iPhone 12 Pro Max After 800+ Days

Jason T. Lewis
4 min readFeb 20, 2023

I’ve got a dirty secret, one that any self-respecting tech reviewer should be ashamed of, but I’m going to share it with you:

Even though I bought and reviewed the 2 latest versions of the iPhone Pro models, I’m still using the iPhone 12 Pro Max and I have been for almost 2 and half years.

I know, crazy, right? Why would I do such a thing? Mostly because it’s paid for. And honestly, when I compare it to the iPhones of the last 2 years, I really can’t tell any difference. It runs the same operating system as the new phones at a speed where I can’t tell one from the other enough to make it matter, if at all.

I can almost feel you out there squirming in your seat, fumbling for the comment section, hands shaking in indignation: What about Cinematic mode?!?!?, what about 120hz Pro Motion display!?!? What about 48mp camera lens?!?! Macro mode?!?!? What about….the Dynamic Island?!?!? The Always On Display?!?!?

The truth is, the only thing I really wish I had was the green color from the iPhone 13 Pro. That green is sexy. I would enjoy that and it would impact my day to day enjoyment of the phone a lot more than any of the features the iPhone 12 Pro Max doesn’t have.

I still don’t care about 120hz refresh rates, at least not enough to spend another $1300 on it. I’ve reviewed many phones with 120hz refresh rates and I honestly just don’t care. I never sit on the couch looking up what other movies an actor in the movie I’m watching has been in and think to myself, “Damn! Look how smooth that scroll is!” In fact, now that I think about it, doing that sounds a little weird.

I use my camera like most people do. I open the camera app, point the lens at stuff, and take pictures. The pictures I take look pretty good to me. There are pics I took with my iPhone 4S that look really good to me. A picture isn’t about the specs of the camera used to take the picture. It’s about what the camera captures. 5 years from now I won’t be sitting around looking at pictures and thinking, man, this pic of my grandson would look really awesome if I had that 48mp camera instead of the measly 12mp I had on my iPhone 12 Pro Max. I’m just going to enjoy looking at the picture.

My battery still has 93% capacity and it gets me through a day with plenty of juice to spare. I don’t think there’s ever been a day in the last 800ish days where I ran out of battery. Of course, I use my phone differently than other folks do. I don’t play mobile games. I do watch a lot of YouTube and such. Over the last 10 days, I’m averaging 4.2 hours of screen on time a day, which is more than I really want to be using my phone anyway.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max runs the same version of iOS that the iPhone 14 Pro Max runs. Yes, the dynamic island and the never off display are exclusive to that phone, but I’m getting along without them just fine. In fact, the Dynamic Island kinda bothered me when I was reviewing the 14 Pro Max. Maybe it was because there was space above it where there was screen, but it was more noticeable than the notch to me. I never see the notch. I guess my eyes have gotten used to it over the years. Or maybe it wasn’t that big a deal in the first place.

I’m not trying to call out the folks who upgrade every year. I’ve been one of them for a long time. But over the past couple years I’ve started to look at my behavior and more and more often I think “Do I really need this newest, most fancy phone for any real reason? Will having it improve my day to day experience using the phone?” For the past few years, the answer has become at first a timid “No,” but as time has gone on that no has gotten stronger.

And the more I pushed back against that idea the more I realized that the reason I always wanted the new thing was because Apple is really good at whipping us into a frenzy of FOMO. Every year they come out with the best iPhone ever! And man, I want it so bad. But the thrill of getting that new phone has lessened over the years. Recently, I’ve gotten the latest iPhone and thought…it’s an iPhone. Then I put my SIM card back in my old iPhone and the experience…was the same. I know it doesn’t feel like we’re really spending money from one year to the next with trade in deals and monthly payments that are just part of the much bigger mobile phone bill. But each iPhone I buy really does end up costing me however much it costs. In fact, the last few years I have bought all my iPhones outright and when I do the math 3 iPhones x $1299 is still $2600 more than 1 iPhone in the same timeframe.

Look, it’s up to you how much this stuff matters to you. Whatever you decide is fine. I realized that for me I was spending money that wasn’t improving my experience enough to warrant the expenditure. So I kept using my 12 Pro Max. Of course, I review these phones every year, so I buy them, but as I did the last couple years, I’m more inclined to sell them as soon as I’m done and put the money back into my business and get something else to review or improve the tools I have.



Jason T. Lewis

Jason has worked as a writer, teacher, musician and audio engineer for over 30 years. He make YouTube videos at Painfully Honest Tech. He used to drink.