KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4 — For such a small phone the iPhone 14’s battery life can go on, and on, for a fairly long time like that Titanic song.
It’s not all beautiful music with the phone though. I took the phone everywhere with me for more than a week, even on runs, and compared my experience with last year’s models.
Where do I begin
Taking the iPhone 14 out of its snug box I took a moment to admire the soft blue shade of the review unit.
My prediction is that the new blue and purple colours will be the most sought after. It is, however, a shame the Pro models don’t come in softer or pastel hues.
Besides the colour there isn’t anything physically different that you can tell just from looking at it.
The specs tell a slightly different story — the new phone is a tiny bit thicker than the old but the good news is that you can still reuse old iPhone 13 cases if you happen to have them lying around.
You’ll still get a nice Super Retina OLED screen though minus the ProMotion 120Hz and Always On display of the Pro models.
Reusing last year’s chips for this year’s model? Say it isn’t so. At least that seemed to be the reaction when it was announced that the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus would be using the same chip as the iPhone Pro 13.
That isn’t the whole story. While both models use the A15 Bionic chip, the chip on the iPhone 14 has an additional graphic core and the phone also has an additional 2GB of RAM — 6GB to the iPhone 13’s 4GB.
So you see, the iPhone 14 isn’t just an iPhone 13 in a different colour.
If you aren’t a heavy phone user (yes they do exist) the phone retains its charge for a really long time. On very light usage, I could stretch it almost three days.
Now on average use, checking texts, social media, watching cat videos on YouTube, you can easily go from morning to evening without needing to bring an extra battery.
The phone would barely budge 1 per cent through a six-minute YouTube video so you needn’t worry too much about idling time on a train.
Gaming? Well, light Arcade games are barely a drain on the phone but of course expect faster drainage with higher-end games such as the very popular Genshin Impact.
There lies the biggest difference in the iPhone 13 and 14 range — the better optimisation of the phone battery with the latest iOS 16.
Of course the newer phone will always feel more fluid and zippy but perhaps only a longtime Apple user will appreciate how buttery smooth the experience seems to get each year, and how it feels even smoother.
It’s not an iPhone if you don’t consider the camera. It’s a pity as always that Apple doesn’t think its lower-end phones deserve at least 2x optical zoom.
Still, there is one thing that you can count on iPhone photography is how easy it is.
Outdoors and wide as well as ultrawide shots are where the phone will shine the most, capturing pleasing vistas even from behind the window of a mall restaurant.
I had a friend once who impulsively bought a camera and then complained the pictures were terrible.
Privately I wondered if the camera was just beyond his photography skills. Not much thought needed with the iPhone.
Using just the stock camera and occasionally not even bothering to use the touch autofocus, photos came out pleasing and devoid of obvious blur from shaky hands.
It’s a big deal for people like me, the stabilisation that comes with iPhone cameras that make it easy to take decent photos without needing a tripod. Because you see, I have very shaky hands, worsened by decades of dealing with repetitive stress injuries (RSI) and not having to take multiple burst shots in the hope of at least one picture coming out fine? That’s a good thing.
As for portraits and the selfie camera, I think Apple has again tweaked things so skin looks a lot better than last year’s model.
There was a time when Apple also decided to join the Uncanny Valley-trend of over smoothing but I can confirm the skin tones and details are fairly accurate, but the selfie cam does need a lot more light than you can get away with for the rear cameras.
If you prefer a camera look that veers towards more accuracy, pleasing colours that are not too oversaturated, without artificially bumped up sharpness, the iPhone 14 gives you good photos that are polished, clean and natural-looking.
As for video, the iPhone 14 can handle it as well as its siblings, even supporting the new Action mode for smoother videos.
Thoughts on upgrades
It is a pity and a shame that Apple’s design choices have played too safe to the point of blandness as though the phones are designed by a market research committee.
Still we can hope that a real sea change will come sooner than later to the iPhone range because competitors such as Huawei’s Honor range can offer flagship features for less than what an iPhone 14 costs.
Is it a bad phone to upgrade to? Not at all, if you’re coming from an iPhone 12 or older. I don’t think you will see or feel enough of a difference if you come from an iPhone 13, which is still a very solid phone even if the iPhone 14’s camera is superior, especially in low light.
Lowlight photography has improved on the iPhone 14 with the camera better able to use available light for more accurate colour representation and detail.
Upgrade to the iPhone 14 Pro models only if you think you can’t live without optical zoom or want more megapixels to play with (which you probably won’t need, let’s be honest).
The Crash Detection feature, while a new addition, is one of those “nice” extras and we will have to wait and see to hear how it worked in real-life scenarios as opposed to simulated tests.
Overall there’s a lot to like about the iPhone 14 even without the fancy bells and whistles of the iPhone 14 Pro. It’s an excellent phone but its main letdown is probably a price that might make people go for something a little cheaper but with missing features.
Next to fun concepts such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, it’s clear Apple needs to inject a little more pizzazz into the line of phones that it touts as the “iPhone for most people.” It still is but dear Apple, a little more razzle dazzle couldn’t hurt.