When Apple introduced its latest crop of new smartphones with the iPhone 12 lineup, Apple CEO Tim Cook called it “the start of a new era for iPhone.” While he was mainly referring to the arrival of 5G in the iPhone for the first time, there are plenty of other new things to know about with the iPhone 12 series. LCD displays have been completely phased out of the iPhone 12 lineup, while Apple has implemented a flat-edge design for the phones.
If you’re an Apple fan that wants the best of what the device maker has to offer when it comes to cameras, performance and battery life—i.e., the iPhone 12 Pro models--your buying process is probably coming down to an iPhone 12 Pro vs Pro Max decision.
But which of the two iPhone 12 Pro models is best for you? What follows is CRN’s comparison of the specs, features and price differences for the iPhone 12 Pro vs Pro Max.
Not surprisingly, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the larger of the two devices in our comparison, with 6.7 inches of display space. That’s actually a bit larger than its immediate predecessor in the iPhone lineup, the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which came with a 6.5-inch display. But the iPhone 12 Pro has gotten a bump on display size, too, measuring in at 6.1 inches (that’s up from the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro). The gulf in display sizes is certainly the largest differentiator in our iPhone 12 Pro vs Pro Max comparison—that makes the 12 Pro Max a full 10 percent larger than the 12 Pro. And of course, it’s the probably the main thing that will affect a buying decision between the two phones. Otherwise, the displays are similar—with the same vibrant OLED Retina display technology and same resolution (in pixels-per-inch) on both phones--460 ppi for the 12 Pro and 458 ppi for the 12 Pro Max.
As mentioned, Apple has redesigned the form factor for the iPhone 12 lineup. That switches the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max to a flat-edge design. The phones are thus boxier than the iPhones of recent generations--which had featured a curved-edge design since the iPhone 6 in 2014. The redesign also removes the border that used to separate the display and the stainless-steel body--enabling the aluminum enclosure and glass to stay flush on both phones.
Connectivity And Performance
At last, Apple has caught up to other phone makers when it comes to offering high-speed 5G mobile connectivity. Both the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max support 5G—and in fact, they support both of the major types of 5G. I.e., the phones support sub-6GHz 5G connectivity--which is the more widely available 5G variant—as well as the higher-speed 5G service, known as mmWave (which stands for millimeter-wave).
On performance, there shouldn’t be much of a difference between the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max. Both use the same speedy processor, Apple’s six-core A14 Bionic processor (which Apple has said can achieve up to 50-percent faster speeds than competitors). Both of the iPhone 12 Pro models also reportedly come with 6 GB of RAM. Benchmark results gathered using Geekbench 5 showed only a slight performance advantage for the iPhone 12 Pro Max on multi-core tasks, and virtually the same performance results for the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max on single-core tasks.
Battery Life And Storage
Battery life is one of the few other differences between the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max. Apple has outfitted the iPhone 12 Pro Max with a battery featuring a capacity of 3,678 mAh, while the iPhone 12 Pro has a 2,815 mAh battery, according to reports. Apple promises 20 hours of video playback (or 12 hours of video streaming) for the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and just a bit less for the iPhone 12 Pro—17 hours of video playback and 11 hours of video streaming.
For storage, buyers of the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max can choose between variants with 128 GB, 256 GB or 512 GB of internal storage. Notably, Apple’s predecessor devices, the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max, had included half of the storage at the entry level—64 GB.
Many buyers of the iPhone 12 Pro or Pro Max are probably those that are looking for the best possible iPhone camera. And they shouldn’t be disappointed, with both iPhone 12 Pro models featuring a rear camera system with three 12-megapixel cameras (ultra-wide, wide and telephoto). The wide camera is new, and offers an ƒ/1.6 aperture that can take in 27 percent more light than the iPhone 11, Apple said. Key camera features include a new image signal processor for enhancing photo quality; Dolby Vision HDR video recording; and a LiDAR scanner for enabling improved augmented reality and faster autofocus in Night Mode.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max does have some extra camera features compared to the 12 Pro, such as a larger sensor on its rear wide camera--enabling better photos in low light—and 5X optical zoom, rather than the 4X optical zoom of the iPhone 12 Pro camera system.
The redesign of the iPhone 12 Pro models has also improved durability. The displays feature what Apple is calling “Ceramic Shield” material, which involves using high-temperature crystallization to improve toughness. The drop protection on the iPhone 12 Pro models is now 4X better. The devices also get improved water resistance (with a rating of IP68 under IEC standard 60529)—signifying protection against a plunge into a depth of 6 meters for 30 minutes.
Additionally, for the iPhone 12 Pro models, Apple has introduced support for magnetically attachable MagSafe accessories. The accessories can snap onto the back of the phone, as another way to provide wireless charging.
Price, Colors And Bottom Line
As you’ve seen, there are few major differences in our iPhone 12 Pro vs Pro Max comparison. And while Apple’s prices for the iPhone 12 Pro models are in fact different from each other, the difference is noticeable but not extreme. The iPhone 12 Pro price starts at $999, while the starting iPhone 12 Pro Max price comes in $100 higher at $1,099. One thing that’s worth noting is that these prices are identical to the predecessor iPhones, the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max, even though the previous devices had started out with half the storage (64 GB). The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max start out with 128 GB of storage, as mentioned.
For models with 256 GB, the prices go up to $1,099 and $1,199. And for models with 512 GB of storage, the prices jump to $1,299 and $1,399.
Color choices are identical between the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, with options to pick from silver, graphite, gold and “pacific blue” colors. Ultimately, the biggest differences between the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max are the display size and the pricing. Other differences are comparatively minor, with slight differences on the camera and battery life of the two smartphones. Otherwise, you are pretty much getting the same phone with either the iPhone 12 Pro or Pro Max.