There are many reviews on the latest iPhones, mostly comparing them to the competition from Google and Samsung, which is what entertains and gets the most clicks. There are quite a few comparing them to previous iPhones as well; and as someone who has upgraded to the latest every year since the iPhone 6 below are some of my thoughts comparing the 14 Pro Max to previous iPhone iterations.
I’m lovin ‘it! The notch is gone and Dynamic Island looks great, but the brightness, especially when outdoors, is very noticeable and I’m totally up for it. Screen visibility when used outdoors in bright sunlight used to be an issue on older iPhones and I’m happy to report that issue is long gone.
This is where all the fun (and focus) is this year. I love it, but it’s very limited in what it can do. With iOS 16.1, once the APIs open up to allow developers to play with it, I expect it to be more useful. This is no accident like the touch bar, is something that both Apple and developers are excited about. Dynamic Island also looks fresh and new compared to the notch, and it’s a clever way to find a solution to a problem, a feature that isn’t a bug, if I may put it that way. Android phones have had pills and camera holes in the screen for a while now, this is exactly that, but it became a feature and the selling point of Apple’s latest and greatest.
Since iOS 13, I’ve always had my phone in dark mode, but with the 14 Pro Max I set it to switch automatically, meaning during the day the UI is in light mode and at dusk it switches to dark. I did this solely because I really like the Dynamic Island pill at the top of the UI. Otherwise, when nothing happens in most apps, it looks like there’s nothing there, a sort of notch on older phones that fades into the dark UI.
Always in sight
This was something I was really looking forward to, but I’m still not sure if I’m a fan. After a month of using the phone, I often get distracted, as if a notification just appeared. This is, of course, due to the way my brain has been fine-tuned to work: the last 11 years I’ve had an iPhone that none of them ever had on screens. I want to like this feature because it is unique in its own way, no other smartphone does something like this and I don’t want Apple to take the Android approach. I believe that in due time the brain will adapt.
One thing I like about Always on display is that when I walk into a dark room I don’t have to touch the “where’s my iPhone” button on my Apple watch. The iPhone screen is already bright enough to see what time it is.
the camera system
The number one reason I buy an iPhone every year is that I like to call myself iPhone Photographer. The front camera is a significant improvement compared to the 13 Pro Max. The 3 cameras on the back are very similar to the 13 Pro Max, but as soon as you zoom in, you see the difference. The 48-megapixel camera (unsurprisingly) retains much more detail when zoomed in. So if you are a photographer who likes to take photos in raw format, this is just great.
My favorite iPhone camera lens has always been the “telephoto”, there’s something about the zoomed in perspective That makes me think of framing a shot. But this lens has always been the one that seems to have the worst quality relative to the other lenses in the camera system. And this year this lens remains unchanged from the 13 Pro Max, but all hope is not lost. Apple’s new Photonic Engine system does some magic under the hood that telephoto, especially when shot in ProRAW, retains a lot more information which helps when editing photos.
I haven’t played much with the Ultra Wide lens or even macro photography, but I think the Photonic Engine would work its magic there too. And I haven’t put video to good use either, I’ve noticed that cinematic brings subjects into focus quicker, but I haven’t used it much on either the 13 Pro Max or 14 Pro Max. But all you need to know about video is that the iPhone is so far ahead of the competition, it’s as if the Android party has given up trying.
I haven’t used this feature and hope I never have to. And dear reader, I hope you never have to either. But it gives me peace of mind knowing that my phone can call emergency services if needed. Or if I’m ever on a roller coaster.
Unfortunately the battery life is not up to par with my 13 Pro Max, is it due to underlying issues in iOS 16, or is it due to always on display, or am I using light mode on the interface (meaning more pixels) on the screen have to light up) or is it because the screen gets brighter outside? I don’t know, but it’s not as good as the 13 Pro Max used to be. But with that said, I can still easily get through a day on a single charge, as long as I’m not using the camera or GPS a lot.