Apple is trend-setting and non-techie alike to watch for major new announcements this week. The iPhone 14 series is official and up for pre-order starting this Friday. The first lucky users will have one in their hands next week.
We’ve got extensive coverage of the event and related news that happened around it (some of which revealed things Apple didn’t). Here we want to share some thoughts about the new models now that the dust has settled.
Subtle and not so subtle price increase
Apple has subtly increased the price of the iPhone a few times and has done so again this year. In the year The cheapest (non-SE) iPhone in 2021 was the Mini, which started at $700, and now the cheapest member of the premium lineup is the iPhone 14 at $800.
Yes, the iPhone 13 was also $800 and Apple is pointing that out, hoping you won’t notice that the entry-level price went up when the Mini went away. If you want to have a look, we have detailed pricing information for the new models. The Mini itself was part of a subtle price increase — the vanilla iPhone 11 started at $700 in 2019, while the base iPhone 12 was $700 in 2020 (the real vanilla iPhone 11 successor) went up to $800.
There was another fib during Wednesday’s event – Apple revealed the price of the US iPhone 14 models, which is the same as the 13 series. And it is, although there is a “but” to come. The new models are priced the same in many countries (including the US, Canada and China), but are significantly higher in Europe, parts of Asia and other regions.
|iPhone 14||iPhone 14 Plus||iPhone 14 Pro||iPhone 14 Pro Max|
|US||799 US dollars||899 US dollars||999 US dollars||1,099 US dollars|
|UK||GBP 849||GBP 949||GBP 1,099||GBP 1,199|
|Germany||999 euros||1,149 euros||1,299 euros||1,449 euros|
|India||79,900 Birr||89,900 Birr||129,900 Birr||139,900 Birr|
|China||CNY 5,999||CNI 6,999||CNI 7,999||CNY 8,999|
|Japan||JPY 119,800||JPY 134,800||JPY 149,800||JPY 164,800|
Waiting can be a mistake.
We’ll talk about the Plus and Mini, but while we’re on the subject of price, we’ll also want to cover older models. As it does every year, Apple is discontinuing the old Pro series and keeping the vanilla models at a discount.
It did the same this year – the iPhone 12, 13 and 13 mini are still available at discounted prices. Well, no, the discount is relative to the iPhone 14 series and since those prices have increased in some regions, the price of older models is the same in many countries.
To make matters worse, the price of iPhone SE (2022) has increased in some places. We know some of you have been waiting for the new generation to launch so you can pick up the new generation at a discount, but this year that strategy hasn’t worked as well as usual.
Plus it’s a welcome addition to the family
Apple has resurrected the “Plus” designation for the new iPhone 14 Plus. It’s the same as the 14 Pro Max (off just fractions of a millimeter) and sports the same 6.7-inch screen diagonal. It has a fairly uniform pixel density (458 ppi), which produces a nice and crisp image.
However, that’s where the similarities between the Plus and Pro Max end. For starters, it’s still a 60Hz panel and doesn’t support Always On Display (new on the Pros). The Pro’s panels are also brighter, with the Plus and vanilla iPhone 14 keeping typical brightness at 800 nits and peak at 1,200 nits (versus 1,000 nits typical and 2,000 nits peak for the 14 Pro duo).
There are two other major differences between the Plus and Max – chipset and cameras – but we’ll get to those later.
iPhone 14 Plus is a welcome addition to the Apple family. Not everyone cares about getting the best cameras, even the smallest of demanding high-performance ones these days, but some want a bigger screen and battery than what the 6.1-inch vanilla iPhone offers. Previously, the only option was the iPhone 14 Pro Max model for $1100, but now you can get the Plus for $900 instead.
The iPhone lineup needs a Plus model and we think it will be very successful. But did his birth necessitate the death of minions? Maybe not and that’s okay, anyway. Going by the sales numbers reported by analysts, the Mini died alone due to lack of consumer interest.
A new mini was not very important
We know a few people will object to the above statement, so let’s talk about it before we get into the improvements (and sometimes lack thereof) to the 14 Series.
The mini is still available in the form of the iPhone 13 mini. Given the improvements made to the basic 14-series camera, chipset, and display, the hypothetical iPhone 14 mini wouldn’t be that different. If you want a small phone (literally small, not Android small) with premium build and performance, the 13 Mini is still a great choice.
An interesting camera update for Pros
Like Google, Apple has optimized the camera setup to a great extent and has been reluctant to make major changes. It has achieved good results for several years, but it is time to leave the 12MP resolution and standard Bayer filter.
Apple has done a good job of explaining the benefits. The new 48MP sensor provides a high-quality image with 2x zoom, which bridges the gap between the main camera and the 3x telephoto camera. It can capture 48MP RAW images in daylight, and uses pixel binning to reduce noise in the dark. It could also enable 8K video recording, but maybe next year.
Either way, the new iPhone Pro camera is more versatile. The other side of the stable is less to show. The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus cameras bring a larger sensor and brighter aperture to the main camera, and also benefit from a new photonic engine. However, since 2019 it’s been nothing more than an iterative update, so they feel pretty dated now.
The vanilla models get a larger sensor (1.9µm vs. 1.7µm) • All four selfie cameras have AF.
One change we appreciate is the addition of automation to the selfie camera, which can (and often does) have a big impact on the quality of selfies. But how long will we have to see notches and pill-shaped punch holes before display cameras arrive on the iPhone?
AOD and variable island
The iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max displays are some of the best OLED panels on the market – 1-120Hz LTPO, sharp, incredibly bright, HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, toughened glass and now with Always On mode. It is difficult to find fault with the displays themselves.
This is not the case for the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus, which does not bring any improvements from the 13-series and is certainly not different from the iPhone 12.
Let’s go back to the pros to look at the original design of the TrueDepth camera. It’s the biggest punch hole we’ve ever seen, but Apple dressed it up with a so-called Dynamic Island.
Dynamic Island pops icons from apps that need your attention, displays indicators (such as whether the camera or microphone is active), and can even expand to show a new ad.
We have to give it to Apple, the animations are buttery and the transaction is smooth, but Dynamic Island doesn’t do anything that a regular status bar can’t. Of course, with a tablet this wide, there’s no room for a proper status bar.
Apple’s steady growth in chipsets is slowing down.
Not only does Apple stand out with the best mobile chipsets, it uses them in every smartphone in a generation – even the iPhone SE (2022) has the Apple A15 chip. The A15 had two tiers, so there was a bit of a split, one with a 4-core GPU (used in the iPhone 13, 13 mini and SE) and one with a 5-core GPU (used in the Pros).
As the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus are still using the A15 chipset, there is now a huge gap between the vanilla and Pro models. It’s the most powerful 5-core GPU version (which Apple claims offers 18% more GPU performance), but we’re not sure it’ll have much of an impact when the target is 60fps.
We suspect that one change that Apple hasn’t mentioned will be more significant – all iPhone 14 models have 6GB of RAM (no change for the Pros, but the 13 and 13 mini only had 4GB). Even moderate multi-taskers should get an enhanced experience.
As for Apple’s new A16 chipset, Apple compared it to the three-year-old A13, but that was mostly to tout how fast it is (the company says the A13 is faster than 2022’s best Android chipset, but that could only be true in a lot of the fine print). Early reports suggest that Apple has increased the maximum clock speed of the CPU – at 3.43GHz it’s their fastest smartphone core yet – but the actual performance improvements are negligible.
While it’s true that Apple has the fastest mobile chipset, the competition isn’t far off and the A16 is set to go head-to-head with the upcoming Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in a few months.
T-Mobile and SpaceX stole Apple’s satellite thunder
This feels a bit like science fiction – a small, pocketable phone with no external antenna that can connect to satellites and send an SOS. There is no arguing that it will be useful if the worst happens and you find yourself in trouble far from saving yourself.
However, Apple left some things unsaid. iPhone 14 buyers get a 2-year subscription — but only in the US and Canada, where the beta test begins. But how much does it cost after that? Will it be a monthly subscription or pay as you go? Also, in some states you must have search and rescue insurance. Even if you don’t, you will still be saved, it will cost you dearly.
Apple’s SOS emergency service and satellite location sharing
And if connecting to a satellite requires the user to carefully point the iPhone at the satellite, how about sharing via Find My Work?
In any case, the timing of T-Mobile and SpaceX’s partnership is remarkable. A few weeks ago, they announced that they will have satellite-connected smartphones by the end of next year.
Unlike Apple’s solution, this works with existing phones and isn’t just for general chat (SMS, MMS, even some third-party chat apps), SOS and location sharing. Google is working on satellite support for Android 14. If T-Mobile and SpaceX can pull it off, Apple’s new Emergency SOS feature will look old hat a year after its launch. Of course, iPhone users (including older models) will benefit from this on T-Mobile as well, but Apple won’t get any revenue from that.
CDMA lessons not taught.
The new iPhone 14 models that launched in the US will not have a SIM slot, they will rely solely on eSIM. While eSIM is undeniably useful, it is completely under the control of service providers.
That was the case with CDMA phones, but then changing carriers meant getting a new number. Since then, things have been much better and users have had the freedom to exchange phones without having to do the carrier’s job. This is a retrograde step from what we can see – iPhones already have eSIM and are the best waterproof phones on the market. How does removing the physical SIM tray benefit users?