Apple is satisfied with its smartphone formula. This is clear because the iPhone 14 Pro is not so different from the iPhone 13 Pro, which was not so far from the iPhone 12 Pro. While some lament the lack of visual changes between recent generations, what really matters is whether the full set has improved with each numerical increase.
My iPhone 14 Pro arrived Friday, September 16, and that’s not enough time for a full review, but it’s more than enough time to take a close look at what the iPhone 14 Pro looks like. It’s familiar, like a pair of sure hands. And no, that’s not the downside you might first think.
The iPhone 14 Pro is so transparent
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If you own an iPhone, upgrading to your new iPhone 14 Pro is a wonderfully simple process, and it gets you into ownership in exactly the right way, comfortable and convenient. Apple providing free iCloud storage for easy swapping of apps, photos and settings, the way all your home screens look the same on the new device, it’s like you never left the device. ‘ancient.
This also applies to the design. If you’re coming from an iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro, the iPhone 14 Pro feels the same in your hand. The flat, square chassis is still a bit too sharp, and the already large camera module has gotten even bigger this time around. The volume controls and power button are still in place, but if you’re buying an iPhone 14 in the US, there’s no SIM tray because it’s an eSIM-only phone.
I don’t like familiarity. It looks, feels and functions almost the same as the iPhone 13 Pro I left behind. While that might legitimately make you wonder if an upgrade is worth it for you, the seamless and hassle-free way to upgrade to this brand new phone is enticing. This takes the stress out of losing valuable photos, saved games, music, or messages.
The iPhone 14 Pro took over from my old phone with no problem. No, it doesn’t really look any different, but it’s okay. It’s a sleek, modern design, and beautifully made from quality materials (plus, the Deep Purple color looks glorious in the right light). I particularly like how it’s integrated into the camera bump and lens housings, giving them depth and visual punch.
It’s not a radically different phone than before, but whether you’re new to the iPhone or coming from a previous one, it welcomes you with open arms. And because the experience is so damn polished, you’ll quickly forgive it for not looking slightly different.
Take a trip to Dynamic Island
Dynamic Island is the feature I was most excited to try on the iPhone 14 Pro. Not least because it looked fantastic at Apple’s launch event, but also because it really is the biggest visual change to the phone, and certainly the one most people have been talking about. How does it look? He has a lot of potential, but at the moment he seems underutilized.
Dynamic Island gives the notch a reason to exist by using software to dynamically adjust its size and shape based on the app you’re using or the task you’re performing. The notch was still there, static and stoic at the top of the screen, but now it’s like magic living. I never really learned to completely ignore the notch, and now the dynamic island means it doesn’t matter by making it useful. It reminds me of LG’s second Ticker screen on phones like the LG V10, just a little messy.
How? So far, the music controls have proven to be the most beneficial. When music is playing, the dynamic island can be pressed to immediately switch to the Music app, or long pressed to display the controls. It also displays information about Apple AirPods Pro when they are connected and makes swapping tracks or browsing a podcast much faster.
Design-wise, I like how Face ID’s padlock icon is now on the island and how it splits in two to track more than one activity. It’s also so smooth and so beautifully integrated and realized. It instantly looks like a part of the operating system that really could have been there for a while. However, it doesn’t work with many apps at the moment, which limits the number of times it does anything, but app developers will surely work hard to incorporate its functionality.
Is the iPhone 14 Pro better for taking photos?
With only around 100 photos on the Camera Roll so far, it’s not yet possible to fully assess the capability of the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera. You can check the specifications in our buying guide, and while there are some hardware differences between them, the main camera takes photos that look nearly identical to the iPhone 13 Pro camera. That’s good, because the 13 Pro’s main camera has improved a lot over the year, so Apple is starting with a great base. I certainly hope more tweaks come in software updates to go beyond its predecessor, though.
What I’ve noticed before is how much better 3x telephoto photos look, and they’re especially good in low light, which is something Apple has promised with its new image processing tech that it’s calls the Photonic Engine. See the shot taken in a dark tunnel staring at the sunlight, with reflections on the water, making for a complex environment. The iPhone 14 Pro doesn’t blow out as much in brightly lit areas, shows more wall detail, better shadows, and has a more realistic color palette overall.
There are also some improvements in the wide-angle camera, with some photos from the iPhone 14 Pro showing much better balance, exposure and detail. However, this did not happen with all images, so it is not clear if this is still a general upgrade. I also found the iPhone 14 Pro to be great for taking pictures of small objects when using 3x telephoto mode, focusing and avoiding blur much more effectively than the 13 Pro.
That’s a good start for the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera, but only if you’re happy with the incremental telephoto and wide-angle performance updates, as the main camera currently looks mostly unchanged. That makes sense, because the performance of the main camera on most phones at this price is excellent, and that’s what happens around it where things were traditionally supposed to improve.
Potential battery issues
It’s still too early to judge the iPhone 14 Pro’s battery harshly, but there’s evidence it may not have the longevity some will want. Today, after just over three hours of screen time, battery is at 38% at 6 p.m., after being removed from the charger at 7:30 a.m. This includes GPS, video, camera and general app usage. It’s not terrible, but if you use the phone even moderately, it seems likely you’ll only get a day’s worth of battery.
However, it may not be entirely the hardware issue. Since installing iOS 16 on my iPhone 13 Pro, the battery hasn’t lasted as long as with iOS 15 installed. The iPhone 14 Pro also uses the same software and Apple’s new always-on display which, although it doesn’t consume a lot of power, must take some.
Battery life might be the biggest reason to get the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but don’t because of screen quality, because the Pro’s 6.1-inch screen is stunning: full of color and vibrancy, matched to crystal-clear speakers with masses of volume.
The iPhone 14 Pro is safe and familiar
I’m very happy to use the iPhone 14 Pro, mainly because I was also very happy to use the iPhone 13 Pro. However, I only have a few days of life with it, and more of its talents and abilities will show up over the next few weeks when I also get a better idea of the battery life as it gets better. will get used to my own usage habits.
If an iPhone 13 Pro is in your pocket, there doesn’t seem to be a need to rush into an upgrade, and much the same goes for iPhone 12 Pro owners (unless your phone has really approaching the end of its useful life).
Everyone, including those who haven’t yet converted to the iPhone, should know that just because the iPhone 14 Pro looks familiar and safe doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s the opposite, because Apple took what was already a fantastic phone to live with every day (and for several years) and then created the elements that weren’t so good – no always-on screen, the unnecessary notch, the modest camera performance apart from the main lens – as excellent as the rest.
These are the updates I have really wantnot a quick and easy visual change and business as usual elsewhere.