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The iPhone 14 Plus and 14 Pro Max were both unveiled in September last year. At the time, we reviewed the 14 and 14 Pro Max, missing out on getting our hands on the 14 Plus and 14 Pro handsets. It was in my review of the 14 that I declared the entry-level device was pointless, noting that even more pointless was the 14 Plus.
Now, six months later, I’ve finally got a hold of an iPhone 14 Plus and I wanted to see just how much you miss out on by not opting for the Pro device of the same size.
In a similar vein to the way we compared the Apple iPhone 14 to the Google Pixel 7, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max to the Pixel 7 Pro, in this article we’ll compare the 14 Plus to the 14 Pro Max. With me so far?
The iPhone 14 Plus I have is the new, more yellow device. Apple announced the new yellow phones just last week and we’ve since reviewed the iPhone 14 version, declaring we may have been a little aggressive in discounting the phone back in September. While in our review of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, we didn’t have many negative comments. One is slightly more expensive than the other, though, so let’s start there.
The iPhone 14 Plus comes in three different storage configs: 128GB, 256GB and 512GB. The iPhone 14 Pro Max comes in those, but also a 1TB option. The below is pricing as per Apple’s website.
The cheapest 14 Plus is $320 cheaper than the cheapest 14 Pro Max. We’re here to argue the phone is worth that extra week’s rent, but on pricing alone, the Plus has it.
iPhone 14 Pro Max vs iPhone 14 Plus: The iPhone 14 Plus is cheaper.
When off, both phones look very much the same, save for the camera system. The iPhone 14 Plus has two rear cameras while the 14 Pro Max continues the stove top look with three. When on, the ‘Always on’ display lets you know a phone is a Pro and there’s also a ‘Dynamic Island‘ on the Pro Max that, as developers have started taking advantage of this feature, is probably one of my favourite ‘new’ things Apple has ever done.
When talking colours, the 14 Plus is more colourful where the 14 Pro Max is more sophisticated. With the 14 and 14 Plus, you’ll get ‘Midnight’ (black), ‘Starlight’ (white), ‘(PRODUCT)RED’ (obnoxiously bright red), blue (should be called ‘powdered blue’), purple (heaps light purple) and yellow. The 14 Pro and Pro Max, however, are a more subdued and elegant ‘Space Black’, silver, gold and deep purple.
While the two phones are the same size, they’re not exactly the same size. The Plus measures 160.8 mm x 78.1 mm x 7.80 mm and the the Pro Max measures 160.7 mm x 77.6 mm x 7.85 mm. Basically nothing in it. The Plus weighs 203 grams and the Pro Max, 240 grams.
Both phones use the same software (save for the Dynamic Island and a few other things not pertinent to discussing aesthetics).
iPhone 14 Pro Max vs iPhone 14 Plus: The iPhone 14 Pro Max wins, by a very small margin (purely for the colour range).
With both phones, you’ll get an OLED screen, Super Retina XDR display, True Tone and 5G, but refresh rates differ drastically. The iPhone 14 Plus is 60Hz, while the Pro Max is doubled to 120Hz.
Under the hood, things are very different.
The 14 Plus has Apple’s A15 bionic chip while the 14 Pro Max has the A16. The A15 comprises a 6-core CPU with two performance cores and four efficiency cores, 5-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine. The A16 has the same, but better. The A16 Bionic chip, if you want to take Apple’s word, is “generations ahead of the competition” (40 per cent). It enables this Dynamic Island thing, is to thank for all-day battery life (more on that later) and is behind the computational power the new camera system has (also more on the camera system later). The A16 Bionic boasts about 50 per cent more memory bandwidth than the A15. The new 16-core Neural Engine is apparently capable of nearly 17 trillion operations per second.
TL;DR: The A16 is a beast.
iPhone 14 Pro Max vs iPhone 14 Plus: The iPhone 14 Pro Max, no argument.
Every time we review something with a screen and a battery at Gizmodo Australia we put it through the Avengers: Endgame test. This three-hour movie allows us to test how quickly the battery is drained, with the long flick streamed at best quality, screen on full brightness and max volume, starting from 100 per cent.
It would be unfair to test the iPhone 14 Pro Max now, having used it all day every day for nearly six months, so I’m using results from a test I did in September. On the Pro Max, after 1.5 hours, the battery was down to 83 per cent, and by the end of the third hour, the battery was down to 63 per cent. On the iPhone 14 Plus, 1.5 hours the phone had 92 per cent and 75 per cent by the end of the third hour. By the end of dedicating a day to each phone, using it more than I usually would and testing everything I could, I went to bed with 48 per cent on the iPhone 14 Pro Max and 39 per cent on the Plus. Six months later, I can go more than a day without charging the Pro Max (and I don’t want to tell you my screen time numbers).
Apple reckons that with the iPhone 14 Plus, you’ll get up to 26 hours of video playback, reduced to 20 hours if this video is being streamed, and a total of 100 hours of audio playback (that means, doing nothing else except these tasks on your phone). The iPhone 14 Pro Max boosts this to up to 29 hours of video playback, 25 if streamed, and up to 95 hours of audio playback.
iPhone 14 Pro Max vs iPhone 14 Plus: They’ve both got good battery life, it seems pointless giving the Pro Max another win here.
The part you all wanted to see.
The iPhone 14 Plus boasts a dual-camera system comprising a 12MP main and 12MP ultra-wide and you’ve also got a 12MP TrueDepth (selfie) camera, while the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a 48MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP Telephoto and 12MP TrueDepth camera. Here is where the difference in the two phones comes apparent. Obviously.
1x zoom (also known as a standard, open Camera, point and snap).
Now at 5x zoom.
This one is cheating a little. The iPhone 14 Pro Max (left) has the option for 15x zoom, and the below shows this, whereas for the 14 Plus, I had to zoom in and screenshot the max zoom (5x).
Standard shots are much of a muchness. The colour is a lot more real in the iPhone 14 Pro Max, with the Plus blurring a few parts, too.
Macro. I can’t emphasise enough just how close I was to this basket. The texture is gorgeous on the 14 Pro Max.
Here’s that same shot taken in Snapchat (just so Apple could keep its image-processing hands off it!). Genuinely, this is how dark it was.
I tend to like the shot from the 14 Plus better – there’s less fake colour, as in, less of the image-processing done. But also, both are faking light big time here. It’s a similar story for the park shot below. The path looks more true to life in the Pro Max (left) and the shrubs in the foreground boast a little more detail.
Macro at night is just as awful on the Plus as it is during the day. 10 points for effort, though.
Portrait mode, thanks to Trixie for her help.
And lastly, selfie mode.
iPhone 14 Pro Max vs iPhone 14 Plus: Hands down, the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The 14 Plus isn’t terrible, except when taking macro/zoom shots.
I know you came here for me to convince you that opting for the cheaper iPhone 14 Plus would be no different to splashing the cash on the Pro, but I can’t. The camera in the Pro Max is noticeably better, the software, while the same, is faster and more responsive on the 14 Pro Max and the phone very much feels more Pro.
If you don’t do much photography, or don’t really care for something like Macro, and don’t care if your phone takes a few more seconds to open an app, you’re going to have a great time with the iPhone 14 Plus. Apple makes brilliant phones, I just wish the ‘cheaper’, less pro phone was a bit more cost-effective. Talking bang-for-back, I just don’t think it’s worth spending $2,000 on a phone for it to not be the best one.
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