The iPhone 13 Pro Max is the best iPhone Apple has ever released, thanks to its upgraded camera system, huge screen, and excellent performance. It’s definitely a step up over the iPhone 12 Pro Max — that much is obvious. But just how much better is it? If you can find a discounted iPhone 12 Pro Max, should you get it instead of paying the extra cash for the iPhone 13 Pro Max?
We’ve put together this guide to help you make that decision. It’s the battle of the big-screen iPhones. Here are the real differences between the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Pro Max, along with which of those differences should actually matter to you.
iPhone 13 Pro Max vs iPhone 12 Pro Max specs
|iPhone 13 Pro Max||iPhone 12 Pro Max|
|Dimensions||6.33 x 3.07 x 0.30 inches||6.33 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches|
|Weight||8.47 ounces||8.04 ounces|
|Display size||6.7 inches||6.7 inches|
|Display type||Super Retina XDR OLED||Super Retina XDR OLED|
|Display resolution||1,284 x 2,778 (458 pixels-per-inch)||1,284 x 2,778 (458 pixels-per-inch)|
|Display refresh rate||120Hz||60Hz|
|Display brightness||1200 nits peak||1200 nits peak|
|Chipset||Apple A15 Bionic||Apple A14 Bionic|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB|
|Rear camera||12MP f/1.5 main, 12MP f/2.8 telephoto, 12MP f/1.8 ultrawide||12MP f/1.6 main, 12MP f/2.2 telephoto, 12MP f/2.4 ultrawide|
|Video||4K at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240 frames per second||4K at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240 frames per second|
|Front camera||12MP f/2.2||12MP f/2.2|
|Charging||27W fast charging, 15W MagSafe charging, 7.5W Qi wireless charging||22W fast charging, 15W MagSafe charging, 7.5W Qi wireless charging|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 5.0|
|Colors||Graphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra Blue||Graphite Gold, Silver, Pacific Blue|
iPhone 13 Pro Max vs iPhone 12 Pro Max design and display
The first comparison to make between these two phones is their design, and they’re pretty similar. The iPhone 12 series introduced Apple’s new (at least in the past few years) flat-edged design, and it remains in the iPhone 13 series. I really like the look and feel of the phones.
They’re basically the same size too. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is ever so slightly thicker and heavier than the older iPhone 12 Pro Max, but as we’ll talk about later, that’s not a huge deal — especially since it makes for a bigger battery. Honestly, most won’t notice the difference in feel and weight.
There are a few bigger differences between the two in terms of design. The camera module on the iPhone 13 Pro Max is bigger than the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which allows for a better camera system.
The notch on the new device is a little smaller than that on the iPhone 12 Pro Max too. Frankly, the difference isn’t huge, and in day-to-day use, it won’t make much of an impact.
The display on the iPhone 12 Pro Max is great. It’s an OLED display with a decently high resolution, vibrant colors, and more. But there’s one thing that makes the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s display even better. That’s the fact that it supports a 120Hz refresh rate, which makes for a super-smooth, more responsive feel. For some, it makes a huge difference, but others won’t notice.
iPhone 13 Pro Max vs iPhone 12 Pro Max specs and performance
Apple upgrades the chipset in the iPhone every year, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max is no different. The Apple A14 Bionic in the iPhone 12 Pro Max is extremely powerful, and frankly, more than enough for everything you can throw at it in 2022. The Apple A15 Bionic, however, is even more powerful. You won’t notice much of a difference now, but you may in five or six years when the phone starts to slow down and Apple starts to end support for current-generation models.
That said, both phones will be more than powerful enough for things like gaming, productivity, and more. Perhaps the biggest difference in specifications comes in the form of storage. While the iPhone 12 Pro Max only offers up to 512GB of storage, the newer phone has up to 1TB. Most won’t buy the top storage option anyway, but those that want that extra storage should consider going for the 13 Pro Max.
iPhone 13 Pro Max vs iPhone 12 Pro Max battery life and charging
Remember when we mentioned that the iPhone 13 Pro Max is a little thicker than the 12 Pro Max? The result of that is that the device offers a much better battery life. Apple rates the iPhone 12 Pro Max as offering up to 20 hours of video playback, while the 13 Pro Max offers up to 28 hours. It’s a meaningful improvement, and easily makes the extra thickness worth it.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max can charge that battery a little fast, too — but not much. The newer phone offers fast charging at up to 27W, which is a little faster than 22W on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Most won’t actually take advantage of that faster charging, and they both still charge wireless through Qi at up to 7.5W, or MagSafe at up to 15W.
iPhone 13 Pro Max vs iPhone 12 Pro Max cameras
Then there’s the camera, and it’s perhaps the biggest difference between the two phones. To be clear, both phones offer excellent cameras — but the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s camera is that extra bit better.
Both phones have a triple camera array, with three 12-megapixel cameras, including one main camera, one ultrawide, and one telephoto camera. But the latest phone steps things up a little, thanks to the fact that it has a larger main sensor, a wider aperture on the main and ultrawide sensors, and better image processing.
If you care about camera quality, you’ll love either of these phones. But if you won’t settle for anything less than the best, then go for the latest phone.
As you can see, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is easily a better phone. It has a better battery, a better camera, a better display, and a faster processor. But all of those things, except perhaps the battery, are only moderately better — and if you stand to save a ton of money by getting a discounted or used iPhone 12 Pro Max, then you’ll still be extremely happy with it.
Should I buy the iPhone 13 Pro Max or the iPhone 12 Pro Max?
If you really want the best, go for the latest phone. But if you’re happy saving some cash, you’ll be more than happy with the iPhone 12 Pro Max.