iPhone 15 Pro Max vs. 13 Pro Max: Should you upgrade? – XDA Developers

The iPhone 15 Pro Max just dropped, and if you own an iPhone 13 Pro Max, you may be tempted to upgrade. But should you?
Apple’s new iPhone 15 Pro Max doesn’t look like a major upgrade, but it boasts some impressive upgrades under the hood. Its A17 Pro chip is an industry first and delivers excellent performance, plus the camera module has been improved in a lot of ways. If you’re looking for the best phone Apple has to offer, the 15 Pro Max is the one.
Although it’s a couple of years old now, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is still a solid phone in 2023. It offers good performance with its A15 Bionic chip, and the camera module, while not as advanced as that of the 15 Pro Max, is still good enough for most users. It also features a lovely 6.7-inch OLED display, although the thicker bezels and notch are starting to look dated.
Apple's iPhone lineup has always been a subject of excitement for tech enthusiasts and smartphone users alike, even if the company doesn't re-invent the wheel with every new release. In fact, that's what many like about Apple. Although the brand is not afraid to innovate, you usually know what to expect from its annual release cycle: an improved version of the device that came out the year before. That was certainly the case with the recent iPhone 15 Pro Max launch. Apple's newest flagship sports some subtle but noticeable refinements over its predecessors, so if you own an iPhone 13 Pro Max and are wondering whether it's time to upgrade, we've got a side-by-side comparison to help you decide.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at $1,199 for the base model. That appears to be a $100 increase from previous generations until you realize that the base model of the 15 Pro Max now comes with 256GB of storage instead of 128GB. Buyers can purchase it through Apple's official website, authorized retailers, and major carriers.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max, while still available in some locations, has become less common since the release of its successors. It originally launched at $1,099 for the 128GB variant, with the 256GB sporting a $1,199 price tag. If you're looking to buy one in 2023, you might need to explore third-party sellers or the refurbished market to find it.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max and 13 Pro Max feature Apple's signature premium build quality and design aesthetics. They sport a similar form factor, although Apple made some subtle refinements for the new release. The iPhone 15 series features a slightly more rounded frame, making it more comfortable in the hand while maintaining the overall aesthetic.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is also lighter because Apple used titanium instead of steel for the chassis. It weighs 7.8 ounces, so while not a dainty phone by any means, it's still lighter than the 8.47oz iPhone 13 Pro Max. The dimensions have also changed slightly, with the 15 Pro being a little less wide and long than the 13 Pro Max due to slimmer screen bezels. However, it's a little thicker at 0.32 inches compared to the 0.3-inch thickness of the 13 Pro Max. That means you'll need to purchase a new case made for the 15 Pro Max, as your old one won't fit.
In terms of ports, you may have already heard that Apple has finally surrendered on the USB-C issue and has ditched the Lightning port for the iPhone 15 series. The 15 Pro Max now includes a USB-C port for charging and data transfer, while the 13 Pro Max still uses Lightning. Neither phone features a 3.5mm headphone jack, which has been the norm for Apple for years, so you'll need to rely on wireless audio or use an adapter.
There's nothing groundbreaking about the display on Apple's new devices, and both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and 13 Pro Max sport very nice 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED screens. The 15 Pro Max has a slightly better resolution (2796×1290) than the 13 Pro Max (2778×1284), but that's not a noticeable difference. Peak brightness with HDR content has been cranked up to 2,000 nits in contrast to the 1,200-nit peak brightness of the 13 Pro Max.
The most noteworthy change in the display isn't the screen itself but the bezels surrounding it. Apple has trimmed the bezels on the iPhone 15 lineup, increasing the screen-to-body ratio by a few percentage points. The iPhone 15 Pro Max also features the Dynamic Island introduced with the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max; however, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is still stuck with the notch. That's not a huge deal, but it's an example of yet another refinement that the newer releases bring to the iPhone design.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max ships with iOS 15 and currently supports iOS 17. The release of the iPhone 15 series coincides with the rollout of iOS 17, which is bringing some new features to iOS apps and tightening up Apple's software ecosystem a bit. Both phones deliver a slick iOS experience, so there's no concern there.
As you can expect, iOS 17 isn't a huge update, but it improves some things and adds impressive new capabilities to communication apps, including FaceTime, Messages, and AirDrop. Also, the new StandBy mode, which turns your phone into an always-on display with custom widgets on your lock screen, is a welcome addition if you keep your phone on a MagSafe stand. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is eligible for the iOS 17 update, which rolled out for most users (owners of iPhone XR and later) in September 2023. You don't really have to worry about software differences between these two phones.
In terms of raw power, both phones are impressive, but the iPhone 15 Pro Max naturally takes the lead. It is equipped with Apple's latest A17 Pro chip, a 3nm chip and an industry first. It's purported to outclass even the vaunted Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, so expectations regarding iPhone 15 Pro Max performance are very high. Owners can expect snappy responsiveness, seamless multitasking, and smooth mobile gaming and streaming. The iPhone 15 Pro Max also features 8GB of RAM, which should help things along a bit. In addition, storage options range from 256GB to a whopping 1TB.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max is outclassed here, which is no shock given we're comparing a two-year-old phone to Apple's latest high-end flagship. It's no slouch, though, and shouldn't feel too sluggish by 2023 standards. It runs on the A15 Bionic chip, which is still a formidable performer, with 6GB of memory and storage options ranging from 128GB to 1TB.
That said, for those who demand the absolute best in performance and future-proofing, the iPhone 15 Pro Max's superb new A17 Pro chip and greater RAM options make it the obvious performance winner.
Battery life is always a major consideration in the mobile age. The iPhone 15 Pro Max again takes the lead here with its larger internal battery, although not by a huge margin. Apple claims 29 hours of video playback for the 15 Pro Max versus 28 hours of video playback for the 13 Pro Max, to cite just one metric.
Either phone can easily last a full day of regular usage, and both support 20W wired charging and 15W MagSafe wireless charging. Both should also deliver similar charging speeds with a compatible adapter. The most noteworthy difference is that you can now use any of your USB-C cables and chargers to juice up your iPhone 15 Pro Max (finally).
Apple iPhones have always impressed in the camera department, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max continues this tradition with some major improvements. It features a triple-camera module that looks similar to previous iterations but with some upgrades to the sensors and optics. The main camera is a 48MP sensor, backed up by dual 12MP ultrawide and telephoto lenses. Users also get more control over settings like focal length and zoom, which photographers will appreciate.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max also boasts a formidable camera setup with excellent low-light performance and computational photography features. However, its 12MP main rear camera is considerably more limited than the 48MP shooter on the 15 Pro Max. Nonetheless, average users will likely be happy enough with it. For photography enthusiasts, though, the iPhone 15 Pro Max again brings some nice upgrades to the table.
This won't come as a shock, but when comparing these two flagships side-by-side, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is clearly the better phone. It packs a fantastic processor, a superior camera setup, and a lighter, smoother, and more refined overall design. If you want the absolute best that Apple has to offer and don't mind the premium price tag, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is easy to recommend.
If you want the latest and greatest phone that Apple has to offer, then the iPhone 15 Pro Max is easy to recommend. It’s big, looks and feels great, and subtle refinements improve performance and camera capabilities in noticeable ways. It’s expensive, but there’s always a price to pay for excellence.
However, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is still a fine device in 2023. It offers excellent performance, a solid camera module, a lovely OLED display, and generous battery life. If you're looking for a more budget-friendly option and can find one, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is still a worthy choice, though availability is becoming increasingly scarce. On the other hand, if you already own an iPhone 13 Pro Max and are thinking of upgrading to the 15 Pro Max, you should now have enough information to decide whether it's worth the cost.
Although the iPhone 13 Pro Max pales in direct comparison to the 15 Pro Max, there’s no denying that it’s still a good phone. It’s getting hard to find, though, so it may not be worth chasing one down if you can get a more recent model at a discount. If you already own one and are happy with it, then upgrading to the 15 Pro Max boils down to whether the improvements are worth the steep price.


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