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iPhone 14 and 14 Pro review: A picture is worth a thousand dollars

Whether we’re talking about the iPhone 14the iPhone 14 Proor the iPhone 14 ProMaxthis year’s update focuses on cameras.

Yes, the Pro models have always-on displays and a very Apple approach to replacing the controversial display notch. But as nifty as those perks are, they shouldn’t be the reasons you buy these phones.

The cameras are now so prominent, especially on the Pro models, that it’s starting to feel like we should be calling these devices “smart cameras” instead of smartphones.

the smartphone it has been more or less perfected over the years; There aren’t many new frontiers to explore in that space. But in ways both big and small, Apple (along with its competitors) continues to find new ways to enhance the amateur digital photography experience.

As a result, the iPhone 14 models are some of the best smart cameras you can buy, though they’re not a revolutionary upgrade over previous devices.

About the iPhone 14

Because the iPhone 14 is such a modest year-over-year upgrade, we’ve grouped it with the 14 Pro in this review. Most of the review will look at the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, but we’ll briefly discuss the regular 14 in its own section here, and we’ll evaluate the phones together in the performance and cameras section of the review.

The iPhone 14 is just a step forward from 2021 iPhone 13. It has the same design and, at least at launch, the same feature set. It also has the same system-on-a-chip (SoC), the A15, so it offers identical performance, although thermals are reported to be slightly better for sustained performance, and there is a tweak that should slightly improve performance as well. the graphics.

The biggest advantages of the iPhone 14 over the iPhone 13 are battery life and photo quality. While the iPhone 13 advertises up to 19 hours of video playback, the iPhone 14 promises up to 20. It’s not a huge jump (and we didn’t notice it) but hey, we’ll take what we can as few things are more important than the duration of Battery.

As for photo quality, we’ll look at some comparison shots in the camera section of this review, but here’s the quick rundown: There’s a new TrueDepth front-facing camera with a faster aperture and support for autofocus. The main practical benefit of those 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 promises 49 percent better low-light photography performance than its predecessor. Apple has slightly expanded the camera software package to provide improved low-light performance for all of the phone’s cameras. In other words, the regular iPhone 14 gets some advantages that were seen in last year’s Pro models.

When repair shop/post iFixit took down the iPhone 14, it discovered something Apple hadn’t advertised: The iPhone 14 is easier to service and repair than other recent iPhones, including its Pro siblings, thanks to a removable rear glass panel. For most users, that won’t matter much, but for some, it could improve the longevity of the device and save money on repairs by skipping 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, just 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 replaces the much smaller 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini in the flagship lineup, though Apple still sells the iPhone 13 mini for users who prefer one-handed phones at the cost of screen size and battery life. of the battery.

In no way would we recommend upgrading from iPhone 13 to iPhone 14. We wouldn’t even recommend going from 12 to 14, actually, there have been iterative improvements, but even over a couple of generations it hasn’t added anything radical, especially on non-Pro models.

But if you have an XS or earlier, there are some substantial updates here; for more on that, check out our iPhone 13 and 13 Pro review from last year. Pretty much everything said there about the 13 also applies here.

specs

Specs at a glance: iPhone 14, 14 Pro, 14 Pro Max
screen 6.1-inch 2532 x 1170 OLED (14), 6.1-inch 2556 x 1179 OLED (14 Pro), 6.7-inch 2796 x 1290 OLED (14 Pro Max)
operating system iOS 16
CPU Apple A16 Bionic
RAM. 6GB
GPU Apple A16 Bionic
Storage 128, 256 or 512 GB for 14; 128, 256, 512GB or 1TB for 14 Pro/Max
networks Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, 5G
ports Flash of lightning
Cam Two 12 MP rear cameras (wide angle, ultra wide angle) for 14; three rear cameras (48 MP wide, 12 MP ultra wide, 12 MP tele) for 14 Pro/Max; 12 MP front camera; Dolby Vision HDR 4K video capture
Size 146.7 × 71.5 × 7.8mm (14), 147.5 × 71.5 × 7.85mm (Pro), 160.7 × 77.6 × 7.85mm (Pro Max)
weight 172g (14), 206g (Pro), 240g (Max)
starting price $799 (14), $999 (Pro), $1,099 (Max)
Other advantages MagSafe, Face ID, Dynamic Island (Pro models), Always-on display (Pro models)

iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are the first devices to use Apple’s new A16 SoC, the first iPhone chip created using a 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, a six-core GPU and a 16-core NPU called the Neural Engine, but Apple says it should offer up to 10 percent faster performance. The A16 has 50 percent more memory bandwidth than the A15, which is very important for 3D gaming and a bit for computational photography features.

So the A16 isn’t much of a performance boost, apart from the memory bandwidth part. But the updates to this chip weren’t really focused on speed. Rather, it is about facilitating new features. More importantly, the chip has a new ISP, which enables some of the new camera features and additional fidelity. It also has a new display engine. Display engine tweaks make possible the two most eye-catching new features: the always-on display and the Dynamic Island functionality that replaces the notch.

Like the iPhone 13 Pro, the iPhone 14 Pro has 6GB of RAM.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 14 keeps up with last year’s A15, which is still faster than any other phone SoC on the market at most tasks. You get a bump from 4GB of RAM to 6GB.

The screen sizes and display resolutions of all three phones are the same as last year: 6.1 inches and 2556 × 1179 pixels for the iPhone 14 Pro, 6.7 inches and 2796 × 1290 for the iPhone 14 Pro Max. , and 6.1 inches and 2532 × 1170. for the iPhone 14. In terms of pixel density, all three clock in at 460 ppi. And all three use OLED technology, which is expected for just about any high-end flagship smartphone these days, and for good reason.

The iPhone 14 offers 800 nits of typical peak brightness and 1,200 nits of peak HDR brightness, the same as the iPhone 13.

The iPhone 14 Pro and its big brother offer 1,000 nits of typical peak brightness and 1,600 nits of peak HDR brightness, as well as a new ability to hit 2,000 nits in sunny outdoor settings. That’s better than even the best high-end HDR TVs and better than any computer monitor except the hardware used by video professionals. In fact, the maximum HDR brightness of 1,600 nit matches Apple’s $5,000 Pro Display XDR.

Our tests largely confirmed these claims, which is pretty impressive. These will probably be the highest quality displays you’ll ever own, regardless of what type of device we’re talking about.

Last year, Apple introduced ProMotion on the iPhone, allowing for dynamic refresh rates from 10Hz to 120Hz. That’s still offered here, but the feature can now drop down to 1Hz to support always-on display. (More on that soon).

There’s also an additional light sensor on the phone, bringing the count to two.

Finally, there’s an updated sensor suite to enable a new crash detection safety feature. If it detects a blockage, it will immediately see if it’s okay and ask for help if it’s not. This feature requires updated sensors, so it won’t be available on older iPhones, but it’s available on the entire iPhone 14 lineup, as well as new Apple Watch models launching this year.

Apple plans one more safety feature: send simple text messages and location data to emergency services via satellite when you’re off the grid and need help. However, that feature won’t roll out until November.

One thing we wish Apple had improved on is fast charging. All of these new iPhones still charge much slower than some Android flagships, both wired and wireless, which is a shame. That’s the kind of little thing that can make a practical difference in users’ daily lives. We hope to see some improvements next year.

As always, there’s only one port: Apple’s proprietary Lightning port. Like much of the rest of the world, we wish Apple would switch to USB-C.

In any case, Apple is promising modestly improved battery life on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. We’re still running formal battery tests, but anecdotally it seems like the new phones offer about the same, or maybe even a little worse. battery duration.

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