The latest iPhone 14 Pro has landed with a handful of new features, including an Always-On display, new Dynamic Island interface, and a 48MP main camera. But the glossy hardware and software updates may not be enough to warrant an upgrade.
The iPhone 14 Pro sports a new A16 Bionic processor for a 9 to 19 percent improvement in single-core and multi-core performance respectively compared to the prior A15 chipset. The rear camera module is heftier than ever with a new 48MP main camera, 12MP Ultra Wide lens, and 12MP telephoto lens. The new equipment results in a heavier chassis at 206 grams.
The 6.1-inch 120hz ProMotion OLED display is improved with a max 2000 nits brightness for stunning clarity in direct sunlight. The panel impressively lowers to 1hz to initiate the new Always-On display, which keeps the Lock-Screen viewable in a dim but still colorful state. In addition, the 14 Pro audio playback is a technological triumph with heavy bass, clear mids, and pristine highs. 5G signal strength is speedy at more than 300Mbps download on the T-Mobile network.
The Dynamic Island is a great blend of hardware and software which turns the Face ID and camera module into an interactive multitasker. Alerts and current activity are displayed dynamically in the animated oval for quick access or widget functionality. While technologically impressive, when the Dynamic Island contracts and expands it can block other standard icons like the Wi-Fi or cell signal strength. Finally, the Dynamic Island is located at the top of the screen making it difficult to interact with in one-handed use.
The 48MP Main Camera is a big upgrade for photo and video professionals who can capture 4X the resolution of prior photos in ProRAW format. For everyday users, the result is mixed. Main camera photos can look similar to prior iPhone models and the new 2X telephoto option, which crops 12MP from a 48MP photo, can appear too dark in post processing. In fact, the new Photonic Engine can aggressively oversharp and overblow HDR in standard photos for an artificial look. The camera system, which are said to capture 2 to 3X better low-light photos, do capture more light but at the expense of much detail.
Video quality is improved with an upgraded Cinematic Mode which can capture and employ rack focusing in 4K at 30FPS or 24FPS. The new Action Mode, which is said to offer gimbal-like stabilization, peaks at 2.8K resolution and results in capture similar to current video stabilization standards.
All new iPhone 14 models sold in the U.S. do not include a SIM tray and rely on eSim technology. The lack of a SIM tray is a burden to international travelers who can normally purchase cheap SIM cards at the airport to receive local high-speed data service. It’s an omission that lowers the value of the hardware for international travel and adds another task to secure an eSim contract for one or multiple travel destinations.
The iPhone 14 Pro is solid device for many tech enthusiasts. For most, it’s unnecessary. After spending some time with the iPhone 14 Pro, I quickly found myself uninterested in the Always-On display, not interacting with the Dynamic Island, and burdened by the weight of the device. Combined with the omission of the SIM tray, I subsequently switched to my old iPhone, packed my data, and left the Dynamic Island.