can, however, fall back on the great range of third-party apps such as ProCam or FiLMiC Pro, which are only available on iOS.


NO USB-C, SPARSE SCOPE OF DELIVERY AND EXPENSIVE STORAGE: THAT'S WHAT BOTHERS US ABOUT THE IPHONE 12 PRO MAX

Some users have been arguing about the expensive prices of iPhones for years. For a top smartphone that is easily updated with updates for 5-6 years, I don't think the price of 1250 euros is too bad. After all, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is a smartphone for users with high demands who always want the best features. For the "normal user", Apple offers cheaper alternatives such as the normal iPhone 12 with a better price-performance ratio.


We noticed the larger memory of the basic variant positively this year. With 128 gigabytes, significantly more users should get by than with the previous 64 gigabyte models. I have also saved myself the extra charge for more storage this year and can do without any problems. If you still want to have more storage, you have to pay for it dearly. IPhones do not have a slot for memory cards. Doubling the memory to 256 gigabytes, for example, costs 120 euros. The 512 gigabyte model costs 350 euros more. A microSD card with the same capacity would cost just 60 euros.


No charging plug for environmental reasons

At the presentation of the new iPhones, Apple announced that it would not include accessories such as a charging plug and headphones in the scope of delivery . This has been argued as a measure to protect the environment. Older devices that are still sold by Apple will from now on come without a charging plug in the box. After all, you are consistent here and do not make fun of it like Samsung only a few months later to also leave out the power supply units on your flagship smartphone and continue to sell other models with power supply units.


But there is also criticism of Apple's tactics: The iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box. The charging connector on my iPhone 11 , which Apple says should continue to be used, has a classic USB- A port. So you either have to order a suitable cable or another power supply unit and have it delivered separately - very environmentally friendly. In addition, a charging process with the old iPhone 11 power supply takes an incredibly long time. Later more.


Connection chaos has remained


While the current iPads and MacBooks are consistently equipped with USB-C connectors, the iPhone continues to use Lightning. So you always have to have two different charging cables ready for your notebook and smartphone. Apple in particular, which is actually known for radically omitting or changing connections, should commit itself to a technology here. However, the iPhone 12 Pro Max may be the last iPhone with a charging port anyway. MagSafe already offers a charging alternative. That would also explain why Apple is still sticking to Lightning for the iPhone and not switching to USB-C for another generation.


IPHONE 12 PRO MAX: BATTERY LIFE AND CHARGING TIME IN THE TEST

With a size of 3,669 mAh, the battery of the iPhone 12 Pro Max is just too tiny compared to other smartphones of the same size. However, don't be fooled by the numbers here. Despite the small battery, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has an astonishingly good runtime that many other flagships with larger batteries - such as the Galaxy S20 Ultra or the Xiaomi Mi 11 - can easily surpass. The reason for this is likely to be the very energy-saving processor and a well-optimized operating system. The battery consumption in standby is also exemplary.


If, like me, you come from a smaller iPhone, you will be amazed by the significantly longer battery life of the larger Max model. In direct comparison with the iPhone 11 Pro Max , however, the runtime is a little shorter.


The iPhone 12 Pro Max is charged with up to 20 watts via cable and 15 watts wirelessly. A full charge with the 20 watt power supply, which is available separately for 25 euros, only takes a little more than an hour. With an old power supply from the iPhone 11 or earlier models, on the other hand, it takes just under four hours and thirty minutes to fill the energy storage again.


MAGSAFE - NEW ACCESSORIES NOT JUST FOR CHARGING

With the iPhone 12 series, a new standard for accessories has been introduced. The name is based on the earlier magnetic charging plugs on MacBook. A magnetic ring and an alignment magnet are built into all iPhone 12 models for this purpose. This allows you to magnetically connect countless accessories to your iPhone. The iPhone shows an animation of which case or accessory has just been recognized.


Apple itself sells, among other things, a charging puck that sticks magnetically to the back of the iPhone, as well as a portable charger for iPhone and Apple Watch. Other manufacturers also offer charging docks for the home or car. There is even a small power bank that can be attached to your iPhone. In addition, the new magnets are in all official Apple cases for the iPhone. So the cases not only hold more reliably on the iPhone, but also allow you to use MagSafe accessories together with the case.


The MagSafe cases from Apple are not exactly cheap at 65 euros.  However, they are made of incredibly high quality and have buttons made of aluminum.

The MagSafe cases from Apple are not exactly cheap at 65 euros. However, they are made of incredibly high quality and have buttons made of aluminum.

How well the accessories adhere to your iPhone often depends on the accessories themselves. The MagSafe charging cable is strong enough not to fall off or slip in everyday life. The magnetic card holder, on the other hand, could stick a little more firmly. Overall, MagSafe is a super handy invention and in the future we will certainly see a lot more accessories from third parties.


CONCLUSION: THIS IS HOW THE IPHONE 12 PRO MAX FARES IN THE TEST

In contrast to the smaller improvements made in previous generations, the iPhone 12 Pro Max looks like a completely new generation of smartphones. This also applies to the exterior of the smartphone. The angular design is so far a real USP and looks really good. Apple has created a trend here to some other manufacturers with security will jump.


Technically, the innovations are far less large. Bigger quantum leaps have become rare in smartphone development and the 12th generation iPhones are no exception. Nevertheless, many areas have been optimized and improved. With 5G support, an important missing feature has also found its way, which we previously missed. An innovation reserved only for the Max model is the slightly better camera with sensor image stabilization and a little more optical zoom.



However, the slightly better camera doesn't make a big difference in everyday life. Therefore, you should only use the large Max model if you want the larger screen or better battery life compared to the smaller iPhone 12 Pro.


The iPhone 12 Pro (Max) is aimed at users with pro needs, especially when it comes to the camera. Only if the nobler design or the additional camera features such as Apple ProRAW, Lidar or more optical and digital zoom is important to you, the extra charge for the Pro version is worthwhile. However, other reasons could also be the bigger screen and better battery life. Because the normal iPhone 12 is not available in a Max version.


ALTERNATIVES TO THE APPLE IPHONE 12 PRO MAX

There are not many alternatives to the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max . Apple itself no longer offers its predecessor, the iPhone 11 Pro Max. However, it is still available through dealers and wireless service providers. Especially those who do not need the new pro features of the camera, but still want an iPhone with a large screen and very good battery life, can save a few hundred euros with this model.


A far cheaper alternative is the “normal” iPhone 12. The 64 GB version costs a comparatively inexpensive 799 euros. The normal model also comes in the new, angular design, is supplied with updates for just as long and offers 5G support.


If you are interested in the iPhone and want to go to the Android warehouse, the new Xiaomi Mi 11 is ideal . This smartphone offers a 6.8-inch screen with a 120 Hertz refresh rate and top performance. Samsung is also pursuing an interesting concept with its Galaxy Note 20 Ultra with an integrated stylus.


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