APR 15, 2024 /

What’s new in the Apple iPhone 14?

Apple announced its latest update to its iPhone 14 family recently, with four new iPhone 14 handsets as the company’s flagship offerings for 2022. They comprise the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.

As with previous years, there’s a few key differences between each model that reflect their different price points, as well as who they’re good for. Here’s what you need to know for each new iPhone.

iPhone 14

Available from: 16 September

Pricing: $1,399/$1579/$1899 (128GB/256GB/512GB)

The cheapest of the new iPhones – although with Apple keeping its premium brand status, “cheapest” is quite relative here – the iPhone 14 features a 6.1 inch display with the standard heavy Apple notch at the front housing its front-facing selfie camera and FaceID hardware. The iPhone 14 will sell in Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Purple and PRODUCT(RED) finishes.

As with last year’s iPhone 13, at the back there’s a dual camera covering wide and ultra-wide photography needs, but Apple’s claim is that its new camera sensors allow more light in. That matters if you’re taking night shots, or anywhere where the light might be less than perfect, with a claimed 49% improvement in low light capture.

Apple hasn’t disclosed absolute battery specifications, because it never does, but the claim for the iPhone 14 is that it should be capable of up to 20 hours of video playback before going flat. In realistic terms, that should mean that it’s capable of essentially all-day battery life, something that’s not always been true for smaller iPhone models.

In terms of new features, the gyroscopes in the iPhone 14 are claimed to be capable of detecting the specific sudden forces that occur in the unfortunate event of a car crash. Why does your iPhone need to know you’ve had a prang? Because you might not be in a state to call for help, but if it detects a crash and gets no input from you, it can call emergency contacts for you.

There’s also the lure of what Apple’s calling Emergency SOS via Satellite. In areas with no phone coverage if things go wrong, this should be able to send out a quick help message to assist you and show your location to the authorities – but there’s a couple of catches here before any outback ramblers get too excited. Apple’s announced that it’ll be a paid service (free for the first two years) set to launch in the US and Canada only on the new iPhone 14 models in November this year. It hasn’t announced any availability details for Australian users just yet.

Under the display is where it gets slightly confusing for iPhone buyers. In past years it’s tended to offer the same processor across all of that year’s models. That’s not the story for the iPhone 14, which uses the same A15 Bionic processor as last year’s iPhones. The upside there is that the A15 Bionic is a very fast, very capable chip. The downside is that if you want Apple’s best chip in a smartphone, you’ll have to pay the extra for the Pro model iPhone 14 devices.

iPhone 14 Plus

Available from: 7 October

Pricing: $1579/$1749/$1899 (128GB/256GB/512GB)

The iPhone Mini line didn’t get an iPhone 14 variant, with Apple looking in the other direction for its secondary phone line. That’s the iPhone 14 Plus, which as the name suggests is everything in the iPhone 14, but Plus.

The Plus in this case refers to the display, which jumps up from 6.1 inches diagonal to 6.7 inches, making it the same size as existing iPhone 13 Pro Max devices, or the newer iPhone 14 Pro Max for that matter. If you like a larger phone in your hand for viewing videos or playing smartphone games, but don’t need the camera features or price of the Pro models, this might be a smart buy.

In just about every aspect the iPhone 14 Plus is the iPhone 14 but physically bigger. What that also means is more space for battery capacity, with Apple bumping up that claimed video playback figure to up to 26 hours of video watching. It’s probably not wise to watch video for 26 hours straight, but in theory you could handle a flight from Australia’s east coast all the way to London without stopping your binge if you had to.

iPhone 14 Pro

Available from: 16 September

Pricing: $1,749/$1899/$2249/$2599 (128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB)

Stepping up in the price ranks brings you to Apple’s “Pro” line of phones, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. They’re available in space black, silver, gold and a really funky new deep purple colour finish.

These are the phones that Apple sells as its tippy-top-best models, aimed at photographers and videographers, as well as those who want the best current performance out of any Apple smartphone.

They’re based around the new Apple A16 Bionic chip, which Apple claims is 40% faster than comparable Android phone chipsets, while using only 1/3rd of the power. Those are bold claims that will need to be properly and independently tested and verified, although the reality for the existing A15 Bionic chip is that it is indeed much faster than its competition already.

Camera features that should make the iPhone 14 Pro stand out include a serious upgrade to the rear triple sensors on the phone. Where prior models had a trio of 12MP sensors, Apple’s upgrading the primary wide sensor to 48MP, while keeping the ultrawide and telephoto zoom sensors at 12MP. Camera photography isn’t just a question of counting the megapixels, but Apple has good form in getting the most out of its camera hardware, and this will include a new 2x zoom that only uses that 48MP sensor cropped down for even sharper photos.

For night shooters, Apple claims that it’ll be 2x better at low light shooting than the iPhone 13 Pro was, and that’s quite the bold claim as it’s genuinely one of the best in that field already.

Naturally, you get the features in the lower spec iPhone 14 models as well, and because it features a 6.1 inch display, side by side you might not pick them apart were it not for a redesigned camera notch. Apple’s gone for more of a vertical pill style design for the front facing camera, and it’s doing some cute tricks with software and what it calls the “digital island” to hide it even further with animated notifications that take that central camera pill as the base to show you any kind of notification in an animated style. Is that a vital feature? No, it’s not, but it does look quite cute.

While the iPhone 14 Pro is the same size as the iPhone 14, Apple’s either throwing in just a tad more battery capacity, or it’s inherently more power efficient, because Apple claims up to 23 hours of video viewing time for it, compared to the 20 hours for the iPhone 14. That doesn’t mean you’ll get 23 hours guaranteed of course, because actual battery life very much depends on your usage of apps and data-hungry services.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

Available from: 16 September

Pricing: $1,749/$1899/$2249/$2599 (128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB)

Apple’s Pro Max is very much the Plus equivalent to the iPhone 14, with the same cameras, processor and feature set, just with a 6.7 inch screen.

The nice detail here is that while in some past generations the very best of Apple was only available in a larger phone, this time round you don’t have to choose between them for raw processing power or camera features, because they’re identical.

The only differences are in that screen size, and the battery capacity that the larger phone body allows, with Apple claiming its best battery life for its most expensive phone, at 27 hours of battery life.

Are the iPhone 14 models my only choice for a “new” iPhone?

Not at all. The lowest cost model of iPhone you can buy is the iPhone SE 2022 if you just want an entry level option.

While there’s no “mini” variant of the iPhone 14, Apple will still sell the iPhone 13 Mini in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB storage sizes if you favour a smaller, more powerful phone. The iPhone 13 is also still going to be sold in the same sizes.

Both are slightly cheaper than the iPhone 14 equivalents as you’d expect, although you’d need to trade off whether the new features were worth the smaller drop in pricing than you might expect.

The iPhone 12 is also still in Apple’s range with 64GB, 128GB and 256GB models sold by the company, although there again it’s well worth considering if the smallish drop in cost is worth it compared to a genuinely new iPhone model that’ll see more future software and security upgrades.

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Alex Kidman
A multi-award winning journalist, Alex has written about consumer technology for over 20 years. He has written and edited for virtually every Australian tech publication including Gizmodo, CNET, PC Magazine, Kotaku and more.