Apple’s annual iPhone event was jam-packed with announcements, from the iPhone 14 Pro to the Apple Watch Ultra to the second-generation AirPods Pro. Of course, there was also the new iPhone 14, an upgrade over the iPhone 13 that could be considering a quintessential “S” upgrade thanks to its extremely small amount of meaningful changes. Well, so long as you excuse the other iPhone 14 – the iPhone 14 Plus, a larger version of the standard 14 that replaces the previous Mini line that only lasted two generations.
Two sizes, both familiar
While Apple might be replacing the Mini with a new big iPhone, the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus are abundantly familiar to anyone who’s seen an iPhone in the past couple of years. Both share nearly identical designs with aluminum sides, glass backs, and Ceramic Shield-covered screens. They’re also both IP68 certified.
The iPhone 14 boasts a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display (the same as the iPhone 13) with Dolby Vision, OLED, and 1,200 nits of peak HDR brightness. Meanwhile, the 14 Plus goes up to 6.7-inches (the same size as the iPhone Pro Max line) and offers all the same specs (beyond a slight resolution bump). They each have the same notch as last year, too – that means no Dynamic Island here. You also won’t find a 120Hz refresh rate on either of these screens.
The same chip as iPhone 13
In a not-too-surprising move, Apple decided to keep the same chip as the iPhone 13 for the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus. By no means is that to say the chip is bad – I actually still love how the A15 Bionic performs in my iPhone 13 Pro – but anyone seeking the best performance they can get will need to look at the iPhone 14 Pro, which is getting the faster A16 Bionic.
Regardless, performance should be fine on both of these phones. Apple’s even including an enhanced five-core GPU for improved gameplay, although it’s unclear if you’ll actually notice a difference compared to the standard GPU in the iPhone 13.
Battery life is expected to last all day on the normal iPhone 14, while the iPhone 14 Plus is quoted as having the best battery life ever on an iPhone. Obviously, when reviewers get their hands on that device, we’ll have a better idea if that’s true.
Both devices will ship with iOS 16 out of the box, which will also begin rolling out to current iPhone owners on Monday, September 12th.
If there’s at least one area where you could get excited, it’s the cameras. Apple includes a brand-new 12MP main camera with an f/1.5 aperture and larger pixels that will help to let in more light and detail. The 12MP ultra-wide sensor remains unchanged, while the selfie shooter gets an upgrade with an f/1.9 aperture and autofocus for video.
All of the cameras onboard the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus are compatible with Apple’s new Photonic Engine, which should greatly improve the camera’s capabilities in low light. According to the company, there should be a 49 percent general improvement over what the iPhone 13 was capable of. The main shooter gets 2.5x better low-light performance, while the ultra-wide and selfie camera get 2x.
On the video front, Apple is including support for Cinematic mode in 4K/30fps and 4K/24fps opposed to just 1080p/30fps, and there’s a new Action mode that helps to smooth out super-shaky video. The True Tone flash is also getting improved with a 10 percent boost in brightness.
Safety and connectivity
The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus support Apple’s new Emergency SOS via satellite, a feature that’s been rumored since before the iPhone 13. It’s designed to let you communicate with emergency contacts and services via satellites orbiting Earth where cellular connectivity isn’t available. The company describes the feature in its press release.
The iPhone 14 lineup also introduces Emergency SOS via satellite, which combines custom components deeply integrated with software to allow antennas to connect directly to a satellite, enabling messaging with emergency services when outside of cellular or Wi-Fi coverage. Satellites are moving targets with low bandwidth, and it can take minutes for messages to get through. Since every second counts, with Emergency SOS via satellite, iPhone front-loads a few vital questions to assess the user’s situation and shows them where to point their phone to connect to a satellite. The initial questionnaire and follow-up messages are then relayed to centers staffed by Apple‑trained specialists who can call for help on the user’s behalf. This breakthrough technology also allows users to manually share their location over satellite with Find My when there is no cellular or Wi-Fi connection, providing a sense of security when hiking or camping off the grid.
Emergency SOS via satellite will be available in the US and Canada beginning in November. It’ll be offered for free on the iPhone 14 for two years. It’s unclear how much the service might cost afterwards.
Apple is also adding an improved version of its Crash Detection system, which can alert emergency services when you’ve experienced a car crash and are unresponsive. It uses a new dual-core accelerometer that’s capable of detecting up to 256Gs as well as a high dynamic range gyroscope to detect whether you’ve experienced a crash with better accuracy. In addition, the barometer is now capable of detecting cabin pressure changes, the GPS can detect unusual speed changes, and the microphone can pick up sounds typically associated with crashes.
The system ties in with the Apple Watch which also supports Crash Detection. If it thinks your watch is in closer proximity to you, it’ll use your watch to make an emergency call. If it thinks your iPhone will have a better signal, then it’ll stick with your phone. Overall, it’s a welcomed feature, one that hopefully not many people will be using.
Then there’s connectivity, which is admittedly getting a little weird. With iPhone 14 and 14 Pro, Apple is removing the physical SIM card slots that have been there since the beginning. In their place, the company will double down on eSIM technology, which lets you connect to a cellular network digitally.
This is usually great for those who might want to add a second phone line to their device, but it sucks for anyone who likes to remove the SIM card from their phone manually and put it in something else. Admittedly, this issue will likely only irritate those with multiple phones (such as reviewers like myself), but it’s still a big bet to make that eSIM is in a place where it’s reliable enough to replace a tried-and-true physical SIM.
Pricing and availability
The iPhone 14 will start at $799 while the 14 Plus will start at $899. Both will go up for preorder this Friday, September 9th. The regular iPhone 14 will start shipping September 16th, while those who want a 14 Plus will need to wait until October 7th.
Five color options will be available: Midnight, Blue, Starlight, Purple, and (PRODUCT)RED. You’ll have the choice of 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB storage configurations.
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