For years we have been talking about the iPhone as if it were one, while Apple smartphones are a real family, which becomes more numerous every autumn. Today there are eight: an iPhone 12, two iPhone 13 (mini and normal), an iPhone SE and four new iPhone 14. Divided, also on the site, iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro, to point out the important differences that separate the two models.
The iPhone 14 at first seems the least exciting novelty among those presented in the event of 7 September. To distinguish it from the iPhone 13 are in fact some new colors, the weight, one gram lower, the thickness, which grows by 1.15 mm due to the protrusion of the lenses, the battery life, according to Apple of 20 hours against 19 of the previous model. The price changes, but not so much: 1029 euros instead of 939.
What makes the difference, we could say, is the accident detection. Which is a new feature, never seen on other smartphones and potentially able to save the life of those who use an iPhone.
For obvious reasons we refrained from testing it, but according to Apple it works like this: the iPhone monitors the speed at which you are moving, and first of all determines if you are moving in a car. If the movement then changes direction or stops suddenly, and at the same time a loud noise is detected, a sudden change in the position of the telephone and a change in pressure in the passenger compartment (for opening the aribag), then the function is active. As with the fall detection on Apple Watch, a message appears asking if there really has been an accident, and if there is no response, the phone call starts automatically after thirty seconds. Using the cellular network or wi-fi, the iPhone calls the nearest emergency services and sends a recorded message in the local language, including location. In addition, it also alerts people designated as emergency contacts.
Apple explains that it has trained the algorithm with the data of a million driving hours and simulated different types of accidents: it would therefore seem reasonable to be able to offer this function even on older models, with a simple update. But the iPhone 14 is equipped with a new accelerometer and gyroscope, without which accident detection would not be possible, or at least not with the same degree of accuracy.
All iPhones 14 are also equipped with another life-saving function, namely the ability to send text messages via satellite, even in the absence of a cellular or wi-fi connection. The function is active by default on devices sold all over the world, but at the moment it can only be used in the USA and Canada for agreements made by Apple with satellite operators.
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Same but different
For the rest, in the few hours we had to try it, the iPhone 14 showed itself identical to the iPhone 13, with some exceptions: the flash led, of a warmer shade, and a little less bright, and the Ram memory, which increases from 4 GB to 6 GB. This, at least according to the information sheet of GeekBench 5. The processor is the same, the excellent A15 Bionic, so the results of the various benchmarks are very similar, with differences of the order of 5-6% in single core and over the 10% in multi core. In short, nothing that can be noticed in everyday use.
As you will hardly notice the increase in performance (about 20%, according to GeekBench) of the GPU, the graphics card: it is explained by the different hardware architecture, which goes from 4 to 5 cores.
Photo and video
Apple relies heavily on what it calls the Photonic Engine, a novelty of all four models this year. It is not a processor, but a different way of processing images, which are processed using Deep Fusion technology starting from Raw and uncompressed data: this is made possible by the greater computing power available on the new models. The process is completely transparent, but a careful eye notices it: if you take a photo and open it from the gallery, for a fraction of a second you can see it as it is before processing, then it is processed and optimized.
Although the sensor data is the same (always 12 MP), it seems to us that the images are slightly more defined, the colors more accurate, even in less than optimal lighting conditions. The starting point, however, was the photographic sector of the iPhone 13, already very good, so even in this case the improvements are incremental.
Among other differences, we point out the possibility of recording movies with Cinema Effect in 4K HDR instead of 1080p. More interesting are the improvements to video stabilization, or the front camera with autofocus and aperture that goes from ƒ / 2.2 to ƒ / 1.9: in practice it means that by taking a selfie you can frame more people.
We like it
- Incident detection
- Excellent performance
- Improved video stabilizer
We do not like it
- Design unchanged from the previous model
- High price
- The base model only has 128GB of memory
90 euros is a minimal expense for a feature like Incident Detection, which no one hopes to need, but which can save our lives. The increased ram could ensure the iPhone 14 a year or two of iOS updates, as well as being useful already today in the case of particularly demanding apps or games. The other changes and the small increase in performance certainly do not make the experience of use of the iPhone 14 different from that of the 13, but overall it seems preferable to opt for the new model. Maybe in one of the two new colors, purple (but it would be better to call it lilac) and blue (a very elegant baby blue).
iPhone 14 will be in stores on September 16, with attractive offers for those with an old model to trade in. This time Apple pushes a lot on the possibility of payment in installments: in this case the basic 128 GB version starts from 42.87 euros per month.
Of the two non-Pro iPhones 14, the real novelty is the 14 Plus, which didn’t exist until last year. In all respects the same as the normal 14, however, it has a 6.7-inch display instead of 6.1 and a more powerful battery. It is easy to predict that it will be a success, also because it takes the place of the iPhone mini, canceled after only two generations. A shame, but the market has its own laws and Android competition in the oversized display industry was too fierce for Apple to not respond with a comparable offer. The iPhone 14 Plus will only go on sale from October 7, though, so we’ll deal with that later.
There is something about the Pro models that makes them look truly pro: and it’s not just the surgical steel of the chassis or the heavy weight, or the feeling of extreme ruggedness. It is perhaps in the colors, the more serious ones like the usual sidereal Black, or the new ones, like the splendid dark purple. Or in the photographic sector, which at first seemed an element to be hidden, then became a characterizing motif of all iPhones. In the case of the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max it still grows compared to last year, and is even more prominent.
And in fact perhaps the biggest novelty of the new Pro is right there: the sensors are always three, but this time the main one (wide angle) reaches 48 MP, after having remained fixed at 12 MP for years. Ultra-wide and telephoto are 12MP.
Of course, the new iPhone won’t make photos and videos four times better, but it can optimize light capture by grouping every four pixels into a quad-pixel, or use each pixel individually to fine-tune details in the ProRAW format. Normal 1X photos optimize light capture using quad-pixels, which should ensure even better images even in low light. When using each pixel individually, the quad-pixel sensor offers an additional 2X telephoto lens. Thus, starting the Photo app, the zoom options are no longer three but four: 0.5 – 1 – 2 – 3. The digital zoom still reaches a maximum of 15X this time.
The flash has been completely rethought, while the Cinematic mode now records in 4K resolution and 24 fps. The new sensor is 65% larger than that of the iPhone 13 Pro, and features 100 focus pixels, enabling a hybrid focusing system for all scenarios, from bright to low light. Here, too, there is the Photonic Engine which works on uncompressed data, and also the Action mode for videos that allows you to create even more stable movies during activities with a lot of movement, recording in Dolby Vision HDR.
This time the internal processor changes: only on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, in fact, Apple uses the A16 chip, which certainly does not represent a revolution compared to last year’s A15, but it does record average improvements of 9-10% with Geekbench for CPU in single core, which reach 12-15% in multi core. Small progress also for the graphics sector, whose performances grow by 7-8%, according to our surveys. The amount of ram memory remains unchanged, 6 GB for both models. In use, as always, there is no difference: thanks also to the variable refresh display, response to commands is always fluid and immediate.
And precisely in the display are the important news. The numbers speak of 2556 × 1179 pixels against 2532 × 1170 pixels for the 14 Pro and 2796 × 1290 pixels against 2778 × 1284 pixels for the Pro Max, and so far it changes little. Brightness reaches 1600 nits peak and 2000 max outdoors, and is a marked improvement over the 1200 nits of the iPhone 13 Pro, which translates into greater readability of texts and clearer images even outdoors.
Still on the subject of the screen, the always on display finally arrives, present for years on Android devices, but so far snubbed by Apple. Thanks to a refresh rate that drops down to one Hz (once per second), it is possible to show information on the screen even when the phone is not in use, without affecting too much autonomy. iOS 16 therefore provides a series of widgets, from the time to the weather, from the percentage of charge to the activity, which are widely customizable and bring a breath of fresh air to the iPhone.
But there’s more: on the two Pros the notch disappears, the notch that has characterized the design of the Apple smartphone since the iPhone X in 2017. Instead, for the Face ID sensors and front camera to work, there are two holes, one circular and one oblong. The brilliant idea was not to hide them, but rather to integrate them into a notification and dynamic control system, which is not only pleasant to see but which gives a new meaning to multitasking on the iPhone.
It’s called Dynamic Island and plays on the presence of two black elements at the top of the screen. For example, if a music track is playing, you see the audio waveform and the progress of the song. If you set a timer, the countdown will remain visible. If another app is to use Dynamic Island, the timer shrinks to a small icon, ready to be tapped and called up, only to disappear when full-screen activities, such as watching movies, are taking place. It is fun but also useful: if on the Mac there is a menu bar for this type of information, so far on the iPhone there was only the battery icon and the notches for the connection of wifi and cellphone.
(article being updated)