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I skipped the iPhone 13 — and this is the iPhone 14 model I'm buying

iphone 14 pro render
(Image credit: Front Page Tech / Ian Zelbo)

The iPhone 14 launch appears just a few weeks away now that we've learned that the next Apple event could happen as soon as Sept. 7. And based on all the rumors we've heard, there should be four models coming out this year: iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.

I've been using the iPhone 12 Pro Max for a couple of years, as I actually skipped over the iPhone 13 series last year. I've generally found my current phone offers good enough cameras and long battery life. Performance also has held up well, with the exception of having to force quit some apps at times.

Now that the iPhone 14 is almost here, I'm pretty confident I know which model I'm getting. And as tempting as it is, I don't think it will be the new iPhone 14 Max

Based on everything we know so far, and our own extensive iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 Pro Max preview, my money is on the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Here's why. 

iPhone 14 Max vs iPhone 14 Pro Max

iPhone 14 Pro renders

(Image credit: Madmix)

The iPhone 14 Max (or iPhone 14 Plus, if that's what the new phone winds up being called) does look very good on paper based on current rumors and leaks. The iPhone 14 Max is expected to give users a 6.7-inch display for much less than the iPhone 14 Pro Max. We're talking about $899 versus potentially as much as $1,199 for Pro model.

That's a huge price difference, but when you add up all the upgrades, you'll see why I plan on going the Pro Max route.

For one, the iPhone 14 Pro Max will likely continue to exclusively offer a telephoto lens. Yes, the current 5x digital zoom on the regular iPhones is okay, but I really like having the flexibility of 3x optical zoom and 15x digital zoom on the Pro iPhones. And I don't expect that disparity to change of the iPhone 14 series. 

I consider the 120Hz ProMotion display on the iPhone to be nice to have but not a must. But now that I've experienced the fluid motion and smooth scrolling I'd prefer not to go backward to a 90Hz or 60Hz panel. The iPhone 14 Max is not tipped to feature a 120Hz screen.

Another reason I'd prefer to go for the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the rumored always-on display. As someone who spends way too much time on his phone, I'd like to see if having access to widgets and notifications via an always-on display will make me a bit less likely to fall down the TikTok rabbit hole once I unlock my phone. 

I'm most excited about the new 48MP camera supposedly coming to the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. This will reportedly deliver better detail and brighter images via a bigger sensor along with 8K video captures. I like to have the best camera phone with me at all times, and going with the regular iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Max won't accomplish that.

The trade-off, I'm hearing, is that the camera bump on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max will be even bigger this time around. And my iPhone 12 Pro Max is already pretty big. So if you're looking for a sleeker big screen phone, the iPhone 14 Max may be the ticket.

So what about performance? Rumor has it that the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max will get the new A16 Bionic chip and that the iPhone 14 and 14 Max will feature the older A15 Bionic chip. This isn't a huge deal, as the current iPhone is the fastest phone around based on our iPhone 13 benchmarks.

But if I'm going to be spending that much for a flagship phone, I want it to be as future-proof as possible.

Outlook

If the iPhone 14 price hike rumor proves true, the iPhone 14 Pro Max will be borderline obscenely expensive at $1,199. That would be the same price as the new MacBook Air M2. But when I think about everything I use my phone for — taking photos for work and play, checking email and Slack, listening to music, playing games, keeping on top of household projects, etc — I'll want the very best that Apple has to offer. 

So for me it will be an easy but painful call to splurge for the iPhone 14 Pro Max. If you're not sure what you might upgrade to, check out our iPhone 14 hub and iPhone 14 Pro hub for all the latest rumors and leaks. 

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.

  • Cerberus44
    I am SOOOO underwhelmed. First by your article which basically says nothing of why you would be excited by the iPhone 14 & secondly by what I read or hear regarding the iPhone 14. Many articles I’ve read online which say a lot but at the same time say next to nothing like yours does. All they ever do is retread the same old stuff. With only a couple of weeks till it’s launch I/we still don’t know a damn thing about this phone.

    So you like the improved camera. WOWEE! Again no real details are being given about this phone, & anything thats speculated about it, they print an addendum saying that “this is probably not true”. What’s said about it? Maybe a bigger battery, “Ok”. Screen size/resolution? “Uhhh we really didn’t improve that”. Memory? “Uhhh, not really”. Higher pro motion rate? “Nah”. USB C port or heck maybe NO port? “We don’t think so”. Wireless charging? ”Don’t count on it boobie!” Improved processor? “That’s a maybe solider, & if we do it’s only on 2 models we “might” offer it & even then we won’t say how much and of what. Just be glad we’ll give it a different name”. The new Bluetooth version at last? “God knows”. Wifi 6e? “Yeah that could happen but then again maybe it wont. We’re silly like that. What are you a critic? We’re waiting for Wi-Fi 10.” New design? “It’s this way, it’s that way, it’s longer, shorter, thicker, slimmer. Yep a NEW design!”

    It’s pretty clear at this point that Apple has got NOTHING any longer when it comes to their flagship product. It’s obvious that the iPhone is something that they don’t know WHAT to do with anymore & i”m not sure what you’re so eager to spend your money on but hey pick your poison. When I read articles about the iPhone 14 I have to fight to stay awake because it’s so boring. Is ANYTHING going to be “new” or ”different“ about this phone at all except the model #? Seriously.
    Reply
  • NIELS ON
    For me all current iPhone cameras are more than enough. What me really annoys is the 60 hz screen on my iPhone 12 .
    So much that i tried an 400€ Android because i didn't want to spend the 3 times higher price for an iPhone with ProMotion. In the end i turned it back because Android is still inconsistent over different brands. Surprisingly i had no ArCore and Widevine L1 support, necessary for Netflix in HD and a horrible image stabilization, but an powerful Snapdragon 870.
    The Phone had the option to switch between 144, 90 and 60 hz, one thing i realized is that the 90 hz experience felt closer to 144hz than 60 hz even if its in fact closer to 60hz. My decision for the next iPhone 14 Max vs 13 or 14 Pro Max depends on if the 14 Max has a 90 or 60 hz display and the charging speeds. After using a Xiaomi BlackShark 4 for about two weeks i really missing the 67 Watt charger that fully charged the phone from 0 to 100 percent in about 25 minutes. Charging an iPhone 12 with 18 Watts feels like a big joke now.
    Reply