iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: is it time for an upgrade?


The iPhone 12 Pro Max is still an excellent phone and, thanks to the fact that Apple rarely switches designs around, it still looks “new”. However, it’s also having its 3rd anniversary now and is missing some of the upgrades we’ve seen over the past 3 years — the 120 Hz ProMotion screen, the new camera sensors, more optical zoom, and the inevitable performance improvements.
Now that the iPhone 15 series is out, you may be itching to upgrade. And you know what? It is a pretty solid device and let’s be fair — it’s time to get a fresh new handset, right? Well, that’s surface-level. Let’s really get into it — with everything we know so far — should you be frothing at the mouth for an upgrade? With everything revealed by Apple at the event, here’s what we know about the iPhone 15 Pro Max in regards of comparing it to the iPhone 12 Pro Max:
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 12 Pro Max expected differences:

  • Thinner bezels, so slightly smaller in size
  • 120 Hz screen vs 60 Hz screen
  • Much higher peak brightness on iPhone 15 Pro Max
  • Dynamic Island vs Notch
  • Titanium frame on the 15 makes it slightly lighter
  • Mute switch is upgraded to Action Button
  • A17 Pro is a big upgrade over A14 Bionic
  • 128 GB base storage tier is gone, now starts at 256 GB
  • Upgraded 48 MP main camera
  • New 5x zoom lens
  • Overall improved low light performance of cameras
  • USB Type C instead of Lightning, with much faster transfer speeds
  • Notable upgrade in battery life

Design and Size

Like iPhone 12 Pro Max, but with 3 facelifts
The iPhone 12 series set this new trend of the iPhones being a bit more stark, rectangular, with flat sides and right angles. Apple rarely does design overhauls, but adds minor tidbits and changes year over year.

So, we have the base look, with the camera module in the top-left back corner, the MagSafe array under the back, and the end-to-end screen up front.

But the iPhone 15 Pro Max inherits the Dynamic Island (instead of a notch) on top of the screen, as we first saw on the iPhone 14 Pro. It’s kind of a permanent taskbar thing, which masks the selfie camera cutouts by putting bubbles and widgets of your background apps around it.
But OK, that’s not so important. What we also expect is a larger screen-to-body ratio up front, so slimmer bezels. The new build material also gives us a new finish — all iPhone 15 Pro Max models have a matte brushed titanium frame, which should be less of a fingerprint magnet than the shiny stainless steel.

The signature mute switch that has been on every iPhone also sees a change with the 15 Pro series. Apple has now added an Action Button, which we first saw on the Apple Watch Ultra. It still works as a mute toggle by default, but you can now program it to launch apps, flashlight, Focus Mode, camera, works as a shutter button, and activates Siri Shortcuts.

And, thanks to new EU regulations, Apple has finally been pulled out of 2014, kicking and screaming. The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with a USB Type-C port, with USB 3 speeds, which is about 20 times faster than the USB 2.0 of Lightning. The “good” news? It doesn’t sound like the iPhone 15 Pro Max will ship with a USB 3-capable cable in the box, but hey — the capability is there.

Display Differences

The Pro Max size is what it is and will stay the same — even if the iPhone 15 Pro Max has slightly slimmer bezels, the screen size didn’t budge. So, that would mean 6.7-inch OLED panels with 1290 x 2796 pixels on both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Of course, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has a ProMotion screen with high 120 Hz refresh rate, while the 12 Pro Max is stuck with 60 Hz. Also, the 12 Pro Max has the notch cutout on top, while the newest flagship has the Dynamic Island — whether that’s a pro or a con is up to you.

Also, Apple has been playing with maximum brightness a lot lately, ensuring that their screens can display HDR content even in bright conditions, and the 15 Pro Max hits 2,000 nits of peak brightness, which is pretty bright — more than you would typically need. It is almost double the 1,200 nit peak brightness of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which we still find to be perfectly workable.

Performance and Software

Nanometers, son!

The iPhone 15 Pro Max’s A17 Pro chip is the first smartphone SoC built on a 3 nm process, manufactured by TSMC — and it is said that Apple basically booked the full production line, so no one else is butting in for a while.

It’s a small jump over the 4 nm process of 2022’s Apple A16, and a bigger jump over the 5 nm A14 inside the iPhone 12 Pro Max. But wait, what’s with the nanometers?

Well, they basically signify the size of the transistors that are inside the chip. Smaller transistors means more room, more room means more transistors, and more transistors means faster performance and better energy efficiency, since the chip can do more calculations with less power draw. The iPhone 12 Pro Max still has pretty good performance and a very decent battery life. But it pales in comparison to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, for example, and we fully expect that a jump to an iPhone 15 Pro Max will feel significant.
To top it off, the Apple A17 Pro chip has a GPU that now offers hardware-accelerated ray tracing and Apple dropped a bombshell at the event — Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Mirage will be available for the iPhone 15 Pro series. That is a full-blown console release that’s expected to launch in early 2024.
New iPhone also means new iOS. And both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Pro Max will support iOS 17. With the new Journal app, the iMessage improvements with speech-to-text, and the new caller posters that let you control how you present yourself as you are calling someone.


One small step for man, 5 steps of zoom for the camera

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is already a bit long in the tooth with its 12 MP main camera sensor — yes, back in the day, we used to say that less megapixels is better because we had bigger pixels to work with. Now, the tech has improved, smartphone camera sensors have grown, and manufacturers are using pixel binning to turn high-res sensors into low-res sensors when light-collection is a priority.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max showed that Apple has a lot of room to improve, as it introduced a 48 MP main camera sensor, which is much better than what we had before. It binned pixels in clusters of 4 and gave us 12 MP photos with better dynamics. And it unlocked a Pro Mode, which let you take 48 MP RAW shots.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max takes all of that further. For one, by default, the camera will take 24 MP photos instead of 12 MP, as Apple has worked to improve its Photonic Engine image processing. Secondly, we can now take raw photos in 48 MP HEIC, which should help with storage space a ton.

The main camera lens has a new coating, which Apple says will reduce lens flare. And the zoom camera is now a new 5x tetraprism lens.

That’s a huge leap forward from the 2.5x zoom of the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The latter is still great for portrait shots. Now, Apple will be using the high-res sensor and software magic to give you “lossless” zoom up to 4.9x. We’ll see how that pans out!

New improvements in the HDR processing will give us more realistic skintones, Apple says, and for another year in a row — we get better low-light performance. It may be minimal, we don’t know yet, but since the iPhone 12 generation — we’ve gotten these small updates every year. So, you should definitely feel a jump.

Audio Quality and Haptics

iPhone speakers have been great for years now, especially the Pro Max models. Each year, they get a tiny tiny improvement, we feel — something like 5% better generation over generation. But their sound profile usually stays the same — meaty bottom end, slightly scooped mids, and a prominent presence. We don’t find it likely that the iPhone 15 Pro Max will change that, though we do hope that we get less harshness in the highs with it.

As for haptics —the Taptic engine is here to stay, and has been so over the past few generations of iPhones. For good reason — it’s a strong, precise haptic feedback machine that was a staple in the industry for quite a while (thankfully, Android smartphones have caught up). In any case, we don’t expect the iPhone 15 Pro Max to feel different in this regard.

Battery Life and Charging

All day x2

Apple always has the tag line “All day battery!” when it introduces a new product. However, for the past couple of years, the iPhones have gotten quite adept at exceeding that expectation. Especially the Pro Max models, which have more room for a bigger cell. Combine that with iOS’ excellent battery management, and you can easily push an iPhone Pro Max to two days on a single charge.

That’s especially true for the iPhone 14 Pro Max and if the A17 in the iPhone 15 Pro Max does not turn out to be a power hog (it shouldn’t, 3 nm), then we expect the same. The iPhone 12 Pro Max can still get you a day + some hours, so long as your battery’s health hasn’t degraded over the past 3 years.

Of course, Apple doesn’t share exact specs like battery capacity. What we know is that the iPhone 15 Pro Max is listed to last for 29 hours while video streaming, where the iPhone 12 Pro Max specs page says 20 hours. That’s a 30% improvement in battery life and if you are happy with the iPhone 12 Pro Max‘s endurance, you should be delighted with the new one’s performance. We will be running it through our battery tests for sure, but for now — let’s just say that the iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 14 Pro Max had us grinning ear to ear with their endurance.
As for fast charging — iPhones aren’t typically about that. The 12 Pro Max can take 20 W on a wire and 15 W wirelessly (via MagSafe, 7.5 W on any ol’ Qi pad). So does the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Specs Comparison

So, with three generations apart, we definitely see a good divide in specs between these two phones. Specifically in the camera and processor department. But also, that battery upgrade will look massive over the iPhone 12 Pro Max — and you will most certainly notice a huge spike in screen-on time.

Summary and Final Verdict

So, is it time to save up for the iPhone 15 Pro Max to replace that old iPhone 12 Pro Max? We’d say yeah — there are plenty of things to look forward to, like a 120 Hz screen, much improved camera, and a more powerful processor to last you the next x amount of years.

Why “x amount”? Well, because, at its core, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is still a pretty solid phone. And still gets timely updates for Apple — iPhones are known to get iOS builds for at least 5 years post-release.

In other words, if you are craving an upgrade — yes, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will give you new, better experiences. The iPhone 12 Pro Max can still last you, but once you’ve seen a 120 Hz screen, it’s hard to go back to.



Denial of responsibility! My Droll is an automatic aggregator of Global media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, and all materials to their authors. For any complaint, please reach us at – [email protected]. We will take necessary action within 24 hours.
DMCA compliant image

Leave a Comment