iPhone 14 Pro: The best iPhone of 2022 is a sneak-peek into the future (of iPhone) | Tech Bytes year-ender | The Financial Express

iPhone 14 Pro: The best iPhone of 2022 is a sneak-peek into the future (of iPhone) | Tech Bytes year-ender

The iPhone 14 Pro is the glitzy new no-holds-barred iPhone to get in 2022 and beyond.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro review
iPhone 14 Pro starts at Rs 1,29,900. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The iPhone 14 Pro is the glitzy new no-holds-barred iPhone to get in 2022 and beyond, unless of course you prefer big phones, in which case the iPhone 14 Pro Max is what you should be looking at (it’s the same phone with a larger screen and better battery life). In other words, it is the best iPhone that Apple makes today. But having said that, it is also ripe with a lot of great— and some not so great— ideas and many of them are yet to achieve their full potential. Sort of like how the iPhone X turned out at launch.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing even if it gives critics some ammo to diss Apple for not living up to their expectations. Most regular folk eyeing and buying these things wouldn’t care about it that much, we believe. For a lot of those people, what would matter more is the list of upgrades. That list is anything but extensive but it’s still long enough to set these pro iPhones wide apart from their non-pro counterparts which are way more iterative this year, as they were the last year. Those ideas, then, add value on top of the upgrades. It gives them something to talk about. The iPhone 14 Pro is a great conversation starter.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro review
The design hasn’t changed from last year. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

There’s a fresh coat of paint across every perceivable spec that you can think of but you’ve got to be an optimist and believer that good things take time.

The display, for instance, can now remain always on and it has a new cut-out called Dynamic Island. Apple likes to take a swing at things— even those that Android has had for years— in its own way oftentimes giving it a twist like you wouldn’t believe. That’s the case with both these features.

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

Always-on on the iPhone 14 Pro is distinctly Apple and while that doesn’t make it great (if anything, it was turning out to be a nuisance which is possibly why Apple had to tweak it a bit with a recent software update), that distinction makes it stand out from everyone else by a mile. Let’s not forget all the attention that it has been getting on social media.

Always-on on iPhone 14 Pro. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The potential reasoning why Apple chose to make its version so vibrant and dynamic – read full of life— is easy to guess. Those iOS 16 lock screen customisations are cool (especially the brilliant depth effect that Apple is pulling off on wallpapers on the fly) and it wants to give users the option to keep showing them off, at least on some iPhones— this is another big differentiator for the iPhone 14 Pro.

And because Apple controls that experience end-to-end, it can both build on it and improve things further. Case in point: it is now possible to turn the wallpaper and notifications off completely and replace them with a dark screen showing only the time and widgets you’ve selectively enabled on your lock screen. It feels, if we were to put it subtly, more always-on-like now than it did before. Good on Apple to take constructive criticism positively and chart a clear course of action so quickly. Speaking of which, battery life doesn’t see any major red flags with always-on enabled on the iPhone 14 Pro, in our long-term experience.

Dynamic island on iPhone 14 Pro. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The marquee feature that Apple really wants to sell to you though is its new Dynamic Island. It has basically drilled two cut-outs (one for the selfie camera, other for Face ID tech) on the screen and using software magic joined them together to serve as one pill-shaped entity which, as the name suggests, is dynamic. It has a life of its own, reacting to apps and notifications in ways that’s largely whimsical, yes, but something that also holds great potential, provided Apple can follow through.

System alerts and notifications are definitely a major use case but the island can also expand and contract to give you even more options to interact with third-party apps. Like say for instance, show you live sports scores. 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 smooth, even addictive, Apple’s Dynamic Island is. But it’s nowhere close to what it will have you believe, right about now.

iPhone 14 Pro has a new 48MP main camera. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

It is fairly obvious that Apple is playing catch up— with Android peers— in many areas. The iPhone 14 Pro seems like a formal acknowledgment of that. The camera system is one of those areas. It, like Google, too, piggybacked on 12MP camera sensors for as long as it possibly could and while there’s nothing wrong with the approach, those puny sensors were surely starting to show signs of wear even as rivals like Samsung made 108MP sensors mainstream.

The iPhone 14 Pro has a 48MP main sensor that’s claimed to be 65 percent larger than the one on the iPhone 13 Pro. The benefits are almost immediately visible. This new iPhone’s camera system can take in way more light and give you much shallower depth of field— two aspects that make photos shot using it seem more life-like, natural, and basking in detail (relative to iPhone 13 Pro). It also allows for a 2x zoom option which, also, can be put to use for portraits giving all-round quality a big boost. Apple is complimenting this sensor upgrade with more under the hood AI power— with the brand-new A16 Bionic processor – to apply Deep Fusion early-on in the whole photography process. The system is called Photonic Engine.

But here’s the thing. Despite what may appear to be a next-gen upgrade— and it is for the most part— the iPhone 14 Pro’s main camera doesn’t take drastically better photos than the iPhone 13 Pro’s. If anything, Apple’s processing has become a bit more, how do we put it, overpowering. Only and only in edge cases, you would notice a difference but what really bums us out is that Apple hasn’t been able to solve the problem of lens flare, even in 2022 with all its hardware advancements. Even action mode, one of the iPhone 14 Pro’s big camera feature, starts feeling mundane after a few sessions, sort of like how cinematic mode was on the iPhone 13 Pro at launch. But we have reason to believe that it can get better similar to how cinematic mode has in one year— Apple has bumped this up to 4K HDR@24fps in the iPhone 14 Pro.

Apple is still using Lightning. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

One area where Apple has refused to budge is in the port selection. The iPhone 14 Pro still comes with Lightning which invariably means slower data transfer speeds and slower charging, relative to almost every well-equipped Android smartphone out there, from Xiaomi to OnePlus and Samsung. Don’t mind us, the iPhone 14 Pro has great battery life, even on 5G. USB Type-C is inevitable and there’s a very high probability that the iPhone 15 Pro may have one after the EU ruling but it will happen when it will happen.

Also Read | iPhone 13 Pro review: Little things make ‘pro’ things happen

Rest of the iPhone 14 Pro is familiar. The design is premium and solid. The display gets nice and bright. Performance is top-notch and software support industry-leading. The US models have dropped the physical SIM card slot in favour of e-SIM. That is not the case in India. You also get an Emergency SOS satellite feature but that, too, isn’t available in the Indian market at the time of writing.

iPhone 14 Pro is the best iPhone that Apple makes today. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The price has gone up a bit. 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.

iPhone 14 Pro | Should you buy it?

The iPhone 14 Pro is great. But so is the iPhone 13 Pro. This begs the question, who is this new pro iPhone for? One would be the usual suspects, those who compulsively buy a new iPhone every year, or every two years. These are the people who are heavily invested into all-things-Apple and want the latest and greatest, as and when they want it, pricing be damned. Then there are those who maybe intrigued by the prospects and willing to give Apple a chance, believing at least of some them would work out eventually. These would be people who’ve either never used an iPhone or those who own an older iPhone, like say the iPhone X/11, even 12, and wanting to upgrade for a while. The iPhone 14 Pro is a no-brainer regardless.

But after having used it for a while, it is abundantly clear— to us— that the iPhone 14 Pro is more about ideas and less about the underlying hardware. The iPhone X was ridiculed at launch, but it was the start of a design scheme (and other smarts) that have lived on to this day. With the iPhone 14 Pro, the clock has been reset. Whether or not, it becomes the unsung hero that Apple needs now is something that only time will tell.    

Pros Cons
Premium design and build Dynamic island needs to do more
Gorgeous display Lightning port, charges slowly
Fast performance Pricey
Great cameras with best-in-class video
Good battery life

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First published on: 28-12-2022 at 19:21 IST