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The Lenovo Flex 6 14 boasts peppy productivity performance, a discrete GPU and solid battery life for a relatively budget price, but it also comes saddled with a dim screen and iffy graphics.
One of the cheapest thin-and-light convertibles we’ve tested to pack in a quad-core 8th-generation Intel CPU, the Lenovo Flex 6 14 boasts peppy productivity performance and solid battery life for a relatively budget price. Unfortunately, the Flex comes saddled with a dim screen and iffy graphics, disappointing given the system’s discrete Nvidia graphics core. If you don’t care about gaming or photo editing and you’re on a budget, the Flex might be worth considering, but if you’re shopping for true graphics power in an ultraportable, look elsewhere (perhaps at the Asus ZenBook 13 ).Price and configuration
The Flex’s $800 price tag is pretty good on paper—and indeed, it’s among the cheapest 2-in-1 systems we’ve tested with an 8th-generation Intel CPU.
Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
The Lenovo Flex 6 14’s slim shell looks plain but professional.
For example, the Asus ZenBook Flip 14, a similar 14-inch convertible with the same Core i5-8250U processor and only integrated Intel graphics has a list of $900, while you could drop more than $1,800 on Lenovo’s premium, Core i5-8250U-powered ThinkPad X1 Yoga.
Then again, if you want to save cash by choosing the Lenovo Flex 6 14, you’ll have to put up with some compromises. Read on.Design
Measuring 12.9 x 9 x 0.7 inches and weighing in at about 3.75 pounds (or four pounds if you include the compact, 7-ounce AC adapter), the onyx-black Flex 6 14 is slim and light enough to fall into the ultraportable category, although it’s a tad heavier and thicker than some of its pricier competitors.
The Flex’s durable plastic shell looks plain but professional, with a just a small Lenovo logo on the edge of the gently tapered lid. A brushed aluminum palm rest sits inside. The matte surface of the Flex’s lid resists fingerprints but (not unusually) tends to attract oily hand smudges.
Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
You can tent the Lenovo Flex 6 14 in a V-shape, sit it keyboard-down with its screen tilted back, or swivel its display all the way around for tablet use.Display
The Lenovo Flex 6 14’s Full-HD display looks reasonably sharp and vivid on its own, but it pales—quite literally—in comparison when you stack it up against other, brighter laptops screens. We measured the maximum brightness in the center of the screen at 224 nits (or candelas), which falls somewhat short of our 250-nit low-water mark for comfortable indoor viewing. While you can view the display relatively easily in an office setting, don’t be surprised if you find yourself squinting at the screen when outdoors or near a bright window.
The Flex’s touch display responded smoothly to my taps and swipes, and it also boasts pen support. You can snag Lenovo’s Active Pen, complete with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and a plastic USB pen holder, for $40.Keyboard, trackpad, speakers and extras
Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
The Lenovo 6 14’s backlit keyboard feels roomy, with keys that boast a tactile bump halfway through each keystroke.
Just beneath the bottom-right corner of the keyboard sits the Flex’s fingerprint reader, which lets you unlock your Windows profile and open Windows Hello-compliant apps with a single touch. I used the fingerprint reader throughout my testing and rarely had any problems.
The Lenovo Flex 6 14’s bottom-firing Harman Kardon speakers are a tiny cut above your average laptop speakers, but they’re still pretty (and unsurprisingly) iffy. While I enjoyed the wide separation between the left and right stereo channels, details were a bit muddy, bass was virtually non-existent, and the sound wasn’t that loud even after cranking the volume all the way up. That’s all pretty typical as far as laptop speakers go, but don’t get your hopes up because of the Harman Kardon brand name.Ports
The Lenovo Flex 6 14’s collection of ports is solid, but nothing special. On the left side, you get barrel-shaped charging port, a full HDMI video port, the first of two USB 3.0 Type A ports, a single USB 3.0 Type C port, and a combo audio jack.
Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
The Lenovo Flex 6 14’s left-side ports include a full HDMI port, a USB 3.0 Type A port, a USB 3.0 Type C port, and a combo audio jack.
On the right sits a Kensington lock slot, a second USB 3.0 Type A port, an SD card reader, and the power button.
Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
Right-side ports on the Lenovo Flex 6 14 include USB 3.0 Type A and an SD card reader, but no Thunderbolt 3.
Overall, that’s a perfectly respectable collection of ports, although we’re bummed by the lack of Thunderbolt 3 ports, likely a concession to the Flex’s budget price tag.General performance PCMark 8 Professional Work
PC Mark Work 8 Conventional should be a breeze for a quad-core Core i5-8250U such as the Lenovo Flex 6 14 sports, and it is, making it well-qualified for mainstream productivity applications.
Unsurprisingly, the Flex 6 14 passed our PCMark 8 test with room to spare, easily besting the 2,000 mark that we deem the minimum for smooth Office performance, as well as notching a result that’s in line with competing 2-in-1 ultraportables.HandBrake
While PCMark 8 is a benchmark at which even cheaper dual-core laptops can excel, our next test is another story. By using the free HandBrake utility to convert a 30GB MKV video file into an MP4 file, we can get a pretty good idea of how a given laptop beats the head under a prolonged and crushing CPU load.
The Lenovo Flex 6 14 probably took a little longer to finish the HandBrake encode because of thermal throttling as the CPU heated up.Cinebench
While Handbrake puts a heavy strain on a CPU for about an hour or more, our processor-intensive Cinebench test (which involves rendering a 3D image in real time) lasts mere minutes, giving us a better understanding of how a laptop handles short bursts of stress.
The Cinebench CPU test showed that the Lenovo Flex 6 14 can hold its own in single-threaded applications. In multi-threaded applications (the longer bar), it once again restrained itself for the sake of thermals, but not by much.3DMark Sky Diver
An $800 ultraportable with a discrete graphics core: That’s the promise of the Lenovo Flex 6 14, and on paper, the prospect sounds enticing. In practice, however, we were fairly underwhelmed by the Flex’s graphics performance.
With its discrete GeForce MX130 GPU, we expected more from the Lenovo Flex 6 14 in gaming benchmarks. The convertible appears to be holding back to control thermals.
We ran the Sky Diver benchmark multiple times just to be sure. Even the Flex 6 14’s very best scores (about 4,020, only twice out of 10 tries) still came in somewhat below what we saw in competing convertibles with integrated graphics, and way behind a recent laptop (the Asus ZenBook 13) with MX150 graphics.
The Flex 6 14’s disappointing Sky Diver performance could simply be a thermals issue, and indeed, we noticed the system briefly slamming the brakes (via power-limit throttling) on the CPU about a minute or so into the test as internal temperatures began to mount.
While discrete mobile graphics cards like the MX130 are intended more for boosting photo and video editing rather than playing games, we went ahead and fired up a few gaming favorites. The Tomb Raider reboot from 2013, for example, only gave us a woeful 4.4 frames per second with the graphics settings maxed out, or just 22.8 fps on the lowest graphics settings. Meanwhile, we had to dial down Fortnite all the way to the lowest settings (including painfully blocky visuals) just to maintain a steady 30 fps.Battery life
The Lenovo Flex 6 14’s 7.5 hours of battery life brings up the rear compared to similar competition, though to be fair, some do have larger batteries.
The Lenovo Flex 6 14’s average battery drain result of 441 minutes (roughly 7.5 hours) isn’t bad considering its 45 watt-hour battery, and it’s comparable to another 8th-generation convertible with a similar-sized battery, the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin. Other systems in our comparison chart boast more battery capacity.Conclusion
Sure, it’s amazing that you can now snag an ultraportable 2-in-1 with a quad-core Intel CPU and discrete GPU for just $800, but the Lenovo Flex 6 14’s dim screen and disappointing graphics performance count as major drawbacks.
You're reading Lenovo Flex 6 14 Review: A Budget 8Th
The Lenovo Flex 20 makes a lot of compromises to achieve its light weight and low price. Most people would be better off saving a little more cash to buy a machine they won’t outgrow so quickly.
PC manufacturers seem convinced that everyone wants a Windows tablet, be it 8 inches or big enough to double as a TV tray. The larger models are effectively all-in-one PCs that can lie flat to allow several people to interact with the touchscreen at once.
The spring-loaded hinge on the Lenovo Flex 20’s back panel allows you to position it at nearly any angle, including completely flat.
The Flex 20’s specs read more like those of a bargain-basement cheapie than of a machine you’d expect to play games on. Powering the Flex 20 are a dual-core fourth-generation Intel Core i3-4010U processor, integrated Intel HD 4400 Graphics, just 4GB of DDR3/1600 memory, and a 500GB mechanical hard drive that spins its platters at 5400 rpm. The saddest spec of all is the screen resolution of 1600 by 900 pixels—a 19.5-inch IPS display needs 1080p.
Perhaps Lenovo’s engineers don’t want you to reduce the Flex 20’s portability by hanging too many devices from it. But to provide just two USB ports? Really?
The performance is what you’d expect of a machine with such specs. The Flex 20 managed to post a WorldBench 8.1 score of just 78. That’s 22 percent slower than the benchmark results of our reference all-in-one desktop, an Acer Aspire U A5600U-UB13 powered by a third-gen Intel Core i5-3230M. The 27-inch Horizon, meanwhile, delivered a WorldBench 8.1 score of 111. And Dell’s XPS 18 Touch—another all-in-one tablet/hybrid—scored an impressive 171 (with the assistance of its 32GB SSD cache drive).
The Lenovo Flex 20’s battery life is very good, but the machine turned in an otherwise disappointing benchmark performance.
What does that mean for family game night? A lot of waiting. Lenovo created a custom interface called Aura, designing it in a ring so that users can control the tablet from any side of the screen. Launching a game in Aura left me on a blank screen long enough for me to start wondering whether the game was actually launching or if the whole thing had crashed (which it did, on occasion).
Battery life is adequate for a quick evening of gaming. The Flex 20 lasted 3 hours, 25 minutes playing high-def video in our run-down tests, which means the kids could grab it for movie night—and considering that it’s just 7.7 pounds, they could probably get it to their room without your help. Gaming will eat that up a little faster: In our tests, 2 hours of play left the battery with a 25 percent reserve.
The machine has no memory card reader, no HDMI input or video-out, and no optical drive.
Lenovo offers some interesting wireless accessories to enhance the Flex 20’s gaming capabilities: joysticks (which attach to the touchscreen with suction cups), air-hockey strikers (small paddles that glide over the touchscreen), and the E-Dice (a die that tells the computer which side is up after a roll). Unlike with the Horizon, you must purchase the Flex 20 accessories separately: A package with one pair of joysticks and one pair of strikers costs $50, and the E-Dice costs $60. A wireless mouse and keyboard are included with the PC.
Resolution of 1600 by 900 on a 19.5-inch IPS display is another letdown.
After the Flex 20 failed to win me over during family game night, I set it up in my office to serve as an all-in-one desktop. It wasn’t so great in that role either. Of all the computers I’ve tested, none has had a problem connecting to my Wi-Fi router two floors below. The Flex 20 couldn’t hold a connection.It’s priced about right
The idea of a touchscreen all-in-one that you can lay flat on a table is relatively new, so manufacturers are still looking for the right balance of performance, price, portability, and features. Lenovo went all out with the Horizon and then scaled back with the Flex 20. I think the company scaled back too far. Even with the lower-resolution screen, the Core i3 processor isn’t enough to support fluid tabletop gaming, which is where such machines should excel.
If we were basing this on looks alone, the Yoga 13 wouldn’t do very well. That’s not because the Yoga 13 is a bad looking computer, it’s just that the silver ultrabook look is getting a little old these days. With the Yoga 13, you’ve got a silver chassis on the top on bottom, which is accompanied by black trim along the sides. It looks good, but it’s been done plenty of times before. I would have liked to have seen Lenovo take a chance with some color, but then again I can see why it didn’t – after all, silver is a pretty good neutral color, and the last thing a manufacturer wants is for consumers to be hung up on colors, of all things. If you’re shooting for as many people as possible, neutral colors are better.
On the left side of the device is where you’ll find a full-size HDMI port, a USB 3.0 port, a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, and the volume buttons for when you’re using the machine in tablet mode. On the front, we’ve got the One Key Recovery button, which is standard on most Lenovo laptops these days, as well as the power button and a battery indicator. Finishing off with the right side, we have the power jack – which for some reason is yellow – a USB 2.0 port, a 2-in-1 card slot (SD and MMC) and the screen lock button. The screen lock button prevents the screen from changing orientation, which I think is definitely a handy thing to have around. One thing that’s worth noting is that there isn’t an Ethernet port present on the Yoga 13. That means it’ll be Wi-Fi or bust if you decide to pick one up, so keep that in mind.
Opening the computer up, we’ve got a really nice looking 13.3-inch display, which features a Windows 8 button that you can pretty to quickly get back to the Start screen, and the keyboard. Here’s where the Yoga 13 deviates from the boring old silver notebook scheme, as the keyboard and trackpad are entirely black. It actually looks sharp and goes well with the screen, but there’s one small problem: by making the entire keyboard black, it can be kind of hard to see in low light settings. That’s especially true since there isn’t any backlighting to speak of on the Yoga 13. You’ll want to use this is a well-lit area if you know you’ll need to be looking at the keyboard, though this won’t be much of an issue for folks who know a keyboard as well as I know the lyrics to Will Smith’s Wild Wild West (trust me, I know them).
Next up is stand mode, which has the user folding the screen back and flipping the machine over so that it rests on its keyboard. This mode seems best-suited for getting the keyboard out of the way to watch movies. I’m tempted to argue that it isn’t the best choice for playing games and instances when you’ll be using the touch screen a lot, as it doesn’t take much pressure to get the screen to fold back even further.
Then we have tent mode, which is my personal favorite. In tent mode, you’ll fold the screen over even further and then flip the computer on its ends so that it forms something resembling a tent when it’s resting on a surface. This would be another good choice for watching movies, but it’s also a better choice for gaming than stand mode is due to the fact that the screen will be much more stable in tent mode. Lenovo has also specifically suggested that it would be good for using in the kitchen – perhaps reading a recipe on your Yoga 13 as you cook, and while I think that’s an excellent idea, I have to be honest and say that I didn’t test this sort of application (I’m not much of a chef, to tell the truth).
There’s also another cause for concern when using the Yoga 13 in tablet mode: the exhaust vents run along the back edge of the system. When you’ve got the Yoga 13 folded up in tablet mode, the bottom edge of the screen is pressed up against the exhaust vents. It isn’t normally a problem as there’s still plenty of room for air to come in and escape, but if you’re doing something that’s making the computer’s fans work hard, you’ll definitely feel some heat at the bottom of the screen. That’s a bit worrying, though again, I didn’t run into any problems in testing – the computer ran cool enough, and it never got to the point where the warm air caused any issues with the screen.
Note: Since our review was written, the specific model we tested is no longer available. However, a virtually identical 6QD model is available for the same price and has the GTX 950M instead of the 940M.
MSI GL62-6QC 065UK review: Price
The main appeal of the MSI GL62 is that it starts at £599, and this is the specific model we’re looking at here. You can buy the MSI GL62 6QD from Ebuyer for £599.99.
This version has a GeForce GTX 950 GPU, a quad-core Core i5 CPU and hard drive storage rather than an SSD.
The GL62’s rivals include the HP Pavilion Gaming 15 which costs from £719 and is similarly a subtle gaming laptop. However, you should also read our roundup of the best gaming laptops to buy right now.
MSI GL62-6QC 065UK review:
It’s not hard to spot a gaming laptop, but the MSI GL62 has little bits of gaming flair here and there rather than opting for an outrageous colour scheme or flared vents and mad logos. The keyboard font, the badge insignia on the lid, the odd bits of red trim and some of the GL62’s angles are all obvious ‘tells’ to an experienced eye.
This laptop has a metal-covered lid but the rest of the laptop is plastic, as used in the vast majority of gaming machines. It doesn’t try to push its luck with thickness or weight either.
At 2.3kg and 29mm thick, the MSI GL62 isn’t light or small enough to be considered a portable laptop. You’ll want to keep it at home most of the time.
MSI GL62-6QC 065UK review: Ports and features
While it has a sensible, slightly conservative design for a gaming laptop, the MSI GL62 does have up-to-date connections. It features two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port on the right side and an additional USB-C. It’s reassuring to see MSI has added has effectively added an extra USB with the USB-C socket, rather than using it as an excuse to pare down the total number of plugs.
It’ll be a while before everything uses USB-C, after all.
The MSI GL62 also has the main connections required of a desktop-replacer. It has HDMI and Mini DisplayPort video outputs and a full-size Ethernet socket. Many of you may be happy with using Wi-Fi, though, particularly as Wi-Fi ac is supported.
Around on the other (right) side of the MSI GL62 are a DVD Multiwriter optical drive and a full-size SD card slot. Just as the MSI GL62 strikes a good balance between a gamer-tinged look and an ordinary one, the laptop has an ultra-accessible set of connections that’ll suit the sort of buyer to whom a lower-cost gaming rig might appeal.
Just using mobile grade connections like a 12in MacBook just wouldn’t work here.
MSI GL62-6QC 065UK review: Screen
There’s a similar melding of worlds in the MSI GL62 in the screen too. The laptop has a 15.6in 1080p resolution display, but unlike most modern £500-plus laptops does not use an IPS screen.
It’s not a plain old TN screen either: MSI using something a little different. The GL62 has TN-based screen, but its tweaked architecture makes it look much better than other TN displays. MSI calls it a “world first”.
Its colour is fantastically vivid for a laptop of this price. It can display deeper, richer tones than many a £1000 laptop.
Setting our colorimeter loose on the MSI GL62, it hits 99.7 percent of sRGB, the usual standard for laptops, as well as 77.8 of Adobe RGB by volume and 85.7 percent of the cinema-grade DCI P3 standard. We’ll admit to being genuinely surprised to see such an affordable laptop provide such rich colour. An IPS laptop at this price might hit 70 per cent of sRGB and be considered more than fine.
It’s the colour that helps give the MSI GL62 screen a bold look, because its contrast alone can’t. Thanks to raised blacks that become really quite obvious even in good lighting when you crank up the backlight, the screen only has contrast of 300:1.
Viewing angles are not close to those of an IPS screen either, despite MSI’s claims. When viewed from a severe vertical angle, there’s severe contrast shift, a typical feature of a TN screen. The effect is nowhere near as bad as a regular TN screen, though. There’s clever ‘wide angle’ tech going on here that’s particularly effective at improving horizontal angled viewing.
If you’re prone to noticing poor black level and are going to be playing in dimmed lighting, maybe this isn’t the best laptop for you. However, its colours look a lot more vivid than most laptops at the price.
The screen has a matt finish, a type that tends not to make colours pop as much as glossy ones. As we’ve said, this is a decent screen for colours. although its 253cd/m2 brightness is nothing special. This isn’t a laptop you’re likely to want to use outdoors much, though. If you’re after a portable workhorse, take a look at the Asus UX range.
MSI GL62-6QC 065UK review:
At this price, you’re probably expecting some compromises. And you have to compromise more than with a desktop PC at £599.
The GL62 6QC spec we’re reviewing uses a GeForce GTX 940M CPU, one of the lower-end Nvidia cards. Despite being a solid dedicated GPU, you will need to use fairly low settings in order to get smooth-feeling frame rates in today’s more demanding games at native Full HD resolution.
Thief is a classic example of a game that the GL62 struggles with. At 720p with Low settings it averages 35.6fps, but that rate drops to an unusable 14.9fps when resolution is increased to 1080p and graphics settings increased to ‘High’: unplayable.
The much less demanding Alien Isolation test brings better results, but is still too slow in the GL62 with visuals at 1080p/High. It averages 20fps, increasing to 49fps at 720p, Low settings. A GTX 960M or even a GTX 950M (which you get in the HP Pavilion Gaming 15) would let you get closer to the mid-level settings that represent the sort of experience offered by today’s game consoles, the PS4 and Xbox One.
CPU power is without contest the strongest part of the MSI GL62’s performance. The Intel Core i5-6500HQ is a ‘full power’ laptop CPU rather than one of the efficiency-leaning ones used in more portable laptops, and its Geekbench result of 9247 (3034 single) is excellent for the price. It scores a similarly good 2681 points in the PCMark 8 Home test.
This CPU could be paired with a much, much more expensive GPU and still not be the bottleneck for performance.
The shame is that you probably won’t get to appreciate all that power on a daily basis. The reality is that, fitted with a plain 1TB hard drive rather than an SSD, it’s relatively slow to boot-up and come out of sleep mode. It also increases application load times.
Storage speed is such an important part of creating a perception of good performance that the GL62 6QC actually feels a bit slower than a lot of much less powerful laptops. It has the power for photo and video editing of large files, but again you’d ideally want a machine with an SSD if that’s what you’re going to be doing.
The fact that the 6QC’s drive spins at a slow 5400rpm (rather than 7200rpm) makes matters even worse. It’s the second reason, behind the graphics chip, to avoid this particular configuration of the GL62.
Under heavy yse, the laptop’s fans are significantly more obvious than those of the comparable HP Pavilion Gaming 15. Higher-pitched and noisier, they can be a little distracting in quieter rooms.
There is an interesting little keyboard shortcut that lets you ‘switch gears’, to use MSI’s terminology. The eco mode helps keep the GL62 quiet when just performing basic tasks.
MSI GL62-6QC 065UK review:
Keyboard and trackpad
The rest of the MSI GL62 keyboard is interesting too. It’s a SteelSeries-branded keyboard, and has a different feel to the average chiclet keyboard.
It takes a little while to get used to, when the crispness of most chiclet designs is designed to make up for lesser key travel. However, the keys still feel good, and the layout is conventional. There’s no backlight, something you’ll have to pay a little more to get.
A lack of pad ambition pays off better with the keys. The MSI G62’s mouse buttons are separate and sit below the pad, a smart move for a gaming laptop.
Finally, let’s mention speaker quality. It’s not a highlight. Despite being a gaming machine the MSI GL62’s speakers are unusually weak. The sound is thin and relatively quiet, outdone even by some recent phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S7.
MSI GL62-6QC 065UK review:
A laptop like this that uses dedicated GPU and an HQ-series CPU is never going to offer particularly good battery life. The MSI GL62 lasts 3 hours 55 minutes when playing back a 720p MP4 video file at 120cd/m2 brightness.
While it’s unrealistic to expect eight hours’ use out of a laptop with an HQ-series CPU, some others in this category will last perhaps 30 minutes more.
Dynamic Island is a game-changer
Long battery life
Expensive, especially in the UK
The iPhone 14 Pro Max is undoubtedly the best showcase of Apple’s technology with features like Dynamic Island and Apple’s take on always-on display tech, but it’s also expensive (especially in the UK) and now has big-screen competition from the cheaper iPhone 14 Plus.Best Prices Today: Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Though the iPhone 14 Pro Max might not look that different to its predecessor, there’s a lot to get excited about this year. With headline features including an upgraded 48Mp rear camera, an always-on display, Apple’s top-end A16 Bionic or the genius Dynamic Island that turns an annoyance into a part of the iOS experience, it’s a very tempting upgrade on paper.
However, with competition in the form of the big-screen iPhone 14 Plus, and a £150 increase in the UK, is it still the iPhone to go for? Well…Design & build
Same design as its predecessor
Premium materials add heft
No SIM tray in the US
The iPhone 14 Pro Max has what some might describe as an iterative design, and by that I mean practically nothing has changed compared to the iPhone 13 Pro Max. That’ll either be great news if you’re like me and love the iPhone’s angular edges and slightly industrial design, or terrible news if you think it’s big, bulky and unwieldy.
To be fair, at 160.7 x 77.6 x 7.9mm and 240g, it’s certainly not the easiest iPhone to use one-handed, and I’ve got fairly large hands. It’s not so much of a big deal when I’m using it at home to scroll through TikTok mindlessly, but it does have a noticeable presence in my pocket once I venture out and about.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
The phone has a stainless steel frame and a glass rear, offering an upgrade in materials compared to the aluminium-framed iPhone 14, however, it does add weight as a result. The polished look of the stainless steel band does add to the premium look and feel, but it’s certainly a fingerprint magnet compared to its aluminium counterpart.
While that has traditionally been something you’ve had to put up with if you want the big-screen experience, the addition of the 6.7in, 203g iPhone 14 Plus means you can opt for a more lightweight big-screen iPhone if you’re not too fussed about the Pro features on offer.
The camera bump on the rear is slightly larger this year – though for good reason, which I’ll come to a bit later – which can make the iPhone wobble if put down on a flat surface, though that is negated with a case that, let’s be honest, we’ll all be using with such a high-end smartphone.
When it comes to colour options, you’ve got the fairly standard Space Black, Silver and Gold alongside a new Deep Purple finish, offering a stunning shade of purple that replaces the light blue variant from last year’s Pro collection. The white variant I was provided for review looks nice, but the purple finish is the one to go for in my opinion.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Elsewhere, everything is where you’d expect, with volume rockers and a silent mode switch on the left, a Lightning port on the bottom (possibly for the last time before USB-C becomes standard) and a power button on the right, though you might notice the lack of a SIM card tray if you’re in the US. That’s because Apple has gone all-in on eSIM support in the US, negating the need for a physical SIM card.
The good news for those hesitant to move to an eSIM setup is that it’s US-exclusive and you can freely switch your SIM at a moment’s notice in all other regions worldwide.Display & audio
Dynamic Island is a game-changer
Always-on display is a welcome addition
Impressive audio experience
The iPhone 14 Pro Max sports the same 6.7in Super Retina XDR screen as its predecessor, complete with support for Dolby Vision HDR content and a stunningly detailed visual experience. It’s the big-screen iPhone (though there’s also the non-Pro iPhone 14 Plus to consider) and its big dimensions are well suited to watching TikToks and Netflix movies.
The most immediately obvious change compared to its predecessor is the redesigned notch, which is now dubbed ‘Dynamic Island’ by Apple. Exclusive to the Pro models, the oblong-shaped cutout actually adds to the iOS experience rather than detracts from it as with most competing cut-out cameras.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
It does that by dynamically changing shape depending on what you’re doing, seemingly expanding and shrinking at will. It’ll expand and display a Face ID icon when scanning your face, it’ll display a lock symbol when your iPhone is locked and display your AirPods battery life when you first connect.
It’s used for much more than displaying icons though; apps like Music can use Dynamic Island to display now-playing info, and with a tap, you can gain access to shortcuts to control music.
It’s not exclusive to Apple apps either, with third-party apps able to make use of the tech. That includes Live Activities which look to replace the barrage of notifications you get from apps like Just Eat and Uber Eats when ordering food with a simple widget that lives in the cutout – though, sadly, most currently don’t use it.
The display can now also dynamically shift between as little as 1Hz and 120Hz, allowing you to enjoy the buttery-smooth refresh rate when gaming and scrolling while saving battery life in areas with little motion, like the Lock and Home screens.
It also allows Apple to provide an always-on display experience for the first time, and in true Apple fashion, outdoes most of the Android competition that has had the tech for years.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Unlike Android smartphones that display a black screen with basic time and notification information, Apple gives you the entire lock screen experience complete with your widgets, notifications and even your wallpaper. It looks more like a dimmed lock screen than an always-on display, and while it took a bit of getting used to, it’s one of the best features of the new iPhone – especially when it comes to keeping track of incoming messages when playing the PS5!
Also expect one of the best audio experiences on a smartphone, with Apple’s stereo speaker setup offering surprising depth when listening to music and a wide soundscape when watching YouTube videos or TV shows on Netflix. It’s better with connected earbuds (Apple hopes you’ll opt for the new AirPods Pro) but you’ll do just fine without them most of the time.Specs & performance
A16 Bionic comfortably outperforms the competition
Satellite Connectivity for emergency services
Car Crash detection
As you might expect from Apple’s top-end smartphone, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is a top-end performer that, with Apple’s new A16 Bionic at its heart, can battle off the Android competition with nary a worry – in terms of raw CPU performance, anyway.
It’s a 4nm chipset, down from the 5nm of the A15 Bionic, with a 20% boost to power efficiency and a more modest 10% improvement in performance. Though Apple doesn’t officially note the accompanying RAM, Geekbench 5 reveals that it houses 6GB. It might not sound like much compared to some Android competitors, but simply put, the iPhone doesn’t need as much RAM to keep performance up.
It’s the first time that Apple has kept its latest processor exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro range, with the standard models getting the A15 Bionic from last year’s Pro models for a more unexceptional speed bump. It’s an easy move for Apple to tempt people to pay more for the Pro models, but as seen in our benchmark tests, it’s not that much faster than last year’s chipset.
For reference, I tested the iPhone Pro Max with 1TB of storage but it’s also available in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB if you don’t need as much.
If those numbers don’t mean much then let me assure you: the iPhone 14 Pro Max is about as fast and responsive as they come. There was never as much as a hint of stutter or lag, with impressive performance even in graphically demanding titles like Genshin’s Impact, photos and videos are captured instantly and it can even handle video editing – as long as you’re happy to edit on a smartphone-size display, that is.
Expect equally as fast performance when it comes to connectivity, with 5G support alongside Wi-Fi 6 with 3×3 MIMO support, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC and Apple’s U1 Ultra-wideband chip to help you locate AirTags and other Apple products.
Other notable features include satellite connectivity for emergencies, allowing you to directly connect to satellites from your iPhone in areas without cellular coverage. Using a built-in system on the iPhone, you’ll answer questions about your emergency which are then relayed to emergency responders along with information like your location and current battery life.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Also new is Car Crash Detection, which as the name suggests, uses a variety of built-in sensors on your iPhone to detect when you might’ve been in a crash. If it detects large changes in gravity or exceptionally loud noises, it’ll automatically call emergency services for you.
It’s another handy ‘peace of mind’ feature that I hope I’ll never need to test out, but it’s worth noting that there are reports that it’s being accidentally activated on rides at theme parks. Thorpe Park’s Stealth might be scary, but I don’t think I’ll need an ambulance.Cameras & photography
48Mp rear camera is the star of the show
All-round improvements to low-light photography
Improved Dolby Vision HDR video capabilities
Everything I said about the cameras and photographic capabilities of the iPhone 14 Pro also applies to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, as the two share the same upgraded camera system.
The star of the show is undoubtedly the main rear 48Mp snapper, boasting an impressive aperture of f/1.8 and OIS. It uses pixel binning tech to crunch images down to a more manageable size – around the same resolution as a standard 12Mp sensor – while using that extra detail to generate more detail and light. It’s a trick used on high-megapixel cameras on the Android side for years, but it’s new here.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
It provides a noticeable boost in quality compared to the already-capable iPhone 13 Pro Max, with great colour accuracy, impressive detail and balanced dynamic range.
It also excels at low-light photography with a 64% larger sensor and 2.44-micron pixels, able to subtly capture details in low-light conditions rather than simply artificially brightening the scene like most Android competitors. It’s truer to life, and you can adjust the amount of light before the snap is taken to further customise the look.
Though still the same megapixel count at 12Mp, the 120-degree ultrawide lens has also had a boost in low-light photography, making use of a larger sensor and improved f/2.2 aperture. Considering low light was a weak spot for the 13 Pro Max’s ultrawide lens, it’s great to see, though don’t expect quite the same quality as the main lens.
The 12Mp 3x telephoto lens still might not be able to compete with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 10x optical zoom but the tight angle provided is ideal for portrait photography, and like the other cameras, there’s a slight boost to low-light photography for more dramatic and moody portrait shots.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
The main highlight of the 12Mp front-facing TrueDepth camera has to be the addition of autofocus, providing better selfies regardless of whether you’re shooting in Portrait mode or not, and it’s a particular boon in group shots where multiple faces need to be in focus. Apple’s clearly confident of its capabilities, also allowing you to shoot in Apple’s ProRAW format for pro-level post-processing.
Video performance has also been improved, though don’t expect to see 8K video here just yet. Instead, the iPhone 14 Pro Max can record at 4K@60fps in Dolby Vision HDR, up from the 30fps of its predecessor. There’s also a new Action Mode that further helps stabilise video footage, and as ever, you’ve got Apple’s Cinema Mode that lets you shift focus in videos for a more Hollywood-esque shooting experience.Battery life & charging
No longer the best iPhone for battery life
Still a comfortable all-day device
Unofficial charging at up to 29W
One of the biggest draws for the top-end iPhone 14 Pro Max has traditionally been battery life, with Apple’s Pro model usually offering the best battery life of any iPhone, but that’s not the case this year.
That plaudit now goes to the iPhone 14 Plus, which even Apple admits will last longer than the iPhone 14 Pro Max in all instances except video playback where Apple’s dynamic display tech allows the Pro model to drop down to a lower refresh rate. As noted by my colleague Henry in his review, the iPhone 14 Plus “lasts for absolutely ages”.
That’s not to say that the iPhone 14 Pro Max features a sub-par battery – it alleviated the battery anxiety I had when testing the regular iPhone 14 Pro, comfortably able to handle my above-average-use of texting, calling, gaming and streaming TikTok without a top-up – but if you want the very longest battery life possible, that’s the iPhone 14 Pro Max isn’t the one to go for.
Using a 35W charger I had to hand, the iPhone 14 Pro Max got 22% charge in 15 minutes, 52% in half an hour and a full charge in around 90 minutes. It’s certainly not fast charging by Android standards, but I’ll take anything that’ll make the iPhone charging experience faster.
As ever, you’ve also got the option of 7.5W Qi wireless charging and 15W wireless charging by Apple’s MagSafe system.
iOS 16 provides a polished experience
Works well as part of a larger Apple ecosystem
Years of software updates
The iPhone 14 Pro Max comes running iOS 16 – but the same can be said of the iPhone 8. Software support and longevity are key factors in Apple’s popularity, with the company continuing to update older models of iPhones for years, getting the latest features and improvements. Though the Android competition is starting to improve with multi-year OS upgrades, it still doesn’t come close to what Apple offers.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
iOS 16 itself introduces a bunch of new features including the ability to customise your lock screen for the first time – a convenient feature considering the always-on display tech of the new Pro models – alongside the ability to edit and unsend messages, cut out subjects from photos with a single tap and more.
It’s the culmination of a lot of small features that make iOS what it is, whether it’s small benefits like being able to reply to texts on a connected iPad or Mac, or the fact you can copy links and codes from one device and paste on another immediately.
It’s better as part of a larger ecosystem of Apple products, of course, but Apple’s software experience really is top-tier whether you’ve got one device or many.Price & availability
The iPhone 14 Pro Max is very much a top-end smartphone with a price tag of $1,099/£1,199 with 128GB of storage.
That’s a particular hit to the UK market, which has seen an increase of £150 compared to its predecessor. It’s arguable that the 48Mp snapper, Dynamic Island, always-on display and other improvements help offset the increased price, but it’s worth noting that there hasn’t been an increase in the US.
That makes the already expensive iPhone even harder to justify for UK buyers.
If you are tempted to pick up the iPhone 14 Pro Max, it’s available from Apple worldwide alongside local retailers like Best Buy in the US and Amazon in the UK. Take a look at the best smartphones to see how the top-end iPhone compares to the Android competition.
Dominik Tomaszewski / FoundryVerdict
The iPhone 14 Pro Max is a showcase of Apple’s latest and greatest tech, offering a premium visual experience with its 6.7in Super Retina XDR display, Dynamic Island tech and improved ProMotion tech that allows for an always-on display experience on the iPhone for the first time, along with an enhanced 48Mp rear snapper and features like Car Crash Detection.
The big screen is perfectly suited to scrolling through TikTok, watching TV series on Netflix, and playing games on Apple Arcade, and with the A16 Bionic, there’s not even a hint of stutter or lag. Simply put, it’s the best of the best.
However, it’s not a clear-cut decision this year; as well as a price hike for UK consumers, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is no longer the only big-screen iPhone. You now have a choice between it and the iPhone 14 Plus, which is both cheaper and offers better battery life, though without the Pro features.
If you’re not too fussed about the latest tech, the iPhone 14 Plus could be a cheaper big-screen option that suits your needs.Specs
160.7 x 77.6 x 7.9mm
6.7in Super Retina XDR display
IP68 dust and water resistance
Main 48Mp camera, f/1.78, sensor-shift OIS
120-degree 12Mp ultrawide, f/2.2
12Mp 2x telephoto, f/2.8
4K@60fps with Dolby Vision HDR support
12Mp f/1.9 front-facing camera with autofocus
Wi-Fi 6 with 2xMIMO
Car Crash detection
The Ulefone Paris is a great budget buy at £88, but bear in mind that you may also need to factor in import duty. Even so, it’s a great rival to the £125 Vodafone Smart Ultra 6, which sits at the top of our budget smartphone chart, with faster core hardware and 4G dual-SIM functionality, but a lower-resolution screen. The camera isn’t as impressive as the rest of this budget phone’s spec, but it’s still acceptable for such a cheap device.
It costs less than £100 and comes with dual-SIM 4G LTE connectivity, an octa-core processor and a 5in HD screen – but is this budget Android phone a good buy? We review the Ulefone Paris budget Android phone. Also see:
The Ulefone Paris offers excellent value at under £100. Our review sample came from grey market tech. (You can also buy it from Amazon UK for £119.95.)
Even with the potential additional charges, the Paris is a decent budget smartphone offering. In common with many Chinese phones it supports two Micro-SIMs, which operate in dual-standby mode. Both support 4G LTE (although only one can be used for data at a time), and the Ulefone Paris covers all three UK 4G LTE bands (3, 7 and 20).
It also supports microSD cards up to 128GB capacity and, unlike many of its rivals, doesn’t force you to choose between the second SIM and removable memory. If you want a microSD card you’ll need to factor in the extra cost, but you may find the Ulefone’s 16GB of built-in storage (of which 9GB is available) is plenty for your needs. Also see: How to add storage to Android.
At 8mm thick and 128g the Paris is well proportioned for a budget Android phone. Available in Metal Grey (as reviewed here) or Silk White it has a lightweight metal frame with a removable plastic rear and a fully laminated 5in HD IPS display. Ulefone has squeezed inside a 2,250mAh battery and, pleasingly for those who want to extend battery life, it’s removable. Also see: Best MiFi 2023.
That said, the core hardware is modest, and shouldn’t place too much of a drain on battery life. Ulefone specifies the 1.3GHz octa-core MediaTek MTK6753 chip along with ARM Mali T720 graphics and 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM. Performance will prove capable for most users in day to day use, and in our benchmarks the Ulefone Paris easily met its competition. See all smartphone reviews.
For photography the Ulefone Paris uses a pair of Omnivision cameras, with 13Mp at the rear and 5Mp at the front. We’ve seen better results from 13Mp cameras but again, given the price, we can hardly grumble.
With Android Lollipop 5.1 out of the box, Ulefone also preinstalls the U Launcher. This removes the familiar app tray and places everything on the home screen in an iPhone-esque layout. Icons are also very Apple-like, displayed as squares with rounded edges. There are four slightly different themed skins, which you choose between by tapping the Change Skin button on the home screen, plus a selection of extra themes and wallpapers you can download, which includes such items as ‘Alliance’ (aka Captain America) and ‘Hammer Brother’ (Thor, clearly). Ignoring the naming scheme, it’s quite cool.
Two things you won’t get on an iPhone, though, are the gallery timeline on the final home screen, and a handful of gestures that support such things as three-finger screenshots and the ability to take a photo by waving your hand in front of the camera. Also see: Best Android phones 2023.Ulefone Paris review: UK price & availability
The Ulefone Paris was sent to us by buying grey-market tech.
If you’d rather buy direct from a known UK retailer, the Ulefone Paris is also available from Amazon UK for £119.95. Also see: Best budget phones 2023.
Ulefone Paris review: Design & build
For a budget phone the Ulefone Paris has a very slight and unoffensive build. It weighs a tiny 128g, and is just 8mm thick, making it easy to operate in a single hand. Although it looks plastic, the frame is a very lightwight metal which adds durability, while the 5in fully laminated HD IPS screen is protected with tough Gorilla Glass 3.
With 1280×720 pixels stretched across a 5in panel, the Ulefone Paris has a pixel density of 294ppi, which is a little below that of the 326ppi iPhone 6s. This means, for a sub-£100 phone, the screen is pretty clear.
With IPS screen tech the viewing angles are good and the colours realistic, although we did find the screen a bit dull even at maximum brightness – you may find visibility in very bright sunlight is compromised. It’s also very prone to fingerprints.
There are just two physical buttons on this phone, a volume rocker and a power switch on the righthand side. The three home, back and options buttons that sit below the screen are capacitive, and with no legends save for a white circle around the home button you’ll need to remember which way around they operate. Also see: Best Chinese phones 2023.
As with many Chinese phones the Micro-USB charging slot is found on the device’s top edge, a setup we’re gradually getting used to. Also here is a 3.5mm headphone jack, while at the bottom you’ll find the speaker grille and mic.
The Ulefone’s plastic rear is removable. It’s flimsy but holds tight to the phone and doesn’t flex or creak in normal use. Tucked underneath are dual-SIM and MicroSD card slots, plus a removable 2,250mAh battery. A camera with LED flash sits in the top right corner, lying almost flush to the phone. Very slight surves at the edges, and also on the screen’s 2.5D glass, make the Paris more comfortable to hold in the hand.
Ulefone Paris review: Hardware & performance
The Ulefone Paris ships with a 1.3GHz MediaTek MTK6753 octa-core processor, 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM and ARM Mali-T720 graphics. Performance for a budget phone is very good, and in real-life use it shows very little lag – launching the Camera app is probably the slowest thing, which takes just a couple of seconds. Plus, having all your apps on the home screen can speed up finding what you’re looking for, provided you don’t have too much installed.
Benchmarks should always be taken with a pinch of salt, but our test results are as follows: in Geekbench 3.0 we recorded 2614 points in the multi-core test, making it faster than the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 which currently sits at the top of our budget phones chart, and not far behind the iPhone 6 and HTC One M8.
In graphics and SunSpider it lags those phones, but is still more than a match for Vodafone’s best budget phone, with 15fps in GFXBench T-Rex (6.2fps in Manhattan) and 1489ms in SunSpider. We also ran AnTuTu, in which the Ulefone Paris recorded 29,796 points. You can compare the Ulefone Paris’ performance to all the phones we’ve recently tested in our article What’s the fastest smartphone 2023.
There’s 16GB of storage inside, although only 9GB is available to the user. Fortunately there’s a microSD card slot, which supports up to 128GB when many budget phones can accommodate only 32GB.
The battery is removable, with 2,250mAh capacity. Ulefone says it provides a full working day, and 268 hours on standby. Your mileage will vary depending on your usage, but there’s nothing here that will place an excessive drain on the battery.
Ulefone Paris review: Connectivity & extras
One of the great things about the Ulefone Paris is that it’s a dual-SIM phone, accepting two Micro-SIM cards. Dual-SIM functionality is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, allowing you to separate work and pleasure, or even just so you can insert a cheaper local SIM during trips abroad. Both the SIM slots on the Paris support 4G (and all three UK 4G LTE bands are covered), but only one can be configured to use data at a time – this phone operates in dual-standby mode. Also see: How to check whether a phone is supported by your network and best dual-SIM phones.
There are few other extras, as you might expect from a budget phone. The Ulefone Paris supports 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and GLONASS and USB OTG. Although there’s no NFC, there is support for HotKnot, which is a MediaTek equivalent popular in China.
Ulefone Paris review: Cameras
The Ulefone’s primary camera is a 13Mp Omnivision model that unlike many of the 13Mp cameras fitted to Chinese phones appears to achieve this without software. It has a large f/1.8 aperture and a dual-LED flash, and supports full-HD video recording. Smart gestures are also supported, letting you take a photo by swiping your finger over the front camera or taking a photo only when your subject is smiling.
It talks the talk, certainly, but in our tests we weren’t overly impressed with the camera on the Ulefone Paris. Our test shot with HDR is below, and as well as appearing a little washed out there is notable banding across the top half of the image. Still, for a budget phone it’s not so bad. Also see: Best phone camera 2023.
For selfies you also get a 5Mp Omnivision camera at the front of the Ulefone Paris.
Ulefone Paris review: Software
The Ulefone Paris is sold with Android 5.1 Lollipop, but with custom U Launcher software that makes some notable changes to the UI. As we mentioned in the introduction to this review, the result is an Android phone with some very iPhone-like software, whereby the app tray is removed and all your app shortcuts are placed on the home screen. It’s a messy approach that I’m not especially keen on, but it’s easy enough to organise apps into folders and some users will find it faster to seek out the apps they need.
The icons are also very iPhone-like, shown as squares with rounded corners. Four themes are available for altering the look of these icons, and you switch between them by tapping the Change Skin button on the home screen. You can also tap the Theme button to download extra themes and wallpapers, then set them as the default with a single tap.
One addition we do like is the gallery timeline shown on the final home screen, pictured below. It’s an attractive way or displaying your photos, and it makes quickly finding them by date much easier.
Other deviations from stock Android include some smart gestures – although none are customisable as you often find with Chinese Android phones. In the Settings menu you’ll find an option to turn on three-finger screenshots (you merely swipe up or down with three fingers to take a screen grab), plus a handful of options that are mainly to do with making, receiving and muting phone calls and taking photos.
Read next: Best new phones coming in 2023/2023.
Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter.Specs Ulefone Paris: Specs
Android 5.1 Lollipop
1.3GHz MediaTek MTK6753 octa-core processor
ARM Mali-T720 GPU
2GB LPDDR3 RAM
5in HD (1280×720) IPS screen, Gorilla Glass 3
microSD support up to 128GB
5Mp front camera
13.2Mp Omnivision OM13850 rear camera with LED flash, supports full-HD video recording
2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
4G bands 3, 7 & 20
dual-SIM dual-standby (2x Micro-SIMs), both support 4G
3.5mm headphone jack
comes in Metal Grey or Silk White
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