The Apple iPhone 14 Pro has arrived and just like every year, there are many disappointed voices at first. "Evolution instead of revolution", "model update", and so on and so forth are just some of the dissenting voices you hear. I have already spent a week with the new iPhone 14 Pro and am convinced by the innovations made, from the Dynamic Island to the Super Retina XDR display with Always-on function, to the new main and front camera. Even if not all of the features are able to bring me over the threshold enthusiastically, I will say this in Apple's very own words: It's the best iPhone, they've ever built. You can find out why in this nextpit review.
- Dynamic Island is much more than a gimmick
- Excellent display
- A16 Bionic SoC is incredibly fast and comparatively easy on the battery
- 48-megapixels camera performance
- The Always-on Display is a bit annoying (but can be turned off)
- No fast-charging
- No SIM card slot
The iPhone 14 Pro in a nutshell
The iPhone 14 Pro might not be the major revolution that many Apple and smartphone fans hope for every year. However, the new Apple phone offers everything that the technology geek desires and Apple adds more than just a single cherry on top. The most visible innovation this year is certainly Dynamic Island. This is a pill-shaped notch that Apple extended to the display, using it as a dynamic status display. The Dynamic Island changes its shape and size depending on the context.
This year, Apple also included in its Pro models a major display upgrade. The Super Retina XDR screen achieves a brightness of up to 2,000 nits and can use the so-called ProMotion moniker with an adaptable refresh rate of 1 Hz to 120 Hz depending on its use and is "Always On" for the very first time. However, I'm not sure whether I like this feature yet for now, which I will share about it further down in the text.
With the new camera module and the 48-megapixel main camera, photo fans will definitely get their money's worth. Compared with the iPhone 13 Pro, there has been another significant improvement. Apple's new A16 Bionic chipset is a real powerhouse. Many high-end PCs might even have less computing power than the new iPhone 14 Pro.
However, there is one major bugbear - the design has largely remained the same.
- 128 GB: $999
- 256 GB: $1,099
- 512 GB: $1,299
- 1 TB: $1,499
If you don't want to spend that much money all at once, you can of course also find the iPhone 14 Pro from various mobile service providers. You should be able to hunt down something that suits you from the likes of AT&T and Verizon.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro design and build quality
There is not much to say about the case of the iPhone 14 Pro. The smartphone has a great build quality, but otherwise it looks more or less similar as the iPhone 13 Pro, if it weren't for this fantastic shade of purple!
What I liked:
- Old design that is tried and tested.
- Dynamic Island is far more than just a gimmick for me.
- Built solidly and now comes with a separate glass at the back. This means no more replacing the whole chassis if it cracks.
- "Deep Purple" - the new iPhone color.
What I disliked:
- No USB-C port as it is still stuck with the Lightning port.
Of course, there is no avoiding talking about the Dynamic Island which we also consider to be a design element after a long and hard struggle. It is more or less the successor of the good old notch that is the recess found on the display which houses the selfie camera and other sensors subtly. Apple has made a success from a potential pothole with a clever move.
The Dynamic Island is a black window around the notch, in which Apple displays notifications and live activities, and it can change its size dynamically while providing you with direct access to selected controls.
Okay, the name is debatable. To me, Dynamic Island seems a bit intentional, but that's just me. The idea and implementation, however, are really successful from my point of view. Not only does it look great when the island changes size, but it's really practical. Over the past few days that I reviewed the iPhone 14 Pro, the Dynamic Island was constantly used.
I'm not saying that the Dynamic Island is a real selling point. But I think if it wasn't there on the next smartphone, I would feel that something was amiss.
One more thing that seems worth mentioning to me about the workmanship of the new iPhone: Apple uses the so-called Ceramic Shield to protect the display, where it is a piece of glass that is particularly scratch- and break-resistant. The rear glass is also particularly resistant due to a special manufacturing process, and more importantly, can be replaced separately in case of a crack or breakage.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro display
Is the additional price you fork out for the iPhone 14 Pro compared to the iPhone 14 worth it? The display alone is enough to elicit a clear "Yes!" because ProMotion with a buttery smooth 120 Hz is still only available for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Apart from the increased brightness and Dynamic Island, there is not much new to tell about the display.
What I liked:
- Brilliant Super Retina XDR display.
- Up to 2,000 nits brightness for better reading under strong sunlight.
- Dynamic Island.
What I disliked:
- Always-On display is too much on for me.
One of the innovations in the iPhone 14 Pro is the Always-On display. This is a feature that many Android smartphones have offered for what feels like an eternity, and a feature that I was really looking forward to in advance. After all, I am one of those people who constantly activate the display and look to see if there is anything that needs my response.
Unfortunately, this preliminary euphoria has somewhat dimmed a bit over the course of the time I spent with the iPhone 14 Pro. When the display switches to sleep mode, the screen only darkens and otherwise shows the normal lock screen. On previous iPhones and the non-Pro 14s, this dimming is what happens before the display goes completely dark. It always irritates me because I have the impression that the smartphone is not locked but is in this pre-darkening stage.
Apart from that, the display is first class. With a brightness of up to 2,000 nits, it manages to deliver twice the brightness of the iPhone 13 Pro and is also a true supernova compared to all other smartphones - to use a bold comparison. The adaptive display dynamically adjusts itself to the prevailing light conditions with the factory settings.
And then there is ProMotion: Content looks simply fascinatingly smooth compared to dull 60 Hz displays. Movies, games, or swiping movements are a real pleasure thanks to the A16 Bionic SoC and ProMotion. The ProMotion technology ensures that the refresh rate automatically adjusts itself between 10 Hz and 120 Hz, depending on the content being played.
By the way, anyone who was wondering how videos feel with Dynamic Island: The picture is not stretched across the entire screen, as there is an area on the left and right that simply remains black, making the Dynamic Island invisible.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro software
The iPhone is iOS, and iOS is the iPhone? Yes, that's right, and older models also benefit from many software innovations in iOS 16. The iPhone 14 Pro also features Dynamic Island, but we've already discussed that.
What I liked:
- iOS 16 with many practical innovations.
- Once again: Dynamic Island.
What I disliked:
- Satellite emergency call is available only in North America for the time being.
For me, iOS is the best operating system for smartphones. There-the cat is out of the bag. Apart from that, we've already written a lot about iOS 16 elsewhere. If you want to know more about the operating system, we recommend our overview of iOS 16. We have also compiled practical iOS tips and tricks for you elsewhere.
Nevertheless, there are a few little things about iOS 16 that are worth mentioning apart from Dynamic Island (yes, I can't read about it anymore either, that's how often I wrote it here).
First, there is now the possibility to personalize the lock screen in an even better way. You can place (relatively few) widgets on the lock screen. For the first time, there is a depth effect that can be applied to the screen background. This makes part of the clock disappear behind your picture, which makes for a really cool effect. However, this doesn't work with all images. There must be enough space at the top of the photo, while the subject must not take up too much area on the screen, and you must not place any widgets.
- Read more: All the features in iOS 16's new lockscreen
On the other hand, there is the Car Crash Detection feature. The iPhone 14 Pro has a special accelerometer built in that can detect up to 256G of centrifugal force. Apple will then process this data from the smartphone and other sensors in order to determine reliably whether you are involved in a car accident before it performs an automatic call for help. For example, the barometer, which can detect pressure changes due to the rising airbag, or the microphone, which picks up the very loud noises of an accident, will play a vital role here.
Speaking of getting help: If there is no mobile network and you urgently need help, you can still do this in North America and some European countries with the help of satellites. However, it still remains unclear when this will be possible elsewhere for now.
In Fall 2023, the iPhone 14 line will receive new user-facing features announced for popular apps like Phone, Messages, FaceTime, and Maps in iOS 17. While the update is modest in terms of features and design, these additions are expected to be popular among iPhone owners.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro performance
The iPhone 14 Pro comes with the new Apple A16 SoC, which once again, makes a striking leap forward compared to the predecessor.
What I liked:
- The A16 SoC is an absolute powerhouse: You can't get more performance in a smartphone.
What I disliked:
The heart of the iPhone 14 Pro is Apple's own system-on-a-chip (SoC) A16 Bionic. It is based on a 4nm manufacturing process, has a 6-core CPU, a 5-core GPU, and provides 16 cores to the Neural Engine. Compared to the A15, the A16 not only has 50% more memory, but also consumes 20% less energy.
Honestly, I was blown away by the performance of the iPhone 14 Pro. Every game, every video, and even 4K video editing ran smoothly as butter even when left in the car at searing temperatures of 40 degrees outside. I know this so well because it happened to me this summer. But that's another story for a different day.
To be honest, I have to say that most people will never have to call upon the full power of the A16. But it does feel somehow reassuring to be able to do everything, should you want to at some point.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro camera
A 12 MP resolution for the main camera has been around since the iPhone 6s. Now, eight years later, the iPhone 14 Pro finally makes the jump to 48 MP, promising better image quality and a more flexible camera system overall. Spoiler alert: The latter in particular works really well.
What I liked:
- The photos captured by the iPhone 14 Pro look really professional.
- Cinematic mode for videos has once again improved significantly.
- Autofocus for selfies.
What I disliked:
The iPhone 6s was the first iPhone with a 12 MP main camera - and Apple has not bumped up the resolution since then. Sure, with the iPhone 7 Plus, there was a dual camera system for the very first time, and with the iPhone 11, a triple camera configuration was finally added to the Pro series. With the iPhone 14 Pro, Apple now makes the leap to 48 MP, at least when it concerns the sensor. If you were to take pictures with the factory settings, the pictures are still stored as a 12 MP photo in the storage.
So why aim for 48 MP now? On the one hand, Apple wants to improve the detail reproduction with the higher resolution of the main camera, but on the other hand, it also wants to close the gap between the main camera (1x) and the telephoto camera (3x). Where a digital zoom used to play this role, Apple can now cut out a 12-megapixel area from the center of the main sensor in the newly added 2x zoom in the camera app and does so without any interpolation.
And what a job they have done indeed: The photos are convincing in the review. This is especially true under good lighting conditions, where the image quality is consistently good up to 2x zoom with excellent detail reproduction. Color reproduction is also very strong across all three cameras, as is typical for Apple - from the ultra wide-angle via the main camera and the virtual 2x telephoto camera to the telephoto zoom. Enough words though, just see for yourself in our image gallery with test photos from the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max because both Pro iPhones have the exact same camera this year.
There are also innovations in the video mode. Not only is the Cinematic Mode now also available in 4K, Apple has also given the iPhone 14 series an action mode, i.e. a digital super stabilizer. Fortunately, there is no impact blur in the resulting videos, which Apple apparently avoids by using fast shutter speeds. However, a strobing effect is visible in the videos, caused by those short shutter speeds.
You can find a more detailed analysis of the image quality from the Pro iPhone 14 in our iPhone 14 Pro Max review.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro battery
The battery life problems of past iPhone generations are no longer an issue in 2022. Like its predecessor, the iPhone 14 Pro offers a rock-solid runtime.
What I like:
- The battery lasts all day and is subjectively even better compared to the iPhone 13 Pro.
What I disliked:
- Slow charging speed.
According to Apple, the A16 Bionic consumes around 20 percent less energy than its predecessor, the A15 Bionic. That promises a better battery life in itself. On the other hand, the iPhone 14 Pro has an Always-on Display and a 2,000 nits screen (actually, I can't believe that it doesn't burn your retina), which can also affect the battery consumption.
I had rather contrasting experiences during my review. For example, there was a situation in which my battery dropped by 25% within a few hours - only to consume just 2% within 1.5 hours when it was idle shortly after that. The high battery consumption did make me wonder what happened. The solution is as simple as it is a bit stupid: My iPad had misused my iPhone as a hotspot and thus caused a disproportionate degree of energy consumption.
You can get through the day well with the iPhone 14 Pro under normal to high use. Even as I write these lines and use the iPhone as a hotspot for my computer again, the battery level dropped from 70 to 40 percent within three hours.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro technical specifications
|Apple iPhone 14 Pro (Max)
|Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
The iPhone is a polished product, so Apple does not have to stretch much when it comes to the hardware of the iPhone 14 Pro. The build quality, display, and battery are great just like last year's model, and the camera gained a lot of flexibility, useful features, and once again, a bit more image quality with the new image sensor.
In contrast to the hardware capabilities, however, our world of information technology continues to evolve at breakneck speed. iOS 16 in particular takes this into account with numerous new features - and the iPhone 14 Pro picks up on these trends with Dynamic Island. However, iOS 16 also makes it to the previous year's generation with almost no drawbacks, and thus also the vast majority of features.
What am I imparting with the above? Of course, the iPhone 14 Pro is a great smartphone - just like the iPhone 13 Pro. If you were to buy the latest iPhone every year, then you're guaranteed to be happy with the latest "Pro" model. There are great little improvements in all corners, which in total make the iPhone 14 Pro a hot candidate for "the best smartphone 2022" again.
In contrast to the previous year's generation, the gap between the iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Pro has widened. The Pro model still has the advantage in the ProMotion display but makes further advances in the camera, SoC, and interface than the "small" model, which even lags behind the iPhone 13 Pro in almost all points.
Review updated in June 2023 to include iOS 17 confirmed support. Previous comments were kept and may appear out of context.