I’m upgrading to the iPhone 13 Pro Max from the iPhone 12 Pro Max. What can I say — I like big phones.
Ever since I owned the iPhone 8 Plus, it’s been big screens for the best phones or bust. Whether it’s for streaming shows, FaceTiming or scrolling social media, the more screen real estate, the better. More recently, I’ve taken to TIkTok (here's your sign to follow Tom’s Guide’s TikTok account) and the 6.7-inch screen of my iPhone 12 Pro Max makes shooting and editing videos a breeze.
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Heck, if the iPad mini 6 I just ordered (read how I got it for free) supported a SIM card, I’d turn it into my everyday phone.
It doesn’t, so the iPhone 13 Pro Max must suffice, unless I decide to make the jump to Android for a phablet like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, which expands to an epic 7.6 inches. But when it comes to iPhone vs. Android, I’m sticking to Apple’s ecosystem.
In fact, I'm switching to the iPhone 13 Pro Max from the iPhone 12 Pro Max because my 12 Pro Max was never really mine. It's Apple's on lease, with the expectation that I'll send it back for the 13 Pro Max after completing 12 months of payments. That doesn't mean I'm not excited about the upgrades, though.
Compared to my iPhone 12 Pro Max, the iPhone 13 Pro Max has a longer battery life according to our iPhone 13 battery test, plus sweet new iPhone 13 camera features and adaptive refresh up to 120Hz for the smoothest scrolling on any Apple handset yet. Though it’s slightly heavier than its predecessor, the 13 Pro Max maintains the 6.7-inch display, yet with a smaller notch.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max comes in a 1TB storage option for the first time, too. Even with all my TikTok-ing, I’m confident I don’t need this much iPhone 13 storage, thanks to my generous iCloud plan. Instead, I’m actually downgrading my storage, lowering my current monthly fee with Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Plan.
How this saves me money
If you’ve ever wondered, “Is Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program worth it?,” the answer varies year-to-year and model-to-model. For example, the iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 fees on the Upgrade Program are generally the same, but I spent more every month for the iPhone 12 Pro Max compared to what I spent for the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
You can pay $54.08 a month for the 128GB iPhone 12 Pro Max instead of $1,099 upfront. The 256GB version will cost $58.28 per month while the 512GB version will cost $66.58 per month. The new 1TB iPhone 13 Pro Max option is $74.91 per month. All these plans come with Apple Care+, a major perk for the accident-prone.
So by downgrading my storage, I’ll spend $54.08 per month for the next 12 months instead of $58.28. Again, my iCloud storage plan alleviates the need for an abundance of on-board space.
Consider your storage needs, too. Maybe you have enough empty space on your phone to justify downsizing your capacity this year, like I plan to. Also, check out the best iPhone deals if you want to switch from your current handset to one of Apple's newest offerings. Carriers are running enticing promotions, even with their own loan alternatives to the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program.
You do get an interest free loan, and if you buy with Apple Card you do get a 3% rebate in your Apple Cash card.
Trouble is, iPhone resale prices being what they are, the iPhone you turn in is likely worth more than 50% of it's original price, so you'd be better off selling the old phone and buying a new one.
My current strategy (which was wrecked by my wife wanting my 11 Pro Max) is to buy the phone outright. I'm probably keeping my 12 Pro Max as a backup and to fly my Air 2, and dump my old backups: an iPhone 6 (which doesn't support a current iOS) and a iPhone 7 Plus (which my daughter used and cracked a corner of the screen and killed the battery on. It's not worth fixing the screen or getting a new battery for since it'll probably be subsetted soon).
Next year I'll probably buy outright again and sell the 13 Pro Max now that I have a serviceable backup.