My personal phone is the iPhone 13 Pro Max. For me, it’s the perfect phone: it’s fast and has a big screen and great cameras.
When Apple unveiled its new iPhone 14 models in September, I was curious to see how it would improve on last year’s phones.
The new phones look identical to last year’s, but as usual, there are some nice updates inside.
Apple sent me an iPhone 14 Pro for this review and it was interesting to go back to a smaller phone.
As a reminder, Apple has four new iPhone models: the 6.1-inch iPhone 14, the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus, and the two professional models, the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro and the 6.6-inch iPhone Pro Max .7 inches.
The features and specifications I write about here are for the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. The iPhone Pros are the same except for screen and battery size.
iPhone 14 models do not use a physical SIM card; they use an eSIM, which is a virtual SIM card. Usually, I just put my SIM card in a new phone and I’m good to go. This time I had to transfer my number from my SIM card to the iPhone 14 Pro eSIM, which disables the old SIM card. I guess I’ll have to get a new SIM card from my provider when the tests are over.
The 14 Pro has an always-on display, which is a plus for me. I’m not used to seeing my phone screen on all the time. It looks like it’s losing battery life, but the new adaptive refresh rate works at just 1 Hertz (update per second). The screen can be refreshed at rates from 10 Hz to 120 Hz, depending on the content on the screen. If you turn it upside down, the screen will turn off.
The OLED display is also super bright, up to 2,000 nits outdoors.
The 14 Pro models do not have the usual display notch for the front cameras. Instead, Apple developers turned the notch into a feature called Dynamic Island that moves the old notch a few pixels from the top of the screen. The opening now has rounded ends and expands to become a place to display things like incoming calls, volume changes, music playback information, and notifications. The island is even available for app developers to use.
I downloaded a sports score app that shows live game results on dynamic island.
It’s a unique fix for an area of the screen that people have been complaining about.
The 14 Pro’s main camera has a 24mm wide-angle lens with a 48-megapixel sensor. This is a huge improvement over last year’s 12-megapixel camera.
The other two cameras are similar to last year: a 12-megapixel telephoto camera still has 3x optical zoom and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera. All three cameras have new lenses and better sensors for really impressive photos in low light.
Overall, the cameras are among the best I’ve used on a phone, but I was expecting more zoom range from the telephoto.
The selfie camera has a 12-megapixel sensor, and photos and Facetime calls look fantastic.
Oh, and the camera lenses are slightly larger than last year, which makes the camera bump more pronounced. Adding a case helps minimize wobble when you place it on a flat surface.
Emergency SOS satellite messages
If you’re out of cellular range and need help, iPhone 14 models can now send text messages via satellite.
Before sending the message, the phone will ask a few questions to assess the situation and then show you the way to point the phone for the satellite connection.
When connected to the satellite, your phone will automatically send your information, including your location, medical ID (if you’ve created one in your phone settings), and your phone’s battery level to a carrier.
You can’t text your friends via satellite, only the emergency dispatch service.
You have to be outside with a clear view of the sky and messages can take up to a minute to be sent and received.
The SOS Emergency service is free for two years.
You can also use the Find My app to share your satellite location with people who have permission to see your location.
There is a new high-g-force accelerometer that can detect extreme accelerations or decelerations. This new sensor and a few others work together to determine if you’ve been in an accident.
There are sensors that can measure sudden changes in cabin pressure, sudden changes in direction and loud impact sounds.
If the phone thinks you’ve been in an accident, you’ll see a screen asking if you’re okay. If you do not recognize that you are okay, the local emergency services will be called with your location and the need for help.
There have been a few fake accidents detected since the introduction of phones, especially on roller coasters. I’m sure Apple will adjust the settings in the future.
The iPhone 14 Pro uses the new A16 Bionic processor with a six-core processor, a five-core graphics processor and a 16-core Neural Engine.
It has Face ID to unlock the phone and for Apple Pay.
It has mmWave and sub-6 5G, as well as Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3.
I had no trouble getting a full day out of the battery. Apple doesn’t release the size of the battery, but it does say that the 14 Pro’s battery can get up to 23 hours of video playback or 75 hours of audio playback.
It has wireless charging, including MagSafe. It is capable of charging up to 50% in 30 minutes with a 20-watt charger (not included).
The phones are dust and water resistant (IP68). They can be submerged in water up to 6 meters deep for up to 30 minutes.
The 14 Pro models are available in Space Black, Silver, Gold and Deep Purple with storage ranging from 128 gigabytes to 1 terabyte.
is it for you
Should you upgrade to the 14 Pro or Pro Max?
If you have an iPhone 11 or 12 model and are ready for a new phone, I absolutely recommend upgrading.
Owners of iPhone 13 Pro models (myself included) have a tougher choice.
The 14 Pro models are a nice step up, but there’s nothing wrong with my year-old iPhone 13 Pro Max; in fact, I’m still paying for it.
Next year promises to be interesting, as the European Union has passed a law requiring all phones sold in Europe to have a USB-C port, which Apple has acknowledged will be included in the iPhone 15 models.
I can’t wait to see if the 2023 iPhones will be more of a redesign than a feature issue.
Jim Rossman is a technology columnist for Tribune News Service. He can be reached at [email protected].