Let’s get one thing straight: the regular iPhone 14 simply reveals how long ago we hit The iPhone Innovation Ceiling.
Bar a new, Pro Max-sized screen option, there is barely anything separating the iPhone 14 from its predecessor. It even has the same A15 Bionic chip. The design is identical, the display is the same, and the camera is a tiny bit different (they’ve even resorted to using the word ‘advanced’ to make it seem that way). In fact, the main difference is… car crash detection; a nice feature, but one you hope you’ll never have to use.
However, the iPhone 14 Pro is a different animal. In fact, I think it is a significant upgrade over the iPhone 13 Pro and it might be worth your money if you’re tempted to upgrade.
Let’s investigate why.
See you later, Notch
There had been the usual raft of iPhone rumours leading up to yesterday’s event, but one in particular attracted more headlines than most.
The notch was going to receive a makeover. It wasn’t going to disappear entirely, no, but that little cut-out would finally be detached from the top of the screen, placed slightly further down and remoulded into what was dubbed by everyone bar Apple as ‘the pill’.
That’s pretty much what Apple has done. But it has gone much, much further than that.
The result is the comically named, please-continue-to-take-the-piss-out-of-us Dynamic Island. No one knows why it’s called that, but it doesn’t matter, because Apple’s magical, mystery island is an absolute stroke of genius.
I’ll gather more thoughts on this next week, but if you’ve been waiting for a seriously interesting, unique upgrade to your iPhone Pro’s screen, this is it.
The notch has been replaced with a dynamic area of the screen which is being put to fascinating use. App controls, background activity, Face ID confirmations, and loads more cool stuff now take place in what was once the subject of much internet laughter. It looks brilliant.
Fair play, Apple.
The iPhone 14 Pro comes with an always-on display. But before you click away, let me explain why this matters.
Anyone who has dabbled in Android land knows that devices in that ecosystem have had always-on displays since about 1827. But Apple being Apple, they’ve decided to wait until… well, I have no idea what they’ve been waiting for, to be honest.
It’s here, though. And in typical Apple fashion, its late entrance to the party really does look rather good.
Thanks to the power of the A16 Bionic, the iPhone 14 Pro’s always-on display is capable of reducing its refresh rate right down to 1Hz in order to preserve battery life. Despite this, it still manages to retain most of what you can see when you wake the screen.
That’s right – the time, widgets, and even your wallpaper remain in view, albeit slightly dimmed.
If you’ve been an iPhone user for most of your smartphone life, you may not have thought much about the need for an always-on display. After all, if you’ve never experienced it, you can’t miss it. But, trust me, from someone who regularly switches between Android and iOS, I always miss the glanceability offered by an always-on display, making this a key upgrade benefit for the iPhone 14 Pro.
So many more pixels
I was hoping for a big camera upgrade in the iPhone 14 Pro this year, and it really is – this time around, we’re getting a 48MP main camera.
To put that into context, the iPhone 13 Pro had a 12MP camera – the same sized sensor that Apple has resolutely thrown into the iPhone for many years.
Why the jump? Partly to keep up with the Joneses, of course, but, practically, it’ll enable far more creative control when cropping and reframing your photos. It also allows up to four times more light to hit the sensor. All of this is very good news for iPhone snappers.
The main camera is now 24mm, which is a great middle-ground focal length for most subjects (to give you a point of reference, 24mm is the focal length at which I shoot all of my talking-to-camera stuff on YouTube).
In fact, all of the cameras on the iPhone 14 Pro have received tasty upgrades. The ultra-wide offers three times better light capture for better low-light performance (and improved macros) and there’s a new 2x telephoto zoom option.
You can even shoot full 48MP ProRAW images, thus providing shed loads of editing capabilities for those who prefer to adjust their images in post-processing.
The new video capabilities are similarly exciting. The iPhone 14 Pro can now shoot 4K video at 24FPS for a cinematic look (again, yours truly uses that frame rate exclusively on YouTube, so this is awesome news), and Cinematic Mode can finally be captured in 4K resolution (sound the bells!).
These camera upgrades are enough to take me back to the Pro iPhone range on their own, but if you’re an iPhone shooter and you’re already bored of your iPhone 13 Pro, this will feel like a proper upgrade.
Very few people need to upgrade their iPhones every year. We’ve reached a point where these devices are so good they’ll last for years and remain entirely relevant.
However, sometimes, we’re given just a handful of updates that make it worthwhile for a very specific group of people to hit that annual ‘upgrade’ button. Regular iPhone 14 aside, I think the iPhone 14 Pro sits within that bracket.
Whether you’re tempted by the Dynamic Island, the always-on display, or those great camera updates, I don’t think you’ll be left feeling short-changed.