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iPhone 14 Pro will grab all the headlines — but this is the new iPhone people will buy

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

Based on all the rumors and leaks so far it appears the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max will truly be in their own league this fall. And that's because Apple is reportedly reserving the biggest upgrades for the new Pro lineup at the Apple September Event

Our iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 Pro preview breaks down all the expected differences, but we're talking about way more here than simply a telephoto zoom camera and a 120Hz ProMotion display. The new iPhone 14 Pro models will take things to the next level.

And yet I don't think they'll be the the iPhone 14 Pro will wind up driving the most sales. Nor do I think it will be the regular iPhone 14. I think this coming year will be all about the iPhone 14 Max

The iPhone 14 question: Pro or no?

Before we get into the Max though, it's important to recognize what you could be missing out on if you don't go the iPhone 14 Pro route. Only the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are tipped to ditch the notch (in favor of a punch hole camera and pill-shaped cutout for Face ID). And only the iPhone 14 Pros will reportedly get a powerful new 48MP camera and an always-on display.

So why not go Pro? Well, for one, the iPhone 14 Pro models are expected to get a $100 price hike. That would bring the price of the iPhone 14 Pro to $1,099 and the iPhone 14 Pro Max to $1,199. 

Meanwhile, Apple is expected to kill the iPhone mini in favor of a new model called the iPhone 14 Max (or iPhone 14 Plus). The appeal? Give shoppers the big 6.7-inch screen of the iPhone 14 Pro Max for a much more affordable price. The iPhone 14 Max is tipped to cost $899.

The regular iPhone 14 is expected to cost the same $799 as last year, which on paper makes it the best iPhone for most people. But I'm betting that buyers will be willing to pay a little more for a larger display. 

Apple has finally woken up to the fact that most shoppers just don't vibe with small phones anymore. So it's no surprise that the rumored iPhone 14 Max has company on the Android side of things. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus, for example, is 6.6 inches and costs $999. Apple could undercut Samsung with the iPhone 14 Max.

Making the case for the iPhone 14 Max

So what are the trade-offs for the iPhone 14 Max? You likely won't get a telephoto lens for optical zoom — something the S22 Plus and upcoming Google Pixel 7 Pro offer. And the iPhone 14 Max's display will likely be stuck at a 60Hz refresh rate, though there's the possibility of a slight upgrade to 90Hz. All rumors point to the 120Hz ProMotion display being Pro-only once again. 

The other upgrades between the iPhone 14 Max and Pro series seem nice to have but not must-haves. The replacement for the notch honestly doesn't look that much better. The iPhone 14 Max will likely still be among the best camera phones even if it lacks a 48MP sensor. And an always-on display will simply get you access to widgets and things like the time a hair faster.

I am a bit surprised that the iPhone 14 and 14 Max are tipped to use the same A15 Bionic processor as the iPhone 13 did. Then again, the current iPhones remain the fastest around, even with the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Plus popping up in more Android devices like the Galaxy Z Fold 4. 

The iPhone 14 Max isn't for power users, though. It will likely cater to those looking for a big screen at a price that doesn't induce sticker shock like the Pros probably will. And it will give shoppers a larger canvas than the regular iPhone 14 for watching movies, playing games and more without going Pro. 

That's why when Apple announces its results after the holiday quarter and analysts work their own sales figure magic, I can almost guarantee you that the iPhone 14 Max will top the list of all new iPhones — and probably all phones sold period. 

Just In: iPhone 14 release date just tipped for September 16. Here's all the leaked details on the big Apple Event. 

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.