The new iPhone 14 family is officially arriving this month, bringing its usual barrage of camera, software and performance upgrades. But while the $799 iPhone 14 and $899 iPhone 14 Plus largely look more of the same, the iPhone 14 Pro has me more excited to upgrade my phone than I’ve been in a while. And for a tech reviewer, that’s saying a lot.
The $999 iPhone 14 Pro and $1,099 iPhone 14 Pro Max go up for preorder on Sept. 9 and will hit stores on Sept. 16 — here’s why I’m itching to get my hands on Apple’s highest-end phone yet, and why it may be worth the splurge for some time to come.
The notch is gone — and replaced by something way cooler
That little notch at the top of the iPhone’s display has been a point of contention since it debuted on the iPhone X in 2017. And while many folks have gotten used to it (myself included), I’m pleased to see the iPhone 14 Pro finally ditch the thick black wedge for something that looks way better — and offers one of the most meaningful upgrades to the iPhone in quite a while.
Apple calls it the Dynamic Island, and while that’s a silly name, this new pill-shaped camera cutout is far less distracting than the iPhone notch of old. And better yet, it works in tandem with iOS 16 to dynamically expand and contract to show you important content and notifications at the top of the screen without distracting you from whatever you’re already doing. Think of it as a dedicated bubble that can smoothly morph to show things like incoming calls, Face ID prompts and Maps notifications as they occur. We’re curious to see how much control you’ll have over what content appears on Dynamic Island, but based on what Apple has shown us so far, It’s really cool to see in action, and it looks like something that will make your iPhone easier and more fun to use.
The iPhone 14 Pro’s smaller TrueDepth camera might not be as inconspicuous as the tiny in-display cameras found on Samsung’s latest phones, but it certainly looks better than the notch — while offering some new and interesting features.
A big display upgrade
The death of the notch isn’t the only big upgrade to the iPhone 14 Pro’s screen. The newest high-end iPhone also introduces an Always-On display, which can display things such as the time, the weather and calendar appointments even when the phone is locked — and more importantly, while taking up minimal power. It’s a feature that’s been on the Apple Watch (not to mention phones like the Samsung Galaxy and Google Pixel) for years, so it’s nice to see the iPhone finally join the club.
And as someone currently using the iPhone 12 Pro, I’m excited to finally have a phone with ProMotion support. Originally seen on the iPhone 13 Pro series, this feature allows your iPhone screen to operate at up to a smooth 120Hz, making things like scrolling webpages or flicking through photo albums feel twice as smooth as it would on older iPhones. It can also dynamically adjust the refresh rate when you’re doing less demanding tasks in order to save battery.
Some serious camera improvements
Because I use my phone to shoot the majority of my product photography, a good smartphone camera is vital. And though I’ve been pleased with the last few iterations of iPhone cameras, the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera setup looks like one of the biggest leaps yet for smartphone photographers — both professional and recreational.
The star of the new setup is the new 48-megapixel main camera, which packs a quad-pixel sensor that’s 65% larger than that of the iPhone 13 Pro. Combined with the new 12-megapixel ultrawide camera and an improved telephoto camera, the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera can provide more detailed images, offer up to 3x optical zoom for natural-looking zoomed-in shots and take clear-looking photos in low light.
As my dog’s personal videographer, I’m looking forward to Action mode, which promises more stable video even as you’re shaking and moving your phone around during intense activity. And as someone who skipped the iPhone 13 series, I’m excited to play around with Cinematic mode, which lets you dynamically shift the focus between background and foreground subjects like you’d see in a TV show or movie. All of these perks are backed up by the new A16 Bionic processor, which should also bring general improvements to multitasking and gaming.
The safety stuff is neat
While it’s not the No. 1 selling point for me, I think the new safety features — which are coming to the entirety of the iPhone 14 lineup — are very admirable. Just like on the new Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra, the iPhone 14 offers Crash Detection, which uses the phone’s sensors to detect when you’ve been in a car accident and can automatically contact emergency services.
Another potentially lifesaving feature is Emergency SOS via Satellite, which uses a combination of hardware, software and Apple’s own specialists to connect you to emergency services if you find yourself stranded somewhere that doesn’t have cellular service. This tech also works with Apple’s Find My app, which means you can, say, share your location with your family while you’re out on a hike in a location with spotty signal. I’m not much of a driver — or an outdoors person — but I like knowing that my phone will have lots of ways to keep me safe in an emergency.
It comes in purple
Yes, it’s that important to me. We’ve had purple iPhones for a few years now, but the color has typically been exclusive to the standard iPhone and iPhone Mini series. I’m thrilled to finally have an iPhone Pro in my favorite color, especially since the more “fun” hues tend to go to the entry-level models. And if deep purple isn’t your thing, you can also get the iPhone 13 Pro in silver, gold and Space Black.
I’ll admit it: One of the main reasons I’m making this upgrade is because my beloved iPhone 12 Pro has all but died, leaving me in dire need of a new phone. But even if this weren’t the case, I’d very likely still be making the switch. With a new front camera that provides useful new ways to use your iPhone as well as some seriously powerful new cameras, the $999 iPhone 14 Pro is looking like a very good upgrade for anyone with an iPhone that’s two-plus years older. Same goes for the $1,099 iPhone 14 Pro Max, which packs the same feature set into a larger 6.7-inch body.
That said, if you’re cool with the same ol’ design and just want a powerful phone with great features, the $799 iPhone 14 and $899 iPhone 14 Plus — the latter of which gets you a 6.7-inch screen for a non-Pro price — are both promising. They have the same safety features and Action mode as their Pro counterparts as well as better (but not Pro better) cameras and performance. We’ll have a whole lot more on Apple’s latest lineup of iPhones, Apple Watches and AirPods soon, so those ready to upgrade their devices should stay tuned.