A Device in Search of a Reason to Exist

When you’re releasing four phones at once, all offering the same but different experience, it’s hard to get excited about the “cheapest” device. Despite being Apple’s “cheapest” device this year, the iPhone 14 is anything but cheap. In fact, for its price, I’d say you should spend a little more and just get the Pro.

The iPhone 14 comes in two forms: the iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Plus. The Plus takes a little longer to get to Australia this year, but it’s about the same as the 14, just a bit bigger. The Plus replaces the Mini (RIP). But here’s the thing: the iPhone 14 Plus is the same size as the iPhone 14 Pro. I… I just don’t see why it has to exist. My thoughts on the iPhone 14 aren’t much better.

Apple’s iPhone 14

The new phone has powerful new cameras, Photonic Engine, Action Mode, Apple’s A15 Bionic Chip, Satellite Emergency SOS, Collision Detection, Long battery life battery and other standard Apple components. I’d go so far as to say it’s the 2021 iPhone 13 Pro with 2022 software access.

There’s a lot less to say about the 14 and 14 Plus than the 14 Pro and Pro Max. So let’s jump right into the comparison between last year’s iPhone 13 and the iPhone 14.

iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13

I have been using the iPhone 13 Pro Max for 12 months. It was, until I started using the 14 Pro Max, my favorite iPhone. It was powerful, the camera was brilliant, and the battery life was outstanding. After using the 14 Pro Max, jumping into the iPhone 14 felt like I was just using a smaller version of the 13 Pro Max. There….there is little or no difference. When we step back a little further and compare the standard 13 to the 14, that’s where we notice the upgrade.

Camera iPhone 14

Like its predecessor, there are two cameras on the back, one main and one ultra-wide. While the main remains at 12 MP, it’s now paired with a faster f/1.5 aperture, a component taken directly from the iPhone 13 Pro. The ultra-wide camera is also the same as in the 13, but it benefits from Apple’s Photonics Engine. The TL;DR? Similar hardware, better software. Here’s what it looks like in pictures.

iPhone 13 (left) versus iPhone 14 (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

As you can see in the photo above, the color palette is a little less yellow. It’s more realistic in the 14.

If we get closer (no zoom), I’d actually say the photo is better from 13, but that’s a tie.

The iPhone 14 is a device in search of a reason to exist
iPhone 13 (left) versus iPhone 14 (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

When you take a picture of something like a building, the software doesn’t have much to do. The only difference I can really see is the color of the iPhone 14 which again looks less yellow.

iPhone 14
iPhone 13 (left) versus iPhone 14 (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

When it comes to Portrait mode, there’s no noticeable difference. At the risk of repeating myself, my August model looks a little less yellow in shot 14 (funny that the yellow cushion looks more yellow in 14 too).

The iPhone 14 is a device in search of a reason to exist
iPhone 13 (left) versus iPhone 14 (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Night mode is something that won us over last year, and its processing capabilities continue to bring that wow factor. This room was mostly dark, here’s how the iPhone 14 compares to last year’s model.

iphone 14
iPhone 13 (left) versus iPhone 14 (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Except yellow colorthe leaves are softer in the iPhone 14.

And the selfie mode? The things I do for content: see, every visible line on my face.

The iPhone 14 is a device in search of a reason to exist
iPhone 13 (left) iPhone 14 (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

I prefer 13 here because it’s not as sharp or clear and I can get away with it without y’all seeing the caked on makeup on my cup.

Verdict? The iPhone 14’s camera system is better than the 13, but it’s really not sufficient I better sing his praises loud. Especially when taking a picture of the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

iPhone 14
iPhone 14 (left) iPhone 13 (middle) iPhone 14 Pro Max (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

The gray is definitely more yellow with the iPhone 13, but the 14 Pro Max shits all over the 14. I have to repeat that although this was taken on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, it’s the same camera as the iPhone 14 Pro Max. 14 Pro. The cheapest iPhone 14 Pro (128 GB) costs less than the 512 GB iPhone 14 and the same like the 256GB iPhone 14 Plus. If you take a lot of photos? Get the cheapest Pro.

Battery life

On every device we can (laptop, phone), we do the Avengers: Endgame test. Simply put, we’re streaming the 3-hour movie from Disney+ on highest quality, full brightness, and full volume. You can see how much this drains the battery. Halfway through the movie, the battery was down to 81%, and by the end of the three hours, it was down to 54%. The iPhone 14 Pro Max still had 63% at the end of the movie. Apple estimates you’ll get up to 20 hours of video playback (up to 16 hours of streaming) out of the battery.

During typical daily use, the iPhone 14 battery lasted all day. I charged it overnight so my alarm would go off for sure, just in case the battery got too low.

What’s the point?

iphone 14
iPhone 14 range price chart. Image: Gizmodo Australia

The table above lists all the phones available in the iPhone 14 lineup, based on Apple prices. I included this because I think it’s the easiest way to get my point across: if you’re willing to spend $1,899 on the iPhone 14 with the most storage, you can also go for the 256 Go Pro or the 128 GB Pro Max.

If 128GB or even 256GB of storage is on your mind, I’ve got a little reality check for you. I have 1TB of storage on my iPhone. I have 20,725 photos and 2,727 videos, and 137 apps. All that and I still have 850 GB of free space. Yes, I would have blown the 128GB option but when asking iPhone users around my team, they used 50GB to 100GB of storage. You will be to agree.

The only impact I can expect this to have on you is the requirement for a smaller sized phone. The iPhone 14 measures 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.8mm while the 14 Pro measures 147.5mm x 71.5mm x 7.85mm.

Also, of course I’m not going to convince you to spend $170 more on a phone if your budget was $1579 or $350 more if your budget was for the 128GB iPhone. If you just want a new iPhone and your budget is $1,399, you will still be very happy. It’s to those of you in this camp that I reiterate how good new Apple hardware running on new Apple software is.

Verdict

It’s probably a good thing the iPhone 14 Plus hasn’t arrived in Australia yet, because this review would likely be much more critical. The iPhone 14 fails to impress me the way the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max did. It also fails to impress me like the iPhone 13 did last year. There’s just not enough New to convince me that I shouldn’t go for the cheapest Pro.

It’s a shame that Apple made the iPhone 14 so expensive. If it was ~$200-$300 cheaper, this review would be much less critical.

The iPhone 14 is still a great phone, of course Apple makes great case. If you do get an iPhone 14, you’ll still be very, very happy.

Where to buy the iPhone 14?

We’ve rounded up all the iPhone 14 pre-order plans available through Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. But you can also go to the Apple website.

Leave a Comment