Apple iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max

These are expensive and great handsets, but the upgrades are not dramatic.

APPLE LOVES NOTHING overexploitation the word best. The new iPhone fourteen professional is the “best iPhone however,” with a 48-megapixel camera system that helps you to capture the “best photos and video.” it’s always straightforward to validate these claims once some real-world testing, particularly with cameras. Newer, larger image sensors usually surmount the recent. however this year, the results square measure … sophisticated.

I’ve snapped over 250 photos with four phones over the past few days, and last year’s iPhone thirteen professional often bested the spicandspan model. Even wherever the iPhone fourteen professional came out on high, the enhancements were thus marginal that I am left questioning if Apple simply overhyped its product. aren’t getting Pine Tree State wrong, the fourteen professional has extraordinary cameras—some of the most effective you’ll get in a very smartphone, notably once it involves video—but the enhancements are not as dramatic as the company suggests.

A few different options overshadow these cameras, just like the insanely bright show, which might currently invariably remain, therefore you ne’er got to faucet the screen. The Dynamic Island, which replaces the notorious Face ID notch, could be a good and fun thanks to building use of a dead house.

Apple Island
The blank space at the top of the screen taken up by the Face ID sensor array now expands to show notifications and controls.  PHOTOGRAPH: APPLE
The blank space at the top of the screen taken up by the Face ID sensor array now expands to show notifications and controls.  PHOTOGRAPH: APPLE

The iPhone 14 range consists of the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Most of the new upgrades announced this year are largely exclusive to the Pro models. At the top of the list? Dynamic Island.

No, it’s not a button that transports you to the balmy Caribbean. It’s the name for the module that houses the selfie camera and Face ID sensors. Gone is the notch in favor of a smaller pill-shaped cutout, like on a lot of Android phones, but Apple smartly makes use of this space as a second screen of sorts. (LG V10, anyone?) If you play some music, the pill expands slightly to show album art and a music visualizer. Tap it to hop into your music app, or press and hold it to access playback controls. It’s the same when you get a phone call, start Maps navigation, or track a Lyft ride.

The Dynamic Island interactions are animated.  PHOTOGRAPH: APPLE
The Dynamic Island interactions are animated.  PHOTOGRAPH: APPLE

It’s nice that you don’t need to swipe down on the Notification Center to quickly access these live activities; like the name, it’s just playful and fun. It’s worth noting that not every app works with the Dynamic Island just yet. YouTube Music worked perfectly well, whereas Google Maps did not. I expect this feature will feel a little richer in a year’s time.

Next, there’s the always-on display. It’s been a staple feature on Android phones for years, but it’s now finally an option (if you want it!) on the iPhone. Apple says it saps very little battery, since the screen runs at a power-sipping 1 Hz, and that seems to track. Put the phone upside down, in your pocket or bag, and the screen shuts off, so you never have to worry if it’s drinking your precious battery’s juice.

Speaking of the buttery smooth 120-Hz screen, it gets brighter than ever before. Honestly, I’m not sure it’s necessary, as I’ve never found the iPhone’s screen lacking in brightness, but I will say that at these extreme brightness levels, the iPhone 14 Pro maintains really fantastic colors, whereas some phone displays tend to wash them out.

In an unusual move, these are the only two iPhones with the latest and greatest A16 Bionic processor (usually the whole range gets the new chip). My benchmark tests show that they are indeed some of the speediest mobile chips out there, and that’s reflected in every task, especially gaming. I had flawless performance throughout a 45-minute session playing Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm and Rocket League Sideswipe with my BackBone One controller, and the iPhone didn’t get uncomfortably hot. However, are you going to notice a dramatic difference day to day over the A15 Bionic in the iPhone 13 or iPhone 14? Probably not.

OK, it’s time to talk about the eSIM. In the US, all iPhone 14 models ship without a physical SIM tray, which means you’ll have to set up an eSIM to connect it to your carrier’s cellular network. This tech has been around for some time, but this is the first phone that completely ditches the physical SIM system. I’d never used an eSIM before, and I found the process very simple. When I was setting up the iPhone 14 Pro, it asked if I wanted to transfer my number from my iPhone 13 Pro. I obliged, and within a few minutes, my number was on the new phone. No little SIM tool needed! I transferred the number to the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max one after the other with no issues.

Until … I decided to transfer my number to an Android phone with eSIM support—the Google Pixel 6 Pro. I wasn’t able to get far, because the Pixel just asked me to scan a QR code from my carrier, which I didn’t have. That inevitably meant I’d have had to call my carrier if I wanted to move my number from my iPhone to the Pixel. How this is supposed to be easier than just popping a physical SIM in and out, I have no idea. (You’re likely not switching to multiple different phones all the time, so this is more of a headache for me.) Yes, eSIMs are more secure. But here it introduces a substantial amount of friction for anyone who doesn’t want to stay locked into Apple’s ecosystem. I really hope this experience will get better over time with improved interoperability between devices.

Perhaps the best news this year is that once again there’s feature parity between the Pro models. They’re both made of stainless steel (more durable than the aluminum iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus), and they only differ in size and battery life, so you won’t feel left out by going with one or the other. I’m partial to the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro—I’m a little tired of nearly dropping the unwieldy Max a few times per day.

With heavy use, the batteries in both Pro iPhones comfortably lasted me a full day, though the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a bit more capacity to tide you over to the following morning (and maybe afternoon). Is it too much to ask for two-day battery life though?

Sea Change
Here's lookin' at you. PHOTOGRAPH: APPLE
Here’s lookin’ at you. PHOTOGRAPH: APPLE

The last time Apple changed the megapixel count of its main camera was in 2015 with the iPhone 6S. Now, the main camera takes another leap. The photo sensors on last year’s models captured 12 megapixels of image data, but the cameras on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max grab 48 megapixels. More megapixels doesn’t mean a better photo, but it does mean the ability to capture more detail (and print your photos in larger sizes). It, along with a new image-processing pipeline called the Photonic Engine, is supposed to represent a sea change for the iPhone camera. Unfortunately, I’m not noticing a big upgrade in any meaningful way over last year.

It’s important to note that the photos you get by default are all 12-megapixel images. Apple is using a common process called pixel binning to merge the sensor’s pixels together to make them larger and thereby absorb more light and produce a brighter image. If you want to utilize the full 48-megapixel sensor (and deal with the larger image file sizes), then you just have to tap the “RAW” button at the top of the camera app. This nets you greater flexibility when editing, as you have more control over the saturation, contrast, brightness, and shadows of the image. I generally felt like I had more to work with in 48-megapixel mode, which often produced cleaner images with more detail.

But most of my tests were with the default 12-megapixel mode. I took the iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 14, and Google Pixel 6 Pro everywhere I went and compared the results on a color-accurate monitor. They’re not clear-cut. There’s hardly a bad photo to be found, but when studying the 14 Pro’s images, there were too many times when I could barely see what the new upgrades were doing. It can snap slightly sharper and brighter images than its predecessor, especially when shooting some motion, but you have to really look to tell the difference. That’s also not always the case; the 13 Pro sometimes took better photos with less noise. I was more surprised to see how often the Pixel 6 Pro kept up.


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