Camera comparison: iPhone 14 Pro Max vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max bring some significant improvements to camera technology, adding a 48MP lens and low-light improvements to all lenses thanks to the new Photonic Engine. We’ve spent the past week working on an in-depth comparison of the new iPhone 14 Pro Max with the previous generation iPhone 13 Pro Max to see how much better the iPhone 14 Pro Max could 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 turned on via the ProRAW switch. When comparing the 12-megapixel image from the iPhone 14 Pro Max to the 12-megapixel image from the iPhone 13 Pro Max, there is no immediate difference in quality, especially when the lighting is perfect.

You’ll see some tweaks to the shadows and highlights to improve HDR, and the colors may be more vivid on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but it’s a subtle difference for the most part.

The biggest improvement you’ll notice is the inclusion of ProRAW for 48-megapixel, higher-quality images. There is a lot more detail in the 48-megapixel image compared to the 12-megapixel image from 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’s memory. However, if you want to take a special photo of the highest quality, turn this ProRAW option on and you will see significant improvements over what you can get from an iPhone 13 Pro Max.

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Apple uses a 48-megapixel camera for a new 2x telephoto option that crops the image from full resolution. This adds a completely new focal length to the “iPhone 14 Pro” models, and the “iPhone 13 Pro” models are limited to the 3x telephoto lens. A 2x telephoto lens is a great length for portraits or if you just want to zoom in a little, and since it’s the main camera the quality is better than a telephoto lens, even when framing.

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According to Apple, the Photonic Engine, which was designed to enable Deep Fusion earlier in the computational photography process, provides at least a two-fold improvement in all camera lenses, but it’s hard to see this improvement across the full range of Night Mode shots from Night Mode. iPhone 14 Pro‌ Max and ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max.

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There is less noise and less light reflection in the photos of the iPhone 14 Pro‌ Max Night Mode‌, so there is a difference, but it’s not day and night. Some photos from the iPhone 14 Pro Max may also look brighter, but there are no drastic improvements here as the iPhone 13 Pro Max was already great.

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When it comes to video, Apple has added an action mode to mimic the stabilization you get with a gimbal, and the cinematic mode has also been improved. Cinema mode now works in 4K at 24fps, from the maximum 1080p resolution on the iPhone 13 Pro Max, so it’s just more flexible for those who like recording in 4K.

Action Mode actually improves stabilization when recording video while moving, so it’s handy for filming your pet or baby 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 from 4K, but it’s a solid feature if you need extra stabilization. In many cases, you may not need the stabilization boost provided by Action Mode as the built-in default stabilization is good enough.

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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 and not on a daily basis. If you already have an iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max it’s probably not worth updating for just the camera itself, but there are obviously 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 camera of the iPhone 14 Pro Max compared to the camera of the iPhone 13 Pro Max? Let us know in the comments below and watch the full video to see both smartphones in action.

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