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  • Cheryl Tan

iPhone 13 Pro Max 3 Weeks Later: Switching Over From Android!

It’s been just over three weeks since I got the iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 13 to try out, and well, I’m switching over from Android.

Just a quick backstory, I’ve switched between Android and iPhone quite a few times over the last decade, but most recently, I’ve stuck to Android, with my Samsung Note 9 and then a Huawei P40 Pro Plus. Well, that’s changing with the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Let’s talk design first. On first glance, the iPhone 13 Pro Max looks almost exactly like the iPhone 12 Pro Max. You get the same flat edges, flat display, same camera bump on the rear, and if you put a case on it, nobody’s gonna know that you have the newest model. But once the screen turns on, you’ll notice that the front camera notch is ever so slightly smaller, 20% smaller, in fact. Unfortunately, Apple hasn’t taken advantage of that extra space to change the UI on top, it’s still all the same. I would have loved if Apple could have fit the battery percentage on the top, but you still have to swipe down from the top right to see how much battery you have left.

We have the Pro Max model in the new Sierra Blue hero colour and it is absolutely gorgeous. I’ve applied a screen protector here, but I’m still on the fence about a case because I think it’s such a shame to cover up that beautiful back. Another weird thing is that Apple doesn’t offer a case in the same Sierra Blue shade, so your best bet might be a clear case if you want to see the colour.

Moving on, the sides for the Pro and Pro Max models are still made with glossy stainless steel, which definitely retains a lot of fingerprints and it’s not something that I’m fond of; I personally much prefer the matte aluminium sides that are on the base model and mini.

The sizes have been kept the same across the board, with the Pro Max display coming in at 6.7-inches.

Speaking of which, this year, Apple has finally jumped on the high refresh rate wagon by bringing their ProMotion adaptive refresh rate display to the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max models. This is actually one of the biggest reasons why I’m finally willing to go back to using an iPhone. After using high refresh rate displays on Android phones for so long, it was always a bit of a lacklustre experience when trying out an iPhone because they’ve been locked to 60Hz for so long. Well, no longer.

Scrolling web pages, playing games and more are all super smooth. And while Apple has taken a very long time to finally introduce high refresh rates to iPhones, I think the implementation here is great. First, iPhone users get adaptive refresh rates off the bat, which means better battery life, and trust me, the battery life on this phone is insane. Second, instead of introducing 90Hz refresh rates then scaling up to 120Hz eventually, Apple has gone straight to 120Hz, which is obviously better than waiting two years to get to 120Hz.

The only quibble I have is that the base iPhone 13 and 13 Mini are still using 60Hz displays. I hope for next year, we’ll see them bumped up to either 90Hz or just standardised at 120Hz. Everybody deserves a good high refresh rate screen.

Additionally, the screen is now improved, you get a thousand nits max brightness, and with HDR content, that goes up to 1,200 nits, so really, there’s no issue at all using the phone under bright sunlight, even here in sunny Singapore. As for the 13 and 13 Mini, they also get a bump in max brightness, up to 800 nits standard and 1,200 nits for HDR content. Not too bad.

It’s a pleasant viewing experience, with accurate colours and plenty of detail.

Moving on, we still have Face ID here, with no under-display fingerprint reader. It’s a bit of a shame, considering that in many countries around the world, we’re still masking up, but it’s less of a problem if you’re already in the Apple ecosystem and have an Apple Watch to help unlock your phone. Speaking of which, there was an issue with Apple Watch not being able to be used for unlocks, but Apple fixed that in a software update, so if you haven’t updated to iOS 15.1, you should do it.

Inside, the phone’s powered by the new A15 Bionic with a 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU and 16-core neural engine. RAM hasn’t changed from the iPhone 12 or 12 Pro lineup, with the Pro and Pro Max models still getting 6GB of RAM across all storage options. Storage starts at 128GB and can go all the way up to a whopping 1TB. The model we have is the 512GB model, and honestly, I think it’s more than enough for most people. The only time I can see the 1TB model being really useful is if you’re actually using the phone to shoot in ProRes.

My only advice about which storage size to choose is to not pick the 128GB model if you’re interested in using ProRes, because that model is limited to 1080p 30fps, instead of the 4K 30fps that you can get with all the other models, most likely due to storage limitations since ProRes files are really big.

We did a quick test with Geekbench, and our unit scored a single-core score of 1730 and a multi-core score of 4514. It’s pretty in line with what others have recorded, and compared to other flagships like the Samsung S21 Ultra, it’s a rather big difference. The single-core score even managed to beat out the iPad Pro M1 2021, although the multi-core score on that was much better than the 13 Pro Max.

The iPhone 13 lineup also comes with 5G and Wi-Fi 6 support, which means that if you have a compatible mobile plan or a Wi-Fi 6 router at home, you’ll be able to enjoy the same fast speeds as from the iPhone 12 lineup.

There are stereo speakers on top as well as at the bottom near the Lightning charging port, and they’re pretty good. You won’t have any problems if you decide to not use earbuds when watching shows and the likes.

We now come to the cameras, and this is yet another big improvement. All three cameras on the back are new, with the 12MP telephoto, wide and ultra-wide lenses all being redesigned. The camera bump is larger than the one from the 12 Pro and Pro Max to accommodate all the new tech being included here, and there’s a lot. For one, the only real difference between the Pro and Pro Max is now the size, and the batteries too of course. The cameras are now identical between the two, which is fantastic.

Additionally, you get 3x optical zoom now compared to 2.5x on the 12 Pro Max, Smart HDR 4, which is an improvement over Smart HDR 3, and the ability to shoot in macro mode! Now, there’s that issue with the camera automatically switching to macro mode and no way for the user to switch back, and it does get annoying. I’m definitely looking forward to that software update from Apple.

There are also photographic styles. You get to choose between Standard, Vibrant, Rich Contrast, Warm and Cool. Personally, I preferred either sticking to Standard or Vibrant. Rich Contrast was a bit too dark and contrasty for my taste, but it will definitely work in different situations.

I think overall, you get an amazing amount of detail and sharpness in photos. The macro mode is also very good. You can’t go quite as close as some other phones out there, but you get plenty of detail.

Autofocusing even in low-light situations is still very snappy, and of course, the performance in low-light is really good.

I’m personally not much of a video person, so I didn’t take too many videos with the 13 Pro Max, but with Cinematic mode now allowing for rack focusing and the introduction of ProRes video to the iPhone 13 Pro lineup, this could be a great option for people who want to vlog or get started with creating cinematic videos and don’t have a proper camera yet.

Lastly, we come to battery life, and personally, this is the reason why I’m going to change to an iPhone. The battery life on the iPhone 13 Pro Max is astonishing. Now, just to be clear, I didn’t do tests and run videos on end for 12 or 15 hours. I think that’s just not how most people will use their phones. So I charged it fully, unplugged the charger and just went about my day. I did two different tests, one over the weekend where I would use it a lot more and one during the course of the week where I would be at work, mostly using my computer instead of my phone.

Now, the test over the weekend went something like this. I unplugged the phone at 12am on Saturday, and I chalked up around 5h37m of screen time that day. I didn’t charge it overnight though, I just left it be. On Sunday, I chalked up another 4h17m of screen time, and by around 11 p.m. on Sunday, the phone was still alive with slightly under 20% battery. It was madness. I don’t think I’ve ever gone almost 48 hours on a single charge before. Of course, I didn’t do anything too draining or taxing on the phone; it was mostly browsing and messaging, but I am incredibly impressed with the performance.

For the weekday test, I averaged around two hours and 50-ish minutes of screen on time a day, and clearly, it went through two whole days without too much issue as well. So even if you’re a more intensive user, I’m very very sure that no matter what, you’ll definitely get at least one whole day of use out of a full charge on the 13 Pro Max.

Starting at S$1,799 and going up to S$2,629, it’s not cheap. But then again, Apple’s flagship products have never really been cheap or affordable. You’re paying for a certain level of quality, and all I can say is that iPhones have really been some of the most premium phones I have held before, so yeah. I guess for me, it’s bye Android, hello iPhone. At least, until an even more impressive Android phone comes out. Which, I’m hoping it does. Competition is always good for the consumer. But until then, I’m an iPhone user.


Content by Cheryl Tan

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