Now a slightly older smartphone, the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max may not be the newest smartphone but it’s an excellent option if you’re looking to save some money off of the iPhone 14 Pro Max with its excellent display and brilliant performance, even when taken astrophotographs.
Big, bright display
Performance matches the 14 Pro
Excellent battery life
Still has the notch
Image processing is not as advanced as iPhone 14 Pro
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While a little older, the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max from 2021 still has plenty of value, one which we rated as the Best camera phone in 2022. Apple's relentless release cadence means that this year we're anticipating the Apple iPhone 15 and its Pro variants, but if you're looking for a new phone now, the Apple iPhone 14 Pro is a great option.
In all honesty, its newer sibling takes the lead with a higher resolution 48MP image sensor and improved image processing but the iPhone 13 Pro Max is still capable of capturing incredible levels of detail.
Screen size: 6.7-inch
Weight: 8.39 ounces (238g)
Battery life: up to 10 hours wireless web browsing
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB versions
Warranty: 1 year, extendable with AppleCare.
Operating system: iOS 16
Display: Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion and 2778x1284 resolution.
CPU: Apple A15 chip (8-core CPU, 5-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine)
Ports: Lightning port
It's also got much of the same design, with a 6.7-inch OLED display that dominates the front of the sleek chassis (albeit with the notch), and the Lightning port (Apple is expected to phase out its proprietary connector in 2023).
Under the hood, the A15 may not have quite as much grunt as the A16, but it was already leaps and bounds ahead of Android flagship devices anyway. Whether it's flicking through multiple apps, playing the latest mobile games, or simply editing photos in Lightroom, the A15 blitzes through tasks.
There's 5G, too, for anyone with a carrier that supports the faster networking standard, making the iPhone 13 Pro Max a great alternative to Apple's most expensive.
The trouble you may have is finding one. Apple still sells the iPhone 13, but not the iPhone 13 Pro or 13 Pro Max, but there are carrier deals to be had on the latter if you shop around. Given it originally launched for $1099, having the freedom of choice is certainly an improvement.
Want to take a look at our round-up of other smartphones? Read our guide to the Best camera phone. But if you need something to image the night sky with, try our Best telescopes and Best binoculars guides too.
iPhone 13 Pro Max: Design
- All-screen front with notch
- 6.7-inch OLED panel
- Lightning port but no headphone jack
As you may expect from any iPhone since 2017, the iPhone 13 Pro Max has an all-glass front for its 6.7-inch screen. Apple calls its display a Super Retina XDR display, but the non-marketing jargon description is that it's an OLED panel with curved corners that blend into the very, very thin bezels. It's bright, too, with a max brightness rating of 1200 nits - higher than prior iPhone screens but lower than the 14 Pro.
It also offers a variable refresh rate (up to 120Hz) that Apple calls ProMotion. Many of the most popular apps work with this technology to tweak their refresh rate based on whether your screen is static or whether you're scrolling. That means it can be buttery smooth when it needs to be, or drop the refresh rate to save battery life.
The screen's OLED nature also allows for deep blacks, which helps make the most of the 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio for vibrant colors.
iPhone 13 Pro Max: Camera and Photography
- Great performance throughout
- Huge selection of apps and games
- Great battery life but no charger in the box
Apple may have moved onto the A16 chip but to put it in the simplest terms possible, there is nothing on the App Store that the iPhone 13 Pro Max cannot run.
Whether it's running complex apps or the latest games, you won't see any slowdown. In our testing, we could get the iPhone running League of Legends: Wild Rift at up to the full 120 frames-per-second thanks to the ProMotion display we touched on earlier.
Being able to flick from Marvel Snap to Messages and then onto social media or the web browser without any discernible slowdown is great and the battery life remains excellent throughout.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max, connected to an Apple Watch (and occasionally AirPods), used as a browser, music player, and gaming device throughout, regularly hits about two days of battery. Fast charging is also possible, but you'll need an adapter that's sold separately — there's no charger at all in the box, just a USB-C to Lightning cable.
iPhone 13 Pro Max: User reviews
We scoured the reviews of the iPhone 13 Pro Max on Best Buy, and customers are definitely pleased — with a five-star average rating.
Many have noted it's a huge upgrade on older iPhones with home buttons, while another compares it to a "laptop that fits in your pocket", such is the impressive performance. Others have noted it helped them leave Android behind — quite the compliment.
Should you buy the iPhone 13 Pro Max?
While the iPhone 14 Pro Max is a better phone, the differences in many areas are negligible. It has a better camera and a brighter screen and offers the Dynamic Island, but outside of that the iPhone 13 Pro Max matches it almost stride for stride. If you can find one at a knockdown price, it's definitely worth a look.
If the iPhone 13 Pro Max isn't for you
If you're looking for a newer iPhone with a few more bells and whistles, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the obvious choice. It shrinks the notch down to a Dynamic Island, which blurs the line between software and hardware to provide a constantly updating section of the screen — and there's an Always-On display, too.
The iPhone 13 Pro also puts the same components into a smaller chassis, so is worth a look for smaller hands or pockets. Outside of the Apple ecosystem though, Samsung's Galaxy S22 Ultra is a great phone that offers Android and a huge 6.8-inch display but with a whopping 108MP camera.
Lloyd is a long-time freelancer specializing in computer and gaming tech, with a particular focus on all thing Apple. You'll find him regularly testing the latest iPhone or iPad, and you can also find him writing about video games all over the internet. He also has an interest in virtual reality, which he has written about extensively. He's currently the Editor in Chief at GGRecon.com.