Apple recently unveiled its latest flagship smartphone lineup, the iPhone 14 series. Now in its 9th generation, the iPhone 14 brings minor refinements and enhancements to last year’s iPhone 13 rather than major changes. The iPhone 14 series consists of 4 models – the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. In this review, I’ll be taking a look at the base iPhone 14 model to see how it compares to its predecessor and whether it’s worth upgrading to for iPhone 13 or older iPhone users.
At first glance, the iPhone 14 looks virtually identical to the iPhone 13. It has the same flat-edged design with an aluminum frame sandwiched between glass on the front and back. The dimensions are also mostly unchanged at 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.8mm. The iPhone 14 weighs 172g, which is around 10g heavier than the iPhone 13. This slightly heavier weight lends a more premium feel in hand.
The only obvious visual differences are the repositioned SIM card slot along the bottom edge, and slightly larger camera bumps on the rear. But otherwise, the iPhone 14 shares the same industrial design and build quality as its predecessor. If you place an iPhone 13 and 14 side by side, they look nearly indistinguishable. Those hoping for a refreshed design will be disappointed, but I don’t mind the consistency as I’ve always liked the flat-edge design that Apple reintroduced back with the iPhone 12.
The iPhone 14 retains an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance up to 6 meters for 30 minutes. The aluminum frame comes in 5 colors: midnight, starlight, blue, purple, and Product Red. The durability is top-notch thanks to the Ceramic Shield front glass and glass back. Overall, the iPhone 14 continues the premium build quality and design that Apple’s smartphones are known for.
The iPhone 14 has a 6.1” OLED Super Retina XDR display, just like the iPhone 13. It’s an excellent display with deep blacks, vibrant colors, excellent brightness up to 1200 nits, and a sharp resolution of 2532×1170 pixels. The notch cutout at the top housing the TrueDepth camera does seem slightly slimmer, but it’s still a prominent notch.
The key upgrade on the display side is that the iPhone 14 supports a higher typical peak brightness of 1200 nits compared to 800 nits on the iPhone 13. This allows HDR content to really pop and provides better visibility when using the phone outdoors in direct sunlight. But otherwise, the screen quality and technology itself remains unchanged from the iPhone 13.
The iPhone 14 misses out on the new always-on display that’s exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro models. This allows their screens to stay on at a low power state to display widgets, notifications, and other info while the screen is idle. Having used always-on displays on Android phones for years, it’s a very handy feature to have and it’s disappointing that regular iPhone 14 models don’t get this benefit.
Overall though, the iPhone 14’s display is very good and shares the same qualities as its predecessor. It’s bright, vivid, and color accurate. But if you were hoping for substantial display upgrades like the new pill-shaped cutout or always-on mode of the Pro models, you won’t find that here.
The iPhone 14 has a dual 12MP camera system consisting of a main wide angle lens and an ultra wide angle lens. It’s the same setup as the iPhone 13: main lens with f/1.6 aperture and sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS), and 120° ultra wide lens with f/2.4 aperture.
However, while the hardware remains unchanged, Apple has upgraded the image processing capabilities. This includes improvements to color accuracy and low light performance. The iPhone 14 main camera captures 49% more light versus the iPhone 13. This enables better night mode shots with more detail and color.
The Ultra Wide camera enables 0.5x macro photography to capture close up subjects and textures. And thanks to the A15 Bionic chip, the iPhone 14 cameras support new features like Action mode for smooth video stabilization during motion and Cinematic mode in 4K resolution at 24 fps.
Around front, the TrueDepth camera has been upgraded to faster autofocus and improved low light performance. Photographic Styles allow customizing your preferences for tonal qualities in your photos. Overall, while the iPhone 14 cameras reuse the hardware from its predecessor, Apple’s image processing and computational photography enhancements result in noticeably improved photos and videos.
The iPhone 14 is powered by Apple’s A15 Bionic chip, which is the same processor used in the iPhone 13 Pro models. It’s a 6-core CPU with 2 high-performance and 4 high-efficiency cores. This ensures snappy performance whether you’re browsing apps, multitasking, gaming, or editing media files.
Thanks to the 5-core GPU and 6GB of RAM, the iPhone 14 handles graphics-intensive games and apps smoothly. Benchmarks provide an idea of the iPhone 14’s performance gains over its predecessor. It scores approximately 5-15% higher on benchmarks like Geekbench and 3D Mark compared to the iPhone 13.
Of course, you’re unlikely to notice huge speed differences in day-to-day use coming from an iPhone 13. But the A15 Bionic provides more headroom for immersive games and apps taking advantage of the Metal 3 graphics framework in iOS 16. The iPhone 14 also has better thermal management, so performance remains consistent even under heavy workloads.
With up to 512GB of storage, ample memory means you can store tons of apps, videos, and media files. 5G connectivity and WiFi 6 provide super fast download speeds where supported. Overall, the iPhone 14 delivers excellent performance whether you’re playing games, using professional creativity apps, or just breezing through iOS multitasking.
Battery life has seen a noticeable improvement on the iPhone 14 compared to its predecessor. Apple claims it lasts up to 20 hours of video playback, versus just 17 hours on the iPhone 13.
Longer battery life is thanks to a combination of a slightly higher capacity battery, power efficiency gains from the A15 Bionic chip, and iOS 16 software optimizations. In day-to-day use, I was comfortably able to get through a full day on a single charge with heavy use. With lighter use, you can stretch it to 1.5 days or longer.
The iPhone 14 supports faster wired charging at up to 20W with a compatible USB-C power adapter. But there’s still no support for wireless or reverse wireless charging. Battery life is solidly better than the iPhone 13, but not as huge a leap compared to the iPhone 14 Pro models which last even longer. Overall, most users should be satisfied with the iPhone 14’s battery life gains for all-day use. But power users may want to splurge on the iPhone 14 Pro/Pro Max or a battery case for maximum endurance.
The iPhone 14 ships with iOS 16 out of the box. This brings a variety of new features like a customizable Lock Screen with widgets, Focus Modes, and iCloud Shared Photo Library. Visual Look Up analyzes images in your photos and lets you lift the subject from the background. Dictation works offline and adds punctuation automatically.
Messages and Mail gain the ability to edit or recall recently sent messages. Maps adds multi-stop routing and transit cards. Fitness gains enhanced insights into movement metrics. And the Home app has been redesigned with new categories and views.
These are just some of the many highlights in iOS 16 that enhance the overall iPhone experience. Apple’s latest software update brings welcome refinements across the entire operating system. And you can expect to receive regular iOS updates with new features and security patches for many years, which is a perk of iOS compared to Android.
The iPhone 14 brings modest refinements rather than a major overhaul compared to the iPhone 13. The design remains nearly identical, with no changes to the display. The A15 Bionic chip provides performance gains, but not a huge leap over its predecessor.
The camera gets the most notable improvements like better low light photos and video recording features. Battery life sees a sizable bump too, making it easier to get through a full day on a charge. And iOS 16 adds helpful new customization options, productivity features, and visual improvements across system apps.
But due to the minimal changes, most iPhone 13 owners can skip this upgrade as the iPhone 14 doesn’t provide enough to be worthwhile. The iPhone 14 is aimed squarely at those with older models like the iPhone 11 or earlier who want the latest software and performance. iPhone 12 owners may want to hold off for at least another year if you aren’t in a rush to upgrade.
Pricing starts at $799 USD, which is on the higher side but expected from Apple. Overall, the iPhone 14 brings welcome refinements to a proven formula, but lacks exciting new innovations or differentiators you expect from a brand new generation. Unless you really want the improved cameras and battery life, sticking with an iPhone 13 will provide nearly the same experience at a lower cost for now.