iPhone 12 Pro Max is Apple's 2020 5G flagship

If you want every single one of Apple's biggest and most powerful iPhone features in the year 2020, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is where it's at. Like most major smartphone brands today, Apple tends to reveal a set of devices – at least one that's spectacular, the headliner, and at least one that's more affordable – and a lot less flashy. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the most extravagant smartphone the company's ever produced.

The basics

The iPhone 12 Pro Max works with a 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display with HDR (and 1200 nits max brightness). This device has a typical brightness of 800 nits, and wide color display (P3) tech. It's a True Tone display with 2-million:1 contrast ratio (typical) and 2778 x 1284 pixels across its face – which means it rings in at 458 pixels per inch.

This largest of iPhones comes with an available 128GB internal storage, or 256GB, or 512GB, with the same color options regardless of storage size (depending on availability).

What they've all got

The iPhone 12 Pro Max has an A14 Bionic chip inside with a next-generation Neural Engine, IP68 splash, water, and dust resistance, and a 0.29-inch (7.4mm) thickness. But those features are the same in the rest of the iPhone 12 lineup. As Apple's new smartphone family releases go, this has to be one of the most "they're pretty gosh darned similar" selections we've seen.

ABOVE: The features call-out slide from Apple for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini. BELOW: The same sort of slide for the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The whole lineup also has the new Corning-formulated Ceramic Shield front – on the display glass. Because of this, as Apple suggests, the devices have "4x drop performance" – which Apple also suggests is "compared with the previous-generation iPhone."

The front-facing camera and sensors are the same regardless of which iPhone 12 unit you choose. That includes a TrueDepth camera for Face ID (login with 3D face-scanning abilities). They're all also available from all the same carriers in the USA, with the same ability to connect to 5G.

Earlier this year it was rumored that the iPhone 12 would have sub-6 5G connectivity only, while the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max would be the only devices with mmWave 5G. Today, Apple revealed that they'd packed sub-6 AND mmWave 5G into the full iPhone 12 family.

The Hero Features

The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max have a Telephoto Zoom feature not present on the iPhone 12 or the teeny tiny iPhone 12 mini. Optical zoom for the non-Pro units is 2x, while the Pro has 4x, and the Pro Max has a whopping 5x optical zoom range.

Every iPhone 12 has the same two cameras, one Ultra Wide, one Wide. The iPhone 12 Pro has an extra lens (the Telephoto Lens) with f/2.0 aperture, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max has an f/2.2 aperture telephoto lens.

The 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max have Dolby Vision HDR video recording abilities up to 60fps, while the non-Pro units have just 30fps. Both the Pro units have Apple ProRAW photo capture abilities, while the non-Pro units do not.

The non-pro units have Optical Image Stabilization (OIS). The iPhone 12 Pro has dual-OIS, and the iPhone 12 Pro Max has Sensor-shift OIS.

The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max both have a LiDAR Scanner in their back-facing camera array, while the non-Pro units have no such scanner. The LiDAR Scanner gives the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max several top-tier camera features:

• Night mode portraits

• Faster autofocus in low light

• Next-level AR experiences

The larger size of the iPhone 12 Pro Max allows space for a larger battery than the other iPhone 12 devices. Both the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are essentially the same size, and have the same quoted battery life: "up to 17 hours video playback." Apple says the iPhone 12 Pro Max has "up to 20 hours video playback."


The iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available in four colors at launch. Those include Pacific Blue, Silver, Graphite, and Gold. The iPhone 12 Pro Max has a starting price of $1099 USD. If you choose a one-time payment, no trade-in, with 512GB internal storage, this device will cost approximately $1,399 USD.

Of particular importance for those of you using micro-SIM cards – the iPhone 12 lineup is not compatible with existing micro-SIM cards whatsoever. Inside is a Dual SIM system, working with nano-SIM and eSIM. If your buying the phone new from a carrier, this SIM stuff won't likely matter – but if you're planning on moving from one older phone (with micro-SIM) to this phone, you might need to make an adjustment.

The differences between the prices of the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max are such that you'll likely find it easy to justify the jump from one tier to the next. If you're only deciding based on features you've never used before, you might just want to err on the side of the standard iPhone 12 – especially since you'll have a whole bunch of fancy colors from which to choose, rather than just the four available for iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max.

Or, better yet, look back to the iPhone 11. The iPhone 12 and 12 mini come in Blue, Green, Product RED, White, and Black. The iPhone 11 comes in Product RED (a slightly different tone, believe it or not), white, black, green, yellow, and purple.