Review: iPhone 14

Eric E. Surbano

27 Sep 2022


To buy or not to buy?

It’s that time of the year again when Apple releases unto the world new iPhones, and everyone from die-hard fans to haters waits with bated breath. It’s been over a week since the iPhone 14 was released, so is the newest iteration of Apple’s iconic device worth your hard-earned cash? Well, that depends.

The iPhones are always released with two lineups: the base and the Pro. The base iPhone 14 sees the disappearance of the Mini, now replaced by the iPhone 14 Plus. This means that on both sides of the lineup, you get the same sizes: the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro with a 6.1-inch design; and the iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 14 Pro Max with a 6.7-inch. Despite the same sizes, there are stark differences between the base and Pro lineups.

The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus’ designs are pretty much the same as last year’s iPhone 13. In fact, the iPhone 14 base lineup is similar to last year’s iteration in many ways. It uses the same A15 bionic chip, albeit with more GPU processors, making it equal to the processing power of the iPhone 13 Pro. It’s the same display, charging speed, battery life, and almost identical hardware. There are slight improvements, like new main and selfie cameras and the new Photonic Engine process that enables you to take better pictures in low light. Video now allows you to capture Cinematic Mode in 4K at 24fps or 30fps, and it also comes with the new Action Mode, which does a pretty good job of stabilizing shaky footage. Hardware-wise, the parts of the iPhone 14 now also have better repairability, which means not having to replace the entire phone when something minor is damaged, though this isn’t really much of a new feature as much as it’s long overdue.

Other new features include Crash Detection, which automatically calls emergency services and contacts in the event of a crash. It also comes with eSIM capability (in the US models, the SIM tray is gone for good) and another emergency feature that enables you to call via satellite. Unfortunately, this is only available in the US and Canada for now. 

At the very best, the base iPhone 14 models offer a small upgrade to last year’s iPhone. But much like it’s been in the past few years, it’s the Pro lineup where you truly get the full new iPhone experience.

All the changes in the base lineup apply to the Pros—Action Mode for videos, Crash Detection, and Photonic Engine for photos. However, there are other features that are only available on the Pros, like the new 48MP main camera with a quad-pixel sensor and a 12MP Ultra Wide camera. Combined with the Photonic Engine and the new A16 Bionic chip, you’re able to take photos that differentiate hues and textures even better. The ProRAW format for photos is also still available but now can shoot at 48MP, providing more leeway for photographers to play around with their photos.

The new A16 Bionic does make the Pro faster, at least on paper, but it’s not too noticeable once you get around to using it. Compared to the 13, the difference in speed isn’t significant, but what the A16 does help with is the Pro’s new display features: the Dynamic Island and the always-on display. Notchless screens and always-on displays are nothing new, but Apple has always had a penchant for making things their own, and at times, making them better. The Pro’s always-on display isn’t simply a black-and-white screen; the color of your wallpaper can still somewhat be seen, without draining your battery. You can turn it off in Settings, especially if you’re not used to seeing the screen on. Also, iPhone users may be glad to hear that the display now goes up to 2,000 nits outdoors, meaning you can see the screen clearly when the sun is beating down on you.

And then there’s the Dynamic Island. Instead of going notchless, Apple has decided to integrate the notch and blend hardware and software. It’s a small and some might say insignificant change, but I can’t deny that it’s fun and satisfying. Apps running in the background are easily accessible thanks to it, so if you’re listening to music on Spotify, you can see it on the pill-like Island on top of your display. A picture of the album and a wavelength corresponding to the album’s color also pops out, which is pretty cool. Dynamic Island also helps when you’re running multiple apps. For example, if you’re listening to music while also running a timer, another circular “island” pops up to the right, enabling you to switch between the apps easily. System notifications like AirPods pairing, turning the ringer on or off, and Face ID now all appear from the Dynamic Island. Despite being the smallest change, Apple’s move to not do away with the notch but instead integrate it with function may become something others will try to imitate in the coming months.

So, back to the question: is the iPhone 14 worth your cash? I say it depends on what you’re looking for. For some, the 14 may lack the drastic upgrades that make it worthwhile; if you’ve got an iPhone 13, you may find the 14 too similar. However, for those wanting a powerful camera in their hand that can also edit photos and footage, go for one of the 14 Pro Models. If you’re someone who wants to upgrade but are a bit strapped for cash, a base iPhone 14 could satisfy. The argument could be made, however, for buying a cheaper 13 Pro and getting the same features.

What I will say definitively is that if you want the true iPhone 14 experience, the Pro lineup is the way to go.

The iPhone 14 is priced at 32,900 baht, the iPhone 14 Plus at 37,900 baht, the iPhone 14 Pro at 41,900 baht, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max at 44,900 baht. Visit apple.com/th.