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Is Dynamic Island Worth the Extra Cost?

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Apple announced the iPhone 14 series at its Far Out event in September 2022. The lineup includes the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. And for the first time, you don’t have to buy Apple’s most expensive phone if you want a large screen.

As a result, many users have considered the differences between the iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 14 Pro Max and whether the extra features on the latter, such as Dynamic Island and an always-on display, are worth the additional cost. We’ve compared both devices below to help you decide.


Price

The iPhone 14 Pro Max sits right at the top of Apple’s offerings, meaning it is the most expensive of all the iPhone 14 models. If you live in the US, you’ll be happy to know that Apple hasn’t hiked prices, but most other countries around the globe will have to pay more.

The iPhone 14 Plus starts at $899 for the 128GB variant, whereas the iPhone 14 Pro Max starts at $1099 for the same amount of storage. The price difference is only $200, but the question remains: do you get enough to warrant that additional cost? You’ll find out below.

Design

The iPhone 14 Plus follows an identical design to the iPhone 13, retaining the notch at the top of the display. It features dual lenses, flat edges, and an aluminum frame with a glossy back, just like the outgoing model. The only difference visually is that it’s larger.

On the other hand, the iPhone 14 Pro Max receives a visual redesign in the form of Dynamic Island (more on that below). The model also features an always-on display, which is a first for an iPhone, and three lenses on the back, similar to the iPhone 13 Pro Max. And unlike the standard iPhone 14, it features a stainless steel frame with a matte glass back.

Both models come in different colors. The iPhone 14 Plus comes in five colors: Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Purple, and (Product) Red. On the other hand, the iPhone 14 Pro Max comes in four different colors: Space Black, Gold, Deep Purple, and Silver. The iPhone 14 Pro Max is also heavier at 240 grams compared to the iPhone 14 Plus, which weighs only 203 grams.

Notch vs. Dynamic Island

All iPhone models since the iPhone X have had the infamous notch at the top. The design was admittedly a bit outdated compared to the devices offered by Samsung and other companies, which only had a small camera cutout at the top of the screen.

While the iPhone 14 Plus model still retains this notch, unfortunately, the iPhone 14 Pro Max replaces the notch with a pill-shaped cutout to house the front camera and Face ID sensors which Apple calls the Dynamic Island. With the help of software, Dynamic Island can play host to animations and display notifications, activities, and other widget information—it adapts its alerts depending on what you’re doing.

For example, when you have another app open during a phone call, Dynamic Island will expand and show the call duration. Similarly, if you use Apple Pay, Dynamic Island will turn into a square. It’s a major change to Apple’s iOS design language and a nice upgrade to the standard iPhone experience we’ve had for some years now.

Display

The iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 14 Pro Max both feature a similar-sized 6.7-inch screen. They both have an OLED panel with True Tone, Haptic Touch, and HDR support. However, the iPhone 14 Pro Max offers some key features over the iPhone 14 Plus.

Unlike the iPhone 14 Plus, which features a standard 60Hz display, iPhone 14 Pro Max boasts a 120Hz high refresh rate screen which looks amazing. But what makes it better is Apple’s ProMotion technology that automatically adjusts the refresh rate based on the content you’re watching—it can go all the way down to 1Hz to save battery. And this makes the all-new always-on display possible, letting you see the time, notifications, and so on without having to tap your screen.

Another key feature is the brightness department, where the iPhone 14 Pro Max gets a huge jump up to 2,000 nits of peak brightness. This makes a substantial difference when using your phone under sunlight. The standard iPhone 14 Plus can only reach 1,200 nits while watching HDR content.

Performance

The iPhone 14 Plus packs the same A15 Bionic chipset as 2021’s iPhone 13 Pro Max, which is a bummer for those who plan to use it for several years. On the bright side, you get the 5-core GPU variant of the A15, unlike the standard iPhone 13. Apple also claims it has upgraded the thermal design of the iPhone 14 Plus for better cooling performance.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max runs on Apple’s latest A16 processor, which offers a performance boost over the A15 processor. So, in addition to the extra features, you also get better performance. But we’re not sure why Apple decided not to include the A16 chip in the iPhone 14 Plus.

Camera Hardware

The iPhone 14 Plus has a dual 12MP setup on the rear, featuring wide and ultra-wide cameras. While this is the same resolution as the iPhone 13, it uses the same standard wide-angle camera as the iPhone 13 Pro (it has a slightly wider aperture of f/1.5 instead of f/1.6, which allows for more light inside the sensor).

The iPhone 14 Pro Max camera receives the biggest camera upgrade we’ve seen in years—it now features a 48MP primary quad-pixel sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide sensor, and a 12MP telephoto sensor.

Thanks to the bump in image resolution, the iPhone 14 Pro Max can deliver up to 15x digital zoom and 3x optical zoom, unlike the iPhone 14 Plus, which is limited to 5x digital zoom and lacks optical zoom.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max also offers Apple ProRAW, allowing you to shoot 48-megapixel raw shots for the best image clarity possible. Thankfully, both models feature the same upgraded 12MP front camera with a wider aperture of f/1.9 and autofocus, which should result in better selfies and video calls.

Battery Life

Battery capacity differs between the iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 14 Pro Max despite the similar size. While Apple says the iPhone 14 Plus delivers the best battery ever on an iPhone, you need to know that it’s only for audio playback (rated for up to 100 hours).

Thanks to ProMotion technology, the iPhone 14 Pro Max can still deliver better battery life while watching content, as Apple rates it for up to 29 hours of video playback. In contrast, the iPhone 14 Plus can only last up to 26 hours.

iPhone 14 Plus vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max: Which One Should You Buy?

There are quite a few differences between the iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 14 Pro Max models. Not only does the Dynamic Island make the iPhone 14 Pro look more modern, but other differences, such as the always-on display, 48MP camera, 120Hz display, and a faster CPU, may justify the extra $200 for most people.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max is for those who want all the latest features on their smartphone. But for those on a stricter budget, the iPhone 14 Plus may still be a good deal. It offers extra screen real estate over the standard iPhone 14 and borrows some hardware elements from the iPhone 13 Pro models to keep costs low.



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