Apple's iPhone 14 has arrived, and despite the upgrades shown off at the Apple event, not to mention an all-new iPhone 14 Plus boasting a bigger display and battery, I'm disappointed.
All eyes are on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, and rightfully so. With noteworthy changes and improvements across the board, including the new "Dynamic Island," upgraded A16 Bionic chip, and 48MP wide-angle camera, the Pro models look to finally offer substantial upgrades over the standard models.
So, what do the standard iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus offer? Of course, the Plus model is an exciting new addition, especially for those who want bigger, 6.7-inch screen real estate without having to pay over $1,000 for an iPhone Pro Max. Other than that, it's hard to tell what makes the iPhone 14 worth buying over a phone that's been a hit for a while: the iPhone 13.
From the chip it packs to the absence of a display feature we've always wanted, here are a few reasons why I'm skipping the iPhone 14 — and why you should, too.
To start off, I'm a big fan of my iPhone SE (2020), and still think it's one of the best iPhones to grab, especially at its price. With a new iPhone announcement, however, I'm looking for a good enough reason to upgrade. Previous rumors and leaks pointed to a new always-on display coming to the iPhone 14, and that alone was giving me the incentive to take the plunge.
Hold on, that's only coming to the Pro models. All those leaks hit the nail on the head, with the always-on display automatically dimming the iPhone 14 Pro's display while still presenting the notifications, widgets, and other glanceable information you may need.
That feature goes hand-in-hand with the fresh Lock Screen iOS 16 is bringing, and it won't even waste that much battery with Apple's ProMotion 120Hz panel being able to drop all the way down to 1Hz when viewing static content.
Is that coming to the iPhone 14? Nope. Sure, with iOS 16, we're set to see a number of interesting features arrive, including the ability to add widgets to the Lock Screen and choose from various fonts, colors, and styles. But that's coming to nearly all iPhones; it's not exclusive to the standard iPhone 14.
That display looks identical to the iPhone 13, and it won't even bring that 120Hz panel we were all hoping would trickle down from the iPhone 13 Pro. That, and the 1,600 nits of max HDR brightness or 2,000 nits of max outdoor brightness.
Speaking of looking similar to previous models...
Sticking with the notch
Apple finally did it; say goodbye to the notch on the iPhone 14 Pro. Instead, we're getting a swanky pill-shaped bar at the top that does far more than just house the front-facing camera.
With Dynamic Island, it will be able to show different alerts and notifications that pop up throughout the day. And, it will be able to expand to notify you about calls, charging, messages, and more. The Music app even morphs into the Dynamic Island bar, and even expands into controls in specific apps, like the Phone or Apple Maps app.
Now that's what I call a next-gen iPhone. The iPhone 14 Pro brings something completely new to the table, and it's better than what previous rumors were talking about: a simple "pill + hole" shape to just get rid of the notch (that source saying they had a "hands-on" with the Pro model and that it didn't make a difference didn't hit the nail on the head).
That leaves the standard iPhone 14 looking exactly like the iPhone 13. Same notch and same display. I don't know about you, but if I'm upgrading to a new iPhone, I would want it to at least look different. Sure, it comes in a new shade of light blue and purple, but I'll stick with the green iPhone 13, thanks.
Lack of A16
One of the biggest upgrades we're treated to with every new iPhone model is the chip. From the A11 Bionic of the iPhone X to the A15 packed in the iPhone 13, Apple continues to boost performance speeds with every new iPhone launch. Well, not this year.
Stow your A16 party hats as leaks indicating the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus would stick with the A15 have come true. At the very least, it's the A15 from the iPhone 13 Pro, meaning there's a 5-core GPU, so expect even faster speeds over the standard iPhone 13.
But that's still nothing compared to the A16 chip the iPhone 14 Pro is packing. Apple's A16 Bionic consumes 20% less power than the A15 Bionic and Apple claims it uses 1/3 the power of its competitors. But it isn't all about efficiency, as the 50% boost to memory bandwidth should deliver even smoother gaming performance. Plus, it's built on a 4-nanometer process for better performance.
Not that we need that performance bump. As you'll find in our Galaxy S22 vs. iPhone 13, Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13, and other face-offs, the A15 chip wipes the floor when it comes to performance by a long shot. Even the A14 chip in the iPhone 12 and A13 in my iPhone SE (2020) continues to shine.
However, without the performance jump in the standard iPhone 14 models, why not just stick with the iPhone 13? For many, that 5-core GPU difference won't be noticeable, because the A15 chip already outshines a lot of its competition.
What camera upgrade?
Cameras have consistently shined on iPhone models, despite them sticking with a 12MP wide and 12MP ultra-wide. This time around, however, the iPhone 14 Pro models come packed with an upgraded 48MP main camera sensor, and plenty more.
Apple's new Pro camera system introduces a 48MP wide-angle camera with an f/1.78 aperture. Apple claims it will deliver a 2x improvement in low light versus iPhone 13 Pro. That aperture may jump out as a step down from the f/1.5 wide-angle on last year's Pro models, but thanks to pixel binning and computational photography it should net out as a boost overall.
While standard photos will still come out as 12MP, making them more manageable for editing and sharing, Pro photographers will appreciate the ability to shoot in Pro Raw at the full 48MP resolution. It's not the 100MP in some of the Android flagships, but it's a massive leap for iPhone owners.
The new ultra-wide offers a 3x improvement in low light over iPhone 13 Pro and improved macro mode.
So, what about the standard iPhone 14? Luckily, there are improvements coming to the camera system, including a new 12MP main camera with a larger sensor and larger pixel count. Plus, the wide camera sports a 49% improvement for low-light photos, and Night Mode exposure is twice as fast.
For the selfie fans, the front-facing camera also has autofocus for the first time, and it has a 38% improvement in low-light performance. And, for the videographers, the advanced stabilization mode called "Action Mode" is coming to the iPhone 14, too.
That's all well and good, but for those truly into the photography scene, their eyes should be all over the iPhone 14 Pro. As for everyone else, these upgrades aren't as noteworthy. The iPhone 13's camera was already exceptional, but it seems what you're really getting is better low-light performance. To me, that's not worth paying more for the latest flagship iPhone (especially with the rise in price in the UK).
The iPhone 14 is here, and it's not as impressive as previous flagship iPhones. In fact, it's more like an iPhone 13 Pro in the skin of a standard iPhone 13. If that's the case, why bother upgrading from the iPhone 13. unless you're after the size of the iPhone 14 Plus?
We have yet to get our hands on the iPhone 14, so there may be more interesting features and upgrades that will make it worth our while. Of course, there's also the newly added Crash Detection, which is great to have in any driving scenario. But this year, more than ever, the standard iPhone is one to skip. Heck, even wait for the iPhone 15.
If you're looking for more differences, check out our iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13 piece. And, for everything announced at Apple's "Far Out" September event, we've got you covered.