iPhone 16 Pro Max vs iPhone 16 Pro: will there be that much of a difference?

Intro

Every September, we are treated to a new line of smartphones, and we believe this year it will be much the same. Four new iPhones — the iPhone 16 series — split into two groups of Pro and non-Pro variants.
It’s always a bit tough to choose between the similar ones — an iPhone Pro or iPhone Pro Max? For years, their main difference could be boiled down to screen size. Every once in a while, we get some camera upgrade exclusively on the Pro Max. For example, last year’s iPhone 15 Pro Max had the 5x tetraprism lens, while the regular iPhone 15 Pro stuck to the good old 3x zoom lens.
So, when the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max roll about, will we see some significant difference, or will this be the year when they even out on features again? With all we know thus far… here’s what we expect:

iPhone 16 Pro Max vs iPhone 16 Pro differences explained:

Table of Contents:

Design and Display Quality

Little brother, big brother

iPhones typically look pretty similar — a Pro Max is a slightly enlarged Pro, and we expect the same to hold true for the iPhone 16 Pro Max and iPhone 16 Pro. The return of titanium frames is also pretty much inevitable — by this point, this is the trendy premium material for flagship phones.

This year, we expect the bezels around the screens of the Pro Models to shrink to a razor-thin 1.2mm. Uniform across the entire display, of course. This will allow the screens to grow a bit, with the bodies of the phones staying the same size. Rumor mill states the iPhone 16 Pro Max will now have a 6.9-inch screen, the iPhone 16 Pro — 6.3 inches.

So, you are looking that a Pro Max that generally needs two hands to use, whereas the iPhone 16 Pro will be slightly lighter, a bit more compact-feeling.

We’ve also heard about a new Capture Button, which will be able to invoke the camera app whenever you want. Different from the Action Button from last year, this one will be a capacitive pad under the power key. Curious, yes, and we’ve no idea what the exact plan with it is. We’ve heard there may be the possibility to slide your finger across the capacitive surface to control gradual things, like zooming in. And, as far as we know, it will be exclusive to the Pro models.

For displays, we don’t expect anything crazy, like the dual-layered Tandem OLED on the new iPad Pros. It will probably be a repeat of the OLED ProMotion screens from before — with 120 Hz refresh rates and the ability to hit 2,000 nits peak brightness.

Performance and Software

Pocket power
Last year’s Apple A17 Pro chip was a miracle of pocket technology. Built on a 3 nm process, it was quite powerful — maybe too powerful for its own good. There were some throttling issues with it at launch, and after some patches, it was kind of made better, but we can still feel it being held down by the limitations of an iPhone’s size and the thermal solutions inside.

Hopes for the next iteration are high — achieving the scores of an A17 Pro, but for a longer period of sustained load will be enough to score the A18 Pro a win here. But, naturally, Apple will probably try to outdo the previous chip’s power once again.

So, expect hardware accelerated ray tracing and an upgraded NPU to tackle Apple’s ever-growing portfolio of AI (that’s Apple Intelligence!) features.

We’ve already seen a glimpse of them at this year’s WWDC — iOS 18 is coming with image generation, text editing, transcripts, and all the tricks we’ve seen from other AI platforms, all gathered in one operating system. And since it’s meant to interact with everything else that’s stored on your phone, you can just ask the iPhone to “generate a sketch of my mom”, then simply proceed with “remind me to send it to her on her birthday”, for example.

And yes, Siri is getting smarter — much, much smarter, with the power of AI. It also has a direct line to ChatGPT — if your query requires some of the 4o power, you will be asked if you want the prompt to be relayed. If you have a premium ChatGPT account, you can link it to your iCloud to keep using all your benefits.

Camera

Ultra-wide upgrade possible

In the past, when a Pro Max phone had something unique on its camera, the next year’s Pro would also receive it. Which is why we believe the iPhone 16 Pro will have a 5x tetraprism lens, like the 15 Pro Max from last year. With that upgrade out of the way, the rumor mill has been saying that it’s time for the ultra-wide camera to get its due bump.

A 48 MP sensor under the ultra-wide lens has been said to be making it to the iPhone 16 Pro models. Same resolution as on the main camera, so you will be able to take some extra-sharp landscape shots with this one. And, since Apple tunes all sensors the same, colors and dynamics should feel the same from both the main and ultra-wide cameras.

Battery Life and Charging

Biggest battery in an iPhone yet…

iPhones typically don’t have the massive batteries you can find in Android flagships. But iOS is quite efficient at preserving battery life — apps get frozen in the background, when you are in standby mode, you barely lose percentages. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is often touted to last two days with casual use.

For the 16 series, we are hearing the batteries will grow bigger. The iPhone 16 Pro Max will have about 4,700 mAh in its trunk — the biggest battery on an iPhone thus far. The smaller iPhone 16 Pro is said to have around 3,600 mAh — still bigger than last year’s iPhone 15 Pro, if not an impressive number.

We’ve heard very little about a possible upgrade to fast charging. So, for the time being, we will continue under the belief that the iPhone 16 Pro and 16 Pro Max will charge at 25 W wired, 15 W wireless MagSafe.

Specs Comparison

Which one should you buy?

Since it seems that 2024 will be “catch-up year” for the iPhone 16 Pro, it may be that your choice will boil down to one simple question — do you want a bigger phone? Of course, Apple could always throw us a curveball. For the time being, it looks like it will be a simple choice — if you want a more compact phone that still has a generous display size, the iPhone 16 Pro will be the one to aim for. If you want to enjoy a huge screen for videos, gaming, and media editing — the iPhone 16 Pro Max will be the better choice.

Stay tuned, this rollercoaster ride has only just begun!

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