The iPhone 14 Plus makes sense for one group of people
It finally makes sense...
I’ve seen it. Watched the reviews. Read the articles. The iPhone 14 Plus. Why? Who is this phone for? Walls of text about what it is and what it isn’t, but is a specific “use case” being missed? One I think the iPhone 14 Plus is particularly well suited for?
I’ve spent a little over a week with the device and I’m going to give you my thoughts on it, and on the audience, I think this device is for. Are ya’ll ready for that conversation? Let’s get into it!
Maybe some of the folks less than enthusiastic about the iPhone 14 Plus are sour because it replaces the iPhone Mini in Apple’s stable of iPhone products and they were big fans of that device? I don’t know. I’ve always been a big phone guy, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time reviewing the iPhone 13 Mini. So I can understand the disappointment, somewhat. It was a powerfully appointed beast of a machine that was easily pocketable but traded stamina for size. Conversely, the iPhone 14 Plus trades pocketability for stamina. We’ll come back to that in a bit though. Maybe some are shipwrecked on the beach of disapproval because of the lack of a Dynamic Island in the Plus? For those in the “use case” group I’m thinking of, I don’t think this is a problem at all.
Years ago, when people were poo-pooing phablets and I was championing them, I remember bringing mine around my father for the first time. Phablet at that time was an amalgam of the words “phone” and “tablet,” meant to describe the new, larger market segment of phones over 5.5 inches. Curious, he asked me to let him check it out, so I handed it over to him and he immediately fell in love with it because it was easy to see everything on the screen. It was easy on his eyes. A larger screen meant for him larger text and less eye strain for eyes which had spent decades in front of computer screens as a film and TV editor. The next time I saw him, it was with phablet in hand. Recently, one of my mom’s dear friends hit me up via Facebook Messenger and said she was looking to upgrade her phone. She was looking at iPhones and was upgrading from another mighty mite, the iPhone SE. I gave her some options, including the iPhone 14 Plus. Being a gal of a certain age, I figured the larger screen, coming from an SE, might be something she’d find intriguing. The next day I received the message below.
Apple sent me their (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 14 Plus for review. A 6.7-inch phone that sits somewhere between the standard iPhone and Pro model lineups. Particularly the Pro Max when it comes to size and battery life. In my testing, I took the phone off of the charger at 2:46 AM on a Tuesday, and with over 7 hours of screen-on time, the battery lasted me until 8 AM Thursday morning. That was with texting, music streaming, YouTube video watching, and some light image editing. And it was all a joy to do on the 6.7-inch OLED Super Retina XDR display. The 14 Plus is powered by the A15 Bionic, but it’s the same one that was in the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Still one of the fastest, most powerful chips on the market a year later. Powerful enough to handle anything you, and definitely your parents can throw at it. Everything from Genshin Impact, to some casual Frogger or Tetris port Meemaw might throw down with.
Meemaw and Papa are the missed opportunities that I think a lot of folk overlook. People like my mom’s dear friend who thanked me for steering her toward the iPhone 14 Plus from the smaller screened SE. For our parents, who aren’t going to be heavy gamers, and will be spending much of that computing power uploading and sharing photos, memes, viral disinformation, and consuming our cute photos of the kids on Facebook, a 14 Pro Max is overkill. Both on price and features. The camera system has been upgraded from the 13, both front and back, though, unlike the Pro line, there are only two rear cameras. No telephoto lens here. But, these upgraded cameras have larger pixels that let in more light so your Baba needn’t worry as much about the luminance of his environment and can focus instead on not catching those blurry up-his-nose angles as he learns his way around the camera during video calls. And that lack of Dynamic Island? I absolutely love it, but for those looking for larger icons and text, they may be just some small icons at the top of the screen to squint at, as helpful as they may be. And though there are less expensive large mid-range phones on the market, in Apple's world the 14 Plus sits in a competitive spot, price-wise. At $900, it is currently $200 US dollars less than the 14 Pro Max and $100 less than a comparable 13 Pro Max- you can’t get them directly from Apple any longer. It isn't next gen like the 14 Pro, but is being a hot ticket for the AARP generation a bad thing? After all, that is 54 million consumers in the US. According to Pew, the number of adults 50-64 who own smartphones grew from 34% in 2012 to 83% in 2021. And 65+ went from 13% to 61%. Then there are the markets outside of the U.S. China for example, which in 2019 had 254 million people aged 60 and over, and 176 million people aged 65 and over. Despite the slow start, word of mouth could affect iPhone 14 Plus adoption. Just ask Spanx or Girlfriend Collective. Highly profitable brands whose success has been predominantly word of mouth, and niche.
Maybe, what AARP really should stand for is the answer to the question, “what phone should I buy next?” Apple Already Retails the Plus. Pick that one up Meemaw. Ok, that was clunky, but you get the point. Have you had the chance to pick up and play with a 14 Plus? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments below. And, if you’re feeling froggy, hit me in the comments or on Twitter and share your funniest story about setting up, or dealing with your parents and technology.
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Tshaka Armstrong is a nerd. Co-Founder of the non-profit digital literacy organization, Digital Shepherds, he’s also been a broadcast technology reporter, writer and producer. In addition to being an award-winning broadcast storyteller, he’s also covered tech online and in print for everything from paintball gear technology, to parenting gadgets, and film industry tech for Rotten Tomatoes. In addition to writing for iMore, he’s a video contributor for Android Central and posts everything else to his own YouTube channel and socials. He blathers on about his many curiosities on social media everywhere as @tshakaarmstrong.Short: Nerd. Father. Griot. Tshaka tells stories about tech through video, the written word, and Morse code. He loves chili fries, World history, and the truth. Not necessarily in that order.