The iPhone 14 Pro Max Mid-Season Review

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 3 min read

The iPhone 14 Pro Max was released almost exactly 6 months ago, I've had it since release, and I thought it would be fun to take a look at the product and review what I've found notable about it in that time.

The Dynamic Island

This is definitely less impactful than I had expected, but I still think it's a win for the phone and I would miss it a bit if I had to go without it again. It's most common use case for me is as media controls, which I find more useful than the ones in Control Center. It's also pretty nice for timers as well as calendar events in Fantastical, but I honestly don't use it for much more than that.

In iOS 17 I hope to see Apple add more system functionality to the island, and I would also like to see apps get the ability to automatically start live activities without me needing to launch the app to kick them off. For example, let me give an app like Box Box an elevated permission to start live activities on its own from the background so that I can get live F1 standings on my phone as I'd like.

Always-on Display

This is a huge win in my book. Not only has Apple done this well, they've done it better than literally every other phone maker out there. They earn double points for adding a setting in one of the first iOS 16 updates that lets users hide their wallpaper and/or their notifications, addressing the top concern from most people in the initial release.


I'm an edge case in that I have fancy cameras at my disposal, and when I need to get photos that I know I'll want to edit, I grab my Canon EOS R6, not my iPhone. That said, I'm glad the added resolution is there for the vast majority of people who are not me, and I also like that it makes photos I take at 2x zoom look much better than the blurry messes I complained about in the 13 Pro lineup.

Action Mode

I don't know, I used it a couple times to test it out and it works fine, it's just not a thing I need so I don't have anything else to say about it.

Battery Life

I said on many occasions that the iPhone 13 Pro Max felt like it had "infinite battery life". Seriously, in a full year of using that phone, I could count the times I got it to show a low battery warning on one hand, and it literally never died on me.

Sadly, the 14 Pro Max is a regression in this regard. It's still good, but it's no longer great in my experience. Turning off the AOD doesn't change much at all for me, and it just seems to burn battery notably quicker than its predecessor.

The best way I can put it is that if I use my phone heavily, I can easily kill it by the end of the day. Again, not the end of the world, but I literally could not kill the 13 Pro Max even if I tried.

Satellite and Crash Detection

Thankfully, I have not had any experience with these, so I can't speak to them.


It looks great, and the haters are wrong. Possibly my favorite colored iPhone ever.

Overall Feelings

I think this is a solid iPhone in the long history of the product line, but it's definitely not one of the best. Most of the new features are not particularly impactful for me day-to-day, and the two things that do make notable changes (always-on display and battery life) kinda cancel each other out for me.

I'm happy to see strong rumors that the Dynamic Island will be coming to the normal iPhone this year and hopefully we'll be getting better battery life in the 15 Pro Max. Combine that with USB-C and I think we could have a really good year for the iPhone, so I've got my fingers crossed for this fall.