Apple iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are official – here’s what you need to know

The latest iPhone Pro has an upgraded camera system, brighter screens, a new notch, better safety, and more.

It’s new iPhone day, and the two models people have been most excited for are the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. Both were announced during Apple’s event in Cupertino, and there are a number of new features and upgrades over last year’s iPhone 13 Pro series. Here’s what you need to know.

The notch gets a name

Both the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max look almost exactly like their predecessors – glass exteriors with stainless steel sides – except for one area in particular: the notch. Apple has dropped the rectangular cutout its been using for years for a pill-shaped cutout that houses the Face ID sensors and selfie camera. The result is a look that’s distinctly different from any other iPhone before this one, and surprisingly, Apple made it functional.

I couldn’t tell you why, but Apple has decided to brand this new notch the “Dynamic Island.” Essentially, the pill at the top of the screen comes alive when you receive notifications, something is used like Face ID or the volume buttons, or an app is showing you live information. You can press and hold it to access things like music controls, and Apple will let app developers customize the experience a bit to reflect their apps’ general experiences.

I will say, this is definitely a clever way to utilize the new design of the screen on the iPhone 14 Pro. It’s not common at all for smartphone manufacturers to acknowledge things like hole-punch cutouts or notches in this way, so for Apple to set that standard is interesting. I’m curious whether it’ll inspire other phone makers to implement similar features in the future.

Similar but better screens

Beyond the cutouts, the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max stick with the same 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch display sizes. Apple is still branding them as Super Retina XDR screens, and they each ship with 120Hz ProMotion and HDR. New this generation are a few things.

For one, these screens can get really freaking bright. Apple says they reach a max brightness of 2,000 nits outdoors, which make them the brightest phone screens you can get. The displays can also ratchet themselves down to 1Hz in order to save power. In addition, Apple is finally supporting an always-on display mode that can even implement your wallpaper for a more personalized experience.

The same Ceramic Shield can be found covering each screen.

The only iPhones getting the A16 Bionic

For the first time ever, Apple is keeping its newest processor exclusive to the iPhone Pro series. The iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max are the only two new iPhones getting the A16 Bionic chip, which is said to come with 40 percent better performance than “the competition” (presumably meaning the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1). It’s made up of a six-core CPU with two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores, a five-core GPU, and a new 16-core Neural Engine capable of almost 17 trillion operations every second.

It’s probably safe to say that in general, everyday use, you won’t notice a big difference between the A16 and A15 that’s in the regular iPhone 14. Regardless, if you want the best performance possible, the iPhone 14 Pro is the phone to get.

Notably, it looks like both the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max still ship with 6GB of RAM. Apple also said they each come with “all-day” battery life, although it’s unclear if it’s any better or worse than the 13 Pro and Pro Max.

48MP main camera… ’nuff said

All iPhone users have been asking for when it comes to cameras is something sharper than a 12MP main lens. So, finally, Apple has answered those calls with a new 48MP sensor on the iPhone 14 Pro.

The quad-pixel sensor is binned down to 12MP, but each pixel is the equivalent of 2.44 µm, so you’ll get a lot more detail and light information than you otherwise would. With the larger sensor, Apple is also adding a new 2x digital telephoto option that uses the middle 12 megapixels of the sensor to capture as much detail as the current 12MP sensor does on the 13 Pro. That means you can also capture 4K video with 2x. If you want to take full advantage of that 48MP sensor, Apple will let you capture 48MP photos using ProRAW.

In addition, Apple is including a new 12MP ultra-wide camera with 1.4 µm pixels and an improved telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom.

Apple seems to be taking a noticeable step up when it comes to low-light photography. To process darker shots, the company is using its brand-new Photonic Engine which helps boost image quality in mid- to low-light photos. It works by applying Deep Fusion earlier in the imaging process to “deliver extraordinary detail, and preserve subtle textures, provide better color, and maintain more information in a photo.” According to the company, you can expect up to 2x better performance on the main camera, up to 3x on the ultra-wide, up to 2x on the telephoto, and up to 2x on the TrueDepth camera.

Video quality is also being taken up a notch with a new Action mode for much smoother shots while moving around a lot. There’s also 4K/30fps and 4K/24fps support in Cinematic mode opposed to strictly 1080p/30fps on the iPhone 13 Pro.

Safety and connectivity

The iPhone 14 Pro supports 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 Pro will start at $999 while the 14 Pro Max will start at $1,099. Both get 128GB by default and can be expanded to 1TB. Four color options will be available: Deep Purple, Silver, Gold, and Space Black.

Preorders for the iPhone 14 Pro series open this Friday, September 9th. Apple will launch both devices on September 16th.