Comparing Apple’s 2022 iPhone SE to my iPhone 12 Pro Max.

David vs. Goliath.

Joshua Beck


I got a new old phone.

Retro. Image by Author.

I’ve been using the iPhone 12 Pro Max as my daily driver for over a year now. I love it, but I don’t love it. Do you know what I mean?

The 12 Pro Max is, hands down, the best phone that I have ever owned; that said, I’ve been able to make that argument at any given time with any given iPhone I’ve owned. Apple makes good phones. Surprise, surprise.

I chose the 12 Pro Max mainly for its camera; unlike with the 13 Pro line, Apple put its best cameras only in its largest phablet on the 12 models, and I was taken by the larger sensors and the 2.5x zoom lens that accompanied it. And that camera system has rarely let me down, allowing me to produce some damn good shots over the last year and change. I also didn’t mind the long battery life that the largest iPhone benefited from.

But the 12 Pro Max is still a phablet, and at times I’ve found it truly too massive to use effectively as a phone; in hindsight, I should have settled for the regular 12 Pro with its almost as good cameras but easier to grip profile. Before I got the 12 Pro Max, I’d actually owned a 12 mini, though that was locked into Cricket’s wireless service, which prompted me to get a new iPhone when I switched carriers. But because the 12 Pro Max was such a massive device, I kept my 12 mini around to use at home; I couldn’t put my new SIM card into the 12 mini, but with text message forwarding I was still able to use it around the house when I didn’t feel like carrying my “iPad mini mini” in my pocket. But eventually, I got rid of my beloved 12 mini since it wasn’t actually of any use outside of my house (at least, not unless I wanted to reactivate my Cricket service for another few months in order for them to unlock it).

Put simply, I love the 12 Pro Max for what it is capable of, but I don’t love the size of the thing. I love the look of the frosted back glass and the stainless steel sides — in Apple’s beautiful Pacific Blue — but I don’t love the feel of it in my hand, especially when trying to hold it in one hand (those stainless steel sides tend to dig into my palms). I love this phone, but I don’t love it. You know what I mean?