The Safe Choice That’s Worth Buying

The Apple iPhone 14 is a bit of an oddity. It’s running last year’s CPU found in the iPhone 13 Pro, and it doesn’t have the iPhone 14 Pro’s 48MP rear camera or the Dynamic Island. Altogether, though, it’s a great “default” iPhone for anyone new to the Apple ecosystem or who just needs the basics.

Design: It Looks Like an iPhone

  • Dimensions: 5.78 x 2.82 x 0.3in (146.7 x 71.5 x 7.8mm)
  • Weight: 6.07oz (172g)
  • Display: 6.1in OLED, 2,532 x 1,170px, 460ppi, 60Hz refresh rate
  • CPU: A15 Bionic (6-core CPU with 2 performance and 4 efficiency cores, 5-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine)
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Water and dust resistance: IP68

It’s no secret that if you’ve seen one iPhone, you’ve basically seen them all. The overall design of the handset hasn’t changed much since the iPhone X’s redesign in 2018. You get a glass back with a camera bump protruding out from the top-left corner, a metal frame painted to match the color of the phone, and another glass slab around front to cover the display and Face ID notch.

Related: Apple iPhone SE (2022) Review: Annoyingly Great

Holding the phone, I’m surprised by how light the device is. Compared to the Pro lineup that uses stainless steel (and weighs in at 206-240g), the iPhone 14’s aluminum frame is a joy to hold and throw in your pocket. The glass front and back make the phone feel premium, but I also worry about dropping and cracking the device. I definitely recommend considering a case.

Looking around the phone, you’ll notice that there is no SIM card slot (at least there isn’t one on U.S. models). Apple is going all-in on eSIM, which has its own pros and cons. As a reviewer, I like being able to quickly swap SIMs between units as I’m testing each device. But as a consumer, I found the process of activating the eSIM (in my case, on AT&T) basically effortless. Of course, I’ve heard others complain about eSIM problems, so your mileage may vary.

iOS 16: More Customization

Apple iPhone 14's iOS 16 lock screen widgets
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

The launch of the iPhone 14 came alongside the official release of iOS 16. This firmware update is available on every Apple smartphone since the iPhone 8, but it runs especially smooth on the company’s 2022 handsets (as one would hope).

Related: 16 iOS 16 Features You Should Try Out Right Away

None of iOS 16’s new features are exclusive to the iPhone 14, but if you’ve used iOS in the past, the new lock screen customization refreshes one aspect of the iPhone experience. The addition of widgets and Focus mode wallpapers allows you to make the phone uniquely yours.

Almost everything else about iOS 16 is status quo coming from iOS 15. There are some small additions such as medication tracking, the ability to edit iMessages, and more, but again, none of those are locked to the iPhone 14. If the iOS experience is something you enjoy, you’ll continue to enjoy it on Apple’s latest phone.

Cameras: It’s Hard to Take a Bad Photo

It’s hard to find a premium smartphone in 2022 with a bad camera. The iPhone 14 is no different. Let’s take a look at what you can expect from the rear-facing and selfie cameras.

Rear Cameras

Blue Apple iPhone 14's dual rear-facing cameras
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

  • Main: 12MP, 26mm, ƒ/1.5 aperture, sensor‑shift optical image stabilization
  • Ultra-wide angle: 12MP, 13 mm, ƒ/2.4 aperture, and 120-degree field of view
  • Video recording: Up to 4K at 60fps, slo-mo up to 1080p at 240fps

Just like with previous generations, the iPhone 14 (non-pro) only comes with two rear-facing cameras. You get dual 12MP sensors, one with a standard wide-angle lens and a second with an ultra-wide angle lens that has a 120-degree field of view. Unfortunately, you’ll need to jump up to the Pro series to get a telephoto.

As this section’s title suggests, it’s hard to take a bad photo with the iPhone 14. Assisted by Apple’s latest computational photography technology called the “Photonic Engine,” you get true-to-life color reproduction, better low-light performance, and a solid picture all around.

Looking at the above photos, I would have preferred a telephoto over the ultra-wide lens. The ultra-wide camera introduces a slight fisheye effect that I’m not the biggest fan of, and I really hate having to rely on digital zoom. Night-time shots are also decent, though you won’t find an astrophotography mode on the iPhone 14.

Action Mode Video Isn’t a Gimmick

One new feature that I was surprised worked so well is Action Mode. Without the need to attach your phone to a gimbal, the iPhone 14 stabilizes your video footage by cropping in on the entire sensor. So instead of a shaky 4K video, you get 1080p footage with zero wobble.

As you can see from the video, I was chasing my dog on unstable ground at a park and the video looks incredibly smooth. There are still some bumps, but the horizon is mostly locked in place.

Front-Facing Camera

Apple iPhone 14's front-facing camera and FaceID sensors
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

  • Selfie: 12MP camera, ƒ/1.9 aperture
  • Video recording: Up to 4K at 60fps

The biggest change year-over-year comes to the front-facing TrueDepth camera. With the iPhone 14, Apple opened up the aperture a bit more, but more importantly, it added autofocus. The sharper focus alone helps improve the looks of your selfies.

As you can see from the above photos, color reproduction is quite solid, even with Portrait mode enabled. There is a bit of haloing around my head when using the faux bokeh mode, but it’s not nearly as bad as older handsets.

Battery Life: You’re Good for the Day

  • Battery size: 3,279mAh
  • Advertised battery life: 20 hours of video playback
  • Charging speeds: Wired (20W), MagSafe (15W), Qi wireless (7.5W)

No matter the phone, it’s almost guaranteed that the company making it will claim all-day battery life. With the iPhone 14, I’m happy to say that Apple succeeded.

Related: Nomad Base One Max Review: The MagSafe Charger Apple Should Have Made

My usual day included taking the iPhone off my Nomad Base One Max charger around 7 am and putting it back on charge at 11-12 pm when heading to bed. Even after spending the day checking Twitter, sending messages in Slack, listening to music while walking my dog, and scrolling through TikTok, I typically ended the day with 20-35% battery left and an average of 5.5 hours of screen-on time.

If I ever did deplete the battery too fast by streaming YouTube or Netflix, charging the iPhone 14 was quick and simple thanks to Apple’s built-in MagSafe technology. I could easily drop the phone onto any of my MagSafe-certified wireless chargers and have the phone juiced back up in just under two hours.

iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 14 Pro

Person holding the iPhone 14 next to the iPhone 14 Pro
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

Stuck between the iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Pro? There are really two things to consider: cameras and the display. Starting with the cameras, around back, you’ll notice that the regular model only has two while the Pro has three. This is because, as mentioned above, the iPhone 14 only has a standard wide-angle lens and an ultra-wide lens. The Pro includes a 3x zoom telephoto.

If you’re fine with digitally zooming into your subject, something else to consider is the main camera’s sensor. For the first time since the launch of the iPhone 6s in 2015, Apple has upped the primary sensor from 12MP to 48MP. The company is then pixel-binning that back down to 12MP, but the increased sensor size and resolution leads to sharper photos and better low-light performance.

Related: What Is Pixel Binning in Cameras?

So if that bigger and better 48MP sensor is something you want, go with the iPhone 14 Pro. The standard iPhone 14 uses the 12MP camera found in previous generations. It still captures a great photo, but there is a noticeable difference.

The last thing to consider is the display. Beyond the Pro having the “Dynamic Island” and the iPhone 14 sticking to the notch, the two phones have different refresh rates. The A16-powered iPhone 14 Pro has a “ProMotion” screen that can clock up to 120Hz for silky smooth scrolling and video playback and then drop down to as low as 1Hz to save battery life (which also allows the phone to have an always-on lock screen). The iPhone 14, with its A15 CPU, is locked to 60Hz.

Personally, I don’t think the 120Hz refresh rate is worth the extra price of the iPhone 14 Pro. If the camera improvements aren’t enough to sway you to go for the more premium handset, I don’t think the display is worth the upgrade.

Should You Buy the Apple iPhone 14?

  • Color options: Midnight, Purple, Starlight, (PRODUCT)RED, Blue
  • Pricing: 128GB ($799), 256GB ($899), 512GB ($1,099)

At the end of the day, the iPhone 14 is Apple’s “safe choice” option. It doesn’t have the company’s new Dynamic Island and it doesn’t feature a fancy 48MP rear camera, but it does fit Apple’s unofficial motto of “it just works.” Unlike the iPhone SE (2022), which is the budget option in Apple’s lineup, you get a modern design and improved performance across the board.

You can purchase the iPhone 14 directly from Apple, your carrier, and third-party stores such as Best Buy. It’s available in Midnight (black-ish blue), Purple, Starlight (light gold), (Product)Red, and Blue (pictured above) starting at $799 for the 128GB model.


Apple iPhone 14

  • Improved selfie camera
  • Everything runs smoothly
  • All-day battery life

  • No telephoto or 48MP camera
  • Same processor as the iPhone 13 Pro series
  • Not much different than last year’s iPhones

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *