Battery life remains one of the most important factors when buying a new smartphone, and the iPhone is no exception. The iPhone 13 achieved something unexpected, with the Pro Max version delivering the best life of any 2021 smartphone. And there’s no 2022 handset to outperform it. With that in mind, we expect iPhone 14 models to deliver same-or-better battery life. But the iPhone 14 Pro Max won’t necessarily have to be the new battery life king now that a different Max will come into the picture.
The iPhone 14 battery leak
A report a few days ago suggested that the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro would have slightly larger batteries than their predecessor. This indicates that both devices will feature similar battery life to the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, if not better.
The same leak said the iPhone 14 Pro Max would have a slightly smaller battery than the iPhone 13 Pro Max. We’re looking at 4,323 mAh vs. 4,352 mAh, respectively. Meanwhile, the iPhone 14 Max has no predecessor, so there’s no way to compare it to a previous model.
But the new 6.7-inch device will have a 4,325 mAh battery, according to the same leak. That’s barely larger than the iPhone 14 Pro Max but smaller than the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
The iPhone XR exception
Naturally, we expect the best iPhone to offer the best possible battery life. This year, the best iPhone will be the iPhone 14 Pro Max. That’s because Apple is going for a significant differentiation between the non-Pro and Pro models. But the existence of the iPhone 14 Max might complicate things.
There is precedent for the best new iPhone not delivering the best battery life: The 2018 iPhone XS/XR series. That was the last iPhone generation where a “Pro” model was smaller than the cheapest model. The iPhone XS featured a 5.8-inch screen compared to 6.1-inch for the XR. The following year, the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 got 6.1-inch screens.
But what’s important here is that the iPhone XR offers better battery life than the XS models.
iPhone 14 Max internal design
To understand why the iPhone 14 Max might feature better battery life than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, we also have to consider the internal design. And we’re going to look at another exception.
Apple’s iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro might have the same size but feature different battery capacities. The iPhone 13 has a 3,227 mAh battery compared to 3,095 mAh for the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro. That’s because Apple used different internal layouts for the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 phones.
The iPhone 13 has a traditional battery, like the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. Those devices featured the same battery size, by the way. But the iPhone 13 Pro gets a more compact logic board that makes room for the L-shaped battery life seen in the following images.
Similarly, the iPhone 13 Pro Max features an L-shaped battery life, as seen in the following image. But because the iPhone 13 Pro Max is much larger, Apple has more internal space to fill with extra battery capacity. That’s how we end up with record-breaking battery life on the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
The iPhone 14 Pro phones will likely keep the L-shaped batteries in place. Because the iPhone 14 Max is just as large as the iPhone 14 Pro Max, the former will probably get an L-shaped battery of its own. What’s different, though, is that the regular Max has only two rear cameras. That means Apple has even more space for the battery. And that explains the battery leak.
Even if the leak isn’t accurate, the iPhone 14 Max should still have a slightly larger battery than the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
One more thing
With that in mind, the iPhone 14 Max might get a slightly better battery life than the iPhone 14 Pro Max. At least in real-life tests.
But there’s one crucial thing to take into account. It’s not just size that matters here. Power efficiency is also essential, and the iPhone 14 Pros will have two big advantages over the iPhone 14 Max. First, the iPhone 14 Pro versions will get the more efficient A16 Bionic chip.
Secondly, the Pro phones will get ProMotion displays. That’s support for dynamic refresh rates that could go even lower this year, down to 1Hz. The iPhone 13 Pros have screens that adjust the refresh between 10Hz and 120Hz.
You can see the advantage of dynamically adjusting refresh rates in the battery estimates below. The same-size iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro offer significant battery life differences. That’s even though the former has a slightly larger battery than the second. Last year’s phones all feature the same A15 Bionic chip, therefore the same processor efficiency.
With that in mind, the iPhone 14 Max (static 60Hz refresh rate) might consume more energy than the iPhone 14 Pro Max (ProMotion).
But there’s another big twist this year. The iPhone 14 Pro models will reportedly get always-on displays to take advantage of that 1Hz refresh rate. Even so, always-on screens consume power when displaying that information. That means the iPhone 14 Max might have a chance of getting better battery life than the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
All of this is speculation, however. But it’s all based on the most recent iPhone 14 rumors.