Christmas has arrived..

Yesterday a friendly DPD driver dropped off this year’s new Apple flagship iPhone, the iPhone 12 Pro Max. As mentioned previously, I had intended on only going for the smaller iPhone 12 Pro, but while I was waiting I was thinking about if I really wanted a smaller phone given that for the past goodness knows how many years I’ve always gone big. That, and there was stock available during launch day, whereas the iPhone 12 Pro stock was still very much depleted. Still, I was prepared to wait even if there was a delay.

But now I have the phone in my hands (waiting on the MagSafe case to arrive today – despite how lovely this thing feels without a case, I want some kind of protection against potential knocks and drops), it is, of course, Apple’s best iPhone ever. And it will be until the iPhone 13 next year.

The new (yet old), iPhone 5-like design of the unit makes for a better grip, with the display sitting flush with the unit. This makes the display look even better than the previous generation, with an increased resolution and brightness (when viewing HDR content) over the iPhone 11 Pro Max giving it a much nicer display to work with than the previous model. The resolution to scale ratio is just right – with text clean and crisp and everything easy to read. The side buttons are clickier, providing better feedback than before.

The camera unit on the back of the phone is a little bigger than the 12 Pro. This is likely to accommodate the sensor-shift stabilisation unit along with the bigger image sensor. As many reviewers have noted, even with the bigger sensor and sensor-shift, there is a negligible improvement over the 12 Pro, but the differences are there. The biggest improvement over the 11 Pro Max is that, according to Apple’s claim, is that low-light photography is improved 87% over the previous generation iPhone. That certainly seems to be the case on photos that I’ve seen, but I need to do my own testing to really be sure. As for Dolby Vision video recording – that stays off since apart from the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the 2020 iPad Pro, I have no other compatible displays (my monitor can only handle HDR10 content).

Starting the iPhone 12 Pro Max, with its new A14 Bionic processor/SoC is considerably faster than than the previous generation. I was surprised how fast it was, actually, having switched the thing on and put the phone down to give it enough time to boot – I hadn’t bothered – it booted so fast that it had finished by the time I’d put the phone down. This generation of iPhone 12 Pro (and Max) come with 2Gb of extra RAM, bringing it up to 6Gb in total. This should help with app switching – which for me, whenever I start commuting again, is going to be a big help.

The Qualcomm X55 modem in this unit which replaces the Intel modems that Apple have been using up until this point is a nippy little bugger. I’ve definitely noticed improvements on home Wi-Fi (802.11ac) and some improvements to 4G. Alas, I’m not in an area where we have 5G coverage, but hopefully I should be able to test over the Christmas period. All I can say right now, is that even without 5G, thank goodness Apple and Qualcomm kissed and made up. Never fight again!

The only issues I’ve encountered with the phone at this time have been trying to sync up with Google Workspace account to use its contacts list. For some stupid reason – either Google or Apple let me authenticate and then it just throws me back to picking a service provider again. I suspect this may be an iOS 14.2 bug – but in the mean time, I’ve exported all my contacts from Google to iCloud and that works well enough – though if you have custom fields you may need to recreate the contact.

EE’s Full Works plan is rather nice – unlimited, full speed data each month including personal hotspot allowance which is unlimited, but fair use rules apply – for example, EE consider 1Tb to be beyond fair use, naturally, which is never going to be a problem for me – I only use hotspot when I can’t get a decent Wi-Fi signal and it’s only going to be into the two-digit figures at most. Additionally, I get Apple Music, Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade for free for 24 months. I’m still waiting to see if Apple gives me a free year Apple TV+ for “purchasing” the iPhone 12 Pro Max. They certainly extended the Apple Arcade subscription by an extra three months on top of the 24 month, so I’ve got a fair old amount of time with it.

So far so good with the new phone. Transferring authentication apps across has been better than it used to be, but was still a massive pain in the rear end. A more detailed report may follow, especially regarding the camera system.