Apple’s iPhone 14 range has been tipped to drop a mini model and replace it with the so-called iPhone 14 Max. This would essentially be a standard iPhone 14 but with a larger 6.7-inch display, so users could get a big-screen iPhone experience without splashing the cash on an iPhone Pro Max model. And some people are hyped for it.
In fact, Tom’s Guide content director Mark Spoonauer has even said it could be the phone of the year. Now, I have a lot of time for Spoonauer’s opinions and hot takes, not least of all because he’s my boss, but I simply don’t agree with him here. I think the iPhone 14 Max is being overhyped and will pale in comparison to the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max for a few good reasons.
The first is that I don't forecast a massive appetite for big iPhones unless they are offering ‘pro’ features. I’ve said before that the 6.1-inch Phone 13 Pro is arguably the best smartphone size, and looking around the various crowds and commuters of London, I don’t see that many people using iPhone 13 Pro Max models.
Weirdly, data from a Consumer Intelligence Research Partners report, flagged by 9to5Mac (opens in new tab), would counter that, with the iPhone 13 Pro Max selling a bit more than the iPhone 13 Pro. But the biggest selling Apple phone of the year has been the iPhone 13, accounting for 75% of iPhone sales this year. That shows there’s been a solid interest in the 6.1-inch iPhone, which neatly treads the line between price and features. The cheaper and smaller iPhone 13 mini proved to be a flop, only accounting for 3% of sales.
From that, it’s not hard to see that people don't want smaller iPhones, but at the same time it doesn't show that they want bigger iPhones either.
Bigger isn't always better
I’d argue the appeal of the iPhone 13 Pro Max over the standard Pro is that it has a bigger battery and a larger display to make use of the ‘pro’ features such as the improved camera suite, telephoto camera and upgraded video capture. I personally find the iPhone 13 Pro is fine for all of that, but I’m not a huge shooter of video.
And that, I think, is the crux of an argument to get a larger phone. Look at the Google Pixel 6 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra; both these phones have rather large displays, but also offer a notable range of features over their non-pro/Ultra stablemates to justify a bigger screen and larger chassis for a bigger battery. If the phones simply offered the same feature suite as the Pixel 6 and Galaxy S22, but with a larger display, I don’t think they’d have as much appeal.
Yes, a nice big screen is great for watching a Netflix series or movie while on the move, but it also means carrying around a larger phone, competing for pocket or handbag space. So to justify that and a premium price, I think extra features are needed.
Returning to the iPhone 14 Max, this is tipped to get a larger display and nothing more over the standard iPhone 14 (which itself isn’t set to offer many upgrades or design tweaks over the iPhone 13). If true, I simply can’t see how the 14 Max will put the extra screen space to good use, especially as it’s tipped to cost more than its smaller sibling.
There's also a good chance that the iPhone 14 Max may come with a 60Hz refresh rate, which is positively sluggish by 2022 standards. So I can’t see a larger display without a smoother refresh rate having a mass of appeal; yes, I’m aware some people might not notice the difference between 60Hz and 120Hz that much, but with each iPhone generation I feel users get more tech savvy and expectations are higher.
And speaking of expectation, it’s long been predicted that Apple will kill the infamous display notch. But this looks like it’s only going to happen with the iPhone 14 Pro modes, as both are set to adopt pill and punch-hole cutouts. As such, the iPhone 14 Max may offer a larger display but also still have a chunk of it chewed up by the notch. This, again, has me questioning the true utility of a larger display, especially as half an inch isn't a big jump in size; stop laughing at the back.
So, these factors combined, I don’t think the iPhone 14 Max will be the iPhone that gets people most excited. And Apple may be feeling the same, as it’s rumored that the iPhone 14 Max will be the phone that gets produced in the smallest numbers.
With all that in mind, I think the standout phone of the iPhone 14 range will be the iPhone 14 Pro Max. While it and its Pro stablemate are expected to have the same features, the rumored use of a 48-megapixel camera, as well as a new A16 chip, could offer new and improved camera capabilities that justify a big display with a fast refresh rate; likely to be handy for people wanting to produce videos on the fly.
Personally, I’m most excited about the iPhone 14 Pro, as after swapping from Android to iPhone, I've become rather enamored of the size, design and capabilities of Apple's standard Pro phone, so am keen for an evolved version of it.
But I’m curious to hear what you, dear readers and iPhone fans think; could I be woefully wrong about the iPhone 14 Max?
And which of the iPhone 14 models are you looking forward to? Let me know. Then get ready for the Apple September event, which is locked in for September 7 and which should finally take the official wraps off the next-gen iPhones.
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It's kinda what Apple does best and how they sell two generations-old features and performance for twice the price.