Ever since Apple announced the iPhone 14 series, I’ve been thinking about whether this should be the year I return to the largest, most expensive version — the iPhone 14 Pro Max — after living with the smaller model since the iPhone X came out. My thoughts went back and forth, but in the end I couldn’t bring myself to do it. There are two big, annoying numbers that really put me off, and no classic Apple “one more thing” to help me get past it.
Plus, to X, to Pro
A little history before we get into those problematic numbers. I used to go for the Plus model of every iPhone, up to and including the iPhone 8 Plus. The appeal of the larger screen was considerable, but looking back, that was mainly because a large part of the front was taken up by bezels. The smaller screens on the “normal” iPhone were cramped and less pleasant to use. The iPhone X solved that dilemma, and I’ve lived happily with the smaller phone ever since.
Why? I was traveling more at the time and it was a pain to drag the huge iPhone 8 Plus around. I haven’t struggled with battery life either. The iPhone 13 Pro has been really great as long as you don’t use Apple or Google Maps for hours and I can easily spend a whole day on it. Sure, the Pro Max’s larger battery lasts longer, but I never imagined that the extra few hours from day to day would make such a difference.
However, in the past year I have watched a lot more videos on my phone. I also enjoyed owning the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Fold 4, where the large, expanded screen has made media, photo editing, and work much more enjoyable than on the iPhone 13 Pro. I don’t travel that much so the size of the phone isn’t as worrisome as it once was. In other words, the iPhone 14 Pro Max rang.
About those numbers
In the end, it’s an iPhone 14 Pro mentioned in Apple’s email confirming my pre-order, not the iPhone 14 Pro Max. I wanted to do it, but that something extra just isn’t there to push me past two very unpleasant numbers that ultimately put me off: weight and price. The iPhone 14 Pro Max is 240 grams, which is a lot. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is only 23 grams heavier, but it’s a trade-off I’m willing to make given that it folds up and has two screens, one of which is 7.6-inches. This flexibility is the same reason I will put up with the $1,699 price.
The other number is the price. I need the 256GB version of the iPhone, so I’d spend at least $1,099 – or add an extra $100 to get the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Except I live in the UK where iPhone 14 prices are high. The 256GB iPhone 14 Pro is an already very expensive £1,209, and then you add another £100 to get the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which converts to about $1,516. A lot of money for a somewhat larger screen and battery, and a lot of extra grams of weight.
What I needed at this stage was that famous Apple “one more thing”. That little bit extra to make the iPhone 14 Pro Max worth making close to what I did for the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Rightly or wrongly, I consider Samsung’s foldable phone to be worth the money. Not only is it a larger version of the S22 Ultra, but it’s also easy to look at the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max that way.
But that extra is just not there. Apple knows what it’s doing, and it clearly wasn’t worth making a drastic difference between the two, as it had done with the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, where the larger phone’s camera had some extra features. If this had gone on, I feel like my prepre-launch pre-order basket would include an iPhone 14 Pro Max. But without it, it was impossible to live with the extra expense and weight.
Can Dynamic Island save the day?
Of course, this is exactly how I made my decision, and luckily my lifestyle still fits the smaller iPhone 14 Pro. However, Digital Trends mobile editor Joe Maring did the opposite. He has been upgraded from an iPhone 13 Pro to an iPhone 14 Pro Max, so I asked him why.
“There are the usual benefits of Pro Max: a bigger screen and a longer battery,” he said. “I’ve been using the regular Pro model since the XS, and the 6.1-inch screen started to feel quite cramped, especially when I’ve been reviewing much larger Android phones all year round. It’s great to know that I can fit it in any pocket and use it quite easily with one hand, but it feels really limiting now when I’m watching a YouTube video or doing a Fitness+ workout. The longer battery life is an obvious but important benefit. I am traveling more than last year and I would like to depend on batteries as little as possible when I am on the road. The regular 14 Pro will probably have great stamina, but I want to make sure I have as much battery as possible.”
Sounds very reasonable and certainly similar to the reasons I wanted to try the Pro Max this year. Interestingly, he uses the Dynamic Island feature as the reason I was looking for taking the plunge.
“I think the Dynamic Island has pushed me over the edge a bit. It’s hard to say for sure without using it personally, but I imagine the larger screen on the Pro Max will do the trick – both allowing the Dynamic Island to be larger and not taking up as much of the screen takes territory below.”
It’s a very good point. Not having used Dynamic Island yet, I have no idea if the Pro Max’s larger screen will emphasize its strengths more, or if the smaller screen will get too crowded and crowded when in action.
Whatever happens, it’s too late now. Somewhere an iPhone 14 Pro is being prepared with my name on it. Unless Apple sees a reason to make the heaviest, most expensive iPhone really different again, using Dynamic Island for the next year may push me into the waiting arms of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, but it should be a significantly better experience. if it causes me to ignore those two, uncomfortably large numbers.