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iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max hands-on: A bitter pill for Android brands to swallow?

Welcome to Apple’s Dynamic Island.

iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max hands-on: A bitter pill for Android brands to swallow?
The new Dynamic Island notch design is Apple's big headlining feature this year. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Apple was not the first to put a notch in a phone but it sure did popularise the concept. It triggered a flurry of copy-cats from every nook and cranny. Eventually, some figured out a way to make it smaller, or even made it disappear, altogether.

But even at the height of glory –if there ever was one— these shenanigans were purely aesthetic. They were solutions concocted by brands for a made-up problem that did not exist in the first place. While Apple’s notch was there for a pre-defined purpose— Face ID.

Not that brands haven’t tried to copy it, too, but can you really think about a phone other than the iPhone with facial recognition as fast but more importantly, as secure, as Face ID? Do tell us if something comes to your mind.

iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max hands-on
This new notch is pill-shaped. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Fact of the matter is, the notch in the iPhone has always been about function over form. Going by Apple’s legacy, it was probably one of the most anti-Apple products, it ever made. But it embraced it, let its tech do the talking, four years in a row. But it was bound to change sometime.

That time is now. 2022. Apple has finally given the iPhone’s notch an upgrade with iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. The clock has been reset. Welcome to Apple’s Dynamic Island.

This new notch is pill-shaped. You’ve probably seen the likes of it before. Countless other phones including those from Samsung and Huawei have been there, done that. But none was this special.

iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max hands-on
The notch can expand and contract to give you even more options to interact with apps. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Once again, Apple isn’t looking to impress anyone with how big or small its notch is or how much of the screen it is letting you access. That’s not the point of it at all. Instead, it has built cool new functionality – in addition to Face ID— into every ounce of that area to make it even more useful than it used to be.

The name – Dynamic Island— is terrible but it also makes a lot of sense when you start using the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. It can do many things.

System alerts and notifications are definitely a major use case but it can expand and contract to give you even more options to interact with third-party apps. Think of it as another handy widget tool on your screen. At launch, there are over 40 use cases and in time, more should be added, with the help of Apple’s Live Activities API. For a first-generation tech/feature, it’s impressive how addictive Apple’s Dynamic Island is and we expect it to get better. More importantly, we hope others would copy it, too.

iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max hands-on
We’re also getting always-on support, a first for any iPhone. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

That notch isn’t the only new thing about this year’s pro iPhone displays. We’re also getting always-on support, a first for any iPhone. There is no customisation you can do with it, though, at least at the time of writing. It’s just a toggle in settings that you can turn on and off. Apple’s implementation is slightly different. The always-on display, here, is brighter and more colour-rich as opposed to what you usually get on Android.

These pro displays can peak 2000nits under direct sunlight and 1600nits in HDR. They’re fantastic to look at. We did not expect anything less.

iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max hands-on
All-round design stays the same as last year. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

There are other hardware changes as well even as all-round design stays the same as last year. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, in fact, are virtually indistinguishable from the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max (review) from the back. The iPhone 14 Pro is 6.1-inch while iPhone 14 Pro Max stands tall at 6.7-inch. Both come in Deep Purple, Gold, Silver, and Space Black.

You get Apple’s top-shelf A16 Bionic processor inside these iPhones (the regular iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus make do with the older A15) and a brand-new 48MP main sensor with a second-gen sensor-shift optical image stabilisation and a telephoto system with a 6x optical zoom range.

iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max hands-on
You get a new 48MP main sensor. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Apple is also applying Deep Fusion early-on this time so you’ll theoretically be able to capture more detail in photos. The new system is called Photonic Engine. The front-facing camera is also getting a good upgrade in the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max with autofocus capabilities.

The US models of the iPhone 14 series have dropped the physical SIM card slot in favour of e-SIM. That is not the case in India. These iPhones also have a new Emergency SOS satellite feature but it won’t be available in the Indian market.

iPhone 14 Pro is priced at Rs 1,29,900 for 128GB, Rs 1,39,900 for 256GB, Rs 1,59,900 for 512GB, and Rs 1,79,900 for 1TB storage. iPhone 14 Pro Max is priced at Rs 1,39,900 for 128GB, Rs 1,49,900 for 256GB, Rs 1,69,900 for 512GB, and Rs 1,89,900 for 1TB. Watch this space for our full review of iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max coming soon.

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