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macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 17, 2023
Hi comunity, I would like to share my experience with the newest iPhone model.

First a bit of history, I was a long term iPhone XR user, for 4 years 2019-2023 with a few month here and there with an iPhone 11 Pro.
Getting an 1TB 14 Pro Max was an impossibility in my coutry. I had to revise my order down to 512 and then 256 GB and still wait 4 months (!!) to get my order. I also considered getting older Pro Max models because of this. Next time having a bit of travel would be a much faster way of getting one probably.

The phone was my first plus/max size model, but the size itself and weight was not much different from the iPhone XR, and it was noticaebly thinner too. I could adjust to the size in a matter of days. But i have to cope with two handed use, the feeling that the phone is way less secure when settling inside the hand, the most pockets feeling very dangerous in terms of falling out. I would generally describe this as always being reminded that i have a very expansive device that can break, instead of kind of disappearing in hand/pockets. I personally like the boxy design and do not think it kills comfort.

The first thing i Had noticed is that just like the iPhone 11 Pro, the matte back and ceramic coated steel feel very durable and probably wont show any wear for years, unlike aluminium/glossy back. Also to my surprise, the glass-cerramic front holds up extremelly well, without any micro scratches after 2 months of use. The previous recorder for me was the iPhone 7 which lasted for 12 days of use, while iPhone 11 Pro, XR and 6 showed micro scratches within days.

Regarding the OLED display, this was an area of concern for me as one of the reasons I switched from 11 Pro to XR was the use of LCD, which while an older technology has its advantages. While "infinite" contrast of oleds looks nice and makes images pop, it also pushes really hard on the eyes compared to less contrasty image of LCD's. I can say that compared to the 11 Pro ( and pretty much all iPhones besides 13 and 14 Pro) the display is much improved. The variance of color with angle is less, the display flicker and smearing is WAY less noticeable, the reflectivity of the display is very low and combined with the insane brightness makes for complete visibility under any conditions. However, it still causes eye sore at low light, just not as immediate as the older oled iPhones. To me Promotion is nice, but not a giant improvement. There is a difference to older 60 Hz but only visible when put side to side.

Regarding the battery life i was honestly dissapointed at first. The old XR lasted me a solid day on 16.3.1 with a 86% old battery. Comparing to the 11 Pro I would say the XR had way less battery life (in 2020 though). The 14 Pro Max lasts me about 1,5 days with 6-7 hours of use compared to 5 to XR. The reasons for me is that playing games is a use case with the newest CPU for me aggain. I also listen to a ton of podcasts on speaker and those are super loud on the 14. In my experience the iPhones can last about 6 hours running at full volume, so this might reduce the battery life compared to mainly screen use scenario. The screen is also very bright when set to auto mode.
I do not think that the AOD drains any significant power, and I did not seen a significant battery life increase when using low power mode with dark mode. I am quite happy with the battery life and it is not a reason for upgrading, but I was expecting a bit more after the 13 Pro Max did hit 10 hours of usage in some controlled tests.

Regarding the camera I was a bit torn at first. I liked the simplicity of the XR. A single camera, a bit on the wider side. It can cope with low light relativelly well. It is stabilised, fast and can focus relatively close.
I can say the camera on the 14 Pro Max is much more complex, with many new modes and features, some of those kicking on automatically without warning. The photos look brutally neutral in colour and very contrasty compared to more punchy, saturated tones and flat look of the XR. I do not like the ever widening 24 mm format for the main lens and the push to 48 MP. The 2X mode has good FOV but I usually avoid cropping the sensor. The image has more detail, but it represents a strange 12 MP format with quad bayer, effectively representing a 3MP bayer with more luminance detail information. I ended up liking the 3x lens the most, even though it is a bit tight and dim. The stabilisation on the 3X lens felt kind of shaky and laggy on the viewfinder though. The photos in heif look nice on the screen but any zoom makes it kind of fall apart for me. There is insane level of noise reduction on something like the sky, aggresive sharpening and shape enchancing on things like buildings or mossaics and finally a complete mushing and oil painting effect when the AI does not know what the thing is - like distant folliage. This processing gets worse for the edges of the wide and especially ultra-wide lens. Many pictures are boosted to HDR brightness levels on the 8 bit file to be displayed on screen by default... i do not know how to feel about this. It makes the photo look different but not necessarilly better as it makes it look less colorfull. This gets aleviated somewhat when using the Pro RAW, but there is still a ton of processing and some recuring misfires by the AI. Pro raw is good for HDR scenarios, but other than that I would prefer using regular RAW with manual controls. I have to admit that the 48MB RAWs carry insane levels of detail, far surpasing the older devices. However I still have to think what a lower res sensor, with larger pixels and more dynamic range, lets say 24 MP would look like when combined with other hardware. The 48 MP mode is also very slow compared to the usual instant response the iPhone provides, often taking a few seconds to process. The 3x lens does show even higher spatial resolution then the main 48 MP lens. The night mode honestly does not look much better for me compared to 11 Pro. The images are relatively blurry, very processed and often are off on color balance. The main camera gets miles better results than the other ones, usally shooting with deep fusion while other lenses swith to NM way sooner. The focusing at night using lidar is very good, unless there is any glass around you or you shoot from a tight space lets say from behind a car seat, which makes the iPhone focus on the invisible wall as it reflects IR light. Night mode with Pro RAW looks very good though, but I could only view the associated heif on the phone itself (how can I wiev the RAW itself ? any tips ?) which makes you dissapointed at first. This is probably a software thing for the photos app. The last remark is on the 4K video which on the 11 Pro (and older) does not show any increase in resolution compared to 1080p, while often increasing in noise reduction smearing.
The 14 Pro does show an improvement in detail and a quite significant one compared to 1080p in all 4 modes. The difference in detail between a 4K at 1x and 4K at 2X is significant enough that it makes me deny the upcoming 8K capture a bit less. The wide camera captures so much light that even 4K video looks acceptable in low light with a lot of detail. However I would still prefer to use 1080 for other cameras at night. Action mode is insane. It can handle anything.

The last point I want to touch on is thermals. While the 14 is not viewed as a big upgrade, I must say the gaming experience is very good. The performance and thermals are stable and surprisignly the OLEd does not dim when the device heats in order to protect the organics from decomposing. This along with 500 nit AOD shows massive confidence in long term durability of the display. Something like gaming under direct sunlight is probably going to be possible (at least for some time) which is insane compared to behaviour of older devices. I do not think playing on cellular is much worse than wifi too. However during thermal stress the battery charging slows down to a halt. (Anybody has experience with using the smart battery pack under high load ?)

So I hope I did add to the well of knowldge and if you have any questions, just leave a response.

Have a nice day.
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