iPhone 12 Pro Max Reviews Show Conflicting Camera Results

Photography News

We recently shared a review of the iPhone 12 Pro Max from Marques Brownlee who showed that in his testing, the larger sensor and stabilizer did not contribute to noticeably better images. However, the results from other reviews don’t necessarily agree.

The Verge has released its 12-minute video review of the iPhone and in it, they show some results that make the iPhone 12 Pro Max look much better than its competitors.

The updates to the iPhone 12 Pro Max will be most noticeable in low light, as the new sensor is larger and therefore able to absorb more light than the sensors on the other iPhone 12 models or many other popular smartphones like the Google Pixel 5 or the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

“In sunlight and other bright light situations, the photos from the 12 Pro and the 12 Pro Max look identical to me,” the Verge states, in agreement with MKBHD’s review. “And photos from all the major flagships are starting to look the same.”

However, that new sensor has higher ISO capability than its iPhone contemporaries: the iPhone 12 Pro has a maximum ISO of 5808, while the 12 Pro Max can reach ISO 7616.

“It’s when the light gets dimmer than the 12 Pro Max starts to stand out,” the Verge continues.

The Verge

In addition to the above image that shows significantly less noise on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, The Verge also found that in low light conditions where the iPhone 12 Pro, Note 20 Ultra, and Pixel 5 all switched to Night mode (where the camera melds multiple exposures together to create one better quality image), the iPhone 12 Pro Max did not.

The Verge
The Verge

This result is in direct conflict with Brownlee’s findings.

In a review from photographer Austin Mann, he also reports that the iPhone 12 Pro Max produces noticeably better results in low light.

“The larger sensor can collect more candlelight, the bigger pixel size keeps the grain smoother without sacrificing detail, and the sensor-shift OIS keeps the image sharp despite my handheld camera shake,” he writes.

CNET seems to lean more towards what MKBHD found in his review, stating that while on paper the specifications on the iPhone 12 Pro Max look impressive, but the real-world results were not particularly definitive.

“The Pro Max does take pretty great photos in low light,” CNET states. “But when comparing photos with the regular 12 Pro, the differences don’t jump out right away.”

Just like Brownlee reported, CNET agrees that this result is less of a strike against the Pro Max, and more of an indication of just how good the regular iPhone 12 cameras are.

In a review from MrWhosetheBoss, his results show noticeable differences between the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro even with more available light than what other outlets reported.


“The fact that it can process more light means it can gather just a bit more information,” he states. The side-by-side example below shows a clearly different result between the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro.


What’s perhaps the most interesting, or confusing, takeaway from these multiple reviews is that different testers are getting different results. It’s hard to make out why Brownlee and CNET did not report significant differences in their images (and looking at them side by side, it’s hard to disagree with their findings) while the photos shared by The Verge, Mann, and WhosetheBoss show very noticeable differences between the two cameras.

What do you think? Is there enough of a difference with the iPhone 12 Pro Max camera to warrant choosing it over the other iPhone 12 models? Let us know in the comments.

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