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

Apple is changing its formula this year and abandoning its 12-megapixel wide-angle module to go to 48 Mpx. The optics opens at f / 1.8 with a 24 mm equivalence, but above all smaller pixels of 1.22 μm. It is always accompanied by a 12 Mpx ultra wide-angle (f / 2.2) and a 12 Mpx 3x telephoto lens as well. As in 2021, the ultra-wide-angle doubles as a macro lens, but has been enhanced on the 14 Pro models, allowing you to get even closer to a subject in greater detail.

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

Like what we are used to explaining for Android smartphones, the change in definition on the wide-angle module is accompanied this year by the arrival of the pixel binding on the iPhone. This means that by default, the smartphone will shoot in 12 Mpx, but it is possible to reach full definition to obtain 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 therefore analyze the 12 Mpx shots of the iPhone 14 Pro Max against those of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Note that unlike the iPhone which uses a binning by 4, Samsung takes advantage of a binning by 9. The South Korean therefore merges 9 pixels to form 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 overall offers a more neutral and close to reality image, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra perhaps offers a result that is a little more pleasing to the eye. Despite a slightly strong exposure, the latter benefits from a better sharpness. The micro-contrast present on the image of the iPhone may well accentuate the details, but the South Korean smartphone does a little 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 very warm tone. Once again, we note the presence of micro-contrast in the photo captured by the Apple model, which accentuates the details. Perhaps even a little too much given the white borders that appear on certain areas of our photo scene. But in the end, the two shots are just as detailed and it’s the post-processing that sets them apart. The iPhone prefers to turn to something more natural, unlike the 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)

On the ultra wide-angle, our analyzes could be the same as those carried on the wide-angle. With this module, the iPhone 14 Pro Max goes up less in sensitivity than its opponent, which allows it to keep a “clean” image where the S22 sees the appearance of digital noise (visible on the black background). Once again, the micro-contrast enhancement by Apple’s software plays a little on the sharpness of the image, which may therefore appear less detailed than that of the Samsung. In an attempt to raise the level of detail, the South Korean model plays on 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 however superior. That of the iPhone suffers from software processing that is a bit too aggressive, which is unfortunate. Overall, the photo of the smartphone delivered by the Samsung is more flattering.

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 manages to catch up on the telephoto lens. The result offered by day is much better than that of the 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 of a decent result with their telephoto lens. Very often, it is because it is only a crop in the image shot with the wide-angle module. Fortunately, this is not the case for either of the two challengers, and even if the iPhone tends to offer a more qualitative photo than the Samsung, it is just as difficult to really exploit.

Front module, portrait and video mode

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

These additions also benefit portrait mode. If the iPhone is still not the king of this feature, we must recognize that the company has been able to improve in the field over time. The clipping is not yet perfect and can encounter problems when faced with curly, wandering hair or a slightly structured cut. On the other hand, with the rear modules, the portrait mode produces small wonders. The clipping is very good and the iPhone 14 Pro Max even manages to blur an object in the foreground to let only the face be revealed (a hand upstream of 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 switch to x3.

True portable cameras, the iPhone has established itself as a benchmark in this field. Obviously, the 14 Pro Max model wasn’t going to be a game changer. We start with the cinematic mode introduced last year, which now allows filming up to 4K HDR at 30 fps. Another novelty, the Action mode which transforms this iPhone into an action cam. The tremors are therefore greatly limited, without being close to a real action cam. That being said, the option does the job well. For the rest of the video, the iPhone 14 Pro Max can shoot 4K at up to 60 fps or 1080p at up to 60 fps. Recording can also be done in Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60 fps. Finally, let’s finish with the possibility of filming in macro, slow motion or accelerated.

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