Skip to main content

I’m getting an iPhone 13 Pro instead of the iPhone 13 Pro Max — here’s why

iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max colors
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple wrapped up its September event nearly a week ago, and iPhone 13 pre-orders are already live, as mobile carriers all over the world vie to offer some of the best iPhone 13 pre-order deals to shoppers like you and me. 

I made up my mind to pre-order the iPhone 13 Pro, almost as soon as Apple announced the 6.1-inch phone. I’m not an impulsive buyer, by any means. In fact, I’d be happy sticking with the same smartphone for years, but as soon as I heard about the iPhone 13's improved camera system and the new Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion support, I had my eyes set on the Pro models. The only thing that was left to decide on was whether I will be getting the iPhone 13 Pro or the iPhone 13 Pro Max. 

Here's how the iPhone 13 Pro emerged as a winner — though the reasoning wasn't particularly complicated.

Unlike the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max, there's barely any difference between the iPhone 13 Pro models. Apart from the size of the displays and batteries (and the difference in price), the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are essentially the same.

That wasn't the case last year, when the iPhone 12 Pro Max was clearly superior to the iPhone 12 Pro with its 2.5x telephoto lens and the sensor-shift stabilization, along with the larger display and bigger battery capacity. This year, the iPhone 13 Pro models have the same 3x telephoto lens, and sensor shift stabilization has been extended to all new iPhones.

Deciding between the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max

So why pick the iPhone 13 Pro over the iPhone 13 Pro Max, especially when the latter is positioned as the ultimate phone in Apple's lineup? To me, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is not the no-brainer it seems.

I can see how a bigger display could appeal to a lot of users. In fact, I've even opted for larger iPhone models in the past. While bigger smartphones are great at a first glance, there are some hidden downsides. More often than not, I had trouble fitting a larger phone in my purse. Holding it firmly in my hand was an issue too, causing a lot of accidental-damage-related visits to the Apple Genius Bar. As a result, bigger screens became a dealbreaker for me. 

Battery capacity also played a huge role when deciding on which iPhone 13 was right for me. As someone who plays Pokemon Go for hours on end, there's nothing more frustrating than having the app drain my battery after just a few hours. Personally, I felt that this reason alone was good enough for me to opt for the Pro over the standard model. According to Apple, this year's iPhone 13 Pro will get you up to 22 hours of video playback, three more than the standard model. And it promises more battery life than last year's iPhone 12 Pro — up to 1.5 hours, according to Apple.

But compared to the iPhone 13 Pro, the 13 Pro Max packs an even beefier battery. The 13 Pro Max is rated for up to 28 hours of continuous video playback. And while that's obviously an impressive factor to keep in mind, I didn't feel like it was worth compromising the portability of my smartphone. 

In this respect, the iPhone 13 Pro seems like the perfect middle ground, featuring an improved camera system and bigger battery without having to lug around the 8.5-ounce Pro Max with its 6.7-inch screen. I'm also considering a future purchase of the MagSafe Battery Pack, which I believe to be a handy accessory to have at hand when you're out and about.

On top of all that, the iPhone 13 Pro Max costs $100 more than the $999 iPhone 13 Pro, which is a hefty premium to pay for a smartphone that offers essentially the same exact features. 

Overall, the entire iPhone 13 lineup looks like an impressive upgrade over last year's iPhone lineup. And while the two of the Pro models aren't so different after all, I feel that I made a good decision based on my personal needs and preferences.

Denise Primbet

Denise is a news writer at Tom’s Guide covering all things tech, gaming software/hardware, streaming, and more. She regularly produces short-form news articles as well as long-form content, including reviews, buying guides, how-tos, and features. When she's not live-streaming horror games on Twitch, she can be found exploring East London while playing Pokemon Go. She’s also a part-time piano enthusiast and regularly experiments in the kitchen. You can reach her at denise.primbet@futurenet.com.

  • msterling
    I’ve made the decision that the iPhone hardware is a service with a subscription. So I’m used to a $42/month charge, so for the ability to trade it in each year with a $135 up-front tax and activation, I get the latest phone. The 13 Pro will fit in my pocket just like the 12 Pro, the Pro Max will not.
    Reply