The iPhone 14 Pro is the best iPhone you can buy right now. It packs in Apple's brand new A16 Bionic chip for blazing fast processing power, replaces the notch with the all-new Dynamic Island that utilizes all of your available screen real estate, has an Always-On display, and bumps the Main camera up from 12MP to a whopping 48MP for incredibly detailed photos. And the all-new Deep Purple color is an absolute beauty.
- Blazing fast performance with A16
- 48 megapixel Main camera with triple lens camera system
- Dynamic Island is a useful notch replacement
- Up to 1TB of storage space
- Finally has an Always-On display
- Deep Purple could have been more...purple
When Apple revealed the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro during its ‘Far Out’ September event, we got a glimpse of a tried-and-true design. On the surface, the iPhone 14 series looks pretty identical to the iPhone 13 lineup, which carries the same design as the iPhone 12 devices before it. While the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro look the same as their predecessors on the surface, there’s far more to these devices than what meets the eye. Well, maybe not quite so much for the standard iPhone 14, but definitely the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
In fact, Apple gave the iPhone 14 some pretty unexciting upgrades. It’s not much different from the iPhone 13 before it, as it still uses the A15 Bionic chip from last year, but with slightly improved cameras, Crash Detection, and Emergency SOS via satellite. That’s about it.
Instead, this year, Apple made the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max the best iPhone you can buy. There’s an amazing new Always-On display, 48-megapixel Main camera sensor, the Dynamic Island, and so much more. So is the iPhone 14 Pro worth it? You bet. Let’s dive in and find out why.
iPhone 14 Pro: Price and availability
The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max launched alongside the standard iPhone 14 on Sept. 16, 2022. The iPhone 14 Plus will be launching at a later date on Oct. 7, 2022.
The Pro models come in four colors: Space Black, Deep Purple, silver, and gold. You can get the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max models in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB storage capacities. Prices for the iPhone 14 Pro start at $999 for the base model, then $1099, $1299, and $1499, respectively. The iPhone 14 Pro Max starts at $1099 for the base model, then $1199, $1399, and $1599, respectively, depending on storage size.
|Storage||iPhone 14 Pro||iPhone 14 Pro Max|
You can purchase the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max directly from an Apple Store or online, your carrier of choice, and big box retailers like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart.
Though there was a lot of speculation that the price of the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro models were going to be more expensive, that’s not the case, at least in the U.S. The iPhone 14 Pro starts at $999, just like the iPhone 13 Pro before it, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max starts at $1099 like before too. However, outside of the U.S., the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro just got more expensive because the value of the U.S. dollar is currently strong, which means you need more currency in other countries, like euros, to match the value of the dollar. Other countries may also include tax in the price, whereas only a few states in the U.S. exclude sales tax, making these big price differences you may be seeing.
iPhone 14 Pro: Hardware and design
Physically, the iPhone 14 Pro looks the same as the iPhone 13 Pro. It has the stainless steel flat edges that have been present since the iPhone 12, a frosted matte glass back, and the Ceramic Shield front that should make the front glass more drop resistant and resilient to scratches (though in my past experience, this hasn’t always been the case). If you’ve had an iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro, then really, nothing has changed too much in terms of the hardware itself.
While the silver and gold colors are quite similar to previous generations, the new Space Black is slightly darker than last year’s graphite (though it’s still grayer than actual black). Sierra Blue and Alpine Green have also been eliminated in favor of a new Deep Purple color. This is the color that I personally chose for my iPhone 14 Pro order, and I think it’s one of the more exciting colors for the Pro ever, at least since Pacific Blue. Despite being called “Deep Purple,” it’s actually a more subtle shade that can vary wildly depending on the lighting situation that it’s in, at least on the matte glass part. Sometimes it can look like lilac with a lot of gray blended in, but in cooler lights, the purple can really stand out and shine. On the camera bump, the purple is definitely more of a deep color as advertised. I believe if you go with the Deep Purple iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max and need one of the best iPhone 14 Pro cases, then a clear one would work best for this unique hue.
Though the iPhone 13 Pro had a big camera bump, Apple hasn’t stopped there. The iPhone 14 Pro has a slightly thicker camera bump, and that’s due to the bigger sensors and lenses that Apple packed into the device. So if you prefer to use a naked device and set your phone down, the unevenness may be more noticeable. But if you use a case, depending on the one that you choose, it may be less noticeable as some provide thicker cutouts to make it as flush as possible.
Of course, there is a big standout feature of the iPhone 14 Pro design that blends both hardware and software together into a seamless experience. That’s the all-new, yet oddly named, Dynamic Island.
iPhone 14 Pro: Welcome to Dynamic Island
This is one of my absolute favorite features of the iPhone 14 Pro models. If you’ve followed me here on iMore for the past few years, you’ll know that I truly hated the notch when it was first introduced on the iPhone X. In fact, it was one reason why I decided to skip the X and instead got an iPhone 8 at the time (plus I was unsure about forgoing the Home button). I’ve grown used to it over time, but I still find the notch to be a big waste of space on the status bar. With that said, I’m happy about the notch’s replacement: Dynamic Island.
The Dynamic Island is a combination of the pill and hole-punch cutouts in the top of the display, which houses the TrueDepth camera and Face ID sensor array, as well as the iOS 16 software. Apple turned the useless notch into something useful through a fusion of hardware and software design and engineering. It’s interactive — hence the “dynamic” part of the name — and just an absolute delight to use.
When the Dynamic Island is in the “idle” state, you see a single, elongated capsule at the top of the screen, where you’d normally see the notch on previous devices. Despite it being two actual cutouts, thanks to the integration with iOS 16 software, it appears as a singular “cutout.” But as you use your iPhone 14 Pro, the Dynamic Island will fluidly change, depending on what you do.
When I have locked the iPhone 14 Pro, the Dynamic Island will stretch out just a bit and show a lock icon on the Always-On display (I’ll get to this in the next section) to indicate that it’s locked. When you pick it up and unlock it via Face ID, there’s an animation to indicate that you’ve unlocked the handset, and then it will go back to the idle size.
The Dynamic Island can also be home for your notifications and alerts. If you get a phone call, it will expand to show the incoming call info, and also have buttons to answer or decline. It shows a Face ID animation if you use Apple Pay or authenticate to unlock an app or just your phone in general. You can play audio from the Music app or Podcasts, and once you return to the Home Screen, the Dynamic Island transforms and shows tiny album art and has a visual equalizer to show that there is audio playing in the background. You can tap-and-hold on the Dynamic Island to make it expand into a playback control center, or just tap the Dynamic Island itself to return to the app.
You can also have multiple apps running in the Dynamic Island. For example, say if you have your Music app playing, and you need to set a timer, the Dynamic Island can handle that without breaking a sweat. With two apps, the Dynamic Island splits up into two separate areas: one longer, more elongated capsule (which hides both the Face ID sensors and the TrueDepth camera), and a secondary circle — think of the letter “i,” but sideways. In the case of the timer, the secondary Dynamic Island element features a timer icon that displays how much time remains.
While we all saw the notch replacement coming, none of us expected the Dynamic Island. Apple surprised everyone, and the Dynamic Island is the new defining feature of the iPhone 14 Pro and beyond. It’s absolutely delightful, even whimsical, to use, and it adds another layer to multitasking on the iPhone that is a beautiful blend of hardware and software. It makes full use of the status bar area, and I fully expect Android manufacturers to copy this in the coming months (though who knows if the execution will be as good).
iPhone 14 Pro: Display
New on the iPhone 14 Pro is the Always-On display (AOD). This isn’t a brand new concept to Apple, though, as the Apple Watch began using AOD with the Apple Watch Series 5. However, this is the first time that the AOD has come to the iPhone, though Android devices have had AOD for quite some time. But you know how it goes — Apple isn’t first because it wants to do it the best.
This also applies to the AOD. In fact, the way Apple handles the AOD on the iPhone 14 Pro is a bit different than how most Android devices have done it. I had a brief stint with a Samsung Galaxy S8 a few years ago, which had an AOD. From my brief experience, the AOD was quite minimal, only showing the clock, battery level, and any missed notifications you had for calls or messages.
I believe that Apple’s implementation of the AOD is much nicer, though it seems that I may be in the minority with that opinion. It dims your entire Lock Screen wallpaper, but you can still see the date, clock, and even any widgets you set up. Incoming notifications come in from the bottom and are visible with a quick glance. When you tap or raise your iPhone 14 Pro, the AOD springs to life. Even in direct sunlight, I found the AOD to be very easy to see when not in use. It may depend on the wallpaper that you use, but mine was still visible in direct sunlight, and the on-screen information is legible, though this may also depend on the color and transparency you set.
I admit though, it was weird having an AOD on the iPhone at first. Often I simply thought I didn’t turn the screen off. But after just a few hours, I got used to it, and now I’m not sure how I did without it this entire time. It’s wonderful just being able to glance over at your device and just see the time, or if you have any notifications waiting for you. It’s very much like when the AOD came to the Apple Watch — it was possible to live without it, but why would you want to?
Of course, there may be concerns about how the AOD affects battery life. I’ve kept the AOD on by default and honestly have not noticed any difference in battery from normal, everyday use. Any effect it has is very negligible. And if you don’t want to use the AOD at all, don’t worry — there’s a toggle in the Settings app to turn it off completely if you so choose.
But what about when you sleep? If you have a sleep schedule set up, then you should already have a Sleep Focus, which automatically kicks in at your bedtime. When your iPhone 14 Pro goes into the Sleep Focus, the AOD turns off until you wake up, so the display won’t be visible throughout the night. So if you haven’t already been using a sleep schedule, now would be a good time to start.
iPhone 14 Pro: eSIM-only activation for the United States
One of the major differences between the U.S. version of the iPhone 14 Pro compared to other countries is the lack of a physical SIM card tray. Instead, Apple opted to remove physical SIM for the U.S. and go all out on eSIM. Though this may pose a problem for those who travel internationally or like to constantly switch between phones, for the average user, it may not matter.
I ordered my iPhone 14 Pro directly from Apple in the U.S. and chose T-Mobile for my carrier. Once I got my iPhone 14 Pro and was setting it up, the eSIM activation was very simple and straightforward. I just had to follow the on-screen instructions — since I chose my carrier when purchasing, the device was already provisioned for T-Mobile. I was worried at first that there may be issues connecting to T-Mobile’s network, but it all went down without a hitch. Within minutes, my cellular service was activated and I could make and receive calls as well as send messages and get data.
For the average person who does not travel abroad frequently or switch between multiple iPhones and Android devices, the eSIM issue may not be a big deal. I cannot speak for those who do either of those things though, because there are all kinds of factors involved. For example, does the carrier you want to use overseas support eSIM? Is it available without having to purchase 12 months at a time? Is it actually more expensive than a physical SIM card? And those who like to switch between Android and iPhone, well, even if your Android device of choice supports eSIM, I still think using a physical SIM card is easier for that than eSIM. But hey, I could be wrong — if I am, let me know. I think I would still prefer to just be able to pop out a little SIM card and then put it into another phone and just have my stuff work right away.
iPhone 14 Pro: Emergency SOS via satellite and Crash Detection
New safety features in all iPhone 14 models, including the iPhone 14 Pro, include Emergency SOS via satellite and Crash Detection. Both of these are incredibly useful to have, though it’s honestly a feature that you hopefully don’t have to use. In my time with the iPhone 14 Pro so far, I’m thankful I haven’t had to experience these features myself just yet, but it’s good to know that they’re options if I absolutely need them.
Emergency SOS via satellite will allow you to connect to emergency services by sending texts for help, even if you are nowhere near a cell tower or have Wi-Fi signal. For this feature, Apple has partnered up with Globalstar, a satellite connectivity operator, to make this all possible. To activate Emergency SOS via satellite, you hold down the side button with a volume button until the Emergency SOS comes up. But with the satellite connectivity, it won’t be making a phone call like the normal Emergency SOS — instead, it will send a series of short text messages after you answer very quick questions about your situation.
The reason that Emergency SOS via satellite sends messages instead of making a call is because satellite connectivity is very limited and does not allow for regular data, voice, or text. But for all of this to work, you’ll need to point your iPhone 14 towards a nearby satellite, so this works best when you have a clear view of the sky with few or no obstructions. Think of it this way — the situations that you may need this feature in (hiking in remote areas, etc.), getting a good view of the sky shouldn’t be too difficult compared to when you’re in the city with cell towers.
Crash Detection is the other new safety feature that may be more useful to a wider range of people, and though you can disable it, I don’t see why you would want to. With Crash Detection, your iPhone 14 can be used to detect when you’re in a severe car crash involving most passenger cars. This works by utilizing the high dynamic range gyroscope and high-g accelerometer, GPS, barometer, microphone, and other advanced motion algorithms in the iPhone 14 (and Apple Watch). Once a crash is detected, the iPhone shows an alert on the screen for about 10 seconds, in which you can either swipe on the screen to call for emergency services or dismiss it if you don’t need them. However, if there is no interaction after the first 10 seconds, another 10-second countdown starts before emergency services are automatically contacted.
Again, I thankfully have not had to use either of these two features in my brief time with my iPhone 14 Pro, but having these options gives me additional peace of mind. If you are the type who loves to go hiking in remote places, then Emergency SOS via satellite is a must-have feature. And well, anyone could benefit from Crash Detection, regardless of whether or not you actually drive.
Also, keep in mind that these safety features are not just on the iPhone 14 Pro models — it is also available on the standard iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus.
iPhone 14 Pro: Software and performance with A16
The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max both have Apple’s newest A16 Bionic chip packed inside, while the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are on the A15 from last year. Like the A15 before it, the A16 has a 6-core CPU with two performance and four efficiency cores, a 5-core GPU for faster graphics performance, and a 16-core Neural Engine. Honestly though, coming from an iPhone 13 Pro with the A15 that was already pretty fast, the A16 performance improvements are hard to notice in my daily use. But if someone is coming from, say an iPhone XS, then the A16 will definitely be a huge jump in performance.
Apple touts the A16 as the “ultimate smartphone chip” that powers the capabilities of the iPhone 14 Pro. The faster 6-core CPU can handle any workload you throw at it smoothly and efficiently, while the 16-core Neural Engine can perform 17 trillion operations per second, making it possible for pixel-by-pixel analysis with the new Photonic Engine. Gamers should expect even better performance with 50% more memory bandwidth.
Of course, this is how Apple advertises the A16, so it’s marketing jargon. However, I have found the iPhone 14 Pro to be fast and snappy with iOS 16, especially when it comes to editing photos and videos on the device. One of the reasons to purchase an iPhone Pro is the capability of shooting 4K ProRes video, which can equate to incredibly large file sizes — one minute of footage eats up 6GB alone! With the A16 chip, one could apply edits and filters to that 4K ProRes footage, and it would render pretty much instantaneously.
With that in mind, everything else that you may possibly do on the iPhone 14 Pro should be handled easily with the power of the A16 and iOS 16. Going through thousands of unread emails? No problem! Posting videos to Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, or whatever other social media network is popular these days. No sweat. Doom scrolling? Easy peasy, lemon squeezy! Making basic edits to photos? Super easy, barely an inconvenience.
Again, if you’re coming from an iPhone 13, or even an iPhone 12, you may not notice the snappiness and improved responsiveness of the A16. But if you are coming from an older iPhone, then it’s going to be very evident when you first pick up the phone and start using it.
iPhone 14 Pro: Cameras
For those serious about photography, the iPhone 14 Pro is the iPhone to get. With the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, you get a triple-lens camera system: 48-megapixel Main camera, 12-megapixel Ultra Wide, and 12-megapixel Telephoto. However, while Apple advertises the 48-megapixel Main camera, it doesn’t quite work the way you think it would.
If you are expecting all of your regular photos to say “48 MP” in the image metadata, don’t. The way the 48-megapixel Main camera on the iPhone 14 Pro works is due to the quad-pixel system. That means that there are four sub-pixels that make up one larger pixel, and thus that’s where the 48-megapixel count comes from. So when you shoot a regular photo, it will still say “12 MP” in the image metadata when you view it. However, if you opt to shoot in ProRAW format, there is an option for the full 48 MP resolution, though these files can end up around 75MB or more each, and the resolution is 8064x6048 pixels. So though the iPhone 14 Pro can shoot in 48MP, it’s probably not something that you’ll want to be doing all the time. But if you want the most detail in an image, and you plan on printing the photo out on a larger canvas, then turning on the 48MP ProRAW resolution will give you the best image quality possible.
But Apple has done more than just give the Main camera a huge boost to 48MP (the largest jump for iPhone cameras yet). The main camera now has a wider focal length (from 26mm to 24mm), which means that more of the scene you want to capture can now fit in the frame. It’s a minor detail, but it can make all the difference when you want to get that perfect shot. Additionally, all of the camera lenses across the board now have larger sensors, which allows more light to be captured for each photo. From the iPhone 13 Pro, the iPhone 14 Pro Main camera went from a ƒ/1.5 to ƒ/1.78 aperture, and the Ultra Wide went from ƒ/1.8 to ƒ/2.2 with more focus pixels for sharper images. The Telephoto aperture remains the same with 3x optical zoom, but Apple included 2x on the Telephoto thanks to the quad-pixel sensor system.
Apple has also implemented the new Photonic Engine, which is also available on the standard iPhone 14 models as well as the Pros. This is a new computational photography process developed by Apple that improves mid and low-light photos you take by integrating the Deep Fusion process earlier in the post-processing pipeline before the multiple images taken for the shot are compressed together into a single photo.
Essentially, it’s the evolution of Deep Fusion, which was introduced with the iPhone 11 series. For those who need a refresher, the Deep Fusion process took a total of nine images — four are captured before you hit the shutter button, and another four are captured when you press the button. Deep Fusion takes all of those images and compiles them into a single image that combines the best parts of those images into one. With Photonic Engine, the Deep Fusion process happens earlier on uncompressed images, so more detail, color, and exposure will appear in the final image.
Another improvement this year is with the 12MP TrueDepth camera, which now has autofocus for the first time, as well as a ƒ/1.9 aperture for better low-light photos. This means faster focusing in low light, and it’s easier to capture group selfies with a wider field of view. Those who take videos will appreciate the new Action Mode, which uses the full sensors with more overscan and advanced roll correction to correct significant shaking, vibration, and other unintended motion when recording video footage. Basically, you can get smooth video without the need for a gimbal accessory.
I would have put the cameras to the test myself at Disneyland, but I had an emergency surgery done on iPhone 14 launch weekend, unfortunately, and am still recovering. However, my colleague Luke Filipowicz was able to test and compare the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro cameras, and there are some observations that he noticed.