Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max review

GSMArena Team, 20 Nov 2020.

The largest OLED on an iPhone

All iPhone 12s come with Retina XDR OLED screens, starting with the mini and ending with the Max. This year the Pro Max packs an even bigger display within the same body size as the 11 Pro Max.

So, the iPhone 12 Pro Max employs a 6.7" OLED screen of 1,284 x 2,778 pixels or 458ppi (same sharpness as on 11 Pro Max). It is better-protected courtesy of the new Ceramic Shield, and there are no curved edges whatsoever.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max review

The notch is here to stay, the same size, too. Due to the 12 Pro Max's relatively big screen, though, the cutout looks smaller here.

The Super Retina XDR OLED screen supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision content. Like the iPhones before the 12th generation, this one also comes with True Tone color tuning, Wide Color support, and it has the Haptic Touch feature providing high-quality touch feedback.

The screen works at a 60Hz refresh rate. Unfortunately, the rumored ProMotion feature didn't happen, and even the most expensive iPhones are stuck to a 60Hz refresh rate at the end of 2020. C'mon, Apple! Who decided 5G would be the better feature?!

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max review

At least the capacitive layer works with a touch sampling rate of 120Hz, making the iPhone display very responsive.

Apple advertises 800 nits of max brightness on the iPhone 12 Pro display and 600 nits for the iPhone 12's. Both phones offer peak brightness of up to 1,200 nits.

And that's what the 12 Pro Max screen offers - we measured 822 nits of maximum brightness on the iPhone 12 Pro Max with our particular test setup where a truly white pattern covers 75% of the screen.

There is no maximum auto boost on any iPhone, though you'd never miss that with such a bright screen.

The minimum brightness is impressively low at 2 nits.

Display test 100% brightness
Black,cd/m2 White,cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max 0 822
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max 0 820
Apple iPhone 12 Pro 0 802
Apple iPhone 11 Pro 0 805
Apple iPhone 12 0 639
Apple iPhone 12 mini 0 627
Apple iPhone XS Max 0 653
OnePlus 8T 0 497
OnePlus 8T (Max Auto) 0 802
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G 0 504
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G (Max Auto) 0 1024
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G 0 398
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G (Max Auto) 0 894
OnePlus 8 Pro 0 538
OnePlus 8 Pro (Max Auto) 0 888
Sony Xperia 5 II 0 336
Sony Xperia 5 II (Max Auto) 0 532
Huawei Mate 40 Pro 0 485
Huawei Mate 40 Pro (Max Auto) 0 807

The iPhone 12 Pro Max screen offers excellent color accuracy - we measured an average deltaE of 1.8 and a maximum deviation of 2.5 against sRGB targets. The iPhone 12 Pro Max fully supports DCI-P3, and it automatically switches to this color space when DCI-P3 content is sent to the screen.

As usual, the iPhone 12 Pro Max can maintain such a great color accuracy across all brightness levels, even at the lowest point of 2 nits.

Battery life

The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max is powered by a 3,678 mAh battery - it's the largest cell among the new iPhones, but about 7% smaller than last year's 11 Pro Max's.

The phone supports fast wired and wireless charging, if you purchase the compatible power adapters, that is.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max did great on our battery test - it lasted north of 14 hours on web browsing, more than 15 hours when playing videos, and you can use it for up to 21 hours of talk time.

The standby performance is about the average for this battery size and modem (Apple uses Qualcomm X55). Mixing these results in our magical formula, we ended up with a pretty good endurance rating of 95 hours for the iPhone 12 Pro Max - about 7% lower than the 102h number we got on the 11 Pro Max but still the best among this year's iPhones.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max review

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSer App. The endurance rating above denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We've established this usage pattern so that our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritty. You can check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

Charging speed

The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max supports fast battery charging via USB Power Delivery. Apple ships the 12 Pro Max without a charger, but you can opt for Apple's 20W PD charger or any other 20W+ USB-PD power adapter.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max review

If you recharge your dead iPhone 12 Pro Max with Apple's 20W charger, it will refill 55% of its battery in 30 mins and 86% in 60 mins.

30min charging test (from 0%)

  • Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra
    100%
  • OnePlus 8T
    94%
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro (66W)
    87%
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
    64%
  • Apple iPhone 12 mini
    60%
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
    59%
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    58%
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
    55%
  • Apple iPhone 11 (18W)
    55%
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
    50%
  • Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G
    43%
  • Apple iPhone 12 mini (MagSafe)
    30%
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max (MagSafe)
    28%
  • Apple iPhone XS
    22%
  • Apple iPhone 11 (5W)
    18%
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    18%

A full charge with that 20W adapter takes 89 mins. We admire Apple's consistency with the charging speeds - no matter the battery capacity - we'd get a similar charging level for 30 mins, and a full charge will always take about 90 mins.

Time to full charge (from 0%)

  • Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra
    0:27h
  • OnePlus 8T
    0:36h
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro (66W)
    0:45h
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
    0:58h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G
    1:23h
  • Apple iPhone 12 mini
    1:29h
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
    1:30h
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
    1:32h
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    1:50h
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
    2:00h
  • Apple iPhone 11 (5W)
    4:00h

The iPhone 12 Pro Max supports up to 15W 'fast' wireless charging but only when using MagSafe chargers. Other makers already offer north of 40W wireless charging, but we guess 15W is fast in Apple's terms. And if you opt for a regular Qi-compatible charger, you'll be limited to 5W-8W or so.

We tested the iPhone 12 Pro Max with Apple's own MagSafe wireless charger, of course. If the phone is dead - it will take about 5 minutes to wake it up. And then the MagSafe charger would refill 28% of the battery in half an hour. A full charge requires more than 3 hours.

Given the sluggish speed and unreliable charging performance, we don't see the point of upgrading to this €50 MagSafe wireless charger just yet.

Speakers

The iPhone 12 Pro Max, just like the rest of the iPhone 12s, packs a hybrid stereo speaker setup with spatial audio support. There is one speaker at the bottom and another one inside the screen notch, which also doubles as an earpiece.

The stereo output is reasonably balanced even if the earpiece seems a bit quieter and bass-less if the bottom is muted.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max review

The iPhone 12 Pro Max scored a Very Good mark in our loudness test, and it is on par with the new iPhone 12's and the 11 Pro Max. The audio quality is the best among the new iPhones - the 12 Pro Max has the deepest bass and the richest mid-tones, while the high-notes are well presented as good as always.

Long story short, even if the iPhone 12 Pro Max has similar loudness as the rest of Series 12, it offers the best speakers on an iPhone so far and one of the best audio setups we've experienced on a smartphone to date.

Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal "0db" flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.

Reader comments

  • MrHong

Ask your gov't not Apple.

  • Reply
  • 52 minutes ago
  • xZI
  • MrHong

Does not look like an eyesore but the 12 mini to me either. Only screen is not that eye catching because it's locked to 60Hz.

  • Reply
  • 53 minutes ago
  • xZI

if you ask 12 pro max owner what is upgraded over 11 pro max ? silence not so in android world. move now and save your cash