Last modified: January 9th, 2023 at 10:01 am
The iPhone 14 is very similar to its predecessor. Which isn’t a bad thing. The iPhone 13 was, and still is, a great phone. Which means the iPhone 14 is a great phone too. It’s a great-er iPhone. But it’s also more expensive than the iPhone 13, and the question users should ask themselves is whether the 14’s improvements are worth the extra $200 Apple is charging compared to what they could get for the $1,399 iPhone 13.
To help you make that decision, here’s a super quick run-down of what’s new in the iPhone 14.
The cameras have improved to take better pictures in low-light situations, the battery is a bit better, and the already-super-fast performance has slightly improved too.
That’s about it.
It’s a little bit boring. Which is an odd thing to say about a product launch that used to be the highlight of the technology calendar.
The only “new” thing here is the iPhone 14 now comes in a larger size thanks to the iPhone 14 Plus.
The 14 and the 14 Plus are nearly exactly the same phones but with different displays (6.1-inch & 6.7-inch) and battery capacities (3,279 mAh & 4,325 mAh).
Last year’s iPhone 13 mini wasn’t a resounding success, nor was the iPhone 12 a year before that. Apple seems to have given up the idea of pushing smaller-screened phones and followed what the rest of the market has been doing for years: selling a big-screened device at an affordable pricepoint.
Similar in size to the Pro Max, the Plus has a large screen and a massive battery for $500 less than the flagship device.
Boasting the same hardware as the iPhone 14 and missing some “Pro” features like ProMotion, a telescopic camera and an always-on display, the iPhone 14 Plus is for those who want a big iPhone but don’t want to spend $2,199 on an iPhone Pro Max. It’s a good option and I think it will be a popular device for Apple.
- Great performance
- Improved low-light photography capabilities
- Battery lasts at least a day
- Same sleek looking design
- 60Hz display
- 20W charging
Although considered the “lower” tier of the iPhone 14 range, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are still expensive devices.
The iPhone 14 starts at $1,599 for a 128GB model, $1,799 for a 256GB model and $2,199 for a 512GB model.
The iPhone 14 Plus starts at $1,799 for a 128GB model, $1,999 for a 256GB model and $2,399 for a 512GB model.
The iPhone 14 has a familiar design in that it’s almost exactly the same as the iPhone 13. I didn’t have a problem with this, the iPhone 14 is a great-looking phone, but you’ll have to tell people it’s the latest device as they won’t be able to tell the difference.
I can understand this being a sore point for some but it’s a formula we’ve seen Apple use before. As we saw with the iPhone 12, Apple usually introduces drastic design changes after three or four iterations of a product, so perhaps next year’s iPhone will provide more changes.
The iPhone 14 boasts a glass back compatible with MagSafe charging, the display is made from Ceramic Shield material, the dual-camera lenses are oriented diagonally, the phones flat edges are made with an aluminium frame, the dual-volume buttons are on the left with the on button on the right and the lightning port is here as well. It’s a classy, sleek, albeit familiar look. The only differences are minimal, it’s a tiny bit thicker than the iPhone 13, and that’s about it.
The iPhone 14 has the same IP68 resistance rating meaning it will survive immersion in water deeper than one metre and is dust resistant.
The iPhone 14 Plus is the more interesting of the two devices. The design is the same as the iPhone 14 however, it’s bigger. The iPhone 14 boasts a 6.1-inch display, while the Plus boasts a massive 6.7-inch display.
It’s 160.8mm tall and 78.1mm wide, compared with the 146.7mm by 71.5mm iPhone 14. It’s larger than the iPhone 14 Pro and is more akin to the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Also, it’s heavier at 203g than the iPhone 14’s 172g. For someone who wants a larger device without the $2,000 price tag, it’s a great option.
The iPhone 14 boasts a Super Retina XDR display similar to the iPhone 13. It’s a 2532 x 1170, 460 pixels-per-inch (ppi) resolution screen. The iPhone 14 Plus has a 2778 x 1284, 458ppi resolution display.
As usual, the screens look great. The display is crystal clear, and the colours are vibrant, with a maximum brightness of up to 1200 nits.
Frustratingly, the screen is still locked at 60Hz, though. Granted, if you’re upgrading from a previous device with a 60Hz refresh rate, you won’t be able to tell the difference. But the difference is jarring if you’ve used a device with even a slightly higher refresh rate. There’s no adaptive refresh rate and no 120Hz ProMotion capabilities here, and it feels like a missed opportunity.
I struggle to accept that a higher refresh rate is a feature reserved for the more expensive Apple devices. Where the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max offer refresh rates that can range from 10Hz to 120Hz, 60Hz for the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus feels dated, especially as there are cheaper, middle-range devices like Samsung’s S21 FE and Oppo’s Reno8 that boast at least 90Hz.
Yes, the lower refresh rate can potentially lead to longer-lasting battery life, however, these phones still cost $1,599 and $1,799, respectively, and I expected a bit more from the display here.
Low-light performance is the buzzword in the industry at the moment. Phone manufacturers are constantly boasting about their devices’ capacity to take good photos in low-light situations. The same can be said for the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus. And it’s here that you’ll notice most of the improvements.
The camera array is a dual-camera setup with a 12MP F/1.5 main and a 12MP 120° FOV F/2.4 ultrawide. On the surface the array seems almost identical to the iPhone 13, but there have been some improvements introduced.
Apple’s “Photonic Engine” is a computational photography technology that uses machine learning to improve photos. It’s used for all images but comes into its own in low-light situations. The Photonic Engine analyses photos on a pixel-by-pixel basis and optimises details, textures and noise throughout the image. The results are impressive.
The iPhone 14 can film video in 4K, and cinematic mode has been increased to support 4K video at 30fps.
A new feature called Active Mode has also been introduced. This basically acts as a stabiliser and helps to reduce shaking in action-oriented videos like extreme sports. It constantly and quickly crops the video to keep the subject in the middle of the frame. It works well and is GoPro-esque.
Here you can see comparisons between the iPhone 14 camera array and the iPhone 13 camera setup:
We can see at 1x zoom, both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 take a nice clear picture that accurately represents the colours. Look closely at the brown Lego bricks and you can see that the image is slightly sharper on the iPhone 14’s image.
Again, at 3x zoom, there is very little to differentiate the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14. Remember that both devices have an optical zoom limited to 2x. This means at 3x both devices are using digital zoom software to predict the colours of pixels. Both do a good job.
5x zoom is the maximum for both the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 14. The images are both a bit blurry, but we can see the iPhone 14 does a better job at sharpening edges to create a clear outline. The best place to notice this is if you look at the words “Josies Inn” on the sign. The iPhone 14 picture is a bit sharper.
These photos were both taken with a 0 lux reading. Meaning to the human eye, there was barely any light. They were also taken with night mode and the longest possible exposure time of 30 seconds. These are extreme conditions and comparing the two images we can see the iPhone 14 does a better job of creating a natural looking picture. The colours look a bit more realistic whereas the iPhone 13 image has a yellowish hue to it. Interestingly though, the iPhone 13 did a better job of illuminating darker areas of the Lego.
The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus use the same A15 Bionic chip that was found in last year’s iPhone 13 Pro. It’s a very powerful chip that consistently outperforms rivals.
There isn’t much (within reason) you can chuck at the iPhone 14 that it isn’t going to handle. Graphically intensive games like PUBG and Raid: Shadow Legends run smoothly, and even 4K video editing is possible. The only chip better is the A16 Bionic found in the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, and even then, the capability differences are minimal. To put it bluntly, the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus fly.
It wasn’t a straight swap from out of the iPhone 13 Pro and into this year’s devices either. Apple improved the chip’s design to be more efficient at dissipating heat. While this doesn’t sound like much, the iPhone 14 has a better battery life when compared to the iPhone 13 while only having a slightly bigger battery (more on this below). This is partly thanks to the upgrades made to the A15 bionic.
There haven’t been many new features added to the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus. If you’ve read that the devices are SIM-slot-free, it isn’t the case in NZ. ESIM-only models are limited to the US.
The main new feature is the capability for satellite-based emergency SOS. That means that if you’re in a location with no signal/reception or WiFi, you can contact authorities via satellite connection. Apple has teamed up with Globalstar low-Earth orbit satellites to provide this service, and I think it’s a great new feature.
To use satellite SOS, the iPhone 14 will point you in the direction of a satellite which you’ll then have to aim your phone at. You’re asked a series of questions which are delivered via text to Apple’s relay centre, which is then sent to emergency services.
When outside of reception or WiFi, a little SOS marker will pop up in the top of the display, letting you know you it’s available. Although I never had a use for it, I have been on hikes or fishing trips here in NZ, where reception is spotty. And knowing I could contact authorities from practically anywhere is an excellent comfort.
All iPhone 14 devices are shipped with iOS 16. This comes with a number of new customisation options and new features, making it a worthwhile upgrade if you’re using an older version.
There are too many new features to list, but a highlight is the new lock screen. Notifications are now located towards the bottom of the screen so there’s more space for photos, and widgets are now supported. You can also personalise the screen with different fonts, and colours, and it works with Focus features as well.
Some other notable features are you can edit and unsend messages, CarPlay has been improved, dictation is better, and it’s easier than ever to share photos via iCloud.
If you’re pondering between an iPhone 14 and a 14 Plus, the battery capacity might be the decider.
Apple claims the iPhone 14 will last 20 hours of video playback, 16 hours of streaming video and 80 hours of audio playback. We found this to be true. It’s massive and easily lasts an entire day off a single charge.
The iPhone 14 Plus’ battery capabilities are even better. This is due to the size of the battery. The 14 Plus has a 4,325mAh battery, while the iPhone 14s is 3,279mAh. To put that into perspective, the iPhone 14 Pro has a 3,200mAh battery, and the Pro Max has a 4,323mAh. This puts the battery capabilities of the iPhone 14 Plus on the same level as the Pro Max, a $500 more expensive phone.
It goes beyond a full day’s capacity, lasting closer to 25 hours of video playback. Obviously, the size of the battery is the main reason for this. However, the locked 60Hz screen and the lack of an always-on display contribute to the capabilities.
With the iPhone 14 Plus, there’s no more battery anxiety, and it’s nice going about your day without worrying about where you’re next going to charge your phone.
The charging capabilities are still below par here, though. The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus support 20W charging. Apple calls this fast charging, but it’s slow compared to competitors, charging around 40% in 30 minutes. Compare that to the Oppo Find X5 Pro, with its 80W charging going from 0 to 100% in about 15 minutes, and you’ll notice how far behind Apple is here.
The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus support MagSafe and Qi wireless charging, but they don’t come with a charger in the box.
The iPhone 14 is a great phone. It takes great photos, has fast performance, looks stylish and has a decent full-day battery. But these are praises attributed to the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 12.
My point is there simply isn’t much to get excited about here – apart from the ability to make SOS calls via satellite, and hopefully that’s a feature that you’ll never have to use.
The battery is a bit better, the performance is slightly faster, and you can take better photos in low-light situations with the Photonic Engine. Yes, these are welcome improvements, but they aren’t groundbreaking. The iPhone 13 has a good battery, good performance and takes great photos. There’s been little to no innovation in this year’s device.
The iPhone 14 Plus brings one impressive new feature to get excited about: the battery. It’s larger and more efficient, allowing for more than a day’s use off a single charge. It’s also a perfect device for those who want a large phone but don’t want to spend over $2,000 for the iPhone 14 Pro Max. It’s the hero of this year’s non-Pro iPhone range.
Both devices are very good, they’re capable of handling anything you throw at them, but I was hoping for more. The display is still locked at 60Hz, the fast charging is still limited to 20W, and the lightning port remains. If you’re using an iPhone 11 or below, it’s definitely worth upgrading to the iPhone 14, but you can get pretty much the exact same experience with a now cheaper iPhone 13.