iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max

If you’re shopping at the top of the iPhone tree, then no doubt you’ll be weighing up the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. But what are the real differences between these two titans? We break down the subtle upgrades offered and whether they’re enough to swing you to the larger screen and price tag of the Max.

Price and availability

Apple introduced both of the Pro iPhone 12 models in October 2020, alongside the standard iPhone 12 and diminutive iPhone 12 Mini.

If you want the iPhone 12 Pro, you’ll have the choice of three different storage capacities. Each are priced as follows:

  • 128GB: £999/US$999/AUD$1,699
  • 256GB: £1,099/US$1,099/AUD$1,869
  • 512GB: £1,299/$1,299/AUD$2,219

If the iPhone 12 Pro Max is more your flavour, then again you have the same options:

  • 128GB: £1,099/US$1,099/AUD$1,849
  • 256GB: £1,199/US$1,199/AUD$2,019
  • 512GB: £1,399/US$1,399/AUD$2,369

You can order the iPhone Pros directly from Apple or check out our roundup of the best iPhone 12 deals to see if there is a bargain available elsewhere.

You’ll see the best deals for the iPhone 12 Pro at the top of this comparison. Here are the best deals right now for the iPhone 12 Pro Max:

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Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide

Design and build

The iPhone 12 Pro range sees an update to the contours on the surgical stainless-steel casing, with a return to the more angular approach that worked so well on the iPhone 4 and 5 models. The two Pro devices are pretty much the same in their outward appearances, with the one notable exception being size.

iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: Chassis design

iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: Chassis design

Where the iPhone 12 Pro boasts a 6.1in display and 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.4mm dimensions, the Pro Max deploys a 6.7in panel, which results in the larger 160.8mm x 78.1mm x 7.4mm proportions. The Pro Max is also heavier at 226g as opposed to the 187g of the Pro.

Other than that, there’s little between these two siblings, with both offering triple camera arrays on the rear, Face ID on the front, IP68 waterproof ratings, MagSafe and Qi charging, a Lightning connector, and no charger included in the box.

The extra size does mean the iPhone Pro 12 Max has a larger battery, with gives it the edge of the Pro by about three hours of life before the cell runs dry.

You can have either Pro model in one of four colours: Pacific Blue, Gold, Graphite, and Silver.

Features and Specifications

As the two flagship models, the Pros come tricked out with all the cool things Apple could muster for this generation, which include the following:

5G connectivity

The tentpole feature of the iPhone 12 line-up is the move to 5G, which gives users access to much faster mobile data connections than previous iPhones. Not only do the two Pro models come with this new capability, but it also extends to the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini.

If you’re unsure whether your network provider offers 5G  use this 5G coverage checker, or you’re thinking of upgrading to the faster speeds, read the guide to the best phone networks on our sister site TechAdvisor.

As you’d expect with top-of-the-line devices, Apple also blesses the Pro models with Gigagbit LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, NFC and GPS.

Processor

Again, Apple has standardised the iPhone 12 range with all models packing the new A14 Bionic chip. The company claims that this is fastest chip in a smartphone, and we were certainly impressed with the performance offered by both Pro models as you can see from our iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max reviews.  

Displays

The only difference in the Super Retina XDR panels on the Pros is the size – 6.1in on the Pro and 6.7 on the Pro Max – and a miniscule change in resolution, with the Pro display delivering 2532 x 1170 and a PPI of 460 while the Pro Max is 2788 x 1284 and a PPI of 458.

Both have Ceramic shield fronts to protect against breakages, 2,000,000:1 contrast ratios, True Tone, Wide Colour display (P3), Haptic touch, and a maximum brightness of 1,200 nits.

iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: Display

iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: Display

The larger panels still need to leave room for the Face ID camera array, so the notch remains a resident fixture for at least another year.

Cameras

One area where there are some differences, albeit subtle, are with the cameras. Both offer a triple lens configuration, but they’re not quite the same.

iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: Camera combination

iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: Camera combination

The iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with an Ultra Wide ƒ/2.4, Wide: ƒ/1.6 and Telephoto: ƒ/2.2 aperture combination. While the iPhone 12 Pro changes the latter to a Telephoto: ƒ/2.0. These offer Night mode, Deep Fusion, and the exclusive Apple ProRAW feature that offers a mixture of automatic processing and manual control over image editing.

Apple has fitted the iPhone 12 Pro with dual optical image stabilisation, but the Pro Max gets the superior sensor-shift stabilisation which physically moves the sensor to counter any shake. The Pro Max also benefits from an extended zoom range, with 5x optical and 12x digital maximums, while the Pro can only reach 4x optical and 10x digital. Both are very useful, but the Pro Max has the edge.

This extra capability carries over to video too, with either Pro able to capture 4K footage at 60fps, HDR Dolby Vision up to 60fps, and Slo-mo up to 1080p at 240fps, but again the Pro Max has the sensor-shift stabilisation and a 2.5x optical zoom and 7x digital zoom. This bests the Pro with its optical image stabilisation, 2x optical zoom and 6x digital zoom. As we said, subtle.

iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: Shooting images

iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: Shooting images

Switching to the front, you’ll find identical 12MP, f/2.2 TrueDepth cameras that can capture 4K video at up to 60fps, and various Portrait Lighting modes.

You might get a few nicer upgrades on the Pro Max, but we’re sure you’ll be impressed with the results no matter which model you use.

Here’s a breakdown of the technical specifications for the big and smaller iPhone 12 Pros:

  iPhone 12 Pro iPhone 12 Pro Max
Display 6.1in Super Retina XDR OLED,
2532×1170-pixel resolution at 460 ppi
6.7in Super Retina XDR OLED, 2778×1284-pixel resolution at 458 ppi
Processor A14 Bionic A14 Bionic
Storage 128GB/256GB/512GB 128GB/256GB/512GB
Rear Camera Triple Pro 12MP, Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture, Wide: ƒ/1.6 aperture, Telephoto: ƒ/2.0 aperture, 2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 4x optical zoom range
Digital zoom up to 10x
Triple Pro 12MP, Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture, Wide: ƒ/1.6 aperture, Telephoto: ƒ/2.2 aperture, 2.5x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 5x optical zoom range
Digital zoom up to 12x
Front Camera 12MP TrueDepth, f/2.2 12MP TrueDepth, f/2.2
Video Recording 4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps or 60 fps, HDR Dolby Vision up to 30fps 4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps or 60 fps, HDR Dolby Vision up to 30fps
Image Stabilisation Dual Optical  Sensor-shift
Biometric Security Face ID Face ID
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi 6
LTE 5G 5G
Wireless Charging Yes, with MagSafe Yes, with MagSafe
Bluetooth 5 5
Apple Pay Yes  Yes 
Waterproofing IP68 IP68
SIM Dual  (nano and eSim) Dual  (nano and eSim)
Dimensions 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.4mm 160.8mm x 78.1mm x 7.4mm
Weight 187g 226g
Price £999/£1099/£1299 £1099/£1199/£1299

Software

As is customary with new iPhone launches, Apple has also released the latest version of iOS to accompany them. So, you’ll find the bright, shiny wonders of iOS 14 from the moment you turn them on. The features and capabilities are identical across the board, and you can read more about them in our in-depth review of iOS 14.

iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: Software

iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: Software

Verdict

In most areas, the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max are indistinguishable. The only real differences come in the additional screen size of the Pro Max and slight camera upgrades that include longer zoom capabilities and the sensor-shift stabilisation for photos and video.

So, if you want the best possible cameras on an iPhone then the Pro Max is the one, but the Pro is no slouch and some people may well prefer the smaller frame and lower price.

Specs

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