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The Apple iPhone 14 Plus is bigger, but is it better?
Let’s talk about size. We spend half our time being told that it matters (cars, bank accounts, etc.). There are entire states based on how much it matters — hello, Texas. Then, we spend the rest of our time being told that maybe size isn’t as important, it’s more about how you use what you have. We had a pretty clear idea of which side Apple fell on for a while, but things are different now. Small is out, and large is in. Instead of an iPhone 14 Mini, we get this, the Apple iPhone 14 Plus.
What they say about big phones
A big battery and a big display. That’s it. That’s about all the iPhone 14 Plus inherited from its 6.7-inch sibling, the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Otherwise, this feels like an iPhone 14 that Apple locked in the gym. I can only assume that it wasn’t allowed to come out until it was as tall and wide as the top-of-the-line flagship. Don’t worry, it’s no thicker than any other iPhone, and the cameras aren’t as obtrusive as the ones on the Pro models.
Its dual rear cameras — both 12MP — are plucked straight from the iPhone 14, along with the satin aluminum frame and colorful candy-like finishes. Sure, the iPhone 14 Plus has a display to rival the size of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but it has much more in common with its simplified sibling. The 60Hz refresh rate, 1,200 nits of peak brightness, and sharp Full HD+ resolution help to set the tone as clues that you’re not at the top of Apple’s lineup. The good old notch is still kicking around, a constant reminder that you didn’t splurge for the new Dynamic Island.
The iPhone 14 Plus has all the charm of an iPhone 14 that was locked in the gym for just a little too long.
Everything is right where you’d expect it to be as you make your way around the frame — the power button is on the right, the volume rocker and mute switch are on the left, and the Lightning port holds down the bottom edge. It’s all there, well, except for the SIM tray on US models. The iPhone 14 Plus sticks with the new eSIM-only approach, instead turning the space where the SIM slot would have been into nothing, really. It also keeps the IP68 rating for water and dust resistance, in case you’re headed for an adventure.
The iPhone 14 traits continue under the hood, with 6GB of RAM across all models, up to 512GB of onboard storage, and 2021’s A15 Bionic chipset to keep the lights on. You could probably hop into our Apple iPhone 14 review and get the gist of how it runs, at least until you get to one area: the battery. The ~4,300mAh cell is as large as you’ll find on any iPhone, matching the iPhone 14 Pro Max almost exactly. It matches its siblings in terms of charging, too, with modest wired rates and MagSafe for 15W wireless speeds.
Despite the top-end size, the iPhone 14 Plus is surprisingly light. Apple’s decision to stick with an aluminum frame means that this behemoth weighs less than the smaller, stainless steel-framed iPhone 14 Pro. It doesn’t feel nearly as top-heavy as some Android options, but there’s enough presence to feel comfortable in the hand.
You could probably accuse the Apple design team of coasting with the iPhone 14 Plus. It doesn’t rock the boat, and it doesn’t break the mold, but it doesn’t have to. The 60Hz refresh rate is pretty weak for 2022, and the notch is still ugly, but using the iPhone 14 Plus is a game of tradeoffs. The big display and massive battery plucked from the iPhone 14 Pro Max are enough of a reminder that sometimes, size really does matter.
It’s about how you use it
We often associate large phones with power and productivity. There’s no doubt that’s where Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra and Google’s Pixel 7 Pro land. However, Apple already has an option for the power-hungry crowd. The iPhone 14 Pro Max fills the productivity role, and it left me wondering why another large iPhone needs to exist — at least for a while.
Eventually, I realized that, no, this isn’t the phone for the power user. It’s not the phone for the tablet user, either. Instead, the iPhone 14 Plus is a phone that exists to be your go-to device — a handset for when you want to travel light but still enjoy the benefits of a larger smartphone screen. If you’re a commuter, you probably wouldn’t sit on a subway with a full-sized iPad, but you might not give a 6.7-inch smartphone a second thought. The iPhone 14 Plus manages to be just large enough for you to keep up with House of the Dragon, but it’s small enough that you don’t feel out of place doing so in public.
You might not whip out an iPad on the subway, but you wouldn't think twice about using an iPhone 14 Plus.
Even if you don’t commute, the battery life on the iPhone 14 Plus might be enough to sway you. It’s simply excellent. The sizeable 4,300mAh cell, combined with power-sipping features like the 60Hz display, stretched beyond a full day of use during my testing and came comfortably close to a second day. It didn’t seem to matter much what I was up to, either. I spent some days streaming video, others on social media, and even more days between Spotify and GPS navigation. I rarely achieved less than a day and a half of juice, and that’s only when I really pushed the iPhone 14 Plus.
If there’s one drawback to Apple’s beast of a battery, it’s the charging. As mentioned above, the iPhone 14 Plus doesn’t really bring any innovations to the table, sticking with the same 20W wired rate we’ve come to know and grumble about. It ultimately suffers in the same way as the iPhone 14 Pro Max, taking almost 90 minutes to fill after zooming to 50% in the first half hour. You could hop over to MagSafe wireless charging instead, but it’s slightly slower at 15W, and it causes the iPhone 14 Plus to heat up a lot more.
Apple’s two rear cameras don’t make massive leaps over their predecessors, but they again fall back on the principle that size matters. The 12MP primary and 12MP ultrawide sensors are a little bigger than the iPhone 13 series, which means slightly better low-light performance without forcing post-processing to carry the load. Unfortunately, the telephoto lens is still a Pro-only option, so overall zoom is nothing to write home about. That said, Apple’s ultrawide lens correction tech is among the best in the business, keeping distortion almost nonexistent. I’ll skip the in-depth camera breakdown since they’re the same as those on the iPhone 14, but you can head over to our review to check out a full gallery and further analysis.
Which iPhone 14 would you pick?
Some of Apple’s iOS 16 tweaks shine brightest on the larger iPhones, too. Notifications now reside within striking distance, eliminating the need to stretch to the top of your screen to answer a quick text message. There are also more options to customize your lock screen than ever, with new clock styles, colors, and widgets. It’s easy to swap for a new style with a simple swipe, and the depth effect is cool until you realize that you can’t see what time it is.
I like the lock screen widgets, which let me check basics like the weather without unlocking my phone, but I can’t help thinking they might be the one feature to benefit from Apple’s always-on display. You still have to wake your screen, which puts you a swipe away from opening your phone thanks to Face ID. It might not matter if you’re checking on your fitness rings, but you can glean a lot more from the weather app than from a simple widget.
iPhone 14 Plus review: Is it worth buying the bigger iPhone?
So, is a bigger iPhone really a better one? Well, choosing an iPhone in 2022 is kind of like playing a game of would you rather. If you want the smallest, most affordable new flagship iPhone, your choice is easy — get the base iPhone 14. It’s barely an upgrade over the still-available and more affordable iPhone 13, but if you’re uneasy about stepping back a generation, it’s still a solid pick. However, if you want to go beyond that, you have a choice. Would you rather have size? Or would you rather have high-end specs? One option leads to the iPhone 14 Plus, and the other to the iPhone 14 Pro. If you absolutely, positively can not pick, there’s also the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the premium price tag that comes with it.
The iPhone 14 Plus is big, and the battery lasts forever, but I still find myself reaching for the more expensive iPhone 14 Pro.
Left up to me, I’d grab the iPhone 14 Pro. Yes, it’s an extra $100 (or $200 over the standard iPhone 14), but I have other large-screen fixes in my life. I’ll reach for my iPad when I want to stream a show or a movie, and I don’t have a daily commute that I have to worry about. Given the option, I’d much rather have the Dynamic Island, the upgraded A16 Bionic processor, and the 48MP main camera.
For some, the size and sheer battery life of the iPhone 14 Plus might be all that matters. The hefty battery, paired with modest hardware, means that you can spend a day and a half or even two away from a charger — something that’s not an option with many power-hungry phones. Apple’s software optimization and commitment to future updates remain second to none, so there’s little doubt that the iPhone 14 Plus can last long into the future. All that’s left is to ask yourself just how much size matters to you.