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Don’t freak out about this new iPhone 12 Pro Max revelation

Published Oct 21st, 2020 7:31AM EDT
iPhone 12 Pro Max
Image: Apple Inc.

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  • A regulatory feeling from China’s equivalent of the FCC reveals that the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a smaller battery than the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
  • The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the iPhone 12 screen with the biggest screen size and the largest battery pack. The handset will hit stores on November 13th.
  • There’s no reason to worry about the size of the iPhone battery. Apple’s various upgrades allowed it to keep in place the same battery life estimates for the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The iPhone 12 might have launched a month later than expected, but Apple still stuck to its usual iPhone launch playbook. The iPhones were revealed on a Tuesday, and preorders started on a Friday for two devices. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro will ship to buyers a week later, with most Pro versions being sold out. The reviews dropped the other day, right on schedule. As with any iPhone before the iPhone 12 series, Apple never revealed two key specs — the RAM and the battery sizes. And as with any iPhone launch, those specs leaked soon enough. As I explained before, the RAM matters more than the battery size, and we’ve now learned that the iPhone 12 Pro phones have 6GB of memory onboard, on par with expectations. The battery size isn’t as important. Comparing the physical size and capacity with Android batteries doesn’t tell the whole story. But the biggest iPhone 12 battery pack leaked, and some see it as “bad” news. The iPhone 12 Pro Max battery is slightly smaller than the iPhone 11 Pro Max. But there’s absolutely no reason to panic.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max features a 3,687 mAh battery, according to documentation MacRumors found with the Chinese equivalent of the FCC, the TENAA. The regulator leaked battery details for previous iPhone generations, so it’s a trusted source for this particular spec. The Phone 11 Pro Max has a slightly bigger battery pack, at 3,969 mAh. These figures seem to suggest that the iPhone 11 Pro Max gets better battery life, but that’s not quite so.

iPhone 12 Pro Max Size
The official size and weight comparison between iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 11 Pro Max, and iPhone XS Max. Image source: Apple Inc.

All iPhone 12 phones come with the same 5nm A14 Bionic chip that happens to be more energy-efficient than the 7nm A13 inside the iPhone 11 models. The RAM might provide additional energy efficiency.

Furthermore, the iPhone 12 phones support faster wireless charging via the MagSafe chargers, which support double the previous speed (15W). Wired charging has also been bumped to 20W. The phones might not ship with a free 5W or 18W charger, but they do come with USB-C-to-Lightning cables that are compatible with any USB-C charger, whether it’s a MacBook charging brick, an Android charger, or a computer.

On the other hand, the iPhone 12 versions all support 5G connectivity, which will drain the battery faster than 4G. Apple has developed a Smart Data Mode that toggles 5G depending on the needs of apps. That’s if you have access to any 5G network to begin with.

iPhone 12 Pro Max Battery Life
The official battery life estimates comparison between iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 11 Pro Max, and iPhone XS Max. Image source: Apple Inc.

It is true that battery life isn’t one of the big features of the iPhone 12 series. Apple pleasantly surprised fans last year with significant iPhone 11 battery improvements over the XS/XR phones. But the iPhone 11 models were slightly thicker than their predecessors. This year, that’s not the case. But the estimates match the iPhone 11 Pro, as seen Apple’s estimates above.

Finally, the first round of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro reviews is out, and battery life hasn’t been a problem. Although 5G will indeed eat up more energy than before, and the iPhone might get warmer. But reviewers did highlight the speedier charging times available via MagSafe chargers.

With all that in mind, there’s absolutely no reason to worry that the battery life of any of the iPhone 12 versions, not just the Pro Max, will be less than satisfactory. Teardowns that will follow will tell us exactly how big the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro batteries are, and battery charging tests will tell us how long charging takes.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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