Whether we’re talking about the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max, this year’s update focuses on the cameras.
Yes, the Pro models feature always-on displays and an oh-so-very-Apple approach to replacing the controversial screen notch. But despite the beauty of these perks, they shouldn’t be your reasons to buy these phones.
Cameras are now so prominent — on Pro models in particular — that it’s starting to feel like we should call these devices “smart cameras” instead of smartphones.
The smart phone It has been perfected somewhat over the years; There are no new frontiers to explore in this space. But in ways big and small, Apple (along with its competitors) continues to find new ways to improve the amateur digital photography experience.
As a result, the iPhone 14 models are some of the best smart cameras you can buy — even though it’s not a revolutionary upgrade over the devices that came before it.
About iPhone 14
Since the iPhone 14 is a modest annual update, we’ve rounded it up with the 14 Pro in this review. Most of the review will discuss the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, but we’ll discuss the regular 14 very briefly in its own section here, and we’ll rate the phones together in the performance and cameras section of the review.
The iPhone 14 is hardly a step above the iPhone 13 in 2021. It has the same design and, at least at launch, the same set of features. It also has the same system-on-chip (SoC), the A15, so it delivers identical performance, despite reports of slightly better temperatures for sustainable performance, and there is a tweak that will slightly improve graphics performance as well.
The main advantages of the iPhone 14 over the iPhone 13 are battery life and image quality. While the iPhone 13 advertises up to 19 hours of video playback, the iPhone 14 promises up to 20 hours. It’s not a huge jump (and we haven’t noticed) but hey, we’ll take what we can get for the fact that few things are more important than battery life.
As for image quality, we’ll look at some comparison shots in the camera section of this review, but here’s the quick recap: There’s a new TrueDepth front camera with a faster aperture and autofocus support. The main practical benefit of these improvements is that the camera should have better low-light performance.
The wide-angle camera on the back of the iPhone 14 has a larger sensor and faster aperture, and it promises 49 percent better low-light photo performance than its predecessor. Apple has expanded its camera software suite somewhat to deliver improved low-light performance across all the cameras on the phone. In other words, the regular iPhone 14 gets some of the perks seen in last year’s Pro models.
When the iFixit repair/deployment store destroyed the iPhone 14, it discovered something Apple didn’t announce: The iPhone 14 is easier to maintain and repair than other recent iPhones — including its Pro brethren — thanks to a removable glass back panel. For most users, this won’t matter much, but for some, it can improve device longevity and save money on repairs if you skip AppleCare+, Apple’s repair service subscription.
On October 7, Apple plans to launch a new iPhone 14 model called iPhone 14 Plus. It will likely be identical to the iPhone 14, only with a 6.7-inch screen (the same size as the iPhone 14 Pro Max) instead of 6.1 inches.
This year, the iPhone 14 Plus replaced the smaller 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini in the main lineup, though Apple still sells the iPhone 13 mini to users who prefer one-handed phones at the expense of screen size and battery life.
We in no way recommend upgrading from iPhone 13 to iPhone 14. We don’t even recommend going from 12 to 14, really – there have been frequent improvements, but even over a few generations nothing drastic has been added, especially on non-Pro models.
But if you’re using XS or older, there are some substantial upgrades here; For more on those, check out our iPhone 13 and 13 Pro review from last year. Everything that was said there about the 13 applies here as well.
|Specifications at a glance: iPhone 14, 14 Pro, 14 Pro Max|
|Monitor||2532 x 1170 6.1-inch OLED (14), 2556 x 1179 6.1-inch OLED (14 Pro), 2796 x 1290 6.7-inch OLED (14 Pro Max)|
|The operating system||iOS 16|
|CPU||Apple A16 Bionic|
|GPU||Apple A16 Bionic|
|storage||128, 256 or 512 GB for 14; 128, 256, 512 GB or 1 TB for 14 Pro / Max|
|Networks||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, 5G|
|camera||two 12 MP rear cameras (wide-angle, ultra-wide-angle) for 14; Three rear cameras (48 MP wide angle, 12 MP wide angle, 12 MP telephoto) for 14 Pro / Max; 12MP front camera Dolby Vision HDR 4K video capture|
|size||146.7 x 71.5 x 7.8 mm (14), 147.5 x 71.5 x 7.85 mm (Pro), 160.7 x 77.6 x 7.85 mm (Pro Max)|
|Weight||172g (14), 206g (Pro), 240g (max)|
|Initial price||$799 (14), $999 (Pro), $1,099 (Max)|
|Other perks||MagSafe, Face ID, Dynamic Island (Pro models), Always On Display (Pro models)|
The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are the first devices to use Apple’s new A16 SoC, the first iPhone chip built on the 4nm process.
The A16 has the same number of cores as its predecessor — that is, it has a six-core CPU with two performance and four efficiency cores, a six-core GPU, and a 16-core NPU called the Neural Engine — but Apple says it should deliver 1 percent faster performance. up to 10 percent. The A16 has 50 percent more memory bandwidth than the A15, which is very important for 3D gaming and quite a bit of computational imaging features.
So the A16 isn’t a huge performance leap forward, aside from the memory bandwidth portion. But this chip’s updates haven’t really focused on speed. Instead, it’s about facilitating new features. More importantly, the chip has a new ISP, which enables some new camera features and added fidelity. It also has a new rendering engine. Display engine tweaks make two brighter new features possible: the always-on display and dynamic island functions that replace the notch.
Like the iPhone 13 Pro, the iPhone 14 Pro has 6GB of RAM.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 14 sticks to last year’s A15, which is still faster than any other SoC on the market in most tasks. It gets a bump from 4 GB of RAM to 6 GB.
Screen sizes and display resolutions for all three phones are the same as last year: 6.1 inches, 2,556 x 1,179 pixels for the iPhone 14 Pro, 6.7 inches, 2,796 x 1,290 pixels for the iPhone 14 Pro Max, 6.1 inches, 2,556 x 1,170 pixels for the iPhone 14. In terms of pixel density, all three clocks have a resolution of 460 pixels per inch. And they all use OLED technology, which is expected to be available on any high-end flagship smartphone these days, and for good reason.
The iPhone 14 delivers 800 nits of typical maximum brightness and 1200 nits of peak HDR brightness — like the iPhone 13.
The iPhone 14 Pro and its older brother offer 1,000 nits of typical maximum brightness and 1,600 nits of peak HDR brightness, plus a new ability to reach 2,000 nits in sunny outdoor scenarios. That’s better than the best high-end HDR TVs, and better than any computer monitor except for those used by video professionals. In fact, the HDR peak brightness of 1,600 nits matches Apple’s $5,000 Pro Display XDR.
Our tests largely proved these claims, which is pretty impressive. These are probably the highest quality screens you’ll ever own, no matter what kind of device we’re talking about.
Last year, Apple introduced ProMotion to the iPhone, allowing dynamic refresh rates from 10Hz to 120Hz. This is still shown here, but the feature can now be lowered to 1Hz to support the always-on display. (More on that soon.)
There’s also an additional light sensor on the phone, bringing the number to two.
Finally, there is an updated sensor suite to enable the new fault detection security feature. If it detects a malfunction, it will ask you to see if you are OK and ask for help if you are not. This feature requires updated sensors, so it won’t be available on older iPhones, but it is available across the iPhone 14 line as well as new Apple Watch models launched this year.
Apple is planning another security feature: sending simple text messages and location data to emergency responders via satellite when you’re out of network and need help. However, this feature will not be rolled out until November.
One thing we wish Apple had improved is fast charging. All of these new iPhones still charge a lot slower than some of the leading Android phones, both wired and wireless, which is unfortunate. This is the kind of little things that can make a practical difference in users’ daily lives. We hope to see some improvement next year.
As always, there is only one port: Apple’s own Lightning port. Like a lot of other countries in the world, we wish Apple would move to USB-C.
In any case, Apple promises modestly improved battery life in the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. We’re still running official battery tests, but anecdotally, I’ve felt the new phones offer the same battery life, or maybe even worse.