All the attention is the main camera
Global sales of the iPhone 14 Pro/Pro Max started on September 16, and smartphones of the 14 series can also be purchased in Ukraine.
The test device is an iPhone 14 Pro in the “deep” color Space Black with a storage capacity of 256 GB. In short, it is very difficult to distinguish the device from last year’s iPhone 13 Pro. The devices are made not just in a single design code, but almost completely repeat each other. The only difference is an even more convex and larger main camera block. Because of this, the covers from last year’s device do not fit the novelty, you will have to buy new ones.
Among the changes that become noticeable in a direct comparison are slightly narrower frames around the edges of the screen in the 14 Pro. And the device has become 0.2 millimeters thicker and 2 grams heavier (innovations, to put it mildly, insignificant). In addition, the speakerphone has moved slightly higher and is now fully integrated with the top face. Subjectively, it didn’t particularly affect the sound quality (which, when speaking, in terms of multimedia, the top speaker complements the bottom speaker in a stereo pair).
Everything else is standard: on the left side – a slot for one physical nanoSIM-card (our smartphone is European) and a translation lever for silent mode, below – Lightning, on the right – the power key. Active and protected against water and dust according to the IP68 standard (possible immersion in fresh water for half an hour to a depth of 6 meters). But if the smartphone fails due to water, it will not be replaced under warranty. Built-in eSIM cards have not been abandoned either – the number porting feature from the old phone has not yet been tested, but everything should work with the new QR code. 5G modem in place.
In general: outwardly and ergonomically, the iPhone 14 Pro is a complete copy of the last year’s model. Subjectively, it is not so bad. In any case, no one particularly complained about the design of “iPhones” in the last few years. Among the more or less visible changes is the enlarged main camera unit. Want to stand out from the crowd? Choose a smartphone in the color Deep Purple (dark purple) – it is exclusive to the 14 Pro line. Our Space Black is also good, but not perceived as new.
What did not like: Lightning connector, in my opinion, is morally outdated. It was first introduced ten years ago with the iPhone 5 and has not been updated since then. That is, it is based on USB 2.0 – the data transfer speed is several times lower compared to the new standards. And if you take into account the presence of ProRAW and ProRes modes in the camera, the problem becomes more obvious. In addition, they did not improve the speed of recharging, and by wire, and wirelessly. It is still limited to 26.5 and 15 W, respectively (as a last resort, only branded MagSafe).
The display (Apple calls it Super Retina XDR) is an element that the iPhone 14 Pro can definitely be proud of. The OLED panel with a diagonal of 6.1 inches is perfectly calibrated: the color transmission by default is not sharp (unlike the top smartphones of the same Samsung), the clarity is sufficient (resolution – 2556 × 1179 pixels, density – 460 ppi). There is support for HDR, and several formats: HDR10 and Dolby Vision. All the features of the True Tone type (automatic adjustment of the white point depending on the lighting) are in place.
Among the innovations is brightness, which has noticeably increased. In automatic mode, it reaches 1000 nits, when playing HDR content – 1600 nits, outside the house (when direct rays hit the display) – 2000 nits. There are no brighter panels in smartphones today. In this aspect, the iPhone 14 Pro (and accordingly the Pro Max) is a record holder.
True, the difference with the same iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max (brightness – up to 1200 nits) is not so noticeable, at least during normal use. Perhaps in the summer on the beach, when the same 2000 threads are involved, it will be more significant. But in standard conditions (at home, in the office – in general, indoors), the visibility is approximately the same.
Is Always On Display overrated?
The always-on display mode, or Always On Display (AOD), is one of the main features of the smartphone, which is not found on other smartphone models of the company. But, subjectively, AOD is slightly overestimated. First, the manufacturer does not allow it to change the mode either activated or not. Secondly, the brightness adjustment on the locked display is only automatic. As a rule, the device copes well, but misfires happen – at night with the light off, the screen can hit the eyes out of habit.
Positives: The animations when transitioning from the locked screen state to the active state are beautiful and well thought out. And they work with almost all stock wallpapers. Sometimes, when AOD is turned on, the image is simply “shadowed”, and sometimes it changes shape. It looks nice. In addition, even a music player can be displayed on the lock screen.
But once again: I will not risk calling the implementation of AOD a unique “selling point” for which it is worth choosing the iPhone 14 Pro (or Pro Max).
In general, the use of a constantly active screen became possible thanks to the LTPO-matrix. Thanks to it, the display can be updated from 1 to 120 Hz (in the iPhone 13 Pro, the frequency varied from 10 to 120 Hz). According to the manufacturer, at a frequency of exactly 1 Hz, the power consumption of the device becomes so insignificant that the total working time does not suffer. It’s hard to verify yet, but overnight (from 11:00 PM to 9:00 AM) the iPhone 14 Pro with AOD enabled dropped from 100% to 94%.
Another important innovation that changed the face of Apple’s top smartphones for the first time in five years. The “monobrow” in Pro-devices was abandoned in favor of the so-called dynamic island, which changes programmatically depending on what is happening on the display.
In fact, there are two holes (this is clearly visible if you put the “island” under direct light, as in the photo above). The first one houses sensors for the Face ID facial recognition system, the second one houses the front camera (12 MP). But it is worth admitting that in most cases the “island” is perceived as a whole: the pixels between the sensors are turned off, resulting in a single black space.
However, with such a schedule, it is better to use a dark OS design theme – then the “immersion” effect is felt better. The photo below shows examples of how the “island” changes depending on the running applications:
If there is one program, it occupies the entire space, if there are two, another circle appears on the right. With a single click, the program will open on the entire screen, with a long tap, a small widget is displayed on top (although it is not always convenient to reach for it). The main conclusion is as follows: the “island” already works today at least no worse compared to the “bangs”. However, its capabilities are mostly used only in “native” Apple applications, since third-party developers have not yet had time to update their own software. But it is probably a matter of time.
How much “island” is needed in principle? The question is controversial. But in conditions where it is hardly possible to hide all the sensors necessary for Face ID under the screen so that they are not visible at all, the “island” is perceived as an acceptable solution. In any case, after five years it looks fresh.
Performance and runtime on a single charge
In the case of Apple, I don’t particularly want to talk about the power of smartphones. But not because the chips are not productive enough, but because the global difference in speed is difficult to feel even for owners of the company’s two- or three-year-old devices: smartphones, as a rule, operate smoothly and quickly.
In the current generation of flagships with the arrival of the A16 Bionic chip (4-nanometer technological process), the principle has not changed: the new product shows outstanding results both in benchmarks (6 GB of RAM) and in everyday processes – from AAA games to automatic photo processing in “night” mode. But there is no significant increase in the speed of the interface compared to iPhone 13 Pro (or even iPhone 12 Pro), especially if you update all accessories to iOS 16. However, A16 Bionic has a co-processor that is responsible for the operation of the dynamic island. In addition, iron allows you to count on updating the OS for another three to five years.
It was not possible to fully evaluate the autonomy of the device during the day of testing. The company traditionally does not disclose the battery capacity of the iPhone 14 Pro, but enthusiasts assure that it is 3200 mAh (3.4% more compared to the iPhone 13 Pro). It should be enough for a working day in the medium activity mode.
In the iPhone 14 Pro/Pro Max, Apple decided on another important change: now the resolution of the main photo module of smartphones is 48 MP (f/1.78). Prior to that, the company used more common 12-megapixel photo sensors for years.
However, by default, the 14 Pro takes photos at a reduced resolution (up to 12 MP), “gluing” information from four neighboring pixels into one, but of increased size. This approach is not new, it is widely used in Android smartphones. The resolution of the additional ultra-wide-angle and telephoto sensor (3x optical zoom) remained the same (12 MP). However, a two-fold digital zoom appeared in the asset. In fact, this is a crop from a 48-megapixel module.
What really? Judge for yourself: the places, objects and people captured on the iPhone 14 Pro on automatic settings are shown in pairs below:
You have to look for the difference with a magnifying glass: the photos are often very similar. In my opinion, photos of people on the novelty are a little better (at least more detailed – probably thanks to the updated photo sensor). But the “familial” problem with too strong glare from the lenses (especially in the evening) has not disappeared.
And one more thing: the smartphone allows you to record super-smooth videos through a crop with a resolution of 4K to 2.8K (a special virtual key is provided for this). But it is better to use this mode only with almost perfect lighting. In the evening, when there is little light, the rollers make excessive “noise”. Even the device signals this.
iPhone 14 Pro is hard to call a failed smartphone. On the contrary, the model has kept all the advantages of last year’s iteration, finally bringing something new: a dynamic island in the display and a main camera with a resolution of 48 MP. And if there was no significant jump in photo quality compared to the phone of the previous generation, then the “island” is really perceived as something unusual, although optional – at least for now its capabilities will not be revealed by third-party software developers. But practically, we can probably say: Dynamic Island is with us for at least a few more years.
Otherwise, there are not many changes. And most of them are hardly considered innovative by ordinary users. Always On Display works well, but its presence is hardly a “selling point”. The power of the 14 Pro has been increased a little, but even with the chips of previous generations, there are still no issues with performance. Autonomy remained unchanged (a day without connecting to an outlet).
At the same time, the obsolete Lightning connector was not abandoned in favor of the modern USB Type-C (or even Thunderbolt). The speed of energy replenishment, both wired (up to 26.5 W) and wireless (up to 15 W), also remained unchanged. But we note: we did not encounter any of the problems identified by the first buyers in the test copy of 14 Pro.
Who can update? For owners of iPhone Xs and older devices of the company. Innovations have accumulated — starting from the screen with a frequency of 120 Hz and ending with an updated design code with a “night” camera mode. For owners of iPhone 11 Pro and 12 Pro, subjectively, it makes sense to switch to 14 Pro, only if it is a burden to live without a display with an increased refresh rate. Users with iPhone 13 Pro, subjectively, are now in a winning position: with the update to iOS 16, the difference with iPhone 14 Pro is minimal. Not the last role is played by the price of the iPhone 14 Pro. Perhaps it makes sense to wait a few months until the market adjusts it.