iPhone 12 Pro Max Box

My iPhone 12 Pro Max Finally Arrives: First Impressions

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iPhone 12 Pro Max Box

Yesterday I posted about missing UPS when they tried to deliver my iPhone 12 Pro Max Friday afternoon. About five minutes after I posted that article, I got a notification from UPS that my new phone had been delivered. Lo and behold, it was sitting inside my storm door when I got there to check. That certainly beat waiting until Monday.

I spent a few hours yesterday getting my backup restored to my new 12 Pro Max, as well as waiting for my apps to install, signing into accounts, setting up cards in Apple Pay again and getting my Apple Watch re-paired. As any iPhone owner knows, this can take a while if you have a lot of apps installed.

Because of that, I wasn’t been able to spend that much time trying out the 12 Pro Max’s cameras. I also don’t live in an area with strong 5G, so I haven’t seen any real benefit to that yet. However, I have used the new phone enough to form some early impressions on the design.

A thing of beauty

iPhone 12 Pro Max Back

There is no doubting the fact that this is a beautiful piece of hardware. The new squared-off sides frankly aren’t as ergonomic or practical for holding as the more rounded sides found on all iPhones since the 5, 5S and original SE, but they certainly are attractive. This design stands out more because of them.

iPhone 12 Pro Max Side

That metal band around the outside of the 12 Pro Max just lends a feeling of substance. Like those older iPhones, it feels like a finely engineered object more than a phone. Maybe that’s overstating a bit, but the squared edges and defined sides just give off a very different visual impression.

The only downside is that the stainless sides on the gold model are big time fingerprint and stain magnets. They require some TLC to keep shiny and clean

iPhone 12 Pro Max

I have to say, the glass front and back of the phone paired with this band make for an interesting throwback to the iPhones 4 and 4S. The 4 was Apple’s first really standout smartphone design and it’s really never been duplicated. However, while the size and feel are very different, the iPhone 12 lineup seems like the logical final evolution of that earlier design. The larger screen, camera array, FaceID, and hardened glass are all major improvements over its predecessor by a decade.

All that glitters

iPhone 12 Pro Max Top

I’ve always loved gold on an iPhone, going back to the first time it appeared on the 5S. While the shades have certainly changed over the years, the current one is probably my second favorite of the bunch. While I loved the more burnished bronzy tone of the iPhone XS’s gold finish, the current version is more of a classic look and it has more pop than Apple’s somewhat muted original gold finish.

I’ve seen where some reviewers have called the new gold iPhone finish gaudy. I can see how anyone who isn’t a fan might get that impression. However, if you do love a gold finish like I do, you will probably be into it.

Size matters

iPhone 12 Pro Max in the Hand

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is huge. There’s no getting around it. This is a massive chunk of a phone. Not only is it both noticeably bigger and heavier than the 11 Pro Max, but the new design actually accentuates the size differential. Those defined planes and flattened sides emphasize just how large it is.

That said, while the size and weight are noticeable, they likely won’t be a deal-killer for most current Plus and Max iPhone owners. First off, while the size and weight are noticeably different, that is more because of how the phone feels and sits in the hand than the actual size and weight differential. The other reason is that you are getting something more for that extra size and weight. The bigger screen is worth a little extra bulk, at least for me. I love having a little extra room, especially when typing on-screen. And if Apple made this model bigger, it means they’ve collected data that shows I’m not alone in wanting an iPhone this size.

The one criticism I have related to the size of the screen has nothing to do with current design or operation of the iPhone 12 Pro Max. It’s about what Apple hasn’t added yet. The extra size seems tailor-made for Apple Pencil compatibility and running two apps in a split screen mode. It’s not like Apple is incapable of these features, as the entire iPad line proves. Hopefully Apple Pencil support and split screen apps will eventually make their way to the Max, because the screen real estate is there to pull both off effectively.

That’s pretty much it for day one. Later today I will try to get out and take some pictures to start getting a feel for the camera.


James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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