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Apple finally fixed my biggest problem with the iPhone 14 Pro Max

iPhone 14 Pro Max in black and white.
Prakhar Khanna/Digital Trends

Good battery life is a well-known trait of the iPhone. As a battery-anxious person, it’s one of the reasons why I shifted to iOS. The iPhone 13 Pro Max took it to the next level with excellent battery optimization that would see the phone last me an entire day with ease – no matter how heavy the usage. The same didn’t happen when I shifted to the iPhone 14 Pro Max. And it was primarily due to iOS 16. The initial versions, up until iOS 16.4, were buggy and bad with battery optimization.

I was about to move back to Android, but iOS 16.5 has me hooked. The update is one of the best in the recent past from Apple. While I’ve been testing iOS 17 for the past week on another iPhone, I installed iOS 16.5 in late May on my primary phone – the iPhone 14 Pro Max — and I’m extremely happy with what Apple has done with this version.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max’s battery problem has finally been fixed

Screen on time on iPhone 14 Pro Max display.
The chart shows 50% battery left after using the iPhone 14 Pro Max for 5 hours and 43 minutes. Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

I wrote in February about how the iPhone 14 Pro Max didn’t meet my expectations on the battery front, especially as an iPhone 13 Pro Max user. I’m a remote worke who likes taking advantage of the fact that I can work from anywhere, so I’m on the move throughout the month.

With iOS 16, I noticed that the battery was depleting in three scenarios. First, it was draining faster than usual on apps that use location data. With 30 minutes of Google Maps use, and Uber running in the background, I remember going from 95% to 75% by the time I reached my destination. It was more noticeable whenever I had to catch a flight, with the battery going from 100% to 35% within six hours (which included commuting).

iPhone 14 Pro Max against a red background.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

To my delight, this has all changed for the better with the arrival of iOS 16.5. Since installing the update, I’ve traveled to two cities, and on both occasions my experience has been immensely better than before. Google Maps and Uber are no longer battery hoggers. I noticed a 5% battery drain in 25 minutes of Google Maps usage. It’s good news for the battery-anxious person that I am. I need my phone to stay above 25% when I’m ending my day and going back to the room near my charger, and with the latest stable update, my iPhone is giving me that battery backup.

Secondly, I noticed two other apps, namely Spotify and Twitter (which I use a lot throughout the day), were consuming more battery than usual on iOS 16.3 and iOS 16.4. While I’m no longer an active Twitter user in the current Elon Musk era, I still use the app for at least 40 minutes daily (down from 90 minutes). On the other hand, Spotify is running four to five hours in the background daily. I’m happy to report that I’m no longer facing unusual battery drain with them running in the background.

The third major battery drain was happening overnight while the phone was inactive. With iOS 16.5, I’ve noticed an improvement in standby battery drain. On iOS 15, my iPhone 13 Pro Max would drain 1% to 2% of battery life overnight, but the number rose to up to 8% on the iPhone 14 Pro Max with iOS 16.3. After installing iOS 16.5, the overnight battery depletion is at minimal levels again. While I leave my iPhone plugged into a charger overnight, I’m no longer worried if I forget to switch on the charger.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max with iOS 15 remains the gold standard for battery life on a smartphone. While the iPhone 14 Pro Max with iOS 16.5 doesn’t match its predecessor, it comes really close. I’m finally satisfied with my purchase.

Things have only improved since launch

Active Dynamic Island showcase.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The iPhone 14 Pro Max was launched with a new feature called Dynamic Island. But it wasn’t ready at launch, and Apple announced that more apps would make use of Dynamic Island by December 2022, which didn’t happen.

I reported in February how Dynamic Island hadn’t lived up to the promises made by the company at launch. But the feature has become more and more useful in the past couple of months. Uber released Live Activities support in February, followed by Zomato and Swiggy (food delivery apps in India) soon after. With more developers embracing Dynamic Island in iOS 17, I’m sure it’ll get better as time progresses.

The immensely improved battery life on iOS 16.5 — combined with upgrades and refinements in Dynamic Island — make the iPhone 14 Pro Max one of the most improved phones of 2023. It has only gotten better with time, and if the iOS 17 beta is any indication, it is destined to get even better.

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Prakhar Khanna
Prakhar writes news, reviews and features for Digital Trends. He is an independent tech journalist who has been a part of the…
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