Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: Apple’s private island 2023′

Apple iPhone 14 Pro review Apple's private island 2023'Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: Apple’s private island 2023′

 

Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: Apple’s private island 2023′. With exclusive access to an upgraded processor, a revamped primary camera, and a new Dynamic Island cutout on the always-on display, the iPhone 14 Pro is a private resort that widens the gap between the regular iPhone and the Pro model. Longtime iOS fans who can’t afford to drop $1,000 on a flagship will have to look on with envy, but for those that can afford the plane ticket, life on Apple’s private island is still pretty sweet.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: Apple’s private island 2023′. Apple’s walled garden is nothing new. In Apple’s mind, it separates the iPhone haves from the Android have-nots, and with it comes a sense of superiority — deserved or not. But now, a new set of have-nots are, if not locked outside the walls, at least separated by a towering fence. If you want anything close to the best that Apple has to offer, the regular iPhone isn’t enough anymore — you have to go Pro.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: Apple’s private island 2023′. Unlike its staid sibling, the iPhone 14 Pro carries a new notch-less, always-on display, the first real camera revamp in years, and is the only iPhone to get truly new silicon in 2022. But are the upgrades worth the price of admission? Let’s find out in our Apple iPhone 14 Pro review.

About this Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: I tested the iPhone 14 Pro over a period of 10 days. It was running iOS 16 for the duration of my testing. The unit was purchased by Android Authority for this review.

What you need to know about the Apple iPhone 14 Pro

Apple iPhone 14 Pro widgets

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

  • Apple iPhone 14 Pro (128GB): $999 / £1,099 / €1,299
  • Apple iPhone 14 Pro (256GB): $1,099 / £1,209 / €1,429
  • Apple iPhone 14 Pro (512GB): $1,299 / £1,429 / €1,689
  • Apple iPhone 14 Pro (1TB): $1,499 / £1,649 / €1,949

You already know how iPhone launches go at this point. The iPhone 14 Pro arrived in September 2022, succeeding the iPhone 13 Pro. It debuted alongside the larger, yet otherwise near-identical iPhone 14 Pro Max, as well as the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: Apple’s private island 2023′. Apple hasn’t let its latest offering fall too far from the tree, at least in terms of the current “Pro” design. The glossy side rails and satin rear glass are back, though Apple removed the physical SIM tray for US models, resulting in a frame that is ever so slightly smoother. That’s right, it’s (dual) eSIM only in the States — other regions get dual-SIM support too, though with a more traditional nano-SIM and eSIM combo.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: Apple’s private island 2023′. The rear camera bump looks and feels the same as the iPhone 13 Pro, though it demands more space on the back glass than ever before. It also houses one of the most significant iPhone camera updates in years — a new 48MP main sensor. Two 12MP shooters round out the setup, one ultrawide and one telephoto, and a LiDAR scanner takes care of depth information.

iPhone 14 Pro Dynamic Island small island

The iPhone 14 Pro’s design is so similar to its predecessor that the best way to tell them apart is with Apple’s choice of colors. Silver and Gold are two iPhone mainstays, but this time they’re accompanied by Space Black and Deep Purple (pictured).

How has the design changed?

On top of the new selfie camera setup, the iPhone 14 Pro now features an always-on display, which you can see in action above. It’s wildly different from the subtle always-on displays we’re used to seeing on Android devices in that it’s very, very on. The entire display remains lit, albeit dimly, at all times, with the clock and your lock screen widgets fully visible. You might love Apple’s approach if you like to look at your lock screen wallpaper, but I found that it tricked my brain into thinking I had a notification even when I didn’t.

Overall, the iPhone 14 Pro feels excellent in hand, and I never felt like I was straining to reach across the 6.1-inch display. The IP68 rating for water and dust resistance also ensures that you can take Apple’s flagship into almost any condition you might face, and while the Gorilla Glass is technically ungraded, we know from previous iPhones that Corning saves some of its best glass for the Cupertino giant.

Our standard slate of benchmarks backs up the real-world results. The single-core Geekbench 5 score measures about an 8% improvement over the A15 Bionic processor based on our testing, while the multi-core score jumped by a more significant 14%. Apple’s recent chips share many of the same components, including six CPU cores and five GPU cores, but the A16 Bionic’s 4nm process plays heavily in its favor. The smaller architecture offers space for additional transistors, but the increased memory and higher clock speeds for the CPU cores play a role as well. Essentially, although the number of cores is the same, the cores themselves offer a bit more punch. The result is a CPU score that blitzes the current competition by a wide margin.

As for the GPU, when put through the 3DMark Wild Life test, the iPhone 14 Pro performs even better. It maxes out the standard Wild Life test, which immediately tops the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max, both of which returned actual numbers in our testing. The Wild Life Stress Test shows some slowing over time, delivering a maximum loop of around 9,900 but falling to just below 8,700 towards the end of the test. While its peaks aren’t quite as eye-watering as the most performant Android phones, the impressive stability indicates strong sustained performance, albeit with only a gradual overall improvement compared to the iPhone 14’s retooled, year-old A15 Bionic chip.

All configurations of the iPhone 14 Pro pack 6GB of RAM to support the A16 Bionic chipset and start at 128GB of storage. Apple offers up to 1TB of onboard storage, which you won’t be able to expand. If you need the top tier, be ready to shell out $1,500 or more. Most people should be fine with the 128 or 256GB instead.

I have no gripes with Apple’s A16 Bionic chip, though I take issue with its exclusivity. Year in and year out, Apple brought its latest silicon to its entire flagship lineup before abruptly stopping with the iPhone 14. Now, you have to go Pro if you want the updated processor, forcing an extra $200 out of your pocket with no other option. The gains may be negligible in everyday use, but they’re not non-existent and could become apparent years down the line as Apple’s enviable support policy continues to provide fresh updates. Ultimately, this isn’t a problem for anyone buying the iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max, but it does smack of elitism — a feeling that should perhaps come as no surprise given it expects you to pop out and buy your mom an iPhone instead of adopting RCS for platform-agnostic messaging. But that’s another story.

Is the battery life any good? What about the charging?

Apple’s iPhones have always made the most of their relatively small batteries. We’ve regularly seen iPhones with cells of around 3,000mAh push beyond a day of usage with remarkable screen-on time. Now, things are headed slightly in the wrong direction, however. The iPhone 14 Pro packs a slightly larger battery of around 3,200mAh (the iPhone 13 Pro was ~3,100mAh), yet it doesn’t seem to reach quite as far as its predecessors.

On mornings when I woke up with a full battery, I was able to push the iPhone 14 Pro all day. My average usage consisted of web browsing, social media, answering emails, and streaming Spotify — typical stuff. However, I found it almost impossible to finish a day with more than 20% remaining battery. It’s enough that I didn’t need to reach for a charger until morning, but I always needed it shortly after breakfast. During the first few days of my testing, I averaged about four-and-a-half to five hours of screen-on time, with up to another hour of idle usage. That’s not great for any phone, let alone a device family often celebrated for its longevity.

Despite a slightly larger cell, the iPhone 14 Pro comes up short of Apple’s usually incredible battery life.

Apple did release the iOS 16.0.2 update during my testing, which seems to have improved the battery life somewhat. The day after the update, I hit six-and-a-half hours of screen-on time with another two hours of the screen sitting idle. I’m not sure what changed in the update, as the notes don’t mention battery improvements, though I can rule out the always-on display as a potential culprit for battery drain. I spent a few days with it on and a few off and only noticed a difference of a few percentage points.

I also noticed reduced performance over the weekend, which is when I typically used the phone the most. I’m in the middle of a marathon training block, and streaming Spotify to my headphones for up to two and a half hours at a time had a significant impact on the iPhone 14 Pro’s battery. Using navigation in my car and running Spotify told a similar story — and often pushed me into Low Power Mode.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro ports

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

On the bright side, Apple is about as transparent with your battery usage and health as anyone. It offers an hour-by-hour chart of your battery drain and how much you used each app in that stretch. If you’re noticing a particularly fast drain at certain points, it’s easy to retrace your steps and find out what’s happening.

Once you empty the iPhone 14 Pro’s modest battery, you can get back on your feet with equally modest speeds up to around 27W via USB Power Delivery. Apple doesn’t offer a specific rate for wired charging, but that was the top rate I managed to measure. It takes about half an hour to pick up the first 50% of your battery, after which point it slows down considerably. All told, it took about 80 minutes for a full charge — around half an hour more than the Galaxy S22 Plus, for context. With no charging brick in the box, you’ll need to supply your own — check out our guide for the best options.

If you prefer to skip the wires, you can try 15W MagSafe or 7.5W Qi wireless charging. These aren’t particularly speedy, though MagSafe continues to be a delightful addition to the iPhone ecosystem. Want to charge your AirPods wirelessly via your iPhone? Tough luck; Apple still doesn’t offer reverse wireless charging unlike many flagship-tier Android phones.

How good is the iPhone 14 Pro camera?

apple iphone 14 pro close cameras

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The iPhone 14 Pro’s main camera marks a significant departure for Apple’s flagships. Two (or three) 12MP shooters were the standard year in and year out, almost like death and taxes, but not anymore. Now, Apple’s flagship comes with a sharper 48MP main camera, though it’s worth remembering that megapixels aren’t everything. Thankfully, that’s not the only upgrade. The new sensor is significantly larger than the iPhone 13 Pro’s primary lens, measuring 1/1.28 inches compared to 1/1.7 — a 65% increase.

The updated main lens is flanked by a pair of familiar faces — a 12MP ultrawide camera and a 12MP 3x telephoto. If you take Apple’s word for it, they allow for a 6x optical zoom range (2x out, 3x in), but that’s not really how optical zoom works. Apple also lists 2x telephoto capabilities as part of its rear setup, though it’s just a 12MP crop taken from the larger 48MP sensor

Unfortunately, one instance of the iPhone 14 Pro not getting it quite right is the 3x telephoto shot of the basketball hoop. The sky is exposed correctly, though the hoop and net are much darker than what my eye could see. Both the backboard and orange hoop should have been brighter, while the white net seems to glow in some places.

The transition from the main camera to the ultrawide camera in daylight is smooth — the colors are consistent across both shots, and there’s minimal distortion. Small details, such as the leaves on the tree to the right, are preserved, though they’re not quite as sharp as reality.

For the most part, the iPhone 14 Pro is comfortable across its full zoom range. It’s capped at 15x digital zoom, which means it’ll stop short of the limits of the very best Android shooters like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, though images beyond 15x zoom are rarely usable on any camera phone. There’s also a noticeable shift in the color profile from the 3x telephoto lens to the 7x digital zoom. The tree to the right is much lighter, and the white of the tower itself has also changed color.

I also much prefer Samsung’s approach to image stabilization over that of the iPhone. You can easily identify when your image is stabilized on a recent Galaxy device, as the viewfinder adds a yellow indicator, but that’s not the case with the iPhone 14 Pro. Instead, stabilization is always active, and you just kind of have to accept that the shake you see in the viewfinder will disappear after you snap the shutter.

While the details of the red church are preserved nicely across the four images in the bottom gallery, the sky is completely blown out in the ultrawide shot in the gallery above. That image was taken on a partly cloudy day, so I would have expected a mixture of clouds and blue sky instead of the flat white result I got. The stones of the church also skew orange the more you zoom in, especially once you reach the 3x telephoto shot.

Portrait mode is another story of hits and misses for the iPhone 14 Pro. When it comes to human-shaped objects, I got mostly hits. The three shots of Benjamin Franklin show good edge detection and excellent depth of field from both the main and telephoto lenses. That said, the color profile is noticeably lighter in the 3x zoom image instead of the more accurate tones in the standard and 2x zoom shots.

However, I got plenty of misses when it comes to other objects. The pool ball is fuzzy along the top, despite having an easily identifiable edge. The figure of Vault Boy suffers a similar fate, with parts of his arms and ear out of focus while his face is sharp.

Our final category for still images is selfies. The iPhone 14 Pro packs a 12MP lens as part of its Dynamic Island setup, with a slightly wider aperture than its predecessor. However, Apple improved the autofocus, which makes capturing a selfie the first time you click much easier. The exposure in my standard selfie is good, and the slight pink tint to some of my skin is understandable based on my bright shirt. I’ve had better portrait results, as the iPhone cuts off quite a bit of my hair, resulting in odd dents like the one on the left side of my head. Overall though, it’s a solid selfie snapper.

The iPhone 14 Pro continues to push smartphone videography forward.

Of course, we can’t discuss an iPhone without digging into its video prowess. The iPhone 14 Pro is capable of up to 4K or 1080p recording at 60fps from the front or rear cameras and a whole host of extra shooting modes. Apple boasts that its Cinematic mode (up to 4K HDR at either 24 or 30fps) is a top choice for filmmakers, and the stabilized Action Mode is a great option if you’re running around chasing your kids or dog. The downside is it requires a lot of light, is restricted to 2.8K at 60fps, and you can’t tell how well the stabilization works until you finish recording. It’s perhaps not as impressive as Apple’s other videography features, but it’s always nice to have options.

One caveat to the iPhone 14 Pro’s video capture is that you can only record in Apple’s lossy “ProRes” codec at 1080p on the base model with 128GB, likely due to the monster file size. If you want 4K ProRes, you need to shell out for at least the 256GB version.

What does iOS 16 bring to the table?

Apple iPhone 14 Pro in hand showing Dynamic Island

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Like the iPhone it runs on, iOS 16 manages to feel both new and familiar. It offers countless apps via the App Store, all of which still float to the top of the display unless weighed down by widgets — which still only come as squares or rectangles. You’ll still find Apple’s first-party options as the default apps and some in-house bloat that you may or may not want.

However, iOS 16 shows its strength once it interacts with the iPhone 14 Pro’s new features. Apple showed off its revamped lock screen controls back at WWDC 2022, with deeper options for customization that builds on iOS 15’s best feature, Focus mode. You can add lock screen widgets, change the style and color of your clock, and even tweak how it interacts with your wallpaper. If your wallpaper features an easily identifiable subject, you can layer said subject on top of the clock for a little extra depth.

The iOS 16 lock screen customizations are good enough that I want Android to steal one or two.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro review Apple's private island 2023'The lock screen controls are pretty impressive, even to the point that Android should probably steal one or two for itself. I usually like to keep a clean lock screen, but I’ve embraced the weather widget when I need a quick glance at the temperature. I change my wallpaper frequently, too, and I’ve yet to find an image where the lock screen struggled to find a subject.

Outside of the lock screen, Dynamic Island is the most noticeable and notable change related to iOS 16. It’s currently limited to the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max — the only two devices with the stretched cutout — but it’s hard not to see it becoming a standard feature down the road. The Dynamic Island appears as a single pill most of the time, but it can expand and contract depending on your incoming notifications. For example, in the image at the top, I’m running Apple Maps and listening to a podcast simultaneously. The Dynamic Island shrinks my podcast notification to a small square of artwork, while Apple Maps updates each step of my route in the larger bubble.

Right now, Dynamic Island works best with Apple’s first-party apps. The other two images above show how it handles incoming calls and song changes within Apple Music, but there are times when Dynamic Island could go further. If you tap on an incoming text message, it defaults to iMessage rather than letting you respond through the notification bubble itself.

Right now, the most interaction I have with Dynamic Island is when it opens to scan my face for Face ID. Otherwise, it often sits unused throughout my daily life, which isn’t great for a flagship-defining feature. Hopefully we’ll see third-party developers adapt apps for the feature soon, but until then it’s a novel use case for what might have otherwise been just an unsightly design choice. I won’t be surprised if we see Android OEMs rapidly adopt and build on the feature, though, especially when you consider that smaller punch-hole cutouts will allow more room for interaction with notifications.

Anything else?

apple iphone 14 pro hero 1

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

  • SIM support: If you’re in the US, the eSIM future is now. You won’t find a physical SIM tray on any US-based iPhone 14, so you’ll have to get set up with your carrier. This might be easier said than done, and you may want to head to a local carrier store to have them do it for you. I decided to activate the eSIM myself prior to getting the iPhone 14 Pro, which entailed moving my physical SIM card from a Galaxy S22 Ultra to an iPhone 13 Pro Max. I then had to update that older iPhone to iOS 16 before I was able to transfer the physical SIM to an eSIM. You may not face any issues if you’re coming from an updated iPhone, but it presents a new challenge for Android converts. On the bright side, you can download up to eight eSIM numbers at any one time and cycle through them as you please. All iPhone 14 models sold outside of the US will offer dual-SIM in the form of a single nano-SIM and an eSIM.
  •  Apple’s proprietary AAC codec.
  • Connectivity: Apple’s premium flagship is up to date with Bluetooth 5.3 onboard, though it stops short of the latest internet connectivity at Wi-Fi 6 over 6E. You also get NFC support for wireless payments and ultra-wideband (UWB) for tracking down any possessions with an AirTag attached.
  • Updates: The iPhone is still unrivaled when it comes to system updates. We regularly see six or more years of full version support, which tops even the best commitments from Samsung and Google. That means you should expect iOS updates through 2028 — or longer.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro specs

Specs Apple iPhone 14 Pro

Display

6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display

2,556 x 1,179 resolution

120Hz refresh rate

2,000 nits peak brightness

Dynamic Island

Processor

Apple A16 Bionic

Storage

128GB256GB512GB1TB

Battery

Video playback: Up to 23 hours

Audio playback: Up to 75 hours

Charging: Up to 50% charge in around 30 minutes with 20W adapter or higher

15W MagSafe wireless charging

Cameras

Rear:48MP Main (24mm, ƒ/1.78 aperture, sensor‑shift optical image stabilization)

12MP Ultrawide (13mm, ƒ/2.2 aperture and 120° field of view, six‑element lens)

12MP 3x Telephoto (77mm, ƒ/2.8 aperture, OIS, six‑element lens)

Front:12MP (ƒ/1.9 aperture, six-element lens)

Connectivity

5G (sub‑6 GHz and mmWave) with 4×4 MIMOGigabit LTE with 4×4 MIMO and LAAWi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2×2 MIMOBluetooth 5.3Ultra Wideband chipNFC

Sensors

Face IDLiDARBarometerHigh dynamic range gyroHigh-g accelerometerProximity sensorDual ambient light sensors

Software

iOS 16

Durability

IP68Ceramic ShieldStainless steel frame

Dimensions and weight

147.5 x 71.5 x 7.85mm206g

Colors

Space BlackSilverGoldDeep Purple

Safety

Emergency SOS via satelliteCrash Detection

Value and competition

 

Apple iPhone 14 Pro

Powerful A16 SoC • Excellent software • Upgraded 48MP camera

This resort is all-exclusive.

Apple offers exclusive access to an upgraded processor, a better 48MP camera, and a new Dynamic Island feature with the iPhone 14 Pro.

The iPhone 14 Pro starts at $999 in the US, exactly where its predecessor sat. It offers plenty of bang for your buck, with an upgraded processor, a sharper primary camera, and a reimagined display. However, there’s plenty of competition in the $1,000 price bracket, and the iPhone 14 Pro only grows more expensive as you increase your onboard storage. The iPhone 14 Pro Max reaches even higher above the $1,000 price point, though it also delivers a larger display and improved battery life due to the larger cell.

Apple’s most natural rival at the $1,000 price point is the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus ($794.99 at Amazon). It’s larger than the iPhone at 6.6 inches, houses a much bigger battery, and has had far more time to hone its rear camera setup. The Galaxy S22 Plus also charges faster, with up to 45W wired speeds from compatible chargers. Samsung’s flagship is built just as tough as the iPhone, with an IP68 rating and premium materials, though Apple’s best still holds the edge regarding software updates, even with Samsung’s outstanding support policies.

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