I've been using Android phones for almost a decade now. I've used iPhones before but never really liked them. But the iPhone 14 Pro Max was intriguing so I got one and I've been using it for a month now as my daily driver. There are a few things that I like about this phone and a few that I absolutely don't. So without much ado, let's get right into the review.
First of all, let's talk about the one thing that totally saved the iPhone 14 Pro Max from all the mockery on the internet, the dynamic island. It turned this eyesore into a well-thought-out interactive UI element. Apple designed the Dynamic Island to change in size and shape depending on what's being displayed. When you unlock your iPhone, for example, you'll see the unlock icon or when you connect the charger, you can see the charging status, and you can control the music, timer, and more. Third-party apps can also take advantage of this so it is one of the best things about the phone purely because it is so refreshing.
Now where I was wrong with the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the always-on display. When I first got the phone, I really liked it because you know it was different than what others were doing. It was smart as well because it automatically turns off when you leave the phone in a room and walk out while wearing an Apple Watch. Also, it turns off when the phone is in your pocket or face down on a table, thus helping to save battery life while the device is not in use. So it was pretty cool. But there are a couple of reasons why I turned it off. Because a) it's distracting. There were many times in a day I got fooled into thinking I got a notification because the display is literally on all the time, taking “Always On” rather literally.
But the biggest reason I turned it off is that it was sipping battery like there was no tomorrow. I found that the phone lost around 20% more battery when it was on so I just decided to get rid of it and turned it off. Apple should have gone Samsung's way because it's so subtle, it isn't distracting, and even though the always-on display on Samsung phones does consume battery, not as much as Apple's, Samsung does give an option to only show the clock when you tap the display which basically doesn't consume battery at all.
So Apple had the potential to create something magical, but the experience falls flat rather spectacularly. But the overall display is great. Outdoor viewing is not a problem at all because of the crazy brightness, the true tone works well, and the colors and contrast were on point.
There's nothing you can complain about the display. But what I would like to complain about is the phone's weight and pointy edges. Yes, the stainless steel finish does look premium and I really like the flat sides. It feels good when you pick the phone up, but when you hold it for a longer period of time, it starts to get really uncomfortable because of the pointy edges and the weight. But overall I like the design, the purple looks fantastic in the right light conditions. Because depending on the light it either looks purple or gray.
One thing I noticed with other YouTubers is that when the S22 Ultra was launched everyone criticized the design of the camera module because it was a dirt magnet. And I agree, it does accumulate dust. But those same people didn't say a word about the 14 Pro Max's camera module. If that was a dirt magnet, this is a dirt magnet Pro Max. The fact that it's glossy and has an even bigger camera bump, it easily attracts dust and it looks bad. I was wiping the camera module multiple times a day while I was filming B rolls and even after that, it doesn't look clean. So there's that.
Coming from the S22 Ultra, I was a little surprised to find out that iPhones don't support reverse wireless charging, the multitasking is a joke in iPhones you only get a picture in picture mode and no split screen mode like on Samsung phones. The notifications are still a mess in iOS but credit where the credit is due, the phone is superfluid. I really like the animations of iOS on this phone, every single animation is well-thought-out from the unlocking animation to the app opening and closing, and the dynamic island animations. I was really impressed. Even third-party apps such as Twitter function so smoothly on this phone. For some reason, Twitter stutters a lot on Samsung phones.
So if we talk about the overall performance, this thing is a powerhouse, it can handle anything you throw at it, doesn't matter how heavy the game is or how taxing the productivity app is. It was a pleasant experience.
Speaking of experience, I was quite impressed with the battery life. I was easily getting the phone the last two days when I was just using the phone to watch movies, YouTube, and social media sites. Even when I was taking the phone out to take photos and 4K videos with a little gaming and a lot of YouTube and social media usage, I still end up with around 20 to 30% charge at the end of the day. That wasn't the case with the S22 Ultra though.
If I were to choose a phone where I don't have to worry about the battery and can heavily use the phone when I don't have access to the charging port, I will choose the iPhone 14 Pro Max on any given day.
Now coming to the camera, Apple finally jumped onto the higher megapixel bandwagon. The 14 Pro Max now has a 48MP main camera and it takes excellent photos: The image quality and details are great for a phone. The colors look good and the textures are great. In broad daylight both the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the S22 Ultra take similar photos from the main camera, there's a minor difference between the two but you really have to go looking for it. But it's at low light, you start seeing some differences and it all boils down to post-processing.
Apple’s been ramping up the amount of noise reduction and sharpening it does over the years, and the 14 Pro has the most aggressive sharpening and noise reduction yet. The S22 Ultra consistently holds on to more color detail in low light, and it’s not as heavy-handed with noise reduction and sharpening. In true Samsung fashion, you get much punchier and warmer colors compared to the more natural look of the iPhone. The same is the case in the low light video as well. 14 Pro Max is more aggressive with noise reduction but it's the S22 Ultra that holds on to the colors really well. Yes, there's some noise but overall it captures a little better low-light video.
But in good lighting conditions, both phones perform similarly. Apple has improved the cinematic mode quite a lot this year. No, you're not going to get a DSLR type of blur, but they are slowly getting there.
Now, where the iPhone 14 Pro Max falls behind is in zoom. The S22 Ultra has a dedicated periscope zoom lens which the 14 Pro Max doesn't so it's not really an apple to apple comparison but at this price point, a phone must have a periscope zoom camera. So if we talk about the overall camera performance, I would say the 14 Pro Max is right up there with the S22 Ultra for the best smartphone camera of the year. It's only when you extensively start looking for the difference, you start noticing the difference.
So overall the iPhone 14 Pro Max is a great phone, you're not going to go wrong with this. You should buy this if you have the 11 Pro or lower because I don't think the changes are that significant for 12 Pro and 13 Pro users. And as far as I'm concerned, I'm going to keep using the S22 Ultra as my main phone and keep the 14 Pro Max as my second phone because, for me, iOS is very limiting. I'm also a PC user, and the iPhone and PC don't communicate really well. There's no periscope zoom either, no S Pen and I like the look of the S22 Ultra more.