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5 things the iPhone 15 Pro Max needs to fix before I’ll buy it

iPhone 14 Pro Max in hand.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

I’ve been using the top-of-the-line big iPhone for two years now. I shifted to the iPhone 13 Pro Max due to its amazing battery life – which inspired my favorite phone of 2022 article. I tried getting back to the non-Max iPhone 14 Pro, but I couldn’t stay long due to the weak battery life. Since then, I’ve shifted to the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

After using the Pro Max iPhones for over 18 months, here’s what I think the next big Pro iPhone — the iPhone 15 Pro Max — must improve on to deserve the best phone of the year tag again.

The design needs a lot of work

iPhone 14 Pro Max flat edge bottom.
Flat edges make the iPhone 14 Pro Max uncomfortable to hold. Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

Apple moved to a flat-edge design with the iPhone 12 series, and iPhones have been the most uncomfortable devices to hold since. The flat edges are fine for the 6.1-inch iPhones, but on a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, it makes for the opposite of an ergonomic design — especially when you take the width into account.

I like using my phones without a case, but with the iPhone 14 Pro Max, I’ve had to put on a case because of how sharp the edges are. The case doesn’t make it comfortable to hold either, but at least I don’t get a mark on my pinkie finger every time after using the phone.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max barely fits my big hands, and it pains my wrist if I’m using the phone for long durations. On the other hand, big phones like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, Vivo X90 Pro, and Honor Magic 5 Pro are all more comfortable to hold due to the curved sides, despite their huge screen size.

I hope Apple goes back to curved sides, or at least introduces a bit of curve on the back edges to make the iPhone 15 Pro Max comfortable to hold. I can barely put up with this design language, especially when every other phone has a better in-hand feel. The company needs to work on shedding some of the phone’s weight too. With foldables coming in at under 250 grams, the 240-gram iPhone 14 Pro Max seems unnecessarily heavy.

A periscope lens with 10x zoom

iPhone 14 Pro Max and Galaxy S23 Ultra camera modules.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

It’s a Pro iPhone, Apple, so give it the best camera system possible. The 3x optical zoom on the iPhone 14 Pro Max feels dated, especially when you compare it to camera systems on the best Android phones. Samsung flagships have had a 10x optical zoom for two years now! It might seem like just another number on paper, but it starts making sense when you use it.

I went to cover the Mobile World Congress in Spain with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and the 10x zoom was my most-used camera feature. It came in handy to capture sharp, wallpaper-worthy images at the beach. The 10x zoom gives you new perspectives that you didn’t even know existed in the first place.

It might feel like a niche feature, but that’s only because not many people have access to it. If and when Apple decides to offer 10x optical zoom, I believe we are going to see a flood of zoomed-in images on the internet.

More useful iOS 17 features (and fewer bugs)

Split screen multitasking in Oppo ColorOS 13.
Split-screen multitasking Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

One of my major annoyances with the iPhone 14 Pro Max has been its software, as iOS 16 is filled with random bugs that hinder my day-to-day experience with my phone. Sometimes, Search doesn’t show text, apps like Twitter refuse to load, you remove apps from a folder with one remaining app and the folder continues to exist instead of converting into a single app icon … the list goes on.

Things have improved over the last few months, but I still run into bugs every now and then. This wasn’t the case with iOS 15 on the iPhone 13 Pro Max. I hope Apple works on rolling out bug-free iOS 17 this September, because right now, things aren’t great.

My other gripe with iOS is that it isn’t well optimized for the 6.7-inch screen of the Pro Max variants. The biggest loss is that you can’t open two apps simultaneously – something that I’m used to doing on my Android flagship phones.

Sometimes when I’m researching a topic, I like to have Google Keep at the top of the screen, with Chrome at the bottom half. Other times, I’m watching a YouTube video while scrolling on Twitter. The Pro Max iPhones have big screens, but no additional functionalities; it’s just a blown-up version of iOS from 6.1-inch iPhones. I’d really like to see some exclusive features coming in with iOS 17 for the big-screen iPhones.

Better battery life

iPhone 14 Pro Max screen time.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

Even worse, iOS 16 ruined the best thing about my iPhone. The iPhone 13 Pro Max had the best battery life on a big-screen iPhone ever. It ran iOS 15, and that worked well with the hardware. But things haven’t been the same with my iPhone 14 Pro Max, and that’s likely because of iOS 16.

I’ve noticed extreme battery drainage with apps that use location services. As a result, if you’re commuting and using Uber or Google Maps, the battery drains significantly within 30 minutes of use, which wasn’t the case previously.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max is still an all-day phone for moderate users, but it will die on you before you reach home if you’re a power user. I hope things improve with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and I have high hopes since Apple has done so in the past with the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Improved camera algorithms

Apple’s iPhones are notorious for blowing out the highlights in the sky when clicking photos of humans in bright daylight. This has been a persistent issue since previous generations, and I’m surprised that it hasn’t been fixed yet.

Almost every other Android phone from Samsung, Vivo, and Oppo handles the skies better. This is across the camera system, whether you’re using the selfie shooter or the rear cameras.

Apple’s current camera algorithms are ruining the iPhone’s camera, and it needs to fix this with the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

I have high hopes for the iPhone 15 Pro Max

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

If the rumors are to be believed, Apple is working on some of these things for its next big flagship iPhone.

Past reports have claimed that the iPhone 15 series will feature slightly curved edges on the back. It will be a big win for in-hand feel if that happens. And iOS 17 is slated to get big updates. All of these rumors make me hopeful for the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The iPhone 14 Pro Max may have its problems, but if Apple really delivers with the iPhone 15 Pro Max this year, it’ll be an exciting one to watch.

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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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