Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Apple a day

₹ 1,59,900

Apple’s put even bigger lenses on the iPhone 13 Pro models this year. How do they stack up?

Breaking something that was fixed in the last generation isn’t Apple’s style, so thankfully, we still get the gorgeous flat sides that everyone agrees look way more premium and sit easier in your hands too.


Sierra Blue is the new poster boy for this year’s line-up and it is, like any new shade on an iPhone, a carefully measured choice that likes to play with light just enough to have you intrigued. You’ll be hard-pressed to spot the differences unless you always carry a spyglass in your front pocket. If you want to play Bond though, you’ll notice the botched notch is now 20% smaller in width. Not that Apple has used the added screen real estate to show more info, but it is a step in the right direction...towards eventually evaporating. Flip it around and while the layout of the triple-lens and LiDAR camera system remains identical, the lenses have grown in diameter and even the sensors that collect light are larger. 

Finally, the inevitable will happen and your hands will want to pick one up. That’s when you realise that both the Pro and the Pro Max models have gained more muscle. Each heavier by a few grams, attributed to a larger battery that instantly vindicates itself with up to 2.5hrs more juice!



Finally, 120Hz comes to the iPhone and it’s similar to the system implemented on the iPad Pro, Apple calls it ProMotion. It’s an adaptive refresh rate that can drop to 10Hz during viewing photos or ramp up to 120Hz while gaming. It’s smooth and battery-optimised and makes iOS even slicker but the experience with third-party apps is still imperfect, especially Gmail which clearly hasn’t made use of the API just yet. Scroll through a long email and you are greeted with juddery text that is unbecoming of a 120Hz refresh rate screen. It should be a matter of time before more apps catch up though, but it is surprising that something as big as Gmail didn’t jump on the launch time joyride. Elsewhere, it’s only a backhanded compliment to the optimisation of iOS that the effects of ProMotion aren’t as stark as on Android devices.

Personally, it was never an issue on iPhones and hence, the inclusion is great but not as game-changing as it sounds. I would still pick a USB-C port over 120Hz if Apple had put it to vote!



As expected, the A14 Bionic has evolved into A15 Bionic and in the process, gains an extra GPU core. Now, while it’s beyond human understanding what this extra core does, we do believe that unless you’re an avid photographer, upgrading your 12 Pro Max just for performance won’t be wise. But if you are a compulsive video editor on the go, processing times are dramatically faster even compared to the 12 Pro! Simple exposure and colour saturation video edits, even though the Photo app shows no signs of processing and the moment you make the changes and hit ‘Done’, it’s actually done! 

Similarly, gamers will appreciate the zippiness too but if you’re an everyday kinda guy, using your iPhone for emails, taking lunchtime selfies and watching YouTube on the throne, no, it’s not going to show off its time at the Apple gym. Screen brightness has gone up by 200nits to 1000nits, which is plenty for daytime use, even if you’re a resident of Ladakh. If you call the valley your home, you will also appreciate the wider aperture on the wide and telephoto lenses, letting you capture more light. Night mode is your best friend now, for more reasons too since it is now available on all the rear (and front) cams.


Camera features

Photographic styles is a new addition to all the 13 models and it uses all the horsepower of the A15 Bionic to put every photo through a serious pipeline of image processing. The result is a wider choice when it comes to tonality, contrast and colour temperature, without affecting skin tones. The changes are subtle, yet noticeable even though they may not be much different from the plethora of filters or apps available on the app store, there is comfort in knowing that Photographic styles don’t compromise on the quality or resolution of the original image while manipulating it. 

Last year we got RAW support for still images and this year, we get ProRes video for the serious ones who want uncompressed data to export to FCP or such. It’s coming later this year, but it shows that Apple is committed to making the iPhone Pro models end-to-end, creation-to-consumption devices.


Camera: Photo finish

Straight up in bright sunlight, the differences between the 12 Pro Max and the 13 Pro Max are hard to tell but the moment you face a slightly more challenging situation or feel like getting more creative, it flexes its new hardware and software. Everything from medium to low-light benefits with faster focus, more colour accuracy, better dynamic range and richer contrast. After you’ve clicked the photo, Smart HDR 4 takes a second to process and tone map the image before it is displayed in all its glory.

Colours have a realism to them while having the right amount of pop and skin tones, like every generation feel more natural than the competition. Now with an aperture of f/1.5 for the Wide and f/1.8 for ultrawide and Night mode on all cams, the iPhone 13 Pro challenges the crazy specced Android competition for both low-light and astrophotography too.

But it’s the addition of the Macro mode that blows you away, at least if you’ve always been an iPhone user. Android phones have been using a dedicated macro lens for years now but on the iPhone, it’s supposed to be easier. Well, it is as easy as getting uncomfortably close (2cm) to a subject before you can see the lens shift from wide to the ultrawide and while it autofocuses quickly, there are times when depending on how stable your hands or the subject are, this shifting of lens will affect your framing.

Apple says a future update will let you take control of which lens you want to use. However, the macro results themselves are stunning with fantastic detail and genuinely offer a whole new perspective on everyday mundane things. You could even use macro for videos and in time-lapse mode too, so watching grass grow can be an actual job now. The 77mm focal length on the telephoto lens now offers 3x optical zoom, which is a slight improvement but digital zoom is still a dud.

Cinematic Mode is the most talked about new feature for video and it really works if you go easy on the aperture settings. Knowing that all this is happening with the help of software, it’s important to know the limitations too for optimum results. Go hard on the bokeh and finer objects like hair, fur or flowers will obviously suffer. But keep the aperture control above f/4.0 and it delivers like no Android phone can ever dream of. At least until the Pixel 6 shows off its sorcery. Focus shifts from background to foreground subjects are seamless and natural-looking. The ability to edit it all in post is even better!

UI and OS

All of the new iOS15 features obviously look the best on the best iPhones. SharePlay on Facetime, Focus features or even notifications. The gorgeous screen and stereo speakers still look the most natural of any phone out there. Overall, the updates might be incremental but the final result is more than the sum of its parts. There are better singular cameras in the Android world but as a camera ‘system’, the iPhone 13 Pro models are impossible to beat at the moment. And since, unlike the 12 Pro models, both the Pro and the Pro Max models now get identical camera systems, there’s no need to pony up for the larger model just for a better cam.


The big question here of course is  ‘should I upgrade?’ The short answer is yes, IF you’re a content creator, blogger or just a photography enthusiast. The tangibly longer battery life also makes a stronger case for power users and repeatedly, I was going to bed with about 30-40% charge still left in the tank. For every other use, if you already own the 12 Pro, you’ll be struggling to justify the outlay. Apple’s leaving the big cosmetic changes for iPhone 14 perhaps, but until then and as always, this is the best iPhone ever!

Stuff Says

Radical cam software upgrades and iterative cam hardware updates make this the photographer’s phone of choice.
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Cinematic Mode change how your home videos look

  1. Macro mode is a great addition

  1. Battery life on par with Android muscle phones

  1. Still the slickest overall phone

  1. Still persists with Lightning port

  1. Not all apps optimised for 120Hz yet

  1. Some bugs still waiting for updates

Display: 6.7in (Pro Max), 6.1in (Pro) OLED with ProMotion Processor: A15 Bionic
Cameras: 12MP (main), 12MP (ultrawide),12MP (telephoto), 12MP (front), LiDAR scanner
Video recording: Dolby Vision 4K@60fps
Capacity: 128/256/512/1TB
Dimensions (WHD): 78.1 x 160.8 x 7.65mm (Pro Max)
Weight: 238g (Pro Max), 203g (Pro)