Apple's most iterative smartphone ever is really hard to judge.
We've given the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max a score of 10/10. We've thrown around platitudes like "the perfect smartphone" and even called it "a bargain" based on what you're getting afterwards. But it's obviously not the iPhone that most people worldwide are going to buy, so perhaps the more central question is how does the regular iPhone 14 really fare?
Well, the problem is that many of the things that make the iPhone 14 Pro so excellent also exist over here in the cheaper model. You still get the cohesive ecosystem, blazing fast performance, a solid camera and all the other benefits you get through iOS 16, for example.
At the same time, we also have to state that this is Apple's most iterative update of a product ever, and that the now cheaper iPhone 13 appears to be a far, far better deal compared to the phone that now replaces it.
Apple wants us to look more directly at what a smartphone can do for us, rather than what the specs stipulate, but of course this approach is also a double-edged sword, because with software as cohesive as iOS 16 is, and with a phone that hasn't directly received an SOC upgrade, the iPhone 14 doesn't do a single thing for you that the iPhone 13 can't do almost, if not directly, as well. Yes, it's hyperbolic, for example Crash Detection and Emergency SOS are exclusive features, no doubt about that, and likewise there are then new upgrades here. While we're at it, shouldn't we review them?
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In addition to the two aforementioned features, the resolution of the screen has increased slightly to 2532x1170 and 460ppi, new colours, a different internal design that supposedly allows easier repair, different thermal characteristics under pressure, a new main camera and a new selfie camera. It's not nothing, but it's not much either, is it?
It's still the same A15 Bionic, just so you know, but this time it has one more GPU core, so we land on a total of five. Furthermore, the improved design will supposedly ensure that this chip can go further without having to slow down the clock speed due to thermal throttling. That's not something to complain about as such, and it's also hard to be mad about the fact that both the back and front are now separate pieces, which can therefore be replaced by a technician - separately.
The central wide camera at the back is still 12 megapixels, but is now 26 millimetres, so technically it can pull in a bit more light. You can actually see it, you really have to squint but in these general scenarios there is actually an improvement. Also, the new selfie camera now features Auto Focus, which makes it a lot easier to centre you and can more easily separate you from the rest of the background.
But that's about it. So we're kind of left with the same interesting debate as before. Measured purely on its own terms, the iPhone 14 lacks many of the parameters and technologies we expect from a modern smartphone; there's no 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rate, there's no telephoto lens or optical zoom, it's not an AOD or fancy toy.
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At the same time, this is a phone with such coherent software, combined with the best image processing on the market, IP certification, wireless charging and an ecosystem that is now so efficiently put together that you just can't find it anywhere else, including Google. However, we expect this statement to be debated.
It's both a hugely easy phone to recommend, while also being hugely difficult, and that goes for both those who buy iPhones exclusively, and those who... well, don't.
We have to state that despite the sacrifices, the iPhone 14 is still, from a usage perspective, an excellent smartphone, but that doesn't mean we're willing to forget that this is probably the most iterative update to a core product Apple has ever served up. That is, besides the Watch Series 8.