With each generational iPhone release and well over one billion iPhone owners worldwide, we expect Apple to deliver more than just a camera upgrade.
The iPhone 14 Pro is one of the more innovative iterations in recent years, but is it the best option?
I didn’t want to rush this review because I wanted to get away from all of the hype surrounding this phone. There’s a huge buzz, so here’s my honest review of the new iPhone 14 Pro after spending over 200 hours with it since launch, and I’d like to share my two cents here on Dynamic Island, the display, and the performance because there are some issues here that I believe aren’t discussed enough. I’ll also contrast the 14 with the 12 and 13 Pro.
So, as is customary, let’s begin with the drawbacks you should be aware of before making a purchase.
For me, the first disadvantage is the battery life.
If you’re upgrading from an iPhone 13, or even an iPhone 12, the battery on the iPhone 14 Pro will be a step back.
On average, I get 10 hours of use, which is enough for the day. However, given that the 13 Pro managed to squeeze out an average of 12 hours of use, that’s nearly a 20% decrease. That is a significant step backwards.
It’s odd, given the 14 Pro’s battery size increase of 105 mAh to 3,200 mAh. Totally different story with the 14 Pro Max, which now has a smaller battery.
The shorter battery life is most likely due to a combination of iOS16 and Always on Display, which is quite intriguing and will be discussed further in this review.
Ten hours of use is sufficient for the majority of people who charge their phones at night. If you’re a power user or frequent traveller, don’t leave the charger or power bank at home just yet.
No USB-C & Slow Charging Speeds
Despite some rumors, USB-C is still not present on the iPhone 14, which may disappoint some.
We’re stuck with the lighting port for another year but it’s likely at this point, the iPhone 15 will launch with a USB-C port considering the EU has voted in favor of forcing consumer electronic manufacturers, like Apple, to adopt USB-C in all mobile devices.
If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about USB-C, the main reason is that it’s a new standardized cable that most people now have at home that can power devices at up to 100W with fast data transfer rates.
Speaking of charging speeds, the iPhone 14 is still limited to 20W wired charging, which is a tough pill to swallow given that many Android phones, such as the Samsung S22, support at least 45W fast charging. The OnePlus 10T even supports 150W wired charging, allowing you to charge your phone for a full day in just 10 minutes!
However, there is no doubt that Apple has reasons for keeping the charging speed low. Lower wattage charging prioritizes battery health and longevity over insanely fast charging, which is arguably more important for your average user.
Ageing Design & Colors
The following disadvantage and this is a matter of personal preference, is the iPhone’s ageing design.
It has the same squared flat-edge design as the previous two generations, and it looks almost identical to the iPhone 13 here, minus the colors.
I suppose you don’t fix what isn’t broken, right?
However, if you purchase an iPhone 14 in the United States, you will be missing the physical SIM card slot, which is currently an inconvenience, especially if you plan to travel to countries other than the United States and Canada, where the SIM card slot is heavily used.
Colors, giant camera lenses, and the replacement of the notch with a pill shape cutout are the most noticeable visual changes. And this is where things get a lot more interesting.
I’ve received the new Space Black and Deep Purple colors, both of which are stunning in their own right.
The Deep Purple color is similar to the Midnight color of the new MacBook Air in that it’s not exactly purple but a darker gray with a slight purple hue that comes alive in certain lighting and angles. In the daylight, it’s absolutely stunning.
The Space Black is more of a blend of Space Gray and Graphite than a true black, but the railings and camera cut-out are a deep, glossy black. I’m still hoping for a jet black or matte black iPhone to satisfy my minimalistic desires. That would be ideal.
By the way, since the iPhone 12, all iPhones have included Apple’s Ceramic Shield, and if my iPhone 12 is any indication, it will stay scratch-free with a little care despite a few drops.
New Pro Camera
Meanwhile, sapphire crystal protects the camera lenses, and now is a great time to take a look at the stunning triple cameras on the iPhone 14 Pros – there’s a lot to look at here.
One of the most significant changes this year is the camera. A 48 MP camera with an f/1.78 aperture, new Photonic Engine features, and a Quad-Bayer color filter are now available.
This translates to a significant improvement in the camera’s sensor, which will group every four pixels into a quad-pixel to optimize light capture in standard 12MP photos.
This is where it gets interesting when you enable ProRAW mode. You gain access to the 48MP sensor for greater detail, which is ideal for cropping or printing.
The photos shot in ProRAW blew me away with their realistic contrast, especially in the shadows, and with fewer artifacts and artificial sharpening.
In addition, the ultrawide camera has a new 12MP TrueDepth camera with autofocusing and a faster f/1.9 aperture for better low-light photos. The selfie camera, too, has a brighter f/1.9 23mm lens. It has autofocus with Optical Image Stabilization, which Apple did not mention at the event but was revealed in various teardown videos later.
There’s so much to the camera, and my inner photography hobbyist is ecstatic to shoot ProRAW on my international trips. Stay tuned for a full review of the camera itself, in which I’ll put it through its paces on a #iPhoneOnly photography and videography day.
Before we continue, I’d like to point out another design flaw with the camera that irritates me to this day: the ridiculously large camera bump.
Coming from an iPhone 12 Pro that sits flat and flush on tables, the 14 Pro sits at an angle like a ramp and jiggles around – am I the only one who finds this annoying?
Always on Display
The new Always on Display may be hit or miss for some, but I’ve looked down at it several times, wondering. It’s that obvious.
Why is the display still on? Didn’t I lock my phone?
As impressive as it is technically, I’m not sure I’m a fan, and I’ll probably turn off the Always on Display.
Not only does it drain battery life, but it’s also a major distraction to have my phone screen with notifications staring me down while I’m working or socializing. I mean, I already have an Apple Watch that serves that purpose.
You could also argue that the purpose of an Always on Display is to have the majority of the screen turned off so that it doesn’t drain the battery.
That being said, it’s a nice feature to have, but the display is arguably more impressive – it has the highest peak brightness of any smartphone, and the increased brightness improves overall color rendering as well.
We can now use our iPhones in direct sunlight with over 2,000 nits of potential brightness, even with a lot of glare and sunglasses.
Combine this with the display’s silky smooth adaptive ProMotion refresh rate of up to 120Hz, and you’ve got a winner.
The next distinguishing feature on display is, of course, Dynamic Island.
On paper, it’s a great idea, but after using it every day since launch, I’m hesitant to call it the best change ever. It has promise, but it has yet to realize it.
In Apple’s keynote, it’s a feature that appears to be quite dynamic.
However, as a regular user, I rarely, if ever, interact with Dynamic Island.
That’s because there hasn’t been much third-party support for it in the apps I use.
When I see it in action, the integrations with FaceID, incoming phone calls, and Spotify are purely cosmetic rather than genuinely useful.
It obstructs quick scrolling to the top of an app or webpage.
I’m hoping that the usefulness of Dynamic Island will change in the future, which should happen when the live activities API becomes available to developers later this year.
But, for the time being, if you’re upgrading in the hopes that Dynamic Island will change your life, it won’t. At least not yet.
In terms of performance, the iPhone 14 Pro is the only Apple product to use the new A16 Bionic chip.
Apple claims it is 40% faster than the competition, but when compared to the already powerful A15 chip, the story becomes more interesting.
The iPhone 14 Pro scored 1,873 on the Single Core Test and 4,664 on the Multi-Core Test in a GeekBench 5 test.
That’s about 10% faster single and multi-core processing than the iPhone 13 Pro, which is significant but not revolutionary.
So, in daily use, the phone is still as snappy as we’ve come to expect from an iPhone, and this is no exception. In my opinion, the A16 chip is a winner.
When it comes to sound, I haven’t heard much about the iPhone 14 Pro’s speakers, but they’re fantastic!
The phone now syncs the left-right orientation when held in landscape mode, so the audio channels will switch to match how you’re holding it, thanks to its hybrid stereo speakers. This means that no matter how you hold it, you will have an excellent sound experience.
The audio is superbly balanced, and the sound is rich, deep, and loud enough to listen to while showering.
Price & Is It Worth It?
So, is it all worthwhile, and for whom?
These premium features will cost you anywhere from $999 to $1,499 for the 1TB version.
This is the same price as the previous generation, which is a win in this inflationary world, but it is not considered cheap, especially when it is almost the same price as the MacBook Air.
But, in my opinion, it’s a reasonable price to pay for one of the best, if not the best, on the market.
Yes, the package is rough around the edges, more so than the hype reviews lead us to believe – it’s left me wanting more, especially with Dynamic Island and its aged design.
And here’s my advice: if you’re on a budget or want USB-C, prioritize battery life, and charging speeds, you might want to look elsewhere besides Apple. If battery life is important to you, the 13 Pro max is the undisputed battery king.
However, if you want the latest and greatest, love mobile photography, or are simply in need of an upgrade from the 12 Pro, the 14 Pro is the time to upgrade and the right choice for you thanks to its incredible camera, insane display, and top performance.