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Last year, the iPhone 12 Pro Max was more than just a larger version of the iPhone 12 Pro. Apple gave it a slightly different camera system, which meant if you wanted the best iPhone you also had to get the biggest iPhone.
With the iPhone 13 Pro Max, things are back the way they should be. This phone is identical in features and performance to the iPhone 13 Pro; it’s just bigger. Bigger means heavier (naturally) and gives Apple room for an even larger battery. That larger battery, together with the other power efficiency improvements in the iPhone 13 Pro, make the Max the new battery life champ. It lasts much longer than the already-impressive iPhone 12 Pro Max.
As the iPhone 13 Pro Max is identical to the iPhone 13 Pro, we’ll direct you to read our iPhone 13 Pro review for the details about performance, the new ProMotion display, the new camera system, and more. This short review will cover only what is different: the size and battery life.
It’s a Max all right
The iPhone 13 Pro Max is a big phone. It’s the same size as the iPhone 12 Pro, with an identical size 6.7-inch display. That means 6.3 inches tall and just over 3 inches wide. Like the iPhone 13 Pro, the Max variant adds just a tiny bit of thickness and weight, but most of the heft comes from the fact that these phones have stainless steel frames. At roughly 8.5 ounces, it’s one of the heaviest premium phones at this size.
By comparison, Samsung’s Galaxy S21+ also has a 6.7-inch display and weighs about 30 percent less. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is absolutely a two-hand phone. If you’re unsure of the size, we recommend going to a store to try it, because it’s an investment. Many people will love it but just as many will find it too big to carry and too awkward to hold.
Outside of its size, it’s got everything you find in the iPhone 13 Pro. The same A15 processor (the version with a fifth graphics core), the same improved OLED display with up to 1000 nits of brightness and 120Hz ProMotion variable refresh rate, the same excellent new camera system with a bigger wide camera sensor, better 3x optical zoom, and vastly improved ultra-wide with fantastic macro capabilities.
In our CPU benchmarks, you can see results are all essentially the same as the iPhone 13 Pro, within a typical margin of error.
Moving over to graphics benchmarks, once again the iPhone 13 Pro Max is essentially the same as the iPhone 13 Pro. The fifth GPU core gives these phones a real advantage over the iPhone 13, which has a four-core GPU in its version of the A15.
With everything so similar to the iPhone 13 Pro, you’ll want to read that review for more details about things like camera features and quality. But we’ll give you this photo of the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s macro mode, which is simply stunning. Compared to the iPhone 13, the 13 Pro Max captures incredible detail at close range. By comparison, the iPhone 13’s photo looks blurry and muddy.
The battery life champion
Apple put bigger batteries in the iPhone 13 line–the battery in the iPhone 13 Pro Max has about 18 percent higher capacity than the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Combined with the more energy-efficient OLED display, more efficient wireless radios, and the ability of the ProMotion display to turn the refresh rate down, you get some really fantastic battery life.
We run our battery benchmark at a constant 200 nits brightness, with no True Tone or adaptive brightness. Then we run the Geekbench 4 battery test, which puts a significant strain on the entire processor, CPU, and GPU. We record how long the battery lasts (in minutes) from a full charge until the phone dies. It’s a reasonable representation of how much screen-on time you can expect in mixed-use.
The results are impressive, to say the least. The iPhone 13 Pro Max ran for 11 hours 41 minutes, three hours longer than the iPhone 12 Pro’s time (and that was already quite good).
The iPhone 13 Pro Max lasts a whopping 34% longer than the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and 26 percent longer than the iPhone 13 Pro. It’s really incredible how much Apple has done to improve battery life in recent years. Consider that the iPhone XS Max is only three years old, and Apple has more than doubled battery life while dramatically improving both performance and display quality.
This is what you buy the iPhone 13 Pro Max for. It costs $100 more than the iPhone 13 Pro, already a very expensive phone. But if you want a big huge display and a big huge battery, it’s well worth the premium. Be sure to read our iPhone 13 Pro review for details on every other aspect of this phone, as they’re otherwise identical.
I have written professionally about technology for my entire adult professional life - over 20 years. I like to figure out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way anyone can understand.