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iPhone 12 Pro Max vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max | Buyer’s Guide

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It has been established over the years that the most advanced phone that Apple will release every generation will be the iPhone Pro Max. This year, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is keeping the tradition of iOS rollouts alive, acting as an innovative device that outperforms the base iPhone 15 in every way.

This also means the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the most expensive Apple phone on the market. With a new Pro Max in play, the iPhone 13 Pro Max have seen some substantial price reductions. Here is a rundown of the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the iPhone 13 Pro Max so you can determine if one of these devices might be right for you.

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How Are the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 13 Pro Max Different?

The iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 13 Pro Max are very similar devices with some notable differences for inquiring consumers. The two phones are the same size for all intents and purposes, sporting a 6.7-inch display. Notably, the iPhone 13 Pro Max does weigh slightly more due to the increased hardware.

Both phones are compatible with iOS 14, iOS 15, and iOS 16, offering top-of-the-line apps in the Apple app store and the expected cellular and WiFi connectivity.

Both have 6GB of RAM and the same storage options, although if you want to shell out the cash, you can go up to a terabyte of storage on the 13 Pro Max, which its predecessor cannot do. Both also feature 5G connectivity, making them future-proof as the world begins moving towards 5G Internet.

Both Pro models are made from stainless steel, with a ceramic shield to enhance protection. Both are water-resistant; however, dunking your cell phone in water for a prolonged period of time will likely ruin the device, just as it would for any Android or Samsung phone.

The 12’s color options include silver, graphite, gold, and pacific blue; the 13 trades pacific blue for sierra blue and comes in the other options while adding one more — alpine green.

Price

The first big difference between the two that most people will notice is the price differential. The iPhone 13 Pro Max was Apple’s most advanced phone until recently and is still at the top of the market. This means you can still find it for nearly a thousand dollars on many retail sites and carriers.

You can find the iPhone 12 Pro Max for under $800, depending on where you look due to its age. Both are still premium prices, but it is worth noting that the $800 price tag puts the iPhone 12 Pro Max closer to the price of newer base iPhone models.

If you want an iPhone but are only interested in the Pro Max, the cheaper option provided by the iPhone 12 Pro Max may be worth it if you do not mind sacrificing some of the more recent innovations Apple has put out.

Specs

The most significant hardware difference between the two phones is that the iPhone 13 Pro Max runs on the new Apple A15, while the 12 Pro Max still runs on the Apple A14 Bionic model. This means that the 13 Max is significantly faster and more potent in terms of GPU and CPU performance than the 12 Pro Max.

Both phones are also 5G compatible, which will continue to be important as 4G becomes less prominent and starts getting phased out. It has, however, been stated that the iPhone 13 series is compatible with more 5G bands than the 12 series, including the 12 Pro Max.

Display

As discussed, the phones have similarly sized displays. Both also have a resolution of 1,284x2,778. If your primary concern when looking at these phones is getting a large and high-resolution display, a primary selling point of Pro Max phones, then either will fit the bill.

One significant upgrade on the iPhone 13 Pro Max is that it has a 120Hz refresh rate, contrasted with the 12 Pro Max’s 60Hz refresh rate. This makes the 13 Pro Max top-of-the-line as far as refresh rate goes in the industry. Additionally, the 13 Pro Max comes with a Super Retina XDR display, which Apple claims are superior to traditional OLED displays.

Otherwise, brightness and other settings are identical between the 12 Pro Max and 13 Pro Max. The 13 Pro Max is the superior Apple iPhone, but it isn’t a much brighter display, as the screen size and number of pixels are similar. For various photographic styles and hours of video playback, you can’t go wrong with either Pro Max, thanks to the strong focus on delivering a high-quality display.

Camera

Both the new iPhone 12 Pro Max and the iPhone 13 Pro Max utilize a triple ultra-wide camera system. The camera sensors on the 13 Pro Max are larger, impacting the phone's overall design. However, this leads to improved main camera quality in the 13 models over the 12.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max can take in significantly more light than the 12 Pro Max due to these larger sensors, optical zoom, wider aperture, and telephoto camera. This also means that the cameras work better in the dark, especially with the 13’s night mode, and have more capacity for detail in close-ups.

Another big plus of the 13 Pro Max is the cinematic mode. When you use this mode, your phone automatically blurs and focuses certain parts of the video, making it look as cinematically impressive as possible. It cuts out a lot of work from your end of the deal, allowing you to create incredible videos with minimal editing.

Battery Life

Battery life is another category in which the 13 Pro Max is a clear winner. While the 12 Pro Max has a battery size of 3,687mAh, the 13 Pro Max goes up to 4,352mAh. For reference, 5,000mAh is considered a high cap for battery sizes in typical mobile phones, so having a battery the size of the iPhone 13 Pro Max puts it on the higher end.

Essentially, this means an upgrade in battery life for the 13 Pro Max. In addition to MagSafe wireless charging options, fast charging speeds, and the USB-C charger that comes with it, the newer model is a better bet for battery needs.

This translates to several hours between charges that the 12 Pro Max isn’t equipped for. Both phones utilize the same basic charging system, meaning you get the same charging time for approximately more hours with the phone.

Which Should You Buy?

Regarding quality, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is a clear winner. It performs better, has a better display, and has a better camera and battery system. Even though the iPhone 15 Pro Max is out, the 13 Pro Max is still one of the most impressive phones on the market.

It is still relatively expensive, with some retailers selling it for nearly a thousand dollars. If price is a significant concern, it is essential to note that the 12 Pro Max is no slouch as far as phones go. The best phone for you will be based on your needs: 13 Pro Max for innovation, 12 Pro Max for price.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, both the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the iPhone 13 Pro Max are superb cell phones. While the iPhone 13 Pro Max offers significant upgrades across multiple specs, the iPhone 12 Pro Max remains a great pick.

If you want to make sure you get the best deals on new phones, our free, unbiased Phone Deal Finder can bring you all the latest offers across top providers like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and more.

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