Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: A dynamic phone from top to bottom
The Pro model of iPhone 14 is arguably the best Apple has ever produced
It is a testament to the ingenuity of Apple that it can take something very unloved like a display notch and turn it into an interesting new feature. Rather than ditching it completely, as various rumours and leaks suggested, it simply found a new purpose for it.
As such, much of the interest in the new iPhone 14 Pro is around people wondering what a 'Dynamic Island' is. But that is just one of a number of new features that makes the iPhone 14 Pro, potentially, one of the most exciting smartphones around.
iPhone 14 Pro review: Design
In our opinion, Apple really nailed the design on the iPhone 12 and that is why we don't mind the fact it hasn't changed much over the last two years. The iPhone 13 was an exact replica and the iPhone 14 Pro is almost indistinguishable. We say almost, because there are, in fact, pretty major tweaks, such as the notch, which is now a pill-shaped cut-out at the top of the screen. This is for the new 'Dynamic Island' feature – more on that, later.
Beyond that, the iPhone 14 Pro is a solid handset, with flattened-off edges and subtly curved corners. There is a set of circular lenses that protrude from a transparent camera bump and a shiny Apple logo in the centre of the back cover. It looks the same as the last two models of iPhone, but still refreshingly different from every other smartphone available today. The device weighs 206gs – 2g more than the iPhone 13 Pro – and comes coated in Apple's ceramic shield. This is a specific compound that makes the phone that little bit more drop resistant. On the iPhone 13, and 12, it proved very durable.
If there is a point of contention on the iPhone 14 Pro it's the size; there are four variations on the latest iPhone, with the standard (6.1in) being the smallest and the Pro Max (6.7in) being the tallest. However, the Pro is not actually Pro-sized, going by other manufacturers' measurements. It's considerably smaller than the Pixel 7 Pro (6.7in) and the 'Plus' model of the S22 (6.6). Really, this is a normal-sized iPhone but the name almost makes you expect it to be bigger.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: Display
There is a sumptuous 6.1in OLED display on the iPhone 14 Pro that is both vivid and exceedingly bright. It has a 120Hz refresh rate, so it's also buttery smooth, and its ProMotion adaptive technology keeps that refresh rate in check for the sake of battery preservation.
With our calibrator, the 14 Pro reproduced 97% of the sRGB colour gamut, with 72.2% DCI P3. These are great scores, matching last year's iPhone 13 (97.7%) and the Google Pixel 7 Pro which showcased 96.4%. The phone is also ridiculously bright; it hit 1,997cd/m2 under an HDR video playback test, though it is worth noting that only a part of the screen can reach that level. If you're on a website or app it will be capped much lower. But still, blindingly good scores.
For the first time, Apple has added an always-on display and it is a stunning addition. This is down to the ProMotion tech which projects images at a rate of 1Hz so as not to overload the battery. So you can have simple time, date and notification graphics but also richer content such as widgets and even background photos. It is a fabulous extra to an already wonderful display.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: Specs and performance
With the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, Apple has introduced its latest silicon chip, the A16 Bionic processor. This is made up of a 6-core CPU, a 5-core GPU and a 16-core neural engine, and has been developed with 4nm technology. Apple is slowly starting to leave the competition behind with its Bionic range and the A16 is another industry-leading processor.
In GeekBench 5 it produced 1,874 for single-core workloads and 5,497 multi-threaded tasks. That is a big improvement on the iPhone 13's A15 Bionic chip (4,668 for multi) and streets ahead of practically everything else – the Exynos 2200 chip in the Samsung S22 Ultra hit 3,475 for multi-threaded, for example.
There is almost too much power in the iPhone 14 Pro, as very few users will ever find its upper limits. It handled everything we could throw at it with barely any sign of effort. However, if there is one gripe – and there is always one with Apple – it is the 6GB RAM limit. You get options of 8GB or 12GB on the S22 Ultra and the Pixel 7 Pro, Apple could clearly do more here.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: Battery
There is a 3,200mAh battery inside the iPhone 14 Pro, which is a tiny bit bigger than the 3,095mAh source found in the iPhone 13 Pro. In our looped video test, the 14 Pro lasted for 19hrs 56mins, almost two hours longer than the iPhone 13 (18hrs 5mins), but actually less than the iPhone 13 Pro which made it over the 20-hour mark.
The always-on display and the higher refresh rate do affect the battery life which really does ebb away if you're constantly scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, and so on. Aside from that, however, the 14 Pro can easily make it through a workday and into the late evening – on a couple of occasions, we even found it to last into a second day, provided we didn't watch anything.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: Features
The big new thing with the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Max Pro is the 'Dynamic Island' notification system. Essentially a reimagining of the notch, partly so Apple can keep it, but also so it can make notifications seem less annoying. It's a feature exclusive to the Pro and Pro Max models – so you won't get it on the standard iPhone 14. It seems quite refreshing, with music presenting the best use case for it as you can skip through your iTunes playlists with real simplicity.
It works by pressing the notch and holding it to open it up into an information window at the top of the display. Apple is making its APIs open to developers so the likelihood is that Dynamic Island will get more functionality with the next couple of iPhone generations. For now, it's just a slightly useful notch.
There is also 'Crash Detection', which alerts emergency services if the phone detects you've been in an accident. It's one of the newer iOS16 features that we thankfully never got to properly test out. Elsewhere you get Wi-Fi 802, Bluetooth 5.3, an IP68 dust and water resistance rating and a Lightning USB 2.0 slot – though if reports are correct, this will be the last iPhone to feature it.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: Cameras
There are some big changes with the 14 Pro's camera setup compared to the iPhone 13 Pro, though there isn't a particularly noticeable improvement in picture quality. The main camera has been bumped from 12MP to 48MP, but with a slightly smaller aperture at f/1.8. There is also a 12MP telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom and a second 12MP ultra-wide lens. There is also a 12MP selfie cam.
There isn't much improvement with images captured in daylight, though there is a big difference when capturing images in the ProRaw format. This needs to be enabled via the settings but it is worth that extra hassle as it captures full-res 48MP images, rather than 12MP ones. This gets you the super fine details, which is also why these images take up more storage space.
Video is perhaps a bigger improvement, year-on-year, with the new Action Mode offering very smooth footage at 2.8K and 60fps. Along with the Dolby Vision HDR, the 14 Pro is a great little action cam and the results look great on most screens.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: Verdict
One could argue that there isn't much change year-on-year, or that what is new isn't quite the finished article. But then again, the iPhone 14 Pro sailed through most of our tests and left a good impression on us after a week of use. And, despite being two years old, the design still looks fresh against the competition.
The price is high (£916 exc VAT) but that gets you an always-on-display, the Dynamic Island, a very good camera system and probably the most powerful mobile processor of all time. We can't say the iPhone 14 Pro is best in class but it is most definitely the best smartphone Apple has produced to date.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Specifications
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