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Should you buy… the iPhone 13 Pro Max?

·4-min read

This year’s Apple iPhone update is all about refinement, with the tech giant focusing on boosting its camera systems and battery life as the way to appeal to customers.

At the top end of the four-phone line-up is the iPhone 13 Pro Max – the powerhouse, flagship device where all the key new features are housed.

So how does the ultimate version of the iPhone 13 stack up?

– Design

The iPhone 13 range sticks closely to the shape of last year’s iPhone 12.

The flat edges are still here, as is the matte glass rear panel which is smart and mercifully not a magnet for fingerprints.

The triple camera system on the rear is still in the same layout too, but on the front there has been a small but noticeable change, with the infamous iPhone notch at the top of the screen, which houses the front-facing camera, having been slimmed down to give more space to the actual display.

iPhone 13 Pro Max
The iPhone 13 Pro Max comes with iOS 15 (Martyn Landi/PA)

It is a subtle change, but one that does make the icons bar at the top of the screen seem a little less crowded.

And although the rear camera system looks familiar, it has been substantially overhauled – the ultra-wide and wide lenses both now have a larger aperture and the Telephoto camera has been updated too.

The results are not just improved photos in general, but even a couple of new ways to take pictures too, including macro photos for the first time, with the mode automatically kicking in when you move in close to smaller subjects.

And in video, there is the new Cinematic mode, which introduces bokeh and what is known as rack focus, where the camera focus shifts from one subject to another.

The 6.7-inch screen on which users will view all this content has also been given an upgrade, with the Super Retina XDR display now featuring what Apple calls ProMotion technology.

iPhone 13 Pro Max
Apple has upgraded the entire rear-camera system on the new Pro Max (Martyn Landi/PA)

This automatically adapts the refresh rate of the screen from between 10Hz and 120Hz depending on the content – so screen scrolling is smoother because the display will speed up the frame rate, but will also automatically slow it down again when a user does not need it in order to preserve battery life.

That battery life is longer than ever too – particularly on the Pro Max – thanks to a rejig inside the phone to accommodate a larger battery and the A15 Bionic chip using its artificial intelligence to get the most from the battery without wasting energy.

As a result, Apple says the iPhone 13 Pro Max has the longest battery life ever on an iPhone – with up to 28 hours of video playback – and in the real world there has been a noticeable improvement, with plenty of life left at the end of a working day of normal or even heavy usage.

– Experience

It is those refinement changes to the iPhone 13 that make the most difference in everyday use.

ProMotion has made using the device noticeably smoother – scrolling down through an email inbox or a Twitter feed is much slicker and actually satisfying.

Meanwhile, the battery life means any concerns about running out of juice towards the back end of a busy day have been eradicated with the 13 Pro Max and that feels like a huge step forward.

And the camera performance is again excellent, with Night mode images still looking great and the new Cinematic mode offering a different way to capture videos.

iOS 15 has a number of highlights too – the expanded privacy features enable users to substantially clamp down on the data collection done by apps and websites, while the Focus mode is a smart way to cut out distractions during the day or work in the evenings with its customisable modes.

iPhone 13 Pro Max
The smaller notch has tidied things at the top of the screen (Martyn Landi/PA)

However, there is not enough to get excited about in the iPhone 13 Pro Max if you are already an iPhone 12 user.

Given the almost identical design and the fact that the steps forward are predominantly incremental, right now, it is probably worth holding on to your phone.

For others though – older iPhone users and Android users thinking about a change – this is what the best an iPhone can do looks like and it is hugely impressive – it is a standout device in every sense.

– Verdict

Starting at £1,049, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is not a cheap investment, and for anyone who upgraded to a 12 last year, it is still too soon to do so again.

But for everyone else, this is the best iPhone you can buy – from its hugely expanded battery life to the top-of-the-range cameras which are once again among the very best available, this is about as good as it gets in a smartphone.

And if that is what you’re looking for, then you need to look no further than the 13 Pro Max.

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