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Apple iPhone 14 and 14 Plus review: Good phones, but are they worth buying?

By Kenny Yeo - 30 Oct 2022

Introduction

Note: This feature was first published on 6 October 2022.

The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus.

Names can create expectations. That's why people expect a MacBook Pro to be powerful and an iPad Air to be light. So when Apple sticks a bigger number on their iPhone, naturally, we expect it to be different and better. And I’m not entirely sure the new iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are different enough or any better than Apple’s current iPhone lineup. Let’s take a closer look and see if we can uncover the truth behind these phones.

The TLDR version:

These are great phones on their own, but consider the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, especially now when you can still find them new.

Read on to find out why.

What’s new, what’s not

The only thing that's really new is the size. We've never had a "big" 6.7-inch non-Pro iPhone before.

We know by now that the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus are very similar to last year’s iPhone 13 and they share a lot of components from other iPhones. Let’s break it down and see what’s really new.

  • iPhone 14 Plus is a new size to non-Pro iPhone lineup
  • A15 Bionic with 5 GPU cores
  • Improved main camera from iPhone 13 Pro
  • Improved TrueDepth camera with autofocus
  • Photonic Engine
  • Cinematic mode up to 4K/30fps
  • Action mode
  • Slightly larger batteries
  • Emergency SOS via satellite
  • Crash Detection
  • New colours 

Maybe it’s good to also list down the things that aren’t new.

  • Design is the same, body oh-so-slightly thicker
  • Display unchanged, still 60Hz refresh rate
  • Ultra wide camera is the same
  • Still just 4K Dolby Vision HDR videos at up to 60fps

Because of its aluminium body, the iPhone 14 Plus is lighter than the smaller stainless steel iPhone 14 Pro.

The one truly new thing in terms of design is the size of the iPhone 14 Plus. Previously, if you wanted a 6.7-inch phone from Apple, you’ll have to step up to a costlier “Pro” iPhone.  The upside to this move is that you now have a cheaper large phone from Apple. And because the non-Pro iPhones have aluminium bodies, the iPhone 14 Plus feels light. It’s even lighter than the smaller iPhone 14 Pro.

Crash Detection is a feature that's present on all the iPhone 14 phones and also the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra. (Image source: Apple)

And as for features, the most notable new ones are Emergency SOS via satellite and Crash Detection. Very briefly, the first lets you send SOS messages via satellite if you don’t have a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. The second uses the phone’s highly sensitive accelerometer and other senses to detect if you have been in a serious car crash. And if you do, it can automatically contact emergency services and your emergency contacts. I don’t think anyone will say that these are not nice features to have.

The display doesn't have Dynamic Island and isn't always-on.

What’s most disappointing is that the display – the thing on the phone that you interact with the most – didn’t receive any updates. Even if Apple wanted to keep the always-on display exclusive to the Pro iPhones, they could have thrown us a bone and included ProMotion displays for the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus. Because even though the iPhone 14 is supposed Apple’s more affordable phone, it’s priced like a high-end phone – and most phones in this price range have high refresh rate displays. If it's any consolation, this still is a great display that's very sharp and vibrant.

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