iPhone 12 Pro Max. Is it worth it?

Sat Nov 21 2020 - by Kirill Zubovsky

When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone, it made a lot of sense. He put a camera into everyones’ pocket at the time when it was not possible. Back then when you were looking at a $500 iPhone, you were comparing it to either a $200 flip phone or a $2000 DSLR. While it was clearly more expensive than a regular phone, iPhone could make calls, took instantly sharable pictures, had games, basic apps, and of course it also stored all your music and thus replaced an iPod. iPhone was not just magic, it was also a good financial decision.

Fast forward to today, iPhone 12 Pro Max with 500GB of memory costs $18001, has a camera, and can do about the same things that an equivalently priced iPad or even a Laptop can do. Does it make sense to buy one?

After ten days of testing it, for me it was a resounding No.

The new camera is a bit faster, and it is definitely a lot brighter, but at the end of the day, that is it. It is still a tiny lens, and anything that isn’t close and steady gets pixelated, and blurry.

Apple’s promoted photography is mostly portraits, people sitting still, posing. I have two kids though, and they love to run. There is no way I can take their pictures on this phone without having them to pause, just like I do with my 3 year old iPhone X. I can always turn on the video, but the quality is no different from my 5-year old Sony RX 100 iv, in fact, I think the old Sony actually does better video.

iPhone Pro Max feels great in my hands, and I love the quality of the big screen, but that is it.

Back a few years ago when everyone went massive in phone sizes, the logic was that big phones were great for those who had it as their primary and only device. That’s reasonable logic, but in today’s world, I think it makes so much more sense to buy a tiny small phone, for rare calls and text messages, and then to splurge on a proper laptop, or a large iPad, for everything else.

For between $1100 and $1500 one can buy an iPad Pro with 12.9 inch display, and a cellular connection. That’s a whole computer that you can touch, and a screen big enough to serve as a home TV. Now that’s a good deal!

There are probably decent use cases for the new iPhone, although I can currently only think of one. If you are a narcissistic Instagram celebrity who loves to post selfies from a nightclub, this phone is for you. For everyone else, iPhone 12 Pro Max is not a smart financial decision.

Personally, I am going to save up the money and put them towards a really nice camera, with a real photo sensor, and a real lens. I am hoping for a Leica Q (Matte Black Special Edition), but that is rather expensive. Perhaps a Nikon or a Sony would do. Either way, for anything photo related, I would rather get a great camera with outrageously better photo quality. For everything phone, an old iPhone would do.


  1. At the time of publication, I thought the new iphone cost me $1300, but as I was filing my return, I realized that after Apple Care, trade in value of my original phone ($250), and taxes, the actual full price of this phone (with Apple Care) is $1,757.80. This is 2/3 of how much I paid for top of the line MBP that I use for all my work. This is insane. What is more insane is that you hide this behind $55/months for 24 months payments. It seems affortable, but in practice is just a ridiculous amount for what is otherwise just a phone.