When you release four phones at once, all boasting the same-but-kind-of-different experience, it’s hard to get excited about the ‘cheapest’ device. Despite being Apple’s ‘cheapest’ device this year, the iPhone 14 is anything but cheap. In fact, for its price, I’d argue you should spend a little extra and just get the Pro.
The iPhone 14 comes in two form factors: the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus. The Plus is taking a little longer to get to Australia this year, but it’s much the same as the 14, just slightly bigger. The Plus replaces the Mini (RIP). But here’s the thing: the iPhone 14 Plus is the same size as the iPhone 14 Pro. I…I just don’t see why it needs to exist. My thoughts on the iPhone 14 aren’t much better.
The Apple iPhone 14
The new phone boasts powerful new cameras, a photonic engine, Action Mode, Apple’s A15 bionic chip, Emergency SOS via Satellite, Crash Detection, great battery life and the other standard Apple stuff. I’d go as far as saying it’s the 2021 iPhone 13 Pro with access to 2022 software.
There’s a lot less to say about the 14 and 14 Plus than there is the 14 Pro and Pro Max. So let’s jump straight into the comparison between last year’s iPhone 13 and the iPhone 14 instead.
iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13
For the past 12 months, I’ve been using the iPhone 13 Pro Max. It was, up until I started using the 14 Pro Max, my favourite iPhone. It was powerful, the camera was brilliant and the battery life was exceptional. After using the 14 Pro Max, jumping into the iPhone 14 has made me feel like I’m just using a smaller version of the 13 Pro Max. There….there’s little to no difference. When we jump back a little more and compare the standard 13 to the 14, that’s where we notice the upgrade.
iPhone 14 camera
Like its predecessor, there are two cameras on the back, a main and an ultra-wide. While the main remains at 12MP, it’s now paired with a faster, f/1.5 aperture, a component directly lifted from the iPhone 13 Pro. The ultra-wide camera is also the same as in the 13, but it benefits from Apple’s Photonic Engine. The TL;DR? Similar hardware, better software. Here’s how that looks in pics.
As you can see in the shot above, the colour scheme is a little less yellow. It feels more realistic in the 14.
If we move closer (no zoom), I’d actually argue the shot is better from the 13, but it’s a tie.
When taking a snap of something like a building, there isn’t much for the software to do. The only difference I can really see is the colour in the iPhone 14 looking less yellow again.
When it comes to Portrait Mode, there isn’t a noticeable difference. At the risk of repeating myself, my model August looks a little less yellow in the 14 shot (funny that the yellow cushion looks more yellow in the 14, too).
Night Mode is something that wowed us last year, and its processing capabilities continue to bring that wow factor. This room was mostly dark, here’s how the iPhone 14 compares to last year’s model.
Aside from the yellow-ness, the leaves are softer in the iPhone 14.
And selfie mode? The things I do for content: behold, every noticeable line on my face.
I prefer the 13 here because it’s not as crisp or clear and I can get away without you all seeing the makeup caked on my mug.
Verdict? The iPhone 14 camera system is better than the 13, but it’s really not enough better for me to sing its praises highly. Especially when we chuck in a shot from the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
The grey is definitely more yellow with the iPhone 13, but the 14 Pro Max shits all over the 14. I must reiterate that although this was taken on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, it’s the same camera as the iPhone 14 Pro. The cheapest iPhone 14 Pro (128GB) costs less than the 512GB iPhone 14 and the same as the 256GB iPhone 14 Plus. If you take a lot of photos? Get the cheapest Pro.
On every device we can (laptop, phone), we do the Avengers: Endgame test. That is, we stream the 3-hour movie from Disney+ on the highest quality, brightness all the way up and volume at max. We see how much this drains the battery. Halfway through the movie, the battery was down to 81 per cent and by the end of the three hours, it was at 54 per cent. The iPhone 14 Pro Max still had 63 per cent at the end of the flick. Apple reckons you’ll get up to 20 hours of video playback (up to 16 hours streamed) out of the battery.
On usual day-to-day use, the iPhone 14 battery lasted all day. I charged it overnight so my alarm would for certain go off, just in case the battery dipped too low.
What’s the point?
The above table lists all available phones in the iPhone 14 range, based on Apple pricing. I’ve included this as I feel it’s the easiest way to get my point across: If you’re willing to spend $1,899 on the iPhone 14 with the most storage, you may as well opt for the 256GB Pro or the 128GB Pro Max.
If 128GB or even 256GB of storage has you concerned, I’ve got a bit of a reality check for you. I have 1TB of storage on my iPhone. I have 20,725 photos and 2,727 videos, as well as 137 apps. All of this and I’ve still got 850GB of free space. Yes, I’d have blown the 128GB option but asking iPhone users around my team, they’ve used 50GB-100GB of storage. You will be OK.
The only impact I can expect this to have on you is the requirement for a smaller-sized phone. The iPhone 14 measures 146.7 mm x 71.5 mm x 7.8 mm while the 14 Pro measures 147.5 mm x 71.5 mm x 7.85 mm.
Also, I’m of course not going to convince you to spend $170 more on a phone if your budget was $1,579 or $350 more if your budget was for the 128GB iPhone. If you just want a new iPhone, and your budget is $1,399, you’ll still be very happy. It’s those of you in that camp that I’d reiterate just how good new Apple hardware running on new Apple software is.
It’s probably a good thing the iPhone 14 Plus is yet to arrive in Australia, as this review would likely be a lot more critical. The iPhone 14 is failing to wow me like the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max have. It’s also failing to wow me like the iPhone 13 did last year. There’s just not enough new to convince me I shouldn’t opt for the cheapest Pro.
It’s a shame Apple has made the iPhone 14 so expensive. If it was ~$200-$300 cheaper, this review would be a hell of a lot less critical.
The iPhone 14 is still a great phone, of course it is, Apple makes great kit. If you do get an iPhone 14, you’ll still be very, very happy.
Where to buy the iPhone 14?
We’ve rounded up all of the iPhone 14 preorder plans available through Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. But you can also head to Apple’s website.
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