Apple introduces a lot of changes to its Pro phones – is that enough to upgrade?
The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max both look to be great releases from September’s Apple event, with features and improvements that put them ahead of other Apple phones. Our iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 Pro comparison provides a complete breakdown, but suffice it to say, if it’s the big changes you’re looking for, check out the Pro model.
But does this mean that either the iPhone 14 Pro or the iPhone 14 Pro Max should be your next phone? With pre-orders for the iPhone 14 on the way, it’s certainly a pressing question, and one we can’t fully answer until we get a chance to test and review both devices. We do have some early impressions, thanks in time to our iPhone 14 Pro Max, though, which help us lay out some of the arguments for and against the iPhone 14 Pro upgrade.
From a powerful new chipset to an attractive notch replacement, the iPhone 14 models have a lot to recommend them. But there are a few reasons why you might want to hold off on upgrading from your current iPhone. Here are five reasons why you should buy the iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max and two reasons why you might give up on either device.
Why should you buy iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max?
major camera improvements
For years, “12” has been the magic number for iPhone cameras, as has 12MP. This is the megapixel rating of every rear camera used on the iPhone, from the main shooter to the ultrawide and telephoto lenses.
The iPhone 14 Pro takes things in a different direction. Apple’s Pro models now have a 48MP main camera, so you can combine four pixels into one to create brighter, more detailed shots. The ProRaw mode on the phone can capture compressed 48MP images giving you more editing flexibility. And there’s also a 2x zoom mode for using the main camera.
Ultrawide and telephoto lenses have their own improvements, the former now having larger pixels that let in more light and better macro camera modes. Meanwhile, the telephoto lens on the iPhone 14 Pro model now supports 6x digital zoom on top of the previous 3x optical zoom. Even the front TrueDepth camera enjoys a wider aperture for better low-light photos and built-in autofocus.
Low-light photography appears to be an important focus for Apple with the iPhone 14 series, as the phone’s new Photonic engine aims to improve mid-low-light photography on all three rear cameras – anywhere from 2x to 3x on the lens. Improvement. Depends on improvement. And Apple adds tricks to the iPhone’s video-capture bag with a new Action Mode, designed to shoot more stable video even when you’re moving at high speeds.
Apple generally dominates the best camera phone rankings, and based on what we’ve seen with the iPhone 14 Pro cameras so far, that’s not going to change anytime soon.
A faster A16 Bionic chipset
While the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus operate with a more advanced version of the A15 Bionic chipset found in last year’s iPhone 13, the Pro model gets an upgrade to the all-new Apple silicon. The A16 Bionic inside the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max is built on a 4 nanometer process, as opposed to the 5nm A15, so Apple is predicting a big increase in power efficiency. In fact, the A16 should consume about 20% less power than its predecessor.
The speed-setting performance that iPhone users enjoy is sure to continue here. While we haven’t benchmarked the iPhone 14 Pro yet, Apple tells us that the A16 Bionic’s 6-core CPU is 40% faster than comparable chipsets from rival chipmakers. (It’s Qualcomm, and it’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, in case you can’t read between the lines.) The GPU and Neural Engine also see improvements.
The bottom line is that you should be able to throw a lot at the A16 processor, and your iPhone 14 Pro will hum just fine along.
dynamic island effect
Anyone can replace an iPhone’s notch with a camera cutout – just look at all those Android phones. Apple paved the way for an improved front camera and the sensor needed for Face ID with a bullet-style shape to securely unlock your phone.
But there’s more to this area than just a cutout for cameras and sensors – so much so that Apple gave it a name. The Dynamic Island feature on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max provides a full set of alerts and notifications, which expand and contract as needed.
Play a song, and the album art along with the track information appears in Dynamic Island; You can long press it to get more information. The space is big enough to hold two sets of info — a countdown timer, for example, and a notification that your AirPods are connected. Apple says it is working with developers to take advantage of the notification capabilities for Dynamic Island, which means the usability of the feature should increase over time.
always on display
Displays with optimal refresh rates are still limited to the Pro phones in the iPhone 14 lineup—bad news if you want a cheaper iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Plus, but better if you’re in the market for a higher-end iPhone. no worries. The promotion for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max takes things even further by improving the display’s refresh rate, allowing it to scale up to 1Hz when on-screen activity is steady.
This change opens the door to a new feature from the iPhone – an always-on display. The date and time will always be present on your iPhone 14 Pro’s lock screen, as will widgets you can add thanks to the lock screen customization features added through iOS 16. Even the lock screen wallpaper remains visible when it is dimmed. Do not remove your phone battery. (Our battery life testing will tell the story there.)
Android phones have offered an always-on display for a while now, but what we’ve seen so far with the implementation of the feature on the iPhone 14 Pro is well worth the wait.
no price increase
If you follow the rumors of the iPhone 14 ahead of the launch of the new phone, you would expect Apple to increase the prices of its Pro model. Well-connected analysts were reporting a $100 price increase for each phone, which would have pushed the iPhone 14 Pro Max specifically into the Galaxy S22 Ultra price range.
However, the projected price hike never materialised. The iPhone 14 Pro is priced at $999, while the iPhone 14 Pro Max is priced at $1,099 – the same price compared to the iPhone 13 Pro model. These aren’t cheap prices by any stretch of the spec, but they are in line with the amount you would expect to pay for a pro-level phone. More importantly, they don’t put the iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max out of reach of more potential owners, and iPhone 14 deals can drive the cost down even further.
WHY YOU SHOULD SKIP THE IPHONE 14 PRO AND IPHONE 14 PRO MAX
The “Pro” is named after Apple’s most expensive phone. So why does the company insist on pairing the base models of the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max with 128GB of storage, the kind of capacity you can find on much cheaper handsets?
The limited storage space pertains exclusively to the iPhone lineup. iPhones have never offered a microSD card slot for add-on storage, and the iPhone 14 series isn’t changing, so the storage you get at the time of purchase is the story you have for the rest. What will happen with that iPhone. Will be there for the rest of your life. That means commit to life with 128GB of storage on hand — less, really, because the pre-installed software takes up some space — or pay to get a 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB model instead.
Those storage upgrades aren’t cheap either, with the 256GB iPhone 14 Pro costing an extra $100 over the regular iPhone 14 Pro price. The 512GB and 1TB increase the price by $300 and $500, respectively.
One could argue that Samsung’s flagships have similar limits on storage space — well, not the Galaxy Z Fold 4 with its 256GB base model — but that’s why Apple offered Pro Storage to iPhone Pro owners. Quantification has started.
No change to charging speeds
Sometimes, phone rumors don’t spread, and that’s good news – check out the fuss over the price hike we didn’t mention above. But sometimes, a rumor comes along that we really hope will be true to end the gloom. And the same is the case with iPhone 14 Pro charging.
Ahead of the iPhone 14 launch, some rumors suggested the Pro model would get 30W wired charging, which is an improvement over the 20W charging that Apple’s phones currently support. Boost would have helped the iPhone keep up with other devices that drain their battery very quickly. The Galaxy S22 features 25W wired charging, while the Pixel 6 Pro features 23W. The OnePlus 10 Pro tops out at 65W charging for US users and 80W charging for the rest of the world. All three devices cost less than the iPhone 14 Pro.
It is not that the iPhone 14 Pro takes forever to charge. You can get a dry phone to a respectable 50% level after 30 minutes. But it’s not the fastest charging speed, and it doesn’t settle for second best like Apple’s.
IPHONE 14 PRO AND IPHONE 14 PRO OUTLOOK
Our view on the new iPhone 14 Pro model may change when we get a chance to put the two new Pro versions through their pace. On paper, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max promise major improvements over their predecessors, and that’s before we even discuss new features like crash detection and satellite connectivity for emergency messages. These are two very powerful handsets that will put a lot of capabilities at your fingertips if you can stomach the $999-and-up price tag.