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iPhone 12 Pro Max vs iPhone 13 Pro Max: A Detailed Comparison

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is Apple‘s newest and most advanced iPhone, building on the strong foundation of last year‘s 12 Pro Max. But with such similarities between these two high-end flagships, should you upgrade or save money by going with the now reduced-priced 12 Pro Max?

Here is a brief overview of how the two professional iPhones compare:

Feature iPhone 12 Pro Max iPhone 13 Pro Max
Display 6.7" OLED
60Hz refresh rate
6.7" OLED
120Hz ProMotion
Cameras 12MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP telephoto
OIS, Night mode, Deep Fusion, Apple ProRAW
New 12MP cameras
Adds Cinematic mode, Photographic styles, ProRes video, Night mode for ultrawide, 3x optical zoom
Battery Life Up to 20 hrs video playback Up to 28 hrs video playback
Processor A14 Bionic A15 Bionic
Storage 128GB/256GB/512GB 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
Design Glass & Stainless Steel
IP68 water resistance
Glass & Stainless Steel
IP68 water resistance
Price (Starting) $1099 $1099

As you can see, there are not massive changes year-over-year as both phones represent the pinnacle of Apple‘s smartphone technology. However, the iPhone 13 Pro Max provides compelling improvements in some key areas while maintaining everything great about the 12 Pro Max already.

Let‘s dive deeper into the most significant differences…

Display Technology – Faster Refresh Rate

The first difference is in display refresh rates supported – 120Hz on the iPhone 13 Pro Max versus 60Hz on the 12 Pro Max.

This higher refresh rate, enabled by Apple‘s ProMotion technology, makes scrolling and motions look much smoother and responsive. Simple actions like flicking between home screens or scrolling web pages and social feeds feel almost buttery smooth thanks to the higher 120Hz display.

120Hz also has benefits for gaming. Actions in compatible games can render smoother and input response can improve. So if you play a lot of fast-paced games on your phone, the 13 Pro Max display will offer a better experience.

The rest of the core display specs remain the same excellent quality – a 6.7 inch flexible OLED panel with HDR support, Excellent color accuracy, True Tone ambient color temperature matching, and up to 1200 nits peak HDR brightness for great visibility even in bright sunlight.

So if you want the smoothest possible experience for phone usage and gaming, the 120Hz display gives the iPhone 13 Pro Max an edge. But if you aren‘t fussed about marginally smoother scrolling, the 12 Pro Max screen still sets a high bar for quality.

Upgraded Camera System

The next area where the iPhone 13 Pro Max differentiates itself is in its upgraded triple camera system. Although keeping the same 12MP sensor resolutions for wide, ultrawide, and 3x telephoto, Apple has enhanced aspects like sensors, lenses, OIS, and video recording.

New Camera Modes

Exciting new capabilities include:

  • Cinematic Mode – Cinematic mode allows shallow depth-of-field portrait videos with auto "pull focus" between subjects – great for vlogging or anything with multiple people.

  • Photographic Styles – Choose from different color and tone style presets like Vibrant, Warm, or Cool to match your taste.

  • ProRes – Get full frame rate 4K video with an advanced ProRes codec for maximum quality during editing.

  • Macro mode – Get fine details when shooting tiny subjects as close as 2cm away.

So for creative and professional use, the 13 Pro Max certainly takes video and camera flexibility up a level.

Enhanced Low Light and Zoom

Apple also enhanced low light performance thanks to faster f/1.5 aperture and sensor shifts to counter hand shake. This results in brighter images with less noise when the lights drop.

Zoom gets an upgrade too with a wider 6x optical magnification range versus 5x on the 12 Pro Max. So you can get in closer to subjects from farther away.

For most casual shooting the iPhone 12 Pro Max already takes world-class photos and video. But the iPhone 13 Pro Max provides nice refinements if you make extensive use of the cameras.

Overall the iPhone 13 Pro Max probably has the most advanced and versatile mobile camera system available today.

Improved Battery Life

Battery life remains stellar on both iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 Pro Max devices thanks to efficient OLED displays and Apple‘s processing hardware/software integration. However Apple eked out some extra endurance for the 13 – around 2.5 hours of additional video playback.

So the 13 Pro Max promises up to 28 hours of video or 95 hours of audio playback per charge. That‘s great if you consume lots of media and should easily get you through even longer trips or days away from a charger.

Charging speed is still best-in-class too with fast 20W charger support for a 50% charge in just 30 minutes. Though keep in mind Apple no longer bundles wall chargers with new iPhones to reduce e-waste. So you may need to supply your own or buy one.

MagSafe and Qi wireless charging work the same between models. So no changes there.

For battery conscious users, the iPhone 13 Pro Max can keep going for noticeably longer on a charge while retaining fast charging capabilities.

More Storage Options

iPhones always start generously with 128GB of storage space. But media files and app data has a way of filling things up for avid users – especially given the Pro Max devices are often used for pro photography/videography.

That‘s why it‘s great Apple now offers a 1TB storage tier option with the iPhone 13 Pro Max. That provides immense space for photos, 4K video, lossless music, and large apps/games.

So if you routinely push the storage limits or like keeping everything saved locally, the extra 1TB choice allows being footloose with no memory anxiety.

Nearly Identical Design

Apple kept the overall industrial design virtually unchanged between the 12 and 13 generation Pro Max iPhones. You get the same surgical grade stainless steel band and matte textured glass back construction sealed against water intrusion to 6 meters depth. Both phones actually exceed military specifications for ruggedness and water resistance too.

There are fractional increases in thickness (7.4mm to 7.7mm) and weight (228g to 240g) on paper for the iPhone 13 Pro Max. But unless directly compared side-by-side, you will be unlikely to notice any difference in pocketability or comfort holding the phones.

You also have the same great choices of elegant Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Sierra Blue color options.

So rest assured the new iPhone 13 Pro Max offers all the same sleek, durable, and iconic Apple style as its forerunner. No compromises or aesthetic changes necessary.

Similar Core Hardware Performance

Driving these advanced phones is either Apple‘s A14 Bionic chip (iPhone 12 Pro Max) or A15 Bionic (iPhone 13 Pro Max). Both of these System-on-Chips incorporate cutting edge CPU, GPU, and AI processing for blistering smartphone performance.

GeekBench testing shows both processors scoring around 1700 for single-core and 4500 for multi-core operations. Real-world usage backs those synthetic benchmarks too – everything happens instantly whether browsing complex web pages and databases or playing immersive 3D games.

The A15 does have some advantages thanks to an upgraded 16-core neural engine and 5-core GPU vs the A14‘s 14-core / 4-core arrangement. But both handsets offer ample power for anything on iOS.

Pair that world-class speed with unified 6GB system memory and UFS 3.0 storage and you have exceptional capability for professional productivity and enjoyment alike.

So don‘t expect vastly different general system performance between these two iPhones. They both set an extremely high bar with fantastic responsiveness across all kinds of apps and services.

For most buyers, the speed is essentially equivalent between both phones.

Availability and Pricing

With the introduction of the newer iPhone 13 series, Apple has stopped selling the iPhone 12 Pro Max directly. However, you can still readily find it from third party retailers like Amazon and carriers with discounted pricing since it‘s now a generation old.

Pricing on the iPhone 13 Pro Max remains the same as when it launched starting from $1099 USD for the 128GB model. So you aren‘t paying any premium for the upgrades it brings over the preceding 12 series. Higher capacity 256GB, 512GB, and all-new 1TB versions carry a $100 increase for each storage bump.

Here is how entry-level iPhone 12 vs iPhone 13 Pro Max pricing shakes out from major retailers:

Model Launch Price Current Price
iPhone 12 Pro Max 128GB $1099 ~$950
iPhone 13 Pro Max 128GB $1099 $1099

Clearly, you can now find substantive discounts and bargains on what was equally a $1100-plus smartphone just over a year ago in the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Whereas iPhone 13 Pro Max maintains full headline pricing.

So price conscious buyers can save upwards of $150 and still get extremely modern tech opting for the last-gen iPhone 12 Pro Max – without feeling like they‘re really sacrificing much.

But if money is no object, the iPhone 13 Pro Max objectively packs in the widest feature set.

Pros and Cons Comparison

Here is a quick rundown of main advantages and disadvantages for each iPhone Pro Max option:

iPhone 12 Pro Max


  • Great triple camera system
  • Best smartphone video up to 4K/60fps
  • Fastest mobile processor at time of release
  • Best phone display available when launched
  • Familiar, durable stainless & glass design
  • Discounted from launch price


  • Only 60Hz refresh rate display
  • No cutting-edge new camera modes
  • Battery life good but not best-in-class

iPhone 13 Pro Max


  • 120Hz ProMotion display
  • Cinematic mode video
  • Upgraded cameras with Macro and ProRes
  • Longer battery life
  • More starting storage (base 128GB)
  • New Photographic picture styles
  • Latest and fastest Apple silicon


  • Most expensive option
  • Slightly heavier than iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Launch deals and price cuts unlikely in near term

Which Pro Max iPhone Is Better For You?

There‘s lots of similarities but also some meaningful upgrades moving from the esteemed iPhone 12 Pro Max to new 13 Pro Max. Let‘s summarize when it makes sense to choose each:

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is still a premium choice if:

  • You want to spend $800-1000 on a phone rather than $1100+
  • Don‘t need the ultimate camera and screen upgrades
  • Like having similar core design and features as new models

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is the phone to get for:

  • Early adopters always wanting the latest model
  • Serious about best-in-class photography/videography
  • Desire cutting edge display quality
  • Need robust 1TB local storage
  • Appreciate Apple‘s industry-leading ecosystem

In many aspects, it‘s still tough to go wrong picking the deeply discounted iPhone 12 Pro Max. You get 95% of the 13‘s wow factors and utility for at least $150 less.

But the iPhone 13 Pro Max does push boundaries even farther in areas like cameras, memory, battery efficiency, and visual immersion. Savvy shoppers weighing their personal needs and budgets can decide if those gains warrant paying full MSRP for Apple‘s newest halo handset.

Summary – Two World Class iPhones

You have an enviable decision trying to determine between Apple‘s two most premium iPhone offerings. While the iPhone 13 Pro Max extends boundaries, especially for creative pros, don‘t discount the still extremely well-rounded iPhone 12 Pro Max – now made even better value given discounts.

Hopefully this detailed comparison gives clarity around exactly how these impressive phones measure up. You get to enjoy owning two pinnacles of smartphone achievement either way.