The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max introduce some significant improvements in camera technology, adding a 48-megapixel lens and low-light enhancements to all lenses with the new Photonic Engine. Over the past week, we’ve been working on an in-depth comparison comparing the new iPhone 14 Pro Max to the earlier-generation iPhone 13 Pro Max to see just how much better the iPhone 14 Pro Max can be.
While there is a 48-megapixel lens, the iPhone 14 Pro models use pixel binning to combine four pixels into one, resulting in a standard 12-megapixel photo unless 48-megapixel images are enabled via the ProRAW switch. If you compare a 12 megapixel image from the iPhone 14 Pro Max with a 12 megapixel image from the iPhone 13 Pro Max, there is no immediate difference in quality, especially if the lighting is ideal.
You’ll see some improvements in shadows and highlights for enhanced HDR, and the colors may be more vibrant on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but in most cases it’s a subtle difference.
Where you’ll find the biggest upgrade is enabling ProRAW for those higher quality 48MP images. There is so much more detail in the 48-megapixel image compared to the 12-megapixel image of the iPhone 13 Pro Max, but the file size is a major drawback. 48-megapixel images can be over 60MB in size, which will quickly eat up your iPhone storage. But if you want to capture a special photo in the highest quality, turn on that ProRAW option and you’ll see remarkable improvements over what you can get from the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Apple uses the 48-megapixel camera for a new 2x telephoto option, which cuts into the image from full resolution. This adds a whole new focal length to the iPhone 14 Pro models, with the iPhone 13 Pro models being limited to 3x telephoto. 2x telephoto is a great length for portraits or if you just want to zoom in a bit, and being the main camera the quality is better than you get with the telephoto, even with the crop.
According to Apple, the Photonic Engine, which is designed to enable Deep Fusion earlier in the computational photography process, brings at least 2x improvement across all camera lenses, but it’s hard to see that improvement in full in side-by-side Night Mode photos of the camera. iPhone 14 Pro Max and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
There is less noise and less light reflection in the iPhone 14 Pro Max Night Mode photos, so there is a difference, but it is not day and night. Some iPhone 14 Pro Max photos may also look brighter, but there are no drastic upgrades here because the iPhone 13 Pro Max was already great.
As for video, Apple has added Action Mode, which is meant to mimic the stabilization you get with a gimbal, plus there are improvements to Cinematic Mode. Movie mode now works in 4K at 24 fps, higher than the maximum resolution of 1080p on the iPhone 13 Pro Max, so it’s just more flexible for those who like to shoot in 4K.
Action Mode does indeed improve stabilization when shooting video while moving, so it’s useful for filming a pet or child while running, or taking action shots. Since it’s limited to 2.8K resolution, you probably won’t want to have it enabled all the time as it’s a downgrade above 4K, but it’s a solid feature if you need the extra stabilization. In many cases, you may not need the action mode’s stabilization boost, as the built-in default stabilization is good enough.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max cameras are a definite improvement over the iPhone 13 Pro Max cameras, but the new features for most people will only be used occasionally rather than daily. If you already own an iPhone 13 Pro Max, it probably isn’t worth upgrading for the camera alone, but there are of course other features to consider such as Dynamic Island, always-on display technology, Emergency SOS via satellite and crash detection. .
What do you think of the iPhone 14 Pro Max camera compared to the iPhone 13 Pro Max camera? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to watch the full video to see both smartphones in action.