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  • Writer's pictureKevin Poindexter II

iPhone 12 Pro Max: How Does it Rank Now?


To switch or not to switch, that is the question


So around this time of year I begin to look towards getting a new phone and the usual place I go to is, can you guess? ....obviously an iPhone. I've been using iPhones since 2015 and it's safe to say I'm well enough invested into Apple's ecosystem that I will be getting another....again. Yet this article isn't to express my "addiction" as my Android friends would say but rather to talk a little about what I think of the iPhone now. More specifically the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Let's get into my observations using it and talk about how it rates against a few of its competitors including Apple's own soon-to-be newest flagship the iPhone 13.



The Great Circle of Life

No I'm not suggesting iPhones become grass only to be eaten by other phones. That would be silly. We do need to dive into life expectancy as this is a big factor on how often people change phones and what phone they purchase next.


In the world of smartphones most would agree there are two ingredients to making a smartphone "smart".

The first is software, this is the brains of a smartphone. It can also be looked as the what to "what can your phone do". The second ingredient is the hardware. That is the how to "how can it do what it can do". Software plays a major factor in a phone's life cycle as developers will want to provide the best optimized software for a device, new or old, so that users will want to keep it longer. The more updates to the software an older phone gets the longer I'd want to keep it. iOS 15 will soon be newest software update for iPhones out currently. The oldest compatible device for that is the iPhone 6 and this device was released 7 years ago. Apple has done great in providing updates to their older phones and I expect that the iPhone 12 Pro Max will be no exception to that given how well it's built. That's not to say I plan on keeping the same phone for another 7 years but I can say that if someone was they wouldn't be disappointed with how smooth their phone would run in the future.


Software aside I feel that hardware too is just as important in my day to day usage of a smartphone. The phone has to hold up well enough and survive real world usage if it's going to stay my choice for years on out. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is no slouch in terms of performance. In fact, one of the buying factors for me was that the software, and the apps are intentionally designed to run based on the hardware. This means unlike other manufacturers Apple builds iOS around what the phone's hardware is capable of. The app developers do the same too. This way you always know that a specific software will always get you the best experience for that specific device. There are other pieces of hardware such as the display, battery, and overall build quality which also make up for hardware life cycle.


Display


Ah, the main focal point and attraction of your phone. It's impressive how far smartphones have come in terms of their displays. The aforementioned iPhone 6 had a display measuring 4.7 inches and it was made of ion-strengthened glass. This phone's screen was horrible in terms of longevity as it would scratch easily and shatter if dropped from waist height or higher. Coming from owning one of these I can vouch that carrying it without a case was a game of roulette as I had to be extremely careful with it. And we're not going to forget that the phone itself was bendable. Seven years later I have the iPhone 12 Pro Max and I can now claim that 1- the screen build quality is way better and 2 - I'm not as risky in using a naked phone but I do feel safer if/when I should. Being made from gorilla glass the screen of the iPhone 12 Pro Max is both durable and dependable. It's oleophobic finger print and scratch resistant on the front, matte finished back give the phone the kind of feel I would expect from a flagship device. Personally I have not done any scratch tests on my phone but I have seen other tech reviewers take a knife or scissors to their display and was amazed with how it stood.


Battery

Given how much we do on our phones no one wants a device that won't last. The phone you buy has to have enough juice to post on social media, stream videos and/or music, blast green pigs, and occasionally make a call or two. Majority of us would like to have those things and not worry about their phone's battery die so how does the battery of the iPhone 12 Pro Max hold up? At the time of writing this I have 17 apps open on my iPhone. I hadn't charged it since breakfast and the battery is sitting at 93%. This...is....AWESOME! Depending on what I have going on I can either be what the industry calls a "power user" most days and a laid back one on others. Today is a power user day where I've got a lot on phone going and I feel good knowing it can take it. The battery of this phone is 3687mAh which can be charged through either the lightening port on the phone or charged wirelessly. With up to 15w of fast charging available I've seen tests showing this battery gets up to 49 hours of standby time. This is real stand by time, with the phone just idling. When it comes to talk time time 21 hours is what you can expect out of this iPhone. Video playback has been tested resulting in up to 15 hours. In my experience using the iPhone 12 Pro Max I've been able to get through a power day of using it without feeling the urge to charge it up given how well it handles. Even with extended usage it doesn't overheat, and thanks to the iPhone being water and dust resistant I can confidently take it outside knowing it can withstand most of the elements. Which takes me to the next topic, repairs.


Repairs


Knock on wood I've been lucky enough to not have to fix this but while doing this article about my iPhone's usage and life expectancy I know there may be a few readers who/whom have had to take their phone in for repair. I now offer a moment of silence to those who've paid high expenses...


Grief over. Let's talk about how much it could cost to fix this phone should something unfortunate happen. The most common repair anyone would need is having their replaced. The last iPhone screen I had to fix was that of on my iPhone 6 Plus and by going through an authorized repairman I paid $150 to get it fixed. This was back when that phone was Apple's main flagship. Flash forward to present day 2021 and from speaking with a few local repair places they will charge anywhere from $180-$300 to repair a broken iPhone 12 Pro Max screen. Some of you may ask "is it cheaper to take the phone into Apple and have them fix it" and that answer is alarming.


Apple does have something in place to cover your phone repairs and they call this Apple Care+. You can think of this as their insurance as it covers most incidents of your phone being damaged (you can learn more about Apple Care+ for iPhones via their site: https://www.apple.com/support/products/iphone/) . It is something you have to pay for but like any other insurance it's great to have should you be the type to consistently or on average need it. If I was to break my screen on my iPhone 12 Pro Max and have Apple Care+ I would only pay $29. Wow I know as that's almost a no brainer since that same repair, when being done by Apple, will run me $329 without their coverage plan. Battery repairs are much cheaper as they aren't as common on newer iPhones. The price of this varies depending on whether the phone is still in warranty and/or has Apple Care+ or is out warranty. As I mentioned earlier the 12 Pro Max is built well and I don't see me needing battery repairs at any point but say I did I would pay $69 to have it fixed through Apple. A battery repair would be free if the phone was in warranty or have Apple Care+. Any repairs outside of screen or battery categories Apple names those as "other repairs". These can be fixes to the camera, motherboard, speakers, etc. where they have fix the internals of the device for any reason. Apple Care+ shines in this category as you'll pay $99 for any repair labeled as other. That's for my iPhone 12 Pro Max and all other iPhone models. The other repair will bite those that don't have Apple Care+ and it's going to leave a very bad mark. If I should need one I'd pay $599 as of writing this.


That's just.....wow. I'd have to love this phone, I mean really love this phone if I'd ever spend that kind of money to have it fixed. Same thing goes for anyone as there are more phones out there we can buy outright for that price rather than repair the phone we already own. What things would I have to really like about using the iPhone 12 Pro Max to make me justify such an expensive repair? Keep reading as I go into the likes and dislikes I've thus far....


Pros vs Cons


There's a lot to like about using an iPhone. You have the state of the art build quality, Apple's ecosystem, the camera...all of those put together into a user friendly phone that has led the market for decades. Out of everything this phone is made of I can list 4 areas where the 12 Pro Max really puts it's foot down.


Build Quality: stainless steel frame, strong front and back glass panels, and the largest screen to body ratio of any iPhone thus far; the phone is simple, clean, and luxurious

Cameras: having three 12MP cameras on the back (telephoto, wide, and ultra wide) this phone takes stellar photos that clean in daylight, night, and even underwater scenarios


Speakers: impressively loud and crisp; whether it be listening to music, gaming, or watching movies the stereo speakers pack a punch

Wireless Charging: before you say it yes wireless charging has been on iPhones since 2017 but the 12 Pro Max has MagSafe and I love it



Those are all good and arguable to the better part of my using this phone but what about the things I wish I could change?


Sharp Edges: compared to the iPhone 11 and iPhone X of past Apple sharpened the edges of the iPhone 12; it's not as comfortable to hold regardless of which model iPhone 12 you have; I recommend getting a case


Refresh Rate: every other major competitor of the iPhone has a screen refresh rate of 120hz where the iPhone is at 60hz; Apple did build the screen of the Pro Max to support 120hz but refused to use that feature in effort to save battery life; personally I would have dealt with it but to each their own


The Notch: you knew this was coming didn't you Apple? WHY do we still have this notch? and don't hide behind Face ID either, I know you can do better than this.


When compared to it's competitors currently out the iPhone 12 Pro Max still holds its own and comes out victorious in areas of performance, build quality, and photo taking. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 does open up to become a tablet but it lacks the water and dust resistance. Where the OnePlus 8 and Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro soar in their high screen refresh rate and pixel density they both fall to the iPhone having better battery life, photo quality, and being more durable. Benchmark performance tests have all three of those devices not being able to keep up with the iPhone either. What I'm interested in mostly is what we'll see in the iPhone 13. Rumors are spinning that we might see:

Credit: EVERYTHINGAPPLEPRO
  • smaller notch

  • improved camera

  • 120hz Pro Motion display (the same as in the current iPad Pro)

  • better processor (fingers crossed we see an iPhone packing the same M1 chip found in the iPad and MacBook refresh)


Those are just some of the things we hoping to see in this years phone as until then no one is certain what their "one more thing" will actually be. I can say that overall I'm pleased with what I've seen so far. Can it be better, absolutely. No device is perfect. Will I upgrade? Duh....I have to unbox it for you and review it and do other techie stuff. See you then....

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