KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — Do Apple’s most expensive iPhones deserve to be the most coveted in the world almost every year? That is the ultimate question and figuring out the answer is, surprisingly, still fun after all these years.
Despite competitors boasting newer features, more megapixels and more control, Apple seems to be doing something right to keep most iPhone users faithful.
The iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max are probably the heaviest iPhones of the last few years and that is perhaps my biggest complaint.
Weak eyes and big hands mean I will invariably reach for the larger phones but my weak wrists are not a fan of how heavy the Pro Max models get after long periods of time.
Two hundred and six grams for the iPhone 14 Pro and 240 grams for the iPhone 14 Pro Max don’t feel like a lot at first but after one hour of Genshin Impact or too many cat videos, the phone starts weighing on you.
Is the Deep Purple worth waiting for? It’s a nice shade that looks different depending on what light it’s in so if you want something that stands out without being garish, you might like it.
Jury’s still out on whether it’s really a deep purple though I would call it more a muted dark purple.
Yes, this could launch a space shuttle
Taking photos with the ProRAW format conserves more detail and colour, making for even better lowlight photos.
It feels a bit ridiculous to write about iPhone specs when I could just include a link to the Apple website.
Here’s what you need to know to sound smart when talking about your new phone to your Android-toting friends.
The Pro models use the latest, most powerful processor Apple has ever put in a phone. Yes, Apple makes new ones every year.
The name of Apple’s shiny new mini-supercomputer is the A16 Bionic and Apple says 16 billion tiny transistors have somehow been squeezed into the chip, to create a powerhouse that is (Apple says) 40 per cent faster than the competition.
Oh, and there’s 6GB of memory too, in case you want to know. You also have four storage choices, namely 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB.
While your new shiny iPhone will feel faster, the new chip is also a lot more efficient to stretch your battery life and is also more powerful so it can improve the “computational photography” to match the new, shiny camera.
Basically the Pro models are even smarter at computing how to take pretty pictures so you don’t need to think too hard.
We’ll get to the cameras a little later because I know that will be the number one question Malaysians will ask: “The pictures nice ah?”
There’s more to pixels than megapixels
The iPhone 14 Pro's improved computational photography is most evident in lowlight with the phone making the most of what little light is available to produce pleasing photos without too much noise.
Am sure people are loudly discussing how it’s taken Apple this long to go anywhere near 50MP on a camera, while also debating just how those extra megapixels are being used.
Yes, the new iPhone Pro models have a new, shiny 48MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide camera as well as a 12MP telephoto camera that aggravates me as it always does because Apple is still allergic to giving its users more zoom.
5x zoom, Apple, just give me that and maybe I will bitch the tiniest bit less but then it took forever for Apple to enable a proper macro mode so hope remains eternal.
There are iPhone 13 Pro users who might say that they see no difference in the photos they shoot.
That is, unless they try shooting in ProRAW. The default setting will take nice pictures but if you want as much information from your camera sensor stuffed in your photo — ProRAW is where the magic happens.
Now this is why the “Pro” models are marketed at Pros. A photo shot in ProRAW might not look good right after you take it. Instead you need to use an editing tool such as Adobe’s Lightroom or the DarkRoom app on mobile to polish the proverbial diamonds.
Those gorgeous (after editing) ProRAW or RAW images will, however, take up a lot of space on your phone so expect to be cleaning out your phone galleries pretty frequently.
You can take pretty decent pictures on the stock camera app but where the camera is most rewarding is if you take the effort to try shooting with apps such as Halide.
As for video, I did try the new Action mode that apparently gives you a smooth shoot experience minus the shakiness when running with a phone, almost like you put a gimbal on it.
While a gimbal would probably give you a more polished end result, Action mode is the next best thing to strapping on an actual action camera but the only failing is that you need a lot of light for it to work as intended, thus is more suited to outdoorsy shoots.
Speaking of video, Apple’s Cinematic mode has now been upgraded to support 4K resolution at 30fps as well as 24fps. It was decent in the previous iteration, but the upgrade will please those looking for a more polished final result.
It’s the little things
As for the day-to-day, the better processor does mean that even with the new shiny Always On Display (AOD), I got the battery on the iPhone 14 Pro Max to last a whole day with about 30 per cent left by the end of the day, with the ordinary Pro not being quite as hardy.
You would probably need to charge the base Pro model by 8pm at latest, though you can eke a bit more time by turning off the always on feature and tweaking the brightness.
This is for someone who is generally very high-usage: I tweet a lot, check my emails, take a lot of photos, watch YouTube as well as spend at least an hour on mobile games.
Unfortunately like the iPhone 13 Pro the phone does run warm but it’s not quite as uncomfortable as the older model.
The display and iOS 16 combo makes for a sleek, polished lockscreen that I think has a lot more utility than Android iterations of AOD.
Apple made a big deal about how bright the new ProMotion display on the iPhone Pro is as well as how it can conserve battery by lowering its refresh rate when idle.
The brightness took some getting used to — I wasn’t used to my phone being as bright as it was in the dark but I do enjoy not having to squint at my phone in the day.
It’s not without its bugs. So far I’ve seen one of the Pro models suddenly hang and display the Apple logo before shutting itself off. This could be a software quirk and I expect iOS 16 still has bugs to iron out.
Other little extras such as the Crash Detection is of course near-impossible to test but you can only hope it will work as intended while also hoping you never need to use it.
As for the much touted Dynamic Island — there’s been a lot said about it and while it’s a cool addition, to be honest I tend not to focus much on it.
It’s very cool but it would be a lot cooler for more third-party apps to integrate with it but it’s certainly a clever feature that means the small pill-shaped camera cutout is functional instead of an eyesore.
The sound also seems to have improved where the speakers are concerned, being a little more prominent than last year’s model.
To buy or not to buy
Some might think the iPhone 13 Pro would be a bargain over the 14 Pro models and if you just need a phone with a solid battery and decent camera, I would agree.
But it’s enough of an upgrade over the 12 Pro and older phones that would make it a decent buy though the only pity is how weak the ringgit is.
I confess Samsung’s Z Flip4 phone is certainly appealing with its quirky design but considering that at its price point it doesn’t have telephoto, that’s a bit of a downside.
As for the Z Fold4 it is still fairly expensive for what it offers, which is mainly a bigger, foldable screen.
Right now, Samsung’s best alternative to the iPhone 14 Pro range is the S22 Ultra. The camera? Excellent. That S-Pen? Brilliant. Otherwise, however, it’s rather utilitarian and boring and in a world drowning in smartphones, sometimes you just want a little charm and that’s what this year’s iPhone Pro models have in abundance.
As to which size to get — the Max only if you want a bigger screen and can handle a fairly large phone.
Otherwise, save a little (actually, a lot of) money with the smaller version that is just as powerful and you might drop it less.
The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are already available online and at your nearest retailer with prices starting from RM5,299 for the 14 Pro and RM5,799 for the 14 Pro Max.