Animated notch, always-on screen and camera upgrade make a similar design feel fresh, but at high cost
Apple’s latest top smartphone model, the iPhone 14 Pro, features upgraded cameras, a new always-on display and some funky animations around a new smaller, floating notch design. It also features a substantial price rise as a result of currency shifts.
Weak currency rates against the dollar mean the new phone is £150 (A$400) more expensive than its predecessor, coming in at £1,099 (A$1,749) despite costing the same $999 in the US.
The 14 Pro has the same 6.1in OLED display and premium stainless steel and glass design as previous models, but the large notch at top of the screen containing the cameras for Face ID has been replaced by a 31% smaller pill-shaped design Apple calls the “dynamic island”.
The pill is animated, expanding and contracting to accommodate system alerts and ongoing notifications, such as charging status, album art and a little waveform when playing music or a countdown timer. Tapping and holding the notch reveals more of the notification, such as music playback controls, and just a tap opens the app.
It is surprisingly useful for at-a-glance information, with one minor annoyance. The 3/4/5G indicator is hidden when the notch expands, making it difficult to tell when you’re in a data black hole.
The pill acts as a focal point for other animations such as the Face ID logo appearing when authenticating purchases. The whole experience feels fun and alive, which is the broad theme of the iOS 16 software running on the 14 Pro and all other iPhones as old as the iPhone 8.
The other significant development is the ability to have the screen always on, even when in standby. Android devices have had always-on displays for years, but Apple’s approach is slightly different. It displays a dimmed version of the lock screen, including notifications and widgets in full colour rather than a simple clock or similar.
It can be hard to tell if phone is on or off because the always-on screen – as pictured – remains in full colour and can reach brightness levels similar to laptops. It shuts off when in a pocket or bag and at night, or can be turned off completely to preserve battery. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The 6.1in display is the very best on the market. Rich, crisp, smooth and incredibly bright, hitting 2,000nits of peak brightness – a standard measure of screen brightness – beating the previous record holder, the Samsung S22 Ultra. The brighter the display can get, the easier it is to see in direct sunlight, and you certainly won’t have an issue seeing this screen in any condition.
- Screen: 6.1in Super Retina XDR with ProMotion (120Hz OLED) (460ppi)
- Processor: Apple A16 Bionic
- RAM: 6GB
- Storage: 128, 256, 512GB or 1TB
- Operating system: iOS 16
- Camera: 48MP main, 12MP UW and 12MP 3x zoom; 12MP front-facing
- Connectivity: 5G, wifi 6, NFC, Bluetooth 5.3, Lightning, ultra wideband and GNSS (dual-band)
- Water resistance: IP68 (6 metres for 30 mins)
- Dimensions: 147.5 x 71.5 x 7.85mm
- Weight: 206g
Battery life and charging
The 14 Pro has Apple’s latest A16 Bionic chip, making it the fastest iPhone available by about 10% over the previous A15 chips. It is easily capable of handling everything you might want to do with a smartphone and will stay fast for years to come.
The battery life is solid but more variable than other iPhones. Leaving the 14 Pro flat on a desk for most of the day, the battery lasts about 39 hours with 5.5 hours of active use. Keep the phone in a pocket, which shuts the display off, and it lasts about 45 hours between charges.
In the US the iPhone 14 line ships without a sim card tray, relying entirely on eSim, a purely digital version of the sim. In the UK, it will continue to have a sim tray. Emergency satellite SOS is rolling out in November, but only to phones sold in the US or Canada.