iPhone 14 Pro Max review: Apple’s best gets better

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The iPhone 14 Pro Max iterates on Apple’s already spectacular flagship product with a 48MP camera, always-on display, and whimsical Dynamic Island.

Let’s be honest, Apple can only do so much to update the pocket-sized iPhone each year. As the product gets more mature, iterative updates have become the norm as just about every year feels like what used to be an “s” year.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max seems different. This isn’t just a processor bump and a better camera, it’s an evolution of the device experience we’ve not seen since the iPhone X.

Year-over-year iPhone upgrades tend to lean on a three-pronged approach — camera upgrades, new processor, and a new tentpole feature. The iPhone 14 Pro lineup goes well beyond that, with at least six significant upgrades and multiple other new features.

Dynamic Island

Camera improvements and display updates aside, the one feature that has everyone talking is Dynamic Island. While this is kind of a silly name, it captures the whimsy behind this new software UI.

The sensor housing for Face ID is no longer hidden behind a notch. Instead, it is behind a pill-shaped cutout lower on the display. The selfie camera is behind its own cutout too.

Apple decided to disguise these cutouts using a clever UI trick. A black pill-shaped bubble will constantly encapsulate the sensor housing cutout and transform to show different active content. Apple calls this Dynamic Island.

Instead of seeing a static black bubble obscuring content, Apple has made the pill shape part of the UI. The Face ID indicator will drop down to signal for authentication, album art will be shown when music is playing, or a timer will be displayed when one is running.

Developers can take full advantage of Dynamic Island once the third-party APIs ship in iOS 16.1. Until then, it is limited to Apple-made apps and third-party apps with system-wide functions like now playing.

A long press on the Dynamic Island reveals more controls

A long press on the Dynamic Island reveals more controls