iPhone 14 Pro wins with substance over sizzle this year

Execs

  • Dynamic Island is recent and extra sensible than the notch
  • New 48-megapixel digicam is a Professional-level improve
  • A16 Bionic chip continues to impress
  • iPhone value stays unphased by inflation

Cons

  • Forcing eSIM adoption is an anti-consumer transfer
  • Subpar battery life on the smaller Professional
  • At all times-on show may be vibrant and distracting
  • 3X optical zoom lags behind the comptetition

With the 2022 lineup of recent iPhones, Apple poured virtually all of its finest improvements and upgrades into the Professional fashions. The truth that Apple saved the identical base costs for your entire iPhone 14 lineup is a win for customers in at the moment’s high-inflation atmosphere the place every little thing feels prefer it prices extra. 

If you happen to’re shopping for the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Professional or the 6.7-inch iPhone Professional Max, you are going to get much more for a similar value this yr. You get the Automotive Crash Detection and Emergency SOS through Satellite tv for pc that are available the usual iPhone 14 fashions. However you additionally get a complete new set of digicam options, a robust new display that may be considered in full daylight and dim right down to virtually nothing as a part of the brand new always-on show, and a brand new notification and multitasking function known as Dynamic Island that’s a lot cooler than its title. 

For this yr’s flagship iPhone evaluation, we teamed as much as offer you a ZDNET evaluation with two views. June has been testing an iPhone 14 Professional loaned from AT&T and I (Jason) have been testing an iPhone 14 Professional and iPhone 14 Professional Max loaned from Apple. Two heads are at all times higher than one, because the saying goes, and we’re assured this strategy offers you even higher shopping for recommendation for one of the vital vital merchandise of the yr. 

Specs

iPhone 14 Professional iPhone 14 Professional Max

Show

6.1-inch OLED with 120Hz

6.7-inch OLED with 120Hz

Dimensions

71.5 x 147.5 x 7.85mm

77.7 x 160.7 x 7.85mm

Weight

206g

240g

Processor

A16 Bionic Chip

A16 Bionic Chip

Reminiscence and storage

6GB RAM with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

6GB RAM with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

Digital camera

48MP (f/1.78) Huge, 12MP (f/2.2) Extremely-wide, 12MP (f/1.78) 2X Telephoto, 12MP (f/2.8) 3X Telephoto, 12MP (f/1.9) entrance

48MP (f/1.78) Huge, 12MP (f/2.2) Extremely-wide, 12MP (f/1.78) 2X Telephoto, 12MP (f/2.8) 3X Telephoto, 12MP (f/1.9) entrance

Battery

As much as 23 hours of video playback

As much as 28 hours of video playback

Sturdiness

IP68, Ceramic Defend

IP68, Ceramic Defend

Software program

iOS 16.1

iOS 16.1

Colours

House Black, Silver, Gold, Deep Purple

House Black, Silver, Gold, Deep Purple

Value

Beginning at $999

Beginning at $1,099

Stranded on Dynamic Island

Jason: The notch by no means actually bothered me. I rapidly obtained used to it because it grew to become a part of the distinctive profile of Apple gadgets — particularly after it obtained added to the MacBook Professional line in 2021. When Apple introduced that it was changing it with a pill-shaped black oval and calling it the “Dynamic Island,” my first thought was “Why waste power and sources on one thing so inconsequential?” I used to be undoubtedly unsuitable about that. 

Regardless of its foolish title, Dynamic Island is each practical and elegantly designed. Though solely a handful of apps and options are making the most of it at this level, it is clear that that is on its approach to turning into one of many subsequent signature options of an iPhone. 

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Dynamic Island can show two reside actions at a time. 

June Wan/ZDNET

If you’re taking part in a podcast, a tune, or a YouTube video and also you swipe as much as go to a different app, the participant robotically docks on the island with a small audio visualization displaying that it is nonetheless lively. If you’re prepared to return to it, simply faucet and also you’re again in. And there at the moment are delicate and helpful new animations for a complete host of actions, from FaceID unlock to AirPods pairing to cellphone calls and so many extra. I maintain discovering new ones and getting just a little delighted on the playful animations. This function gained me over rapidly. 

June: I believe it is secure to say that “Dynamic Island” is the worst title for what is likely to be the very best iPhone function in a very long time. Additionally, a pill-shaped notch main the way in which for iPhone multitasking was not on my 2022 bingo card. However right here we’re, an inch of pixels that really makes me really feel like I am taking full benefit of the iPhone’s superb OLED show. You recognize the remainder; reside exercise toggles are refreshing to make use of, it is a lot simpler now to skip to the “Na, na, na, nananana” a part of Hey Jude, and the general animations are enjoyable, mesmerizing, and pixel-perfect. 

That mentioned, it’s my ethical obligation as a Gen Z to substantiate that after per week of tapping and swiping on the Dynamic Island, smudges are minor and selfies are nonetheless king.

Extra: iPhone 14 Professional makes the notch come alive, lastly

At all times-on show is not at all times good

Jason: The arrival of residence display widgets in iOS16 made an always-on show really feel inevitable and the implementation within the iPhone 14 Professional principally will get it proper. The iPhone partially has the Apple Watch to thank for this. I did not love the preliminary always-on implementation on the Apple Watch and rapidly turned it off. Nonetheless, it is developed to grow to be way more helpful and battery-friendly within the newest Apple Watch Collection 8 {hardware} and WatchOS 9 software program. The iPhone 14 Professional takes an analogous strategy to always-on. On this case, it merely dims the lock display right down to about 10-20% brightness. 

iphone-14-pro-always-on-display-comparison

The iPhone’s always-on show is eye-candy in comparison with others’ interpretations. 

June Wan/ZDNET

Whereas it seems nice, it is just a little regarding from a battery perspective as a result of it makes me assume the iPhone 14 Professional’s always-on show is utilizing much more energy than a competitor just like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Extremely.

June: Pricey Apple, this is the repair: permit us to manually set the dimness degree of the always-on show or just transition the house display right into a blacked-out screensaver (with the date and time, in fact). 

Until you’ve gotten a darker, much less noisy background, to start with, the ambient mode may be distracting. For the previous decade, iPhones have conditioned me to peek on the show each time a notification wakes it up. And now, Apple needs all of my undivided consideration by giving me a show that stays on endlessly.

It looks like each new function on the iPhone is only a polished model of one thing Android gadgets have had for years. Living proof, the iPhone 14’s always-on show is spectacular and simply as sensible.

Extra: The right way to get essentially the most out of your iPhone’s new lock display

It is all about eSIM…within the US

Jason: Make no mistake, if all goes easily then the eSIM course of on the iPhone 14 makes it far smoother and sooner to switch your cellphone quantity out of your previous iPhone to your new one. Mine took lower than 30 seconds in testing it with Verizon. And for almost all of customers, I believe they will be okay with this and can see it as an enchancment normally — when it really works. 

The issue is the sting circumstances and my objection is Apple eradicating the bodily SIM tray and forcing an eSIM-only model on US clients to begin. That is an anti-consumer transfer as a result of there are a number of excellent the reason why some individuals will nonetheless want or favor a cellphone with a bodily SIM card. The highest purpose is privateness. That is very true for some journalists and populations vulnerable to persecution all over the world. For an organization that calls privateness a human proper, Apple eradicating the bodily SIM card possibility reduces privateness for tens of millions of individuals, particularly a few of the most weak.

iphone-14-pro-lockscreen-2

With eSIM, the iPhone does away with one other port.

June Wan/ZDNET

June: Like Jason, I am one of many extra lucky customers who solely wanted a carrier-provided (AT&T) QR code to register my iPhone 14 Professional tester. I’ve additionally heard sufficient accounts from fellow iPhone 14 customers to know that success will not be assured when switching over to eSIM domestically, not to mention throughout worldwide journey. As soon as it’s arrange although, you will be shocked how rapidly you neglect that eSIM is even a factor — identical to how rapidly we have all forgotten about 5G.

Extra: The right way to switch your quantity to Apple’s latest iPhone

Placing the “Professional” in processor

Jason: For years, iPhones have had extra processing energy than most individuals will ever want in each day use. This yr’s A16 Bionic is similar. If you happen to’re caught ready, it is often due to WiFi, 5G, or a slow-loading app or web site.

Nonetheless, there’s one space the place I discovered the A16 Bionic to be noticeably sooner than final yr’s mannequin and that is FaceID unlock. Typically, FaceID works a lot better and faster on the iPhone 14 Professional. A part of which may be because of the new front-facing digicam, however I chalk up a variety of its velocity to the A16 Bionic. Regardless of the case, I am grateful for it, as a result of I am a kind of who has typically discovered a very good fingerprint reader on gadgets just like the Galaxy S22 to be sooner and extra dependable than FaceID on the iPhone. That hole has closed this yr.

iphone-14-pro-zdnet-website

A well-recognized web site on the iPhone 14 Professional.

June Wan/ZDNET

June: In addition to the enhancements to FaceID, I have never observed any main step-ups between this yr’s A16 Bionic and final yr’s A15. That is one other approach of me saying that the iPhone 14 Professional continues to be highly effective, nonetheless environment friendly, and can nonetheless be dependable for years down the road. 

The brand new engine actually involves play after I’m snapping these 48MP ProRAW images and need to make edits straight from the iPhone. The A16 Bionic handles picture and computational processing gracefully, with the shutter velocity taking seconds sooner than the 13 Professional to seize high-res and low-light images. 

Extra: The 5 finest telephones you should buy proper now

Lights, digicam, Motion mode

Jason: I like taking images with smartphones and the iPhone has been my main digicam since 2009 when the iPhone 3GS obtained adequate to interchange my tiny Canon ELPH that I at all times carried in my pocket. Right this moment, I additionally shoot on Sony mirrorless cameras and the Samsung S22 Extremely (my present work cellphone). However, yearly I nonetheless take extra images on the iPhone than some other digicam. I’ve gained awards for the video of my finest digicam cellphone ideas and in 2017 I shared my 25 all-time favourite iPhone images (as much as that time). That is a good distance of claiming I pay very shut consideration to the digicam upgrades yearly.

iphone-pro-camera-timeline

Yearly, the iPhone digicam will get larger and higher. From left to proper: iPhone 11 Professional, iPhone 12 Professional, iPhone 13 Professional, iPhone 14 Professional  

Jason Hiner and June Wan/ZDNET

Each new iPhone is technologically the very best iPhone digicam ever. And annually, Apple offers us further capabilities for taking extra sorts of images and movies with the iPhone and fewer with huge, fancy digicam rigs — for these of us nonetheless into these issues. This yr, the Professional fashions obtained a robust new set of upgrades. Probably the most noticeable one for many customers would be the upgraded front-facing digicam, which is lastly dwelling as much as the standard of its siblings on the again. 

iphone-14-pro-raw-photo-comparison

The earlier than (left) and after (proper) of modifying a ProRAW picture. 

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

June: Whereas the iPhone 14 Professional’s new front-facing digicam is healthier than ever for “slofies,” the rear 48MP shooter is what sells the digicam expertise for me. Because of the bigger pixels through pixel-binning, there’s a rare degree of element in images and movies that I’ve by no means seen earlier than on an iPhone. 

ProRAW Decision, which leverages the total 48 megapixels, is turned off by default, so you will need to dig into your digicam settings to hit the change. As soon as it is on, although, you will be shocked by how far you possibly can pinch into images with out dropping readability.

iphone-14-pro-48-megapixel-sample

The 48MP digicam depicts the managed chaos of a dim sum restaurant completely. 

June Wan/ZDNET

Jason: For images and video fanatics, the Motion mode (to interchange some gimbal photographs), the 48MP ProRAW possibility (for getting element and modifying management like a DSLR or mirrorless digicam), and the brand new 4K 24fps possibility for Cinematic Mode movies are going to be a variety of enjoyable to begin creating with. I am planning extra testing to cowl these in higher depth.

June: I devoted most of my time testing Motion mode, pitting the iPhone 13 Professional’s normal video recording with the iPhone 14 Professional’s enhanced video function. The advance between the added hyperstabilization and final yr’s tech was noticeable by a large margin.

In my technique of turning into the bizarre neighbor who runs round with two telephones, listed here are my three Motion mode takeaways that it is best to find out about: 1). It will possibly solely document as much as 2.3K decision at 30 fps, 2). the framing can be noticeably cropped in for essentially the most optimum stabilization, and three). the iPhone will nudge you for extra lighting even for those who’re in a sun-filled lounge. 

Lastly, permit me to present a nod to the unsung hero of the iPhone 14 Professional digicam expertise: the improved, 1,600 nits of peak HDR brightness. In comparison with final yr’s 1,200 nits (with HDR), taking images and movies outside has been way more pleasurable with the newer iPhone. (The improved brightness additionally made it clearer to inform whether or not Motion mode was toggled on earlier than I went on my dying dash down the hill.)

Additionally: iPhone 14 Professional innovation scorecard: The homeruns and the strikeouts

Maxed-out battery life

Jason: As talked about above, the always-on show on the iPhone 14 Professional retains much more pixels lively than most of its opponents, and that involved me with battery life. After I discovered that the iPhone 14 Professional Max – the mannequin I’ve spent most of my time testing — has a battery 1% smaller than my iPhone 13 Professional Max from final yr (4,323mAh vs. 4,352mAh), I used to be much more anxious.  

Nonetheless, in follow, the iPhone 14 Professional Max’s battery life is roughly equal to the iPhone 13 Professional Max in each day use. With each, I sometimes finish a full day with 25-30% battery life nonetheless remaining. The truth that the 14 Professional Max has a barely smaller battery and the always-on show is an efficient signal that it is merely extra optimized and environment friendly. 

iphone-14-pro-and-pro-max

The iPhone 14 Professional Max (left) subsequent to the iPhone 14 Professional (proper). 

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

June: Coming from the iPhone 13 Professional, I had excessive expectations for the iPhone 14’s battery life. With a extra power-efficient A16 Bionic chip, an LTPO OLED show that may dial right down to a hertz, and an hour longer of video playback, based on Apple, what may go unsuitable? 

From my week of use, I ended most of my days with round 18-25% battery, which isn’t as spectacular as my iPhone 13 Professional’s 30-35% endurance. Maybe it was the 5G modem struggling to tug cellular information between subway station to subway station or the brand new 48MP sensor that is racking in all that element on the expense of energy. I am left wanting extra from my Professional gadget and really a lot envy Jason’s polar reverse expertise with the Max mannequin. 

Backside line

There’s lots to love in regards to the iPhone 14 Professional, together with all of the points that make it much like earlier generations. But it surely’s the forward-looking options, like Dynamic Island, Motion mode, the brand new digicam sensors, and the fast eSIM quantity transfers that can excite tech fanatics and professionals essentially the most. 

For the primary time shortly, the choice to improve to the latest iPhone is extra about performance and fewer about aesthetics. Apple is not making an attempt to entice you with flashy new colours, although we would not maintain it in opposition to you for those who’re a fan of “Deep Purple”. As a substitute, the 14 Professional and Professional Max usher in new methods — good and dangerous — to expertise the iPhone, making this improve cycle all of the extra significant.

There are lots of “firsts” with the iPhone 14 Professional, and we absolutely anticipate options like eSIM fast portability, always-on show, and Dynamic Island to hold over to the remainder of the Apple ecosystem — and competing merchandise, too. If you happen to’re able to embark on that subsequent wave, then the iPhone 14 Professional is the very best place to begin. 

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