Like every year in September, the new iPhone is launched by the Apple brand based in Silicon Valley. This year, Apple is offering four models for the 14th generation of its iconic smartphone. With this version, we see that the brand tends more and more to rest on its laurels in terms of innovation and design renewal.
In view of the competition, one has the impression that the Californian giant is lagging as the latest innovations in mobile are proving to be audacious and sometimes unexpected. We are thinking of Samsung's magnificent foldable screens, Huawei's selfie camera with incredible performance, or the race for low-cost power started by OnePlus to attract mobile gamers.
That being said, the quality of the chassis finishes, the improved performance of the photo unit, and certain unique functions such as 3D scanning by LiDAR (since the 12th and only for the Pro versions) or the SOS by satellite, save the day on innovation.
The camera block is a bit better.
New cooling system.
Excellent sound quality.
SOS by satellite, potentially.
Minor hardware update.
Value for money could be better.
First of all, it is important to note that the iPhone 14 is almost the same product as the iPhone 14 Plus, but the latter offers a larger chassis. Compared to the iPhone 13, version 14 represents only a minimal update. As it happens, many industry experts and commentators are complaining about the lack of innovation in this 2022 vintage.
Design-wise, the iPhone 14 is similar to the iPhone 13. The aluminum chassis is identical, moreover, the hulls of the iPhone 13 are perfectly compatible with the new model. Both smartphones use almost the same components, including the A15 processor. Without the new colors, it would be very difficult to tell the difference visually between the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 14.
The front and rear camera electronics have been improved a bit, and it's still worth noting that. But everything else is just software or minimal feature updates.
Accident detection: iPhone 14 can detect a car accident and use the SMS emergency channel to notify emergency services and your loved ones.
SOS by satellite: when you are no longer in the reception range of a cellular network, a phenomenon described as a "dark spot", the iPhone 14 can help in case of danger by sending a distress message (SOS) via a satellite. We'll see how this service works when it launches in November.
Only one eSIM: Apple has just decided to no longer use physical SIM cards. The e-SIM will not change your daily life but it may make it easier in that you will no longer wait to receive a SIM card in case you need it.
Better cooling system: Apple said that the cooling of the iPhone 14 has been improved, which will help performance for gaming applications, augmented reality, or even navigation on a long drive.
Cameras: Compared to the design of the iPhone 13, the rear photo block and the front selfie camera have been improved, which is one of the main reasons to get the iPhone 14.
The chassis of the iPhone 14 is identical to that of the iPhone 13. The good news is that you won't need to change your protective cover, or, if you want to, a very wide selection of cases are already available on the market.
For the iPhone 14, Apple uses aluminum, while the 14 Pro version is made largely of stainless steel, a material that is denser than aluminum. As a result, the iPhone 14 is lighter, but suddenly it appears lower-end than its heavier Pro version. Not only is stainless steel more resistant to scratches and impact, but, in our opinion, it also offers better aesthetics.
The speaker system produces excellent sound quality, comparable to that offered by the most expensive smartphones on the market. Audio quality is therefore a strong point of the iPhone 14 if you like to use the built-in speakers to watch movies, play games, listen to podcasts or listen to music.
The iPhone 14 has a 6.1-inch screen, while the iPhone 14 Plus offers a larger 6.7-inch panel. This is the main difference between the two models. The edges of the screen are thick, and the punch that houses the selfie camera and the infrared sensor at the top of the chassis is very big by current standards.
The screen quality is excellent, with accurate color reproduction. The maximum brightness in manual settings reaches 595 NITs, but when the system manages it automatically, the brightness can reach 890 NITs at its maximum. Unfortunately, the refresh rate is only 60Hz, since Apple's ProMotion technology is only available on the iPhone 14 Pro models.
The photo block of the new iPhone 14 has been slightly improved, thanks to the main camera offering 26 mm optics, like that of the iPhone 13 Pro. Moreover, the 14mm ultra-wide-angle module inherits a better lens than that of the iPhone 13, however, it is not as good as that of the iPhone 13 Pro.
The LiDAR sensor is a unique feature of the Pro line (since version 12), and the iPhone 14 will therefore not have any 3D scanning capability, since this is still reserved for the Pro models. Naturally, photos from the iPhone 14 look similar to those taken with the iPhone 13 Pro when using the 26mm main camera which is quite similar to the previous generation Pro model.
Ultra wide-angle shots can look a little different at night depending on the length of the exposure, which varies depending on the shooting conditions. Bulb exposures are not nature's way of shooting in low light, and this method can produce images that are far removed from reality.
It's fair to say that in 2022, using a long exposure of 1-3 seconds for photography in low light conditions is a mark of technological weakness, considering that most Android smartphones in this price range don't need that much.
Apple offers "action mode" for video stabilization, a function where the video image is cropped more than normal, but it allows for better stabilization when shooting. It's a compromise, but the video is significantly more stable.
Compared to the previous iPhone, the selfie camera seems to capture more natural photos, mainly because its software doesn't try to systematically "make its subject beautiful". These new settings could possibly be passed on to older Apple phones via an iOS update. The selfie camera now has the autofocus function.
Apple offers excellent CPU performance, which is clearly seen in benchmarks. CPU speed translates into very responsive apps and OS, and good day-to-day performance. When it comes to real-time 3D video games available on mobile, the iPhone 14 offers decent performance and delivers similar power to the iPhone 13 Pro in the GPU tests we ran.
However, it does not achieve the same scores as the OnePlus 10T, an Android smartphone dedicated to gaming and recently introduced on the market. However, the iPhone 14 might outperform these phones for some specific tasks like compression or video editing because Apple has dedicated hardware for that.
Apple has steadily increased the battery capacity of iPhones over the years, and that's a good thing. Despite this, the iPhone 14 is behind Android competition, such as the Samsung Galaxy S22+, which has a significantly larger battery capacity and is sold cheaper. Affordable smartphones such as the OnePlus 10T offer an even more powerful battery.
Fortunately, the 60Hz screen combined with the overall power efficiency of the Apple platform makes the iPhone 14 a smartphone that works for a full working day. Plus, chances are you still have 20% battery left after that busy day (in standard use).
The iPhone 14 shows a noticeable price difference compared to the iPhone 13 which remains available for purchase. Apple justifies the price difference with a better quality digital camera on the iPhone 14 but which is still worse than that of the iPhone 13 Pro. This iPhone 14 also does not have "Pro" attributes such as telephoto, or LiDAR.
The ideal would be to find an iPhone 13 Pro at a discount. Also, if you can afford to buy an iPhone 14 Pro, it is significantly better and probably worth the additional $300.
For those who own an iPhone 13, go straight to the 14 Pro, or wait until next year to update. However, if you have an iPhone 12 or older, upgrading to iPhone 14 makes sense.