Hey friends, Andrew here – hope you’re well.
Your smartphone is most likely an important part of your life, so it’s an important purchase. This phone has been at the center of everything I’ve done in the last four months.
So here’s my long-term experience and honest opinion on the iPhone 14 Pro. In this long-term review, I’ll go over everything I love, hate, and possibly regret about this phone.
Some of what I’ve discovered may surprise you, while others are unlikely to, especially if you already own this phone.
Unfortunately, I’m still not a fan of Dynamic Island – I honestly would’ve preferred they stick with the original notch or even just a circular hole punch for the camera and sensors. We’ve known for a while that this is possible – Samsung, Huawei, Motorola, and even Xiaomi all have neat hole-punch displays.
Dynamic Island, on the other hand, has been pretty obtrusive on a daily basis; I’m still accidentally tapping dynamic island when I tap near and around that area, which takes me to certain apps or even takes calls if they pop up while I’m already tapping that area.
And, most disappointingly, the utility still isn’t there months later – sure, the user interface is a lot more stylish, and it’s fun seeing your album art and swiping in and out, but it’s just gimmicky fun.
It even gets in the way of certain apps in landscape mode and appears odd in full-screen video mode.
I said it months ago, but it still stands: I hope its use improves as adoption grows and developers make more use of it, but it’s a little underwhelming right now.
Always On Display
Another iconic 14 Pro feature that disappoints me is the Always On Display. When I first got my hands on it, I was ecstatic about the AOD feature – it was a feature that I and many other Apple users had hoped for, while Android users chuckled in the corner.
Apple finally delivered the feature with the iPhone 14 Pro, and you know what, after a few weeks of use, I had it turned off.
There were two good reasons for this. First, it was draining my battery, and turning off AOD seemed to save me about 30 minutes to an hour of additional usage from a full charge.
Second, it was extremely distracting to me. The Always On Display is extremely bright, which is probably why it ate up the battery, but its brightness had me wondering whether or not I had locked my phone. It was staring at me every second I was at my desk, and frankly, it kept me unconsciously tethered to my “digital life,” which I already have with my Apple Watch.’
Speaking of being tethered to my digital devices, I’ve realized over the last year how many USB-C cables I’ve amassed.
Almost everywhere I look, there’s a USB-C cable; I’m actually having trouble finding a micro-USB or lightning cable in this studio and at home.
As a result, the fact that the iPhone 14 retains a lightning port has become an annoyance that must be mentioned.
I would have saved a good hour over the last few months trying to find my lightning cables if it had a USB-C port, and that’s not an exaggeration. That, or I just need to better organize my lightning cables. Another advantage of USB-C is that it can handle more power and provides faster data transfer.
The good news is that a growing number of countries have committed to requiring smartphones to use USB-C by 2024. So Apple has most likely forced its hand, and we may see USB-C in the next generation iPhone 15 lineup.
But, for the time being, the iPhone 14 Pro lacks USB-C, which is a genuine inconvenience.
I recently solved that problem by using Bellroy’s Premium Tech Kit which neatly organizes all of my tech accessories and cables into a single location, preventing all of my cables from becoming tangled and wasting an hour of my time looking for the right cable.
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I carry this Tech Kit with me as part of my daily carry, throw it in my bag, and I’m ready to go knowing I have all of my gear and the necessary cables with me.
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This screen, which has Apple’s Ceramic Shield, appears to be more easily scratched than usual.
You can see a 2cm scratch here that runs off to the side of the phone, which I believe was caused by the keys in my pocket.
Obviously, you should avoid putting your phone in a pocket of keys, but what’s strange is that my previous iPhone 12 had no screen protector and was scratch-free.
A quick Google search reveals that this is a fairly common and universal problem, but it could all have been avoided with a simple screen protector. Please let me know if you’ve encountered any similar issues with this year’s screen.
There’s a lot to like about this phone, and I believe that, aside from the flaws I’ve mentioned, almost everything else about it is a win.
The 120HZ ProMotion refresh rate is noteworthy. You don’t realize how good something is until it’s gone.
When I first turned on the phone, I noticed how buttery smooth the display is. Then, when I borrowed a friend’s iPhone 11 to text someone, the difference was night and day.
It’s a variable refresh rate, so if you have an iPhone 14 Pro, you can see the difference for yourself: switch to low battery mode, and the refresh rate is drastically reduced to save battery.
The silky smooth screen experience is so natural that you forget about it until you don’t.
Another game changer is the higher 2000 nit max brightness, which allowed me to see my phone in direct sunlight no matter where I was.
And these are significant advantages because we are constantly staring at these small screens, so having access to a high-quality display improves our mobile experience.
The camera is most likely the main reason to upgrade, especially if you’re a hobbyist, content creator, or even a professional photographer.
The focal length on the main camera is noticeably different from the iPhone 12 and 13 and produces that really nice bokeh, or background blur, 0.5 ultrawide is finally nowhere near as noisy as the 11, 12, and 13 Pro, and best of all, we have access to ProRAW photos and its 48MP sensor in all its glory.
And if you’ve seen my photography tests, you’ll notice that not only do we get much higher resolution photos in ProRAW mode, but the contrast and highlights are also much more lifelike. Unsurprisingly, the standard 12MP photo has no competition.
I believe that cameras have truly advanced to the point, particularly with ProRAW, where you can leave all of your cameras at home and bring your iPhone on a trip and be confident that you will capture some insanely great photos – good enough to share and even good enough to blow up into a large print without sacrificing too much quality.
No, it will never compete with a Leica Q2 or a Fuji X100V, but it is amazing for what it is – mobile photography – and I believe it is a valid reason to upgrade.
What I also liked was the overall responsiveness and snappiness that the combination of iOS16 and the new A16 chip provided. It’s one of the fastest mobile phone processors available until Samsung’s S23 arrives later this year.
I’ve never had the phone lag, stutter, or reboot. The scrolling experience is infinitely smooth, as are the experiences within intensive apps such as Lightroom, where sliders and edits are instant.
The A16 Chip in conjunction with its ProMotion display has been a delight.
And when you combine those two features, you know what else is a treat on this phone? Gaming on the go.
The iPhone 14 Pro has crushed every game I’ve thrown at it, including Genshin Impact, which takes advantage of a higher screen refresh rate and is a visual feast.
However, the iPhone 14 Pro does have a heating issue – the processor is simply too powerful for the heat management system on the inside because Apple skipped the more efficient vapor cooling system in favor of graphite sheets – exactly like the previous iPhone 13 Pro. And you will begin to notice this.
Aside from gaming, the best pairing of all is this phone with iOS16.
The new operating system has been the icing on the cake, creating a seamless experience that doesn’t feel new but feels right.
Yes, we could argue that the iPhone 13 paired with iOS16 will provide a similar experience, but iOS16 feels more pronounced on the iPhone 14, as is typical of Apple’s latest iPhones.
iOS16 introduces significant and enjoyable new features in recent history to refresh the phone, ranging from new lock screens to photo pasting, editing, and iMessage, as well as a slew of hidden features.
Funnily enough, I shared an iOS16 top tricks series on Instagram and went from 7,000 followers to over 100,000 in 2 months, which is pretty cool. But, in any case, if you want to see those tricks if you use iOS16, follow me on Instagram at @andrewethanzeng.
Is this the best iPhone I’ve ever used? Of course, it’s the most recent iPhone. It’s great, welcomed upgrades in a familiar package that I’ve generally enjoyed.
Is it worthwhile to upgrade? …questionable.
If you have an iPhone 10 or earlier, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the upgrade is worth it if you can afford it.
As a regular consumer, I’d be content with an iPhone 11 or later in good working order.
But, hey, there are always those of us who, as tech heads, want the latest and greatest, and there’s nothing wrong with that either.