iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro Max: Which One Should You Buy?

So, you’re thinking of getting the new iPhone, but unsure of whether you should go for the standard model or something with a little more oomph? To keep things nice and simple, let’s start out by taking a look at the specs of each model of the new iPhone 13 range.

 iPhone 13 miniiPhone 13iPhone 13 ProiPhone 13 Pro Max
Starting price$699$799$999$1,099
Storage128, 256, 512GB128, 256, 512 GB128, 256, 512, 1TB128, 256, 512, 1TB
Screen size5.4 inches6.1 inches6.1 inches6.7 inches
Resolution/PPI2340 x 1080/4762532 x 1170/4602532 x 1170/4602778 x 1284/458
Adaptive refreshNoNoUp to 120HzUp to 120Hz
ChipA15 BionicA15 BionicA15 BionicA15 Bionic
Rear camerasDual 12MP (Wide, ultrawide)Dual 12MP (Wide, ultrawide)Pro 12MP (Telephoto, Wide, Ultra Wide)Pro 12MP (Telephoto, Wide, Ultra Wide)
Zoom2x optical2x optical3x optical3x optical
Front camera12MP TrueDepth12MP TrueDepth12MP TrueDepth12MP TrueDepth
ColorsRed, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, PinkRed, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, PinkGraphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra BlueGraphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra Blue
Size5.2 x 2.5 x 0.3 inches5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches6.3 x 3.1 x 0.3 inches
Weight4.97 ounces6.14 ounces7.2 ounces8.5 ounces
Water resistanceIP68IP68IP68IP68
Battery life (video playbackUp to 17 hoursUp to 19 hoursUp to 22 hoursUp to 28 hours

Now we’ve been able to have a look at a general overview of how each model stacks up against one another, let’s take a more detailed look at a comparison between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro Max to see which one you should buy.

Design

iPhone 13 design

One of the first things you’ll notice when looking at the new iPhone 13 models is the smaller notches. These notches are home to face recognition technology and have been reduced by twenty percent in comparison to the older models. But why does that matter, you ask? Well, smaller notches, mean more screens for you!

The new line of iPhones is a little thicker than the iPhone 12 range, but the difference is negligible (we’re talking about 0.01 inches thicker), so chances are you won’t even notice it. Other than that, Apple has chosen to stick to the design of the iPhone 12 counterparts for all of the iPhone 13 models. In our opinion, this is a good thing. All too often we have seen companies try to over innovate with their latest devices only for it to backfire on them.

Size-wise, the iPhone 12 measures 2.82 x 5.78 x 0.3 inches, and the iPhone Pro Max measures 3.07 x 6.33 x 0.6, so there is a fair bit of difference in size between the two.

We’ll touch on the camera properly in a moment, but from a design perspective, the iPhone 13 has two main lenses which are placed diagonally, whereas the iPhone 13 Pro Max has three main lenses that are spaced on a larger camera unit.

If color options interest you, you’re in for a treat. The iPhone 13 offers five colors. These are Starlight, Blue, Pink, Red, and Midnight. The Pro Max, on the other hand, brings out all the big guns. There are only four colors to choose from, but each of them is beautiful. The colors on offer are Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Sierra Blue.

The iPhone 13 has a standard glass finish on the rear, whereas the Pro Max had a textured matte finish on the rear glass.

Display

iPhone 13 display

The iPhone 13 has a 6.1-inch display, the same as the previous year’s model. The iPhone 13 Pro Max has a much larger display, at 6.7-inches. Both of these models also use Apple’s Super Retina XDR OLED tech, which is up from 800 nits seen in the iPhone 12 to an insane brightness of 1200 nits. We’ve done the math, and that means they are 28% brighter than the previous year. It should be mentioned here that the iPhone 13 typically runs at 800, up to 1200, but the Pro Max runs from 1000 nits to 1200.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max delivers the impressive ProMotion display, which gives the phone an adaptive refresh rate. This means the display is capable of adjusting itself on the fly in order to preserve battery life. Typically running at 120Hz, the Pro Max can drop to as low as 10Hz depending on your usage. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the iPhone 13 does not have a 120Hz display, making it the biggest difference between the two models we’ve seen so far.

Camera

iPhone 13 camera

The cameras of these two models also set them apart. Starting with the iPhone 13, you’ll be getting a brand new sensor in its 12MP main camera. The sensor offers fantastic night photography by allowing 47 percent more light in. You’ll also be getting a 12MP ultra-wide with a new, faster sensor. As mentioned before, these two lenses are arranged in a diagonal manner. You’ll also be able to make use of sensor-shift optimization, no matter what model you choose. This was only available in the iPhone 12 Pro Max model and allows for better adjustment to movements while shooting.

The software as a whole is also more advanced than we’ve seen before, with both the photography and video delivering fantastic quality without any downsides. Most apparent of which is the rapid focus, and auto depth of field adjustment.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max has even wider, more advanced main and ultra-wide cameras, but what really makes it stand out is the LiDAR scanner that enables better nighttime portraits, as well as an apparently ninety-two percent improvement to low-light shooting (Apple claims). The additional telephoto camera is a welcome upgrade when compared to the standard iPhone 13 model, offering a 6x optical zoom and a 15x optical zoom. The Pro Max is also capable of some truly impressive Macro photography.

Pricing, and Which One Is For You?

So now you’ve seen the breakdown between two of Apple’s most anticipated devices of 2021. As you can see from the table at the start of the article, the iPhone 13 will set you back $799 (starting price) whereas the iPhone 13 Pro Max starts at $1099. That’s a difference of three hundred dollars.

So although the iPhone 13 Pro Max clearly excels in certain areas over the iPhone 13, you have to ask yourself, is it the right one for you? For instance: If you’re passionate about photography, you’d be doing yourself a disservice in opting for the cheaper of the two models.

Our verdict? Well, if money was no option, it would have to be the iPhone 13 Pro Max, hands down.

About S. Santos

I am a tech columnist and blogger by trade, but I'm also an avid tennis player. In my spare time, I enjoy reviewing gadgets and gizmos from the world of tech. A lot has changed in the field since I started out as a writer back in 2009, so it's always exciting to keep up with all that's new. To me, there's nothing quite like getting my hands on a brand-new gadget or piece of software for the first time -- it's like Christmas morning every day!

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