Ordinary iPhone users won’t be able to get their hands on Apple Inc.’s newest phones until Friday, but early reviewers offered some recommendations Wednesday.
In short, reviews generally said that users should opt for Apple’s
Pro models versus the regular iPhone 14 models if they’re looking to get new phones. The iPhone 14 is probably not worth an upgrade for most people, they concluded, except to replace very old devices.
“You should just buy this year’s $999-and-up iPhone Pros,” The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern wrote in her review.
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“So far, save for some controversial changes and emergency applications, the iPhone 14 is the very definition of an incremental upgrade,” Cherlynn Low of Engadget wrote in a review, though she mentioned that “if you’re coming from an iPhone 11 or older you’ll still be happy.”
Stern acknowledged that inflationary pressures make the sticker prices of the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max seem like splurges, but wrote that the company’s “top-of-the-line phones do more to justify their $200 price bump” relative to the base models—especially this year.
While Stern didn’t see big changes in the iPhone 14’s screen relative to its predecessor’s, she noticed a significant upgrade in the screens of the new Pro models.
Apple’s Pro devices have an always-on screen and do away with the notch cutout that’s at the top of older screens. The company replaced the notch with a new “dynamic island,” which will change its form depending on the sorts of actions the user is taking.
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Stern called the dynamic island “the iPhone’s best multitasking addition in recent memory” as it helps users adjust music while they’re using other apps or manage recordings while taking notes.
The Verge was a bit less effusive. “It’s a neat concept, but like all first versions of anything, Apple’s made some choices that really work and some others that… well, it’s the first version,” reviewer Nilay Patel wrote.
Some “island” effects are nice, like being able to see things like call information and timers on the screen. But others are more questionable in his view.
“So right at this second, the trade-off between how noticeable the island is and how useful it is is a little imbalanced — it doesn’t quite do enough to always be in the way,” he wrote.
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Reviewers also weighed in on the iPhone 14 Pro’s upgraded camera.
“The cameras here are outstanding, making easy work of low light situations and triumphing in brighter conditions,” wrote David Phelan, a senior contributor to Forbes. “I found the cameras handled well, producing terrific images.”
Engadget’s Low saw only “minor” enhancements to the camera when comparing it to that of the iPhone 13 Pro.
“In fact, most of the photos I took from the iPhone 14 Pro and 13 Pro are basically indistinguishable,” she wrote. “Sometimes images from the newer phone were brighter, sometimes they weren’t.”
Admittedly, most users won’t be moving over from last year’s iPhone 13 Pro, but rather from older phones, meaning the differences will be a more pronounced.
“Despite Apple and the cellular carriers’ dream that you buy a phone more often than you wash your jeans, chances are you’d be upgrading from a phone that’s already two or three years old,” The Journal’s Stern quipped.
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While reviewers were impressed with some of the new Pro features, they were less dazzled by what they saw on the base iPhone 14. (Its larger counterpart, the iPhone 14 Plus, comes out in late October, so reviewers stuck to discussing the regular 14 in their write ups.)
“With its latest phones, Apple chose to ditch the physical SIM card slot but continued to avoid adopting USB-C, and on the non-Pro models there’s still the notch,” Low wrote. “At the same time, the iPhone 14 looks nearly identical to its predecessor — at least on the outside.”
Allison Johnson of The Verge dubbed the iPhone 14 “the iPhone 13S,” in a nod to how Apple used to use the “S” distinction for more incremental upgrades before moving to the next model number. Johnson noted that aside from some camera upgrades and emergency features, the iPhone 14 is “really is almost identical to the iPhone 13.”
On that note, the Journal’s Stern highlighted that as Apple launched its new phones, it also cut the price of older ones like the iPhone 13.
“Given that the $799 iPhone 14 isn’t substantially better than the now-$699 iPhone 13, I can see why some may want to just save the $100,” she wrote, though she also asked “can you put a price on life?” That was a nod to the new car-crash detection and emergency SOS features on the iPhone 14, which she admittedly didn’t get to test.
Apple shares were trading slightly higher in afternoon trading Wednesday. The stock has dropped 13.2% so far this year, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average
—which counts Apple as a component — has declined 14.4% and the S&P 500 index
has fallen 17.5%.