The new iPhone 14 has arrived! We’re reviewing the new iPhone 14, but remember, the iPhone 14 Plus is the same phone but larger. This year’s iPhone 14 is a minor incremental upgrade – let’s talk about what’s new.
Physically, the new iPhone 14 is highly similar to the iPhone 13. The aluminum chassis is identical (the iPhone 13 cases are perfectly compatible) and uses nearly all the same components (including the A15 processor). Without the color differences, you would be hard-pressed to tell if I just handed you an iPhone 13 or 14.
The camera hardware (front and back) has been slightly improved, and that’s always important. But everything else is pretty much a software or slight functionality improvement. Here’s what caught our attention:
Crash detection: the iPhone 14 will detect if there’s a car crash event and use the emergency SMS to call first responders and your emergency contacts.
Satellite SOS: when you’re out of cellular network range, the iPhone 14 has one last line of defense: you might be able to send an SOS message via satellite. We’ll see how this works in November when the service rolls out.
eSIM only: Apple no longer uses physical SIM cards. eSim-only won’t change your day-to-day life, but it might make things easier as you no longer have to wait for a SIM card to arrive if you need a new one.
Better cooling: Apple says the iPhone 14 cooling has been improved, which could help with sustained performance situations such as gaming, AR, or even mapping on a long route.
Camera(s): The rear and front camera systems have been improved over the iPhone 13 design, which is one of the more critical reasons to get the iPhone 14.
As we said, the iPhone 14 chassis is identical to the iPhone 13, and the good news is that a large selection of cases is already available.
Apple uses Aluminum, so the iPhone 14 feels lighter (and cheaper) than the iPhone 14 Pro, which is made of stainless steel. Steel is not only more resistant to scratches and shocks, but it also looks nicer, in our opinion.
The iPhone 14 has the “Power” and “Volume” controls in the usual locations, and users will feel right at home. The phone’s front and back are flat and covered in tempered glass, and only the rear camera block protrudes in the back.
The speaker system produces excellent sound quality, comparable to the most expensive phones on the market, so that’s a strong point if you like using the speakers. We’ve compared it to many recent phones at the office, and it’s one of the best!
The iPhone 14 has a 6.1″ display, while the iPhone 14 Plus comes with a 6.7″ one. That’s the primary difference between these two phones.
The bezels are thick, and Apple’s large “notch” at the top is present. The notch houses the selfie camera and the infrared sensor necessary to make Apple’s Face ID feature work.
Face ID is more secure than single-camera face unlock alternatives, but the large notch is the visual price to pay. Many people have been very critical of Apple’s inability to get rid of it. Android competitors have made technical advances with minimal “punch-hole” or “under-screen” cameras that are virtually invisible.
The display quality is very good, with accurate colors. The brightness reaches 595 NITs with manual settings and 890 NITs of peak brightness which is regulated automatically by the system. Unfortunately, the refresh rate is only 60Hz, as Apple ProMotion technology is only available on the iPhone 14 Pro models.
iPhone 14 Camera
The new iPhone 14 camera system has been slightly improved, thanks to a new primary 26mm camera like the iPhone 13 Pro’s. At the same time, the iPhone 14 14mm ultrawide camera gets an improved lens over the iPhone 13 but is not quite as good as the iPhone 13 Pro. Apple has put some work into segmenting its phone offering.
The Ubergizmo CAMERA HW camera benchmark for the iPhone 14 rear camera system is 170, which is noticeably better than the iPhone 13 (140) but still lower than the iPhone 13 Pro (191). The iPhone 14 lacks the 77mm telephoto lens, which makes the iPhone 13 Pro camera superior.
Apple claims a 49% low-light performance improvement, a believable number according to our internal CAMERA HW score and data. Some of that might translate into shorter wait times for long-exposure night shots.
More importantly, the LIDAR camera remains unique to the Pro series, and the iPhone 14 won’t have any 3D scanning capabilities introduced in the earlier Pro series.
Naturally, photos of the iPhone 14 look similar to the iPhone 13 Pro when using the 26mm primary camera. The ultrawide photos might look a bit different at night, depending on the long exposure, which varies from scene to scene. Long exposures are not a natural way of capturing low-light photos and may result in unrealistic-looking images.
It’s fair to say that using long exposures of 1-3 seconds by default for low-light photos is a bit weak in 2022 when most Android phones at that price level don’t need it.
There’s also an “action mode” video stabilization in which the video is cropped more than usual but allows for even better video stabilization. It’s a tradeoff, but the video is significantly more stable, so the feature name is on-point.
The selfie camera seems to capture slightly more natural photos, mainly because it does not try to “beautify” the subject as much. These new settings might eventually cascade to older phones via an iOS update. This selfie camera now features an auto-focus.
Apple offers excellent CPU performance, which shows in benchmarks like Geekbench multithreaded. CPU speeds translate into snappy apps, OS responsiveness, and daily performance.
Regarding graphics and 3D gaming, the iPhone 14 is also very decent and performs similarly to the iPhone 13 Pro in the graphics test we looked at.
It does not score as well as relatively affordable Android “gaming phones” such as the recently launched OnePlus 10T (see benchmarks below). However, the iPhone 14 could outclass these phones in specific tasks such as video compression or editing because Apple has dedicated hardware for that.
Apple has increased the iPhone battery capacity over the years, and that’s a very positive choice. However, it is still behind Android competitors such as the Samsung Galaxy S22+, which has significantly more battery capacity and now retails at $799.99. Affordable phones like the OnePlus 10T ($649) feature even higher capacity and charge more than 5X faster.
Metrics such as mAh/Cubic-Inch clearly show other phones having more battery capacity “per cubic inch” of volume, including the iPhone “pro” series.
Fortunately, the 60Hz screen refresh and the general power efficiency of the Apple platform make the iPhone 14 a “full-day battery” smartphone, and chances are that you can come home with 20% battery to spare (regular usage).
With a price starting at $799 (128GB), the iPhone 14 brings some of the camera goodness of the iPhone 13 Pro, without the “pro” features such as telephoto and lidar. Still, the iPhone 14 camera is better than the iPhone 13 ($699), which might justify the $100 price difference if the budget is not too tight.
If you can find a deal on the iPhone 13 Pro and buy it at around $899, it would be a better choice, in our opinion. And if you are hesitating between the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro, we can tell you that, without a doubt, the iPhone 14 Pro is more than worth the $200 difference with the iPhone 14.
If you own an iPhone 13, jump to the iPhone 14 Pro or wait for next year. Anyone with an iPhone 12 or below will find the iPhone 14 (and beyond) a nice upgrade.