I received my iPhone 13 Pro Max on Friday. Here’s my snap judgements so far. (Please note that my complaints are solidly rooted in first-world problem territory.)

  • ProRAW makes RAW capture so, so, so much more doable on the iPhone. On the iPhone 11 Pro Max, RAW photos would often overexpose horribly when pulled into apps like Darkroom. This is no longer the case and I am very happy.
  • Getting the 256 GB model may have been a mistake given how much I like ProRAW.
  • Low light performance is as advertised. It’s bonkers how good it is; after reducing the light pollution in post, the starfield in this photo is amazing. This was a 10-second Night Mode capture right out of the stock app which I tweaked in Darkroom.
  • Condensing the TrueDepth system and getting a little more screen space back is a win, but the notch has never really bothered me overall. It’ll be interesting to see how app developers take advantage of the extra space. (I see Apple has declined to do so in this initial release aside from making the time and indicators larger.)
  • So far, so very good with battery life. Here’s hoping there isn’t such a sudden decline in health as I saw on my 11 Pro Max.
  • The iPhone 4 vibes are very real with this phone, right down to the placement of the antenna gaps in the outer stainless steel band. Kind of uncanny. (But it certainly performs well no matter how you hold it.)
  • ProMotion has spoiled me on the iPad Pro, and it is so great to finally have it on the iPhone.
  • One thing I will miss from my iPhone 11 is the lack of a bottom lip on the Apple Leather case. This not only made swiping up more smooth, it also gave me a good indicator as to which way was “up” when pulling the phone from the pocket. This is not the case with the 13 (and probably wasn’t with the 12, either, but I skipped that), and already I’ve run into a few cases where I pull the phone out, try to unlock it, only to find it’s upside down.
  • iOS 15 is still buggy. I sure hope that Apple fixes the bug that breaks Apple Watch unlock while wearing a mask very soon. It’s quite inconvenient.
  • The overlapping notifications bug was annoying in the betas. In the final release, and especially on new hardware, it’s unacceptable. I hope this is getting fixed in a point release, because it is so aggravating (to the point where I might have to miss notifications because I can’t get them to display).

All in all, the hardware is great. The software will get better over time (theoretically, anyway). Certainly a must-have upgrade on the X or older, IMO, especially since the Max and standard-size Pro have feature parity this go-around (unlike the 12 Pro and Pro Max).