Apple’s iPhone 14 Max can finally give us a big screen for less

Apple’s iPhone 12 shook up the company’s phone line in 2020. It went bigger than ever with the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max, but also made one of the smallest phones in modern iPhone history with the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 Mini. While those sizes remained the same for the 2021 iPhone 13 lineup, Apple may change its iPhone roster again in 2022. If so, it could be good news for anyone who prefers big screen phones.

According to reports from Nikkei Asian Review and well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will be dropping the iPhone Mini from its lineup and replacing it with what sounds like an iPhone 14 Max in 2022. Yes, you read that right, an iPhone 14 Max, not too much. confuse with the expected iPhone 14 Pro Max.

We don’t know much about Apple’s 2022 lineup, but reports suggest this new 6.7-inch phone will be a larger version of next year’s standard iPhone. A 9to5Mac report detailing Kuo’s research paper says we’ll likely see four iPhone models in total: two high-end iPhones in 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch sizes, and two low-end iPhones in 6, 1-inch and 6.7-inch sizes. A source with direct knowledge of the case who spoke to Nikkei Asian Review also described the new 6.7-inch model as a “relatively cost-effective version of the largest iPhone Pro Max.”

That’s a big deal, because Apple’s super-sized iPhones are usually reserved for those willing to pay a high price for its premium smartphones. Yes, an iPhone 14 Max will probably be more expensive than the standard iPhone 14. But since it’s expected to be positioned as a larger iPhone 14, it probably still won’t be as expensive as the successor to the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Such a product could help Apple tap into a new market of potential iPhone buyers, possibly including those who may have been drawn to Android to get bigger screens at lower prices.

Apple’s history of launching bigger iPhones

Apple knows there is a market for bigger phones. It started launching larger iPhones in 2014, starting with the iPhone 6 Plus to better compete with devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Note. Apple has continued this pattern through 2021 with the iPhone 13 Pro Max, although the general approach has changed over the years.

For example, the iPhone 6 Plus was essentially a larger version of the iPhone 6. Aside from the larger screen, many of the technical details were the same, save for some minor differences. But in other upgrade cycles, bigger screens have gone hand in hand with more dramatic camera upgrades. For example, Apple introduced portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus, a feature that was exclusive to the dual camera on the larger phone and not available on its smaller sibling.

iphone-6-iphone-6s-plus-1
Angela Lang/CNET

The latter approach is more in line with Apple’s current iPhone strategy. Again, Apple only offers a larger screen on the model that comes with additional cameras. The difference is that it now offers an intermediate option in the iPhone 13 Pro. That iPhone is cheaper than the Pro Max and includes a triple-lens camera system and other extras, including support for a refresh rate of 120 Hz. But comes in the same 6.1-inch size as the regular iPhone 13.

The iPhone 14 Max sounds like it could be the right middle ground for fans of big screen phones. Just as the iPhone 13 Pro offers a better camera than the iPhone 13 at a lower price than the iPhone 13 Pro Max, the iPhone 14 Max could offer a more spacious screen at a lower price than the next Pro Max.

This can be especially useful for people who want a bigger screen but don’t need the triple-lens camera, lidar sensor, macro photography and other luxury features that are typical of the Pro iPhone models.

Why we like bigger phones

Launching an iPhone 14 Max would make sense for a number of reasons. First, people seem to prefer larger iPhones. Data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners shows that the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max was the top-selling model in the third quarter of 2021, noting that buyers avoided “smaller, older models.” Meanwhile, demand for the iPhone 12 Mini had been weak, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

If you’re wondering why, the answer is simple and probably obvious: We use our phones for almost everything. Americans now spend more time looking at their phones than watching TV, eMarketer reported in 2019. The pandemic exacerbated our dependence on the Internet, and with it our smartphones. For example, screen time among American adolescents has more than doubled compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to a study published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal.

If you spend more time staring at your phone, it only makes sense that you’d want a bigger screen. Some people, like me, may appreciate a bigger screen over a more advanced camera, which makes an iPhone 14 Max sound all the more appealing. That’s especially true because I don’t currently own a personal laptop (I have a desktop computer for personal business and a work-issued laptop for work-related tasks).

That means I use my phone for many everyday tasks, such as reading the news, checking emails, and paying bills — all things that would be even easier on a larger device. If I want a phone with a giant screen, my only choice as an iPhone user is to spend $1,100 on the iPhone 13 Pro Max — although I’m fine with the iPhone’s standard dual camera.

iPhone 13 Pro Max
Sarah Tew/CNET

Larger phones can also be cumbersome to use, but there are two reasons why I don’t care about that in 2021. First, I no longer travel to work every day. Operations that would be difficult on a 6.7-inch phone, such as quickly checking the time, using it with one hand while gripping the metro pole, or squeezing it into a jacket pocket are no longer a problem.

I also rely on my Apple Watch for the aforementioned tasks when I leave the house or go to the office occasionally. My iPhone stays in my pocket or my purse until I’m ready to dive into some reading material or respond to work-related questions.

Android fans, on the other hand, have plenty of choice when it comes to big screen phones. And some are less expensive than the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Both the $900 Google Pixel 6 Pro and the $1,000 Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus come with 6.7-inch screens for a lower price.

Only Apple knows what 2022 will bring for the iPhone. But I hope the rumors are true and we will see more variety for big screen phone fans. That is, at least until the much-rumored foldable iPhone arrives.