iPhone 14 and 14 Pro test: a photo is worth a thousand dollars

iPhone 14 and 14 Pro test: a photo is worth a thousand dollars

Whether we’re talking about the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, or iPhone 14 Pro Max, this year’s update is all about the cameras.

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

Cameras are now so important, especially in the Pro models, that it seems we should be calling these devices “smartcameras” rather than smartphones.

The smartphone has been more or less perfected over the years; there aren’t many new frontiers to explore in this space. But in ways both 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 if they aren’t a revolutionary upgrade from the devices that came before them.

About the iPhone 14

Because the iPhone 14 is such a modest year-over-year update, we’ve grouped it with the 14 Pro in this review. Most of the review will discuss the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, but we’ll briefly discuss the regular 14 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 barely a step up from 2021’s iPhone 13. It has the same design and, at least at launch, the same feature set. It also has the same system-on-chip (SoC), the A15, so it offers identical performance, although the thermals would be a bit better for sustained performance.

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. Not a big jump (and we haven’t noticed it) but hey, we’ll take what one can have since few things are more important than battery life.

As far as photo quality goes, we’ll look at a few comparison shots in the camera section of this review, but here’s a quick rundown: there’s a new front-facing TrueDepth 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 rear of the iPhone 14 has a larger sensor and faster aperture, and it promises 49% better low-light photo performance than its predecessor. Apple has expanded the camera software suite somewhat to deliver better low-light performance across all of the phone’s cameras. In other words, the standard iPhone 14 gets some benefits that were seen in last year’s Pro models.

When repair shop/publication iFixit took the iPhone 14 apart, it discovered something that Apple hadn’t announced: 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 could improve device longevity and save money on repairs if you skip AppleCare+, the repair service subscription. from Apple.

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, although Apple is still selling the iPhone 13 mini to users who prefer one-handed phones over screen size and battery life.

We wouldn’t recommend upgrading from the iPhone 13 to the iPhone 14 in any way. We wouldn’t even recommend upgrading from the 12 to the 14, really – there have been iterative improvements, but even over a few generations it doesn’t. hasn’t added up anything radical, especially in the non-Pro models.

But if you’re using an XS or earlier, there are substantial upgrades here; for more, check out our iPhone 13 and 13 Pro review from last year. Almost everything said there about the 13 applies here as well.

Specifications

Specs at a glance: iPhone 14, 14 Pro, 14 Pro Max
Filter 2532×1170 6.1-inch OLED (14), 2556×1179 6.1-inch OLED (14 Pro), 2796×1290 6.7-inch OLED (13 Pro Max)
SE iOS16
CPU Apple A16 Bionic
RAM 6 GB
GPUs Apple A16 Bionic
Storage 128, 256 or 512 GB for 14; 128, 256, 512 GB or 1 TB for 14 Pro/Max
Networking WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5, 5G
Ports Flash
Camera Dual 12 MP rear cameras (wide angle, ultra wide angle) for 14; three rear cameras (48 MP wide-angle, 12 MP ultra-wide angle, 12 MP telephoto) for 14 Pro/Max; 12 MP front camera; Dolby Vision HDR 4K video capture
Cut 146.7×71.5×7.8mm (14), 147.5×71.5×7.85mm (Pro), 160.7×77.6×7.85mm (Pro Max)
lester 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)

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 a 4nm process.

The A16 has the same number of cores as its predecessor, i.e. it has a 6-core CPU with two performance cores and four efficiency cores, a 6-core GPU and a NPU with 16 cores called Neural Engine, but Apple says it should deliver up to 10% faster performance. The A16 has 50% more memory bandwidth than the A15, which matters a lot for 3D gaming and a little for computer photography functions.

So the A16 isn’t a huge leap forward in performance, aside from the memory bandwidth part. But the updates to this chip weren’t really all about speed. Rather, it’s about facilitating new features. More importantly, the chip has a new ISP, which enables some of the new camera features and extra fidelity. It also has a new display engine. Display engine tweaks make possible the two flashiest new features: always-on display and the dynamic island feature that replaces the notch.

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

Meanwhile, the iPhone 14 sticks to last year’s A15, which is still faster than any other phone SoC on the market for most tasks. It goes from 4 GB of RAM to 6 GB.

The screen sizes and display resolutions of the three phones are the same as last year: 6.1 inches and 2,556 by 1,179 pixels for the iPhone 14 Pro, 6.7 inches and 2,796 by 1 290 for the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and 6.1 inches and 2,532 by 1,170. for the iPhone 14. In terms of pixel density, all three are at 460 ppi. And all three use OLED technology, which is expected for just about every 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, like the iPhone 13.

The iPhone 14 Pro and its bigger sibling offer a typical peak brightness of 1,000 nits and a peak HDR brightness of 1,600 nits, along with a new ability to hit 2,000 nits in sunny outdoor scenarios. It’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 nits matches Apple’s $5,000 Pro Display XDR.

Our tests have largely confirmed these claims, which is quite impressive. These will likely be the highest quality screens you’ve ever owned, regardless of what type of device we’re talking about.

Last year, Apple introduced ProMotion on the iPhone, enabling dynamic refresh rates from 10Hz to 120Hz. It’s still offered here, but the feature can now go down to 1Hz to support the display. permanent. (More on this soon.)

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

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

Apple is planning another safety feature: Pro models can send simple text messages and location data to emergency responders via satellite when you’re off the grid and need help. This feature won’t roll out until November, though.

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. It’s the kind of little thing that can make a practical difference in users’ daily lives. Hopefully we will see an improvement next year.

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

Either way, Apple promises slightly improved battery life for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. We still do formal battery tests, but anecdotally it seemed the newer phones offered about the same battery life, if not slightly worse.

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