iPhone 13 Pro Max: 5 thoughts after 3 weeks with Apple’s new flagship

We’re coming in three weeks since the release of the iPhone 13 series, and my iPhone 13 Pro Max has already become an integral part of my technical setup. Listen below as I break down five quick impressions of Apple’s flagship iPhone 13 Pro Max after the first three weeks of use, including details on ProMotion, size, and more.

There’s a reason I’ll start this piece with ProMotion as the top heading. ProMotion on iPhone 13 Pro is incredible. Once you’ve seen it for the first time, you’ll never be able to use an iPhone without it again.

I’ve been using iPads with ProMotion since it first came to the iPad Pro in 2017, so I’m no stranger to the 120Hz experience. Either way, I was still blown away the first time I used my iPhone 13 Pro Max. Animations are as smooth as possible, you can read text as it scrolls, and everything is incredibly fluid.

As tests (and Apple’s own claims) have shown, ProMotion also has major efficiency benefits. The battery life of the iPhone 13 Pro Max is incredible for this reason plus the large size of the battery.

One thing to note, though, is that something about ProMotion seems to mean that different people may have vastly different impressions of it. Some people (like me) notice it right away and instantly recognize the benefits. Other people notice it but do not consider it a game-changer and some people even have to turn it off because it messes with their head. Be sure to try an iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max before upgrading to ProMotion only.

Size

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is a large and heavy phone, there is no denying it. It’s even heavier than last year’s iPhone 12 Pro Max. For context, over the past year, I switched pretty regularly between the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is significantly heavier and larger than both of these phones, a change I was worried about getting used to.

In practice, one of the most surprising things for me has been how quickly I have gotten used to the size of the iPhone 13 Pro Max. As I encounter the 3-week mark, I realize that the iPhone 13 Pro Max no longer feels abnormally large or heavier. On the flip side, there are plenty of times where I realize how happy I am to have the 6.7-inch screen and the impressive battery life it provides.

I think the size of the iPhone 13 Pro Max is made more manageable using a case. The matte back is quite slippery and hard to grip (like the iPhone 12 Pro design), but a case can help with this. My recommendation is Apple’s official leather case, but there are plenty of more affordable options out there.

Colors

Like many of my other Apple commentators, I’m disappointed with the colors of the iPhone 13 (and Apple Watch Series 7, for that matter). This is especially true for the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, where your options consist of: graphite, silver, still blue and gold.

I think the golden iPhone 13 Pro looks best, but it does not really match my style. Pacific blue looks good, but it is borderline gray in many environments. Graphite is a little too close to brown for my liking. This left an opportunity for me this year: silver.

I’ve actually never owned a silver or white iPhone before, so I’m pretty happy with my choice. That said, I agree that Apple needs to designate a “Color Czar” of some kind because its capabilities have really missed the brand recently.

Minor notch

During the rumor cycle on the iPhone 13, there was quite a bit of focus on Apple wanting to make the notch smaller this year – for the first time since the introduction of the iPhone X. While these rumors turned out to be true and the iPhone 13 notch is about 20% smaller in width, it really ended up being “much ado about nothing.”

The iPhone 13’s smaller notch is certainly noticeable, but there are two things to keep in mind. First, it’s smaller in width, but actually a little higher, which means it extends further down the iOS interface than before. This is not really noticeable in everyday use, but it makes you wonder why Apple made exactly this change.

Second, Apple has done nothing to take advantage of the added real estate screen it received with this change. For example, it could have easily added the battery percentage back to the status bar, but it decided against this for whatever reason. Fortunately, there is room for more carrier 5G branding …

 How to view iPhone 13 battery percentage

Camera

I do not have much to say when it comes to the iPhone 13 Pro’s camera, which has not already been said by my colleagues Zac Hall and Miles Somerville. My favorite feature is by far the Macro mode, which makes the iPhone 13 Pro an even more versatile camera than it already was.

I think macro mode should be its own switch or “condition” in the camera app. Apple has added a switch to the Settings app that allows people to disable it “Automatic macro”, but giving Macro mode a dedicated mode in the Camera app would be much more convenient in my opinion.

Other than that, the iPhone 13 Pro Max cameras stand out in almost every way. The new feature in Photographic Styles gives you more ways to personalize the photos you take with your iPhone, Cinematic Video is impressive if you take a lot of videos, and the enhanced Ultra Wide lens is a big leap year-over-year.

For an amateur photographer like myself, the iPhone 13 Pro Max remains the best camera because it allows me to take a picture without worrying about the result.

PSA: Included accessories

For environmental reasons, Apple no longer includes headphones or a charging stone in the iPhone 13 box this year. Here are some accessories you might be considering picking up to help fill that gap and complement your new iPhone.

Pick up

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is an incredible phone. It’s probably the best phone ever made, despite it being largely an iterative upgrade over last year’s iPhone 12 Pro Max. I took a year off “Max” size last year, mainly due to the pandemic and not traveling, but I’m very happy to be back to the 6.7 inch screen size this year.

When I look forward to the iPhone 14 next year, I am very fascinated by the rumors of an iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. As rumors stand today, this means that we have two 6.1-inch and two 6.7-inch form factors at different price points. More on that over the next 12 months. Exciting!

What do you think of the iPhone 13 Pro Max? Do you have any questions for me? Sound down in the comments!

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