Retrospect: 5 Reasons I’m Glad I Upgraded from iPhone 12 Pro Max to iPhone 13 Pro Max

I’ve been using an iPhone 13 Pro Max for a little over a month now, and that happened because I took full advantage of Apple’s trade-in program to trade up from last year’s iPhone 12 Pro Max.

A still image taken from iDownloadBlog's video about 10 hidden iPhone 13 features, with host Harris Craycraft showing a blue iPhone 13 Pro Max in his hand to the camera

Side-by-side, both iPhones would look nearly identical apart from some minor external differences concerning things such as the notch, front-facing speaker, and rear-facing camera, but there’s a lot more happening under the hood that makes this upgrade completely worth it; at least in my opinion.

I have no regrets about the upgrade so far, but for those who might still on the fence about upgrading from last year’s model, I thought I’d share my top five reasons that the iPhone 13 Pro Max trumps last year’s handset and why it might be something worth thinking about.

5 reasons I’m glad I upgraded from iPhone 12 Pro Max to iPhone 13 Pro Max

1. Enhanced Camera Performance

Apple wasn’t joking when they touted enhanced camera performance with their latest flagship. Since iPhones receive marginal camera improvements year-after-year, that was to be expected, but the camera in the iPhone 13 Pro Max really took me by surprise for more reasons than one…

First of all, low-light performance is stellar. One can use the latest iPhones’ powerful new sensor capture photos in what seems like a nearly pitch-black environment and the Camera app’s Night Mode feature pairs with the upgraded hardware to collect more light and produce a bright photograph with dramatic lighting and detail.

I’ve taken lots of pictures indoors and outdoors when the lighting was so poor that most smartphone cameras would be hard-pressed to produce a fuzzy or grainy image, if any at all, but the iPhone 13 Pro Max has a way with commanding high detail, even when light seems scarce.

In addition to low light, the iPhone 13 Pro Max sees an important upgrade in the photo-taking department by supporting macro photography. While you could certainly get up close to objects with older iPhones, the focal length left a lot to be desired when you wanted to capture more detail. The new iPhone 13 Pro Max lets you get the lens up close and personal with the intended subject without losing focus, and it produces crisp macro shots as a result.

Even if you aren’t snapping macro shots, the ability to take use up to 3x optical zoom compared to just 2x optical zoom on the previous model means that even far-away photographs will enjoy higher detail when zoomed in.

While the iPhone 12 Pro Max was no slouch when it came to photography, it’s evident from the capabilities of the iPhone 13 Pro Max that it’s simply a better photo-taking device — but it should be given that the camera protrudes from the handset even more than it did the year before.

2. Boosted Battery Life

I remember when I’d be playing a game, watching a video, or browsing the web on my iPhone 12 Pro Max, and after just a while, I would notice the battery drainage by checking on it via Control Center every couple of minutes. While the drop in battery wasn’t anything of the lead brick variety, it was somewhat unsettling to witness the battery level drop so quickly when I knew I still had my whole day ahead of me.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max boasts a larger battery with up to 2.5 additional hours of battery life, and I’ve certainly noticed it while performing day-to-day activities like those described above. Although I still see the battery level decline after extended use, it noticeably endures much more activity before getting as low as the previous handset did, so I get to spend more time doing what I love in between charges.

Battery life should be one of the chief considerations when picking the right smartphone for you, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max certainly impresses in this department. Even the smaller iPhone 13 offerings have improvements to battery life.

3. Improved Display

It was unfortunate when Apple didn’t incorporate a ProMotion display in the iPhone 12 lineup last year when it seemed like the rest of the industry and even the company’s own pro tablets was already pushing higher display refresh rates, but Apple finally made good on that upgrade this time around with the iPhone 13 lineup.

The massive display of the iPhone 13 Pro Max jibes swimmingly with the smooth and fluid capabilities of ProMotion. It can drop the display’s refresh rate to as low as 10hz to foster better battery life when necessary, or offer higher refresh rates up to 120hz when required to remove all unsightly jitter from app interfaces and gaming graphics for an eye-candy result.

After using Apple’s ProMotion-supported iPad Pro for more than a year, the iPhone always seemed like it was lagging behind in terms of the display, and I’m glad to see that the iPhone is finally catching up with its amazing display technology. In fact, I can already sense that there would be no going back to the traditional 60hz display, as my eyes have adjusted to expect the newfangled fluidity.

Refresh rates aside, I’m also particularly excited about the display’s peak brightness boost. According to Apple, the iPhone 13 lineup is capable of producing a maximum of 1,000 nits peak brightness, while the iPhone 12 lineup was only capable of a maximum of 800 nits peak brightness. This makes seeing what’s on my screen even easier when I’m outside in direct sunlight or sitting near a window indoors. Since I do a lot of both, that was a big deal for me.

4. Smaller Notch

The iPhone X took the smartphone industry by storm when it introduced its distinctive ‘notch’ in the display to house the handset’s Face ID hardware elements. Of course, that same notch has been present in all modern iPhones up until the iPhone 12 lineup.

Starting with the this year’s new iPhone 13 lineup, the notch has been made much smaller. In fact, it’s up to 20% smaller when measured horizontally, and this means you get more display and less intrusion as well as more space between the edges of the screen and the text or glyphs that present themselves in your Status Bar.

While smaller handsets always seem to have busier Status Bars because of the restricted screen real estate imposed by the notch, these handsets really benefit from the smaller notch. On my spacious iPhone 13 Pro Max display, the notch is substantially less prominent than what I was accustomed to on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and sometimes it just seems to disappear from my attention.

I’ve never really been anti-notch, but making it smaller is definitely a step in the right direction.

5. Larger Storage Capacity

The iPhone 12 Lineup gave consumers a respectable storage option size of 512GB at the high end, but the iPhone 13 lineup goes a step further, doubling that capacity option to a whopping 1TB.

While few people use as much phone storage as I do, the fact remains that ultra high-definition 4K video capture, photos taken using Apple ProRAW format, and excessive amounts of App Store apps and games can and will fill your device’s available storage space quickly and wholesomely. This leads to problems with software updates and app installations later down the line…

For that reason, I appreciate the higher storage capacity option offered by Apple starting with the iPhone 13 lineup, as it ensures that I won’t ever run out of storage space or face the impossible ultimatum of deleting things I don’t want to delete or being unable to record more video or download more apps.

Despite the higher price tag that comes with the 1TB model, anyone who uses a lot of storage will understand just how important this is, especially since the iPhone doesn’t accept removable microSD cards like other smartphone brands do.

The bottom line

While the five reasons above made the upgrade from the iPhone 12 Pro Max to the iPhone 13 Pro Max worth it for me, I can definitely understand that everyone has different priorities when it comes to their iPhone needs. Having said that, something that makes the upgrade worth it for me might not be that big of a deal to someone else. Still, this seemed to me like it was particularly good upgrade despite the reminiscent externals of the device, as most of the worthwhile upgrades were under the hood.

If you’ve been thinking about moving forward with the upgrade, especially with the looming holiday season ahead, then hopefully some of the highlights above provided that final push of reassurance that the upgrade would be worth it.

Did you upgrade from last year’s handset to this year’s model? If you did, then be sure to let us know why in the comments section down below. If you didn’t, then be sure to tell us what reasons prevented you from making the jump.