iPhone 14 review

Apple’s iPhone 14 is, by and large, a safe update for those who already love the iPhone 13. It keeps what is becoming an iconic design and – somewhat surprisingly – last year’s A15 Bionic (which is, granted, a wickedly powerful chip in its own right), but it also doesn’t advance the art in a way that helps Apple keep pace with competitors.

What we have now, for the first time in a while, is two distinct iPhone tiers: for lack of a better term, Basic, which includes this iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Plus, and what I’ll call Premium, which encompasses the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max

Last year, the entire line of iPhones got the same A15 Bionic chip. This year, the Apple iPhone 14 and 14 Plus get the A15 Bionic, while the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max get the new A16 Bionic. Also worth noting is that the iPhone 13 mini did not get an upgrade, so it may be reaching the end of its pint-sized life.

Considering how similar the iPhone 14 is to the iPhone 13, it should come as no surprise that the price is the same (in the US, at least): $799 / £849 / AU$1,399, for the base 128GB model.

There is nothing wrong with the iPhone 14 design. It’s a virtual replica of the iPhone 13 but might suffer a bit in comparison to the new iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, both of which sport the new Dynamic Island, a fungible zone that houses both the TrueDepth module and display information.

For those unfamiliar with the design language Apple first introduced with iPhone 12, the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 is essentially a thin slice of technology sandwiched between two pieces of luxurious glass that may or may not be Gorilla Glass Victus. The cover screen still has the Ceramic Shield, which should provide an additional level of protection.

The roughly 75.1mm x 146.7mm x 7.65mm (0.30 inches) 173g body is held together by a smooth aluminum band. Button placement, microphone, and speaker grill placement are unchanged from the iPhone 13. You have the larger power/sleep/Siri button on the right and the silence slider with the volume buttons below it on the left.

Sitting between the speaker grill and mic holes on the base is what might be the lightning port’s last hurrah. While Apple is facing pressure from the European Union to change its gadget ports to USB-C by 2024, it’s sticking with lighting for this model. All your old cables will be pleased.

This is the first iPhone to do away with a physical SIM slot in favor of an all-eSIM system. It’s strange to see a smartphone without that instantly recognizable panel and the little hole for the special tool to pop out the SIM tray.

On the back is the still-square-ish camera array, which appears unchanged from the iPhone 13. There are two 12MP cameras, one wide and the other ultra-wide.

Because so much is the same, the most exciting thing, design-wise, about the iPhone may be Apple’s exquisite new purple body color option. Yes, purple is the in-color this gadget season, with Apple following Samsung’s introduction of Bora purple for its Samsung Galaxy S 22 line, Galaxy Z Flip 4, and Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

Apple has left the iPhone 13’s 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display pretty much intact on the iPhone 14. It’s still 2532 x 1170-pixel resolution at 460 ppi and, yes, still has the notch, which accommodates the updated TrueDepth module that includes all the AR sensors and, still, a 12MP camera.

You have a total of three cameras on Apple’s iPhone 14, the 12MP wide and the 12MP ultrawide on the back, and the 12MP TrueDepth camera on the front.

Apple said it upgraded the main camera with a larger ƒ/1.5 aperture and larger 1.9 µm pixels for better low-light performance. The 12MP wide-angle appears unchanged. However, the TrueDepth camera on the front now supports autofocus.

Though I only had a few moments in the demo room, I did shoot with all the lenses and thought the images looked good, but I need more time with them. I will say that I saw the TrueDepth camera’s new autofocus in action and can see how that’ll be useful.

There are also some new camera modes. Cinematic Mode can now shoot in 4K at 30 fps and 4K at 24 fps. There’s also a brand new Action Mode, a sort of electronic gimbal that takes bumpy video and smooths it out by essentially smart-cropping on the fly. Neat idea, though I think you lose quite a bit of the video surrounding your subject.

Apple never talks about battery size, but it did say the iPhone 14 has the best battery life ever on an iPhone. We’ll have to assume that means at least 15 hours but could mean a day or more of video playback. Obviously, I’d need to test these claims.

The phone still supports MagSafe wireless charging but did not, it seems, get any sort of fast-charging bump.