The iPhone 14 Pro Max is an incredible smartphone – without a doubt. It’s easily one of the best phones you can buy in 2023, sporting near-perfect hardware and software on every level. It’s the phone I’ve carried with me every day since it launched last October, but after living with it for about five months, I’m worried I made a big mistake in choosing it as my main iPhone.
There is nothing wrong or bad about the iPhone 14 Pro Max. It’s the most capable and technically impressive iPhone on the market right now. But even if that’s the case, I can’t use it anymore – and I’m moving on to something else.
My biggest issue with the iPhone 14 Pro Max
Before I got the iPhone 14 Pro Max, one of my biggest reservations was the phone’s gargantuan size. At the time, Digital Trends’ Andy Boxall talked about how the large footprint was one of the main things that stopped him from getting the iPhone 14 Pro Max in the first place. But unlike Andy, I threw caution to the wind and went the Pro Max route anyway. I said to myself: “The size will not be a problem! I’ll get used to it just fine!” That’s what I naively talked myself into believing anyway.
But as the weeks and months went by, I gradually discovered that neither of those things were true.
There wasn’t a single tipping point where the size of the iPhone 14 Pro Max was too much to handle, but instead there were a lot of little things I had to deal with along the way. If I’m typing long messages on the keyboard, I have to put the iPhone 14 Pro Max on a table or a pillow. If I sit down with the phone in my front pocket, the top half pops out and jabs me in the waist.
And any kind of one-handed use is guaranteed to be awkward. It’s not impossible, but it always requires forward hand gymnastics that is uncomfortable and put the iPhone 14 Pro Max at risk of drowning. As much as I appreciate the extra screen size and long battery life, I often feel like I’m begrudgingly putting up with the iPhone 14 Pro Max to get those things, rather than simply enjoying them.
The size of the iPhone 14 Pro Max was far from surprising going into it; I knew the phone was big and bulky. And while I prefer smaller phones, I don’t mind using other large Android phones. I’ve used the Pixel 7 Pro, OnePlus 11, and Galaxy S23 Plus — all large phones — without their size being a nagging issue. So what about the iPhone 14 Pro Max I really did?
For one thing, it’s significantly heavier than any of the other phones mentioned above. Compared to the 212-gram, 205g, and 196g weights of those three Android phones, respectively, the iPhone 14 Pro Max clocks in considerably 240g. And that despite the fact that its height and width are within 3 millimeters of its competition Pixel, OnePlus, and Galaxy.
It’s one thing to look at those numbers on an online datasheet, but it’s another thing entirely when you’re lugging around a 240g smartphone with you on a daily basis.
Other big phones do it better
Along with my growing frustration with the terrible size of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, things really took off when I received the Galaxy S23 Ultra last month. The S23 Ultra isn’t actually smaller than the iPhone 14 Pro Max – weighing a whopping 234g and measuring a few millimeters taller and wider. But I enjoyed it more than the iPhone.
One of the main reasons for this is the in-hand feel. In addition to being a few grams lighter than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has a rounded frame compared to the iPhone’s completely flat design. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s one that allows the S23 Ultra to feel more ergonomic and comfortable to hold. I never feel like I have a great grip on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and when you add that to the sharp edges of its flat frame, the end result is a phone that’s pretty hard to put down – especially when compared side by side alongside the S23 Ultra.
But it’s not just weight and design. Samsung too does more with the size of the Galaxy S23 Ultra than Apple does. Compared to the smaller S23 and S23 Plus, the S23 Ultra gives you a much better camera system, a huge battery, faster charging, more storage, and even a built-in S Pen stylus.
What am I getting with the iPhone 14 Pro Max that I couldn’t get with the regular iPhone 14 Pro? Bigger display and bigger battery. But that’s it. The camera, charging, storage, and other specifications are identical. That makes a strong argument in favor of the smaller iPhone 14 Pro, making it harder to justify why I’m still using the 14 Pro Max.
Downloads to the normal iPhone 14 Pro
It is for these reasons that I switched from the iPhone 14 Pro Max to the iPhone 14 Pro a few weeks ago. And you know what? I’m so glad I did. It’s just as fast, the camera experience is identical, all of my apps work the same, and the Dynamic Island is still there… for better or worse.
The best part? I get that same experience with a phone I can use without constantly thinking about how heavy or bulky it is. I can use the iPhone 14 Pro one-handed, throw it in a tight pocket with ease, and type without a pillow to support it – it’s great.
However, it was not a perfect experience. Battery life is much worse than on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and I’m regularly reaching for a charger by the end of the evening. It’s a big sticking point, and why I still think the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the best iPhone for people who can stomach the price and size.
But if you’re like me and have a hypersensitivity towards the latter, I suggest you opt for the regular iPhone 14 Pro if you’re torn between the two. I know I’m glad I finally did, and it’s the iPhone I’ll keep moving for a long time – until it’s time for the iPhone 15, that is.