iPhone 12 Pro Max vs iPhone XS Max: Should You Upgrade?

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is Apple’s latest flagship smartphone. It offers plenty of additional features over its predecessor, the iPhone 11 Pro Max. However, it isn’t worth upgrading from the iPhone 11 Pro Max to the iPhone 12 Pro Max; it simply isn’t worth spending the extra money. But what if you have an iPhone XS Max? Is it worth upgrading from the iPhone XS Max to the iPhone 12 Pro Max? Let’s find out.

iPhone 12 Pro Max vs. iPhone XS Max

iPhone 12 Pro Max vs iPhone XS Max Comparison: Should You Upgrade?

Design

iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max: Dimensions – 160.8mm x 78.1mm x 7.4mm; Weight – 228 grams; IP68 water and dust resistant up to 6 meters
  • iPhone XS Max: Dimensions – 157.5mm x 77.4mm x 7.7mm; Weight – 208 grams; IP68 water and dust resistant up to 2 meters

All flagship phones from Apple that came out since the launch of the iPhone X have had a similar design. But not the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The Cupertino-based tech giant has taken a big step with the iPhone 12 Pro Max in terms of design. Unlike its predecessors, this phone has flat sides with a super-shiny finish and sharp edges that give the device a premium and modern look.

In comparison, the iPhone XS Max looks outdated. If you are someone who likes to flaunt their device, the iPhone 12 Pro Max would be a huge upgrade for you over the iPhone XS Max. But if you keep your smartphone in a case, you wouldn’t be able to show off the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s design.

Moreover, the iPhone XS Max is slightly more compact and weighs lesser compared to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which makes it easier to handle. We think iPhone XS Max is still a great device in terms of design and build quality and it isn’t worth upgrading to the iPhone 12 Pro Max just for the looks.

Display

iPhone 12's Ceramic Shield display protection
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max: 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display, OLED, 2778 x 1284 pixels resolution, 458 PPI, 800 nits typical brightness, 1200 nits peak brightness, wide color display, HDR, Ceramic Shield protection
  • iPhone XS Max: 6.5-inch Super Retina HD display, OLED, 2688 x 1242 pixels resolution, 458 PPI, 625 nits typical brightness, wide color display, HDR, Ion-strengthened glass protection

When it comes to display, the iPhone 12 Pro Max offers a significant upgrade over the iPhone XS Max. The former not only has a larger display, but the screen is brighter as well. That being said, the display of the iPhone XS Max is still so good that you wouldn’t be able to spot the difference between the displays of two devices unless and until you compare them side by side. The iPhone 12 Pro Max also has a much stronger display compared to the iPhone XS Max. But you can get the same level of protection on your iPhone XS Max with a tempered glass screen protector. We think the display shouldn’t be a deciding factor for you to upgrade to the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Camera

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max: Rear – 12MP primary (f/1.6 aperture, dual-pixel PDAF, sensor-shift OIS) + 12MP telephoto (2.5x optical zoom, 65mm focal length, f/2.2 aperture, PDAF, OIS) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.4 aperture, 120-degree FoV, 13mm focal length, fixed focus) + 3D ToF LiDAR Scanner, 4K60FPS video recording with Dolby Vision; Front – 12MP (f/2.2 aperture, 23mm focal length), 4K60FPS video recording
  • iPhone XS Max: Rear – 12MP primary (f/1.8 aperture, dual-pixel PDAF, OIS) + 12MP telephoto (2x optical zoom, 52mm focal length, f/2.4 aperture, PDAF, OIS), 4K60FPS video recording; Front – 7MP (f/2.2 aperture, 32mm focal length), Full HD 60FPS video recording

The biggest difference between the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the iPhone XS Max is in terms of imaging. While the iPhone XS Max comes with a primary and telephoto lens at the rear, the iPhone 12 Pro Max offers two additional cameras, an ultra-wide sensor and a LiDAR camera, which enable you to take images of wide scenes and better portrait images. Additionally, the primary camera of the iPhone 12 Pro Max is much superior compared to that on the iPhone XS Max. The iPhone 12 Pro Max will capture brighter, sharper, and more detailed pictures compared to the iPhone XS Max in daylight as well as lowlight conditions. The iPhone 12 Pro Max also has a significantly better video recording and selfie camera compared to the iPhone XS Max.

If you are someone who uses the camera frequently, the iPhone 12 Pro Max will be a worthy upgrade for you. 

Performance

Apple A14 Bionic SoC
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max: Apple A14 Bionic (5nm fabrication process, 6-core CPU, 4-core GPU), 60% faster CPU and 50% faster GPU compared to Apple A12 Bionic
  • iPhone XS Max: Apple A12 Bionic (7nm fabrication process, 6-core CPU, 4-core GPU)

The iPhone 12 Pro Max has a much more powerful processor compared to that of the iPhone XS Max. However, the chipset of the iPhone XS Max is already so powerful that you won’t be able to feel the extra horsepower that the iPhone 12 Pro Max offers, in day to day usage. That being said, the iPhone XS Max is already two years old. And it might start feeling sluggish one or two years down the line. If you upgrade to the iPhone 12 Pro Max today, it will feel peppy even after three or four years of usage. It all depends on how long are you planning to use the device.

RAM and Storage

  • iPhone 12 Pro Max: NVMe storage technology; Storage options – 128GB, 256GB, 512GB; 6GB RAM
  • iPhone XS Max: NVMe storage technology; Storage options – 64GB, 256GB, 512GB; 4GB RAM

While the iPhone 12 Pro Max tops out at 512 gigs of storage just like the iPhone XS Max, it comes with 2GB of additional RAM capacity. The 4GB RAM on the iPhone XS Max is already enough to handle the heaviest of multitasking but just like the processing power, the RAM capacity might feel restricted one or two year down the line, especially when you consider that apps and games are getting heavier day by day. If you buy the iPhone 12 Pro Max now, its RAM capacity won’t become a bottleneck for you in the coming years.

Battery Life and Charging

  • iPhone 12 Pro Max: 3,687 mAh capacity; 20 hours video playback (downloaded videos), 12 hours video playback (streamed videos), 80 hours audio playback; 18W wired charging, 50% charge in 30 minutes, 15W wireless charging, MagSafe compatibility
  • iPhone XS Max: 3,174 mAh capacity; 15 hours video playback (downloaded videos), 65 hours audio playback; 18W wired charging, 50% charge in 30 minutes, 15W wireless charging

The iPhone 12 Pro Max not only has a significantly larger battery compared to the iPhone XS Max, but it also has a more power-efficient processor. Both of these factors give the iPhone 12 Pro Max a much longer battery backup than the iPhone XS Max. While both smartphones have wireless charging, the iPhone 12 Pro Max also comes with MagSafe mounting technology that has magnets to keep compatible accessories attached to the device, which enables you to use wireless charging even when you are using the phone.

If you had purchased the iPhone XS Max when it was launched, it is already two years old now. And its battery life might have started degrading. Getting the iPhone 12 Pro Max will ensure no more battery woes for you.

Connectivity

  • iPhone 12 Pro Max: Dual-SIM, 5G, dual-band Wi-Fi 6 (ax) with MIMO, Bluetooth v5.0, GPS, NFC, Ultra-Wideband, Lightning port
  • iPhone XS Max: Dual-SIM, 4G, dual-band Wi-Fi 5 (ac) with MIMO, Bluetooth v5.0, GPS, NFC, Lightning port

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a generation ahead in terms of connectivity with its 5G support compared to the iPhone XS Max. However, the availability of the 5G network is very limited at the moment. And it doesn’t make sense to upgrade a new phone just for 5G connectivity, at least for now. The iPhone 12 Pro Max, however, comes with Ultra-Wideband support, which is something that will be very useful in the future. UWB is said to come in handy to connect with smart products. For example, it can replace your car keys to authenticate the vehicle. If you want a smartphone that has all the connectivity options in the market, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the one for you.

Price

  • iPhone 12 Pro Max: Starting $1099
  • iPhone XS Max: Started at $1099

You won’t feel much of a difference between the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the iPhone XS Max in terms of design, display, and performance in day to day usage. However, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is a huge upgrade over the iPhone XS Max in terms of imaging and battery life. The superior camera and the longer battery backup of the iPhone 12 Pro Max will make a huge impact on your user experience. And we think it is worth upgrading to the iPhone 12 Pro Max for these two features alone. Plus, you will also be getting future-proof connectivity options and performance that will feel peppy even after two or three years of ownership.

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