Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max test: the Pro range in a new dynamic

Apple changed its formula this year and abandoned the 12-megapixel wide-angle module to go to 48 Mpx. The optics open at f / 1.8 with the equivalent of 24 mm, but above all smaller pixels of 1.22 μm. It is always accompanied by a 12 Mpx ultra wide-angle (f / 2.2) and also a 12 Mpx 3x telephoto lens. Like the 2021, the ultra-wide-angle doubles as a macro lens, but has been improved on the 14 Pro models, allowing you to get closer to a subject in more detail.

Main module: 48 MP, f/1.8, eq. 24mm

As we usually explain for Android smartphones, the change in the definition of the wide-angle module is accompanied this year by the arrival of pixel binding on the iPhone. This means that by default, the smartphone will shoot at 12 Mpx, but it is possible to reach full definition to get better image quality. We have detailed this process in detail in an article dedicated to the 48 Mpx ProRAW mode.

For this test, we will analyze the 12 Mpx shot of the iPhone 14 Pro Max against the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Note that unlike the iPhone that uses a binning by 4, Samsung takes advantage of a binning through 9. So South Korean combines 9 pixels to become 1.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 23 mm, f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/50 s)

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max (12 MP, 24 mm eq., f/1.8, ISO 64, 1/234 s)

If the iPhone 14 Pro Max in general offers a more neutral and close to reality image, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra may offer a result that is more pleasing to the eye. Despite a slightly stronger exposure, the latter benefits from a better sharpness. The micro-contrast present in the iPhone’s image can emphasize the details, but the South Korean smartphone is much better here.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 23 mm, f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/0 s)

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max (12 Mpx, eq. 24 mm, f/1.8, ISO 1000, 1/25 s)

In low light, the iPhone 14 Pro Max does not overexpose its shot, unlike Samsung which delivers an orange image with a warm tone. Once again, we notice the presence of micro-contrast in the photo captured by the Apple model, which highlights the details. Perhaps even a little too much given the white borders that appear in some areas of our photo scene. But in the end, both shots are equally detailed and it’s the post-processing that sets them apart. The iPhone prefers to return to something more natural, unlike Samsung.

Ultra-wide-angle module: 12 Mpx, f/2.2, eq. 14mm

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 13 mm, f/2.2, ISO 80, 1/100 s)

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max (12 MP, eq. 14 mm, f/2.2, ISO 40, 1/99 s)

At ultra wide angle, our analyzes will be the same as those carried out at wide angle. With this module, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is less sensitive than its rival, which allows it to maintain a “clean” image where the S22 sees the appearance of digital noise (visible on a black background). Again, the micro-contrast enhancement of Apple’s software plays a bit with the sharpness of the image, which may appear less detailed than the Samsung. In an attempt to increase the level of detail, the South Korean model plays with the exposure of the image.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12 MP, eq. 13 mm, f/2.2, ISO 2500, 1/16 s)

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max (12 MP, eq. 14 mm, f/2.2, ISO 2000, 1/25 s)

At night, the rendering of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is even better. That on the iPhone suffers from software processing that is quite aggressive, which is not good. Overall, the smartphone photography delivered by Samsung is better.

3x telephoto: 12 MP, f/2.8, eq. 77mm

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (10 Mpx, eq. 230 mm, f/2.4, ISO 800, 1/33 s)

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max (12 MP, eq. 77 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/100 s)

The iPhone 14 Pro Max managed to capture the telephoto lens. The result offered by the sun is better than that of Samsung. Both terminals offer 3x optical magnification, but the image of the Galaxy S22 Ultra lacks sharpness. The Apple model is clearly superior here, with good colorimetry and an acceptable level of sharpness for this type of lens.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (10 Mpx, eq. 230 mm, f/2.4, ISO 800, 1/33 s)

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max (12 MP, eq. 77 mm, f/2.8, ISO 1000, 1/20 s)

At night, it’s always a bit complicated. Few smartphones can boast a decent result with their telephoto lens. Usually, it’s because it’s just a crop of an image shot with a wide-angle module. Fortunately, this is not the case with either of the two challengers, and although the iPhone tends to offer a better quality picture than the Samsung, it is also difficult to take advantage of.

Front module, portrait and video mode

On the front, there is also a change. Apple kept a 12 Mpx module, but gave it a better aperture (f / 1.9) and above all added autofocus. As a result, selfies are brighter, better exposed and above all sharper. The contribution of autofocus is really felt and it is a pity that Apple had to wait all this time before integrating one in its front module.

These additions also benefit portrait mode. If the iPhone is still not the king in this segment, we must recognize that the company has been able to improve in the field over time. The cut is not yet perfect and may encounter problems when dealing with curly, stray hair or less structured cuts. On the other hand, with the rear modules, the portrait mode produces small wonders. Clipping is very good and the iPhone 14 Pro Max even managed to blur something in the foreground to reveal only the face (a hand above the face, for example). By default, the portrait mode on the back is based on the x2 zoom that Apple reintroduced this year, but it is possible to move to x3.

True portable cameras, the iPhone has established itself as the benchmark in this field. Obviously, the 14 Pro Max model is not going to be a game changer. We started with the cinematic mode introduced last year, which now allows filming up to 4K HDR at 30 fps. Another novelty, the Action mode that transforms this iPhone into an action cam. So the shakes are very limited, nowhere near a real action cam. That said, the option works well. For the rest of the video, the iPhone 14 Pro Max can shoot 4K up to 60 fps or 1080p up to 60 fps. Recording can also be done in Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60 fps. Finally, we conclude the possibility of filming in macro, slow motion or accelerated.

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