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Apple iPhone 14
What we like
What we don't like
Apple iPhone 14
How do you improve a classic? That’s the conundrum facing the Apple iPhone 14 — perhaps the most familiar iPhone released to date. As the successor to the already well-established iPhone 13, can the new model do enough differently to tempt you away from the menagerie of high-end handsets out there? Find out in Android Authority’s Apple iPhone 14 review.
Update, March 2023: This review was updated to include details of the new Yellow color and new alternatives that have come to market.
What you need to know about the Apple iPhone 14
- Apple iPhone 14 (6GB/128GB): $799 / £849 / €999
- Apple iPhone 14 (6GB/256GB): $899 / £959 / €1,129
- Apple iPhone 14 (6GB/512GB): $1,099 / £1,179 / €1,389
Apple’s iPhone 14 sits at the bottom of a rather expansive flagship smartphone portfolio this year. With no Mini version in sight, it’s more compact than the brand new, super-sized iPhone 14 Plus model and the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. It’s also considerably less expensive to pick up than the Pro series, which starts at $999. So long as you stick to the lower memory variants, that is — even the entry-tier iPhone 14 becomes expensive quite quickly if you want more fixed storage. As such, there’s a growing divide within the range, with Apple brandishing its cutting-edge technology in the Pro-tier models and reusing some older technologies, such as last-gen processors, in its base and Plus handsets.
If you’ve seen any recent iPhone, you know what to expect here. That phrase is verging on a cliché when it comes to talking about Apple launches, yet it’s never been more applicable for the iPhone 14. The phone’s aesthetics and many of the core specifications remain unchanged from 2021’s iPhone 13 — a phone Apple still makes and sells for $100 less than the iPhone 14.
We’re looking at the same 6.1-inch 60Hz OLED Super Retina display, the classic chunky Apple notch complete with Face ID biometrics, 15W MagSafe wireless charging, stereo speakers, and a similarly sized 3,279mAh battery. Apple has sought to make some subtle changes with the iPhone 14, however. There’s a slightly larger main camera and wider aperture selfie snapper, a five- rather than four-core Apple GPU version of its A15 Bionic processor, dual eSIM support in the US, and Emergency SOS messages now delivered via satellite in North America. The new iPhone range also debuts its Crash Detection feature to automatically connect you to emergency services. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but it’s good to see Apple on the same page as Google when it comes to intelligent features like this.
On paper, this is another generation Apple has spent refining its entry-level flagship iPhone formula rather than offering customers a wholesale revamp. The iPhone 14 offers a slightly smaller colorway selection too; Midnight, Starlight, Blue (pictured), Product (Red), Yellow, and White are your options. You can already grab the phone from in all of Apple’s usual retail markets, including North America, Europe, India, and beyond.
If you love Apple’s straight-edged, aluminum design and flat display (as some of our colleagues do), then the iPhone 14 looks and feels as good as ever. It’s basically unchanged, though it’s 0.1mm thicker and 2g lighter than its predecessor. At a very reasonable 6.1 inches in size, it’s one of the more usable phones in one hand. Apple has completely redesigned the phone’s internals, though, making it easier to repair by allowing you to remove both the front and the back. Chalk that up as another win for the growing right-to-repair movement.
Speaking of internals, there’s dual-SIM (eSIM and physical) support onboard for most of the world, but we’re looking at dual-eSIM only for models sold in the US. Depending on your carrier, moving from physical to eSIM might be painless, or it could be a headache — my US-based colleagues had mixed results on Verizon when attempting the online process but got it all sorted in a store. Either way, this isn’t really a pro or con for the handset, but it’s one area where the iPhone 14 is actually ahead of the curve as the industry slowly moves away from physical SIMs.
The iPhone 14 may look the same but it's much easier to repair.
Although the iPhone might not have the biggest battery in a 6.1-inch phone, the handset is optimized well enough to last you a full day of use. I recorded over six hours of screen-on time with moderate usage, enough for a full day of emails, web browsing, videos, etc. Although four to five hours is a safer estimate if you want to avoid the anxiety of Apple’s low battery notifications.
iOS 16 has a few new tricks up its sleeve. It’s still unintuitive in places, and the setup is increasingly cluttered with app icons, widgets, folders, and other options, but it’s more customizable than ever. Take the new lock screen wallpaper and widget options, for instance, which enable tweaking right down to the clock’s color.
Focus, introduced in iOS 15, now lets you set a specific home screen and lock screen setup to accompany your current focus. This is a great addition for creating entirely unique layouts for work, play, and other scenarios, and it’s one feature from iOS 16 that Google should take note of — we’d love to see this on Android. Apple has spruced up a fair few of its apps and services as well, tweaking Messages to enable editing, Safari tab groups, and even allowing the ever-reliable Face ID to work at off-angles.
In a nutshell, iOS 16 is bigger and better than ever, even though it’s increasingly difficult to find exactly what you’re after among all the customization and clutter. And don’t forget, Apple typically supports its phones with at least six years of iOS updates, making the iPhone 14 a great long-term investment.
Apple's six plus years of OS support is still the best in the business.
Turning to performance, the phone absolutely flew through every app we threw at it, as we’ve come to expect from Apple’s Bionic processors. The extra GPU core lifts graphics benchmarks by a reasonable ~6%, but that’s hardly an upgrade for mobile gamers to buy a new phone for. Still, the A15 Bionic sits near the top of our benchmark charts, making the iPhone 14 one of the speedier handsets on the market.
What’s not so good?
As impressive as the iPhone 14’s A15 Bionic is, besides the extra GPU core, there’s no improvement to general app or system performance here compared to the iPhone 13. The use of a last-gen chip is a bit of a blow to Apple’s consumers who have become accustomed to the best. You’ll have to fork out at least an extra $200 to get your hands on the Apple A16 Bionic, marking a clear divide between regular and Pro iPhone users.
The iPhone 14 benchmarks well but feels sluggish in hand owing to the 60Hz display.
The 60Hz display is far more criminal than using old silicon though, and the comparatively low refresh rate takes the shine off the otherwise silky performance. Scrolling feels sluggish compared to the 90Hz and 120Hz rivals that are readily found around and below the iPhone 14’s price tag. It’s a major disappointment that Apple still hasn’t caught up with 2019’s trend in snappier panels.
Another area of stagnation is charging capabilities. Limited to 20W charging with USB Power Delivery, the iPhone 14 takes about 12 minutes to 25%, 25 minutes to 50%, 48 minutes to 80%, but 100 minutes to full. That’s slow, especially for a 3,279mAh cell, and a quick-ish half-hour charge isn’t enough to take you through the day.
Apple's still hasn't equipped its phones with fast charging.
Unfortunately, 15W MagSafe and the paltry 7.5W Qi wireless charging options are notably slower still. The Lightning port is still an annoyance too. Apple’s stubbornness means you’ll have to bring an extra cable along for no good reason when traveling with your other USB-C chargeable gadgets.
Although the iPhone 14 offers great battery life from full, it almost certainly won’t take power users through a full day without starting at 100%. Unless you’re a fan of overnight charging, slow charging causes us some concern about using the phone as a business workhorse.
Apple iPhone 14 camera review
The lack of major upgrades continues in the camera department. While technically sporting a slightly larger 12MP main camera sensor and a wider aperture for selfies, it’s very difficult to tell snaps taken with the iPhone 14 apart from its predecessor. That’s not strictly a bad thing — the iPhone 13 already took solid photos and videos, and the new model hands in good- to great-looking results a lot of the time. Just don’t look too closely, as there are still common signs of oversharpening and noise.
Turning to low light, Apple’s Photonic Engine, building on its Deep Fusion tech, promises to improve photo quality in trickier lighting conditions. The phone handles low light reasonably well, particularly with Night Mode enabled. But again, there’s not a night and day improvement over the previous generation’s pictures here, and some snaps still come out too dark. Overall though, it’s hard to complain about most of the phone’s images.
That said, those hoping that Apple will have finally addressed its dubious portrait edge detection, HDR, and lack of zoom capabilities will be disappointed. You’ll often find rough or missed edges when using portrait mode with both the rear and selfie cameras. In tricker HDR environments, the handset can also suffer from overly dark shadows or clipped highlights. And forget long-range zooming — the phone caps its digital zoom to 5x, but it is passable out to about 3x in my experience. Sadly, dedicated telephoto lenses with optical zoom are still exclusive to the iPhone Pro range.
Selfies still look solid, even though the aforementioned edge-detection issues are a consistent concern. Apple’s implementation definitely isn’t as robust as Samsung’s or Google’s. Skin textures are also marginally harsh in bright light and too soft in dim light, while skin tone often verges on a little warm. Still, most selfie snaps are well above average, and the new wider lens aperture certainly helps out with light capture even in trickier environments.
The video quality and features like Cinematic mode remain at the top of the pack and well ahead of the Android competition. Action Mode for improved digital video stabilization is Apple’s latest headline videography feature. It certainly smooths out footage, however, the feature is capped to 2.8K 60fps, heavily crops the viewfinder, and results in a lot more noise in anything less than bright outdoor light, especially when using the ultrawide default lens. Sadly, the quality is not quite up to scratch with Apple’s other superb video capabilities.
Overall, the iPhone 14’s camera setup remains highly competent. Apple’s color science continues to be lovely to look at, even if not strictly accurate. The wider camera package has its limitations, however. Specifically, macro, portrait, HDR, and long-range zoom photography fall behind the capabilities you’ll find on rival handsets. On balance, the iPhone 14 is closer in capabilities to the $599 Google Pixel 6 than the $799 Galaxy S22, so the serious photographer can find better hardware for their buck if they don’t mind leaving Apple’s ecosystem.
Apple iPhone 14 specs
|Specs||Apple iPhone 14/iPhone 14 Plus|
6.1 inches/6.7 inches
Super Retina XDR display
2,532 x 1,170/ 2,778 x 1,284
1,200 nits peak brightness
Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
Apple A15 Bionic
Video playback: Up to 20 hours/Up to 26 hours
Audio playback: Up to 80 hours/Up to 100 hours
Fast-charge capable: Up to 50% charge in around 30 minutes
20W adapter or higher (available separately)
12MP Main: 26 mm, ƒ/1.5 aperture, sensor‑shift optical image stabilization
12MP Ultrawide: 13 mm, ƒ/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view, five‑element lens
5G (sub‑6 GHz and mmWave) with 4x4 MIMO8
Gigabit LTE with 4x4 MIMO and LAA8
Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2x2 MIMO
Ultra Wideband chip
High dynamic range gyro
Dual ambient light sensors
Dimensions and weight
iPhone 14: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.80mm, 172 grams
iPhone 14 Plus: 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.80, 203 grams
Emergency SOS via satellite
Apple iPhone 14 review: The verdict
Outside of Apple’s core following, the iPhone 14 is a tough handset to recommend to a wider audience. While iOS 16 and several small hardware improvements make this the best vanilla iPhone flagship ever made, Apple is either oblivious to or simply doesn’t care to compete with the broader smartphone market. Perhaps the brand simply knows the phone will sell regardless, or maybe it’s waiting to make a bigger jump next year? Either way, this is definitely the most incremental upgrade to the already stale iPhone formula to date.
While slow and steady is par for the course at a lot of phone brands, there’s long been room for improvement with certain aspects of the standard iPhone. Apple’s lack of engagement with these issues finally sees the handset slip far enough behind the competition that it shouldn’t be overlooked. Mediocre charging capabilities, lack of pixel-binning camera upgrades, and a 60Hz display are not just last-gen, they’re two or even three generations behind the competition. The iPhone 14 also misses out on many of Apple’s latest features you’ll find on the iPhone 14 Pro ($799.99 at Amazon), including Dynamic Island, always-on display functionality, and the more powerful A16 Bionic processor, setting up a major division between Pro models and the rest.
Apple has squeezed every last drop of refinement out of this old design, leaving the iPhone 14 with little new to offer.
Wrapped up in a still significant $799 starting price, there’s not a lot to entice Android users over the fence. The iPhone 14 looks rather outdated compared to the Samsung Galaxy S23 ($799 at Amazon), which boasts a nippy 120Hz display with always-on capabilities, 3x telephoto camera, and faster charging. There’s also the Google’s Pixel 7 series, with the far-superior flagship Pixel 7 Pro ($589.98 at Amazon) in touching distance of the iPhone 14’s price, and the regular Pixel 7 ($545 at Amazon) undercutting to offer amazing value.
If you’ve put off buying an iPhone 12 or 13, the new 14 model is clearly an improvement and would make a fine purchase. That said, the iPhone 13 ($699) is still on sale and worth considering with its newly reduced MSRP; it’s $100 less for a very, very similar phone.
Apple has squeezed every last drop of refinement out of this old design, leaving the iPhone 14 with little new to offer. We can only hope that Cupertino has something more interesting in store for next year.
Top iPhone 14 frequently asked questions
The iPhone 14 is 0.1mm thicker and 2g lighter than the iPhone 13. However, most iPhone 13 cases will still fit the iPhone 14 due to the fractional difference.
Absolutely not. The minimal upgrades mean you shouldn’t upgrade from the iPhone 13 to the iPhone 14.
The iPhone 14 was announced alongside the iPhone 14 Pro and other Apple devices at an event on September 7, 2022. It went on sale on September 16, 2022.