HAS Apple built the best smartphone ever? Almost certainly.
I’ve spent five days with the iPhone 14 Pro: it’s relentlessly brilliant, and has a few surprises to boot.
Each year Apple launches new iPhones. In 2022, we’ve got the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
I’ve been using the Pro Max model, which is enormous – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The regular Pro is much more practical, so if you’ve got small hands, I’d stick with that.
I prefer the bigger real estate for mobile gaming and watching a bit of telly on the train.
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The Pro model has a 6.1-inch screen (just like the iPhone 14), and the Pro Max rises to a gargantuan 6.7 inches.
The screen itself is brilliant, serving up a dense 460 pixels-per-inch and a ludicrous peak brightness of 2,000 nits.
That’s part of the reason why you’ll get stunningly detailed and colour-accurate visuals with very impressive contrast.
At the top of the screen, you’ll notice that the “notch” (introduced with iPhone X to house Face ID) is gone.
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In its place is a new smaller detached cut-out that Apple is calling the Dynamic Island.
It transforms its shape and size depending on your activity.
For instance, it will show album art and a colour-matched waveform if you’re listening to music.
It will even pop out into a square if you’re using Face ID.
Apple has somehow managed to turn what should be an annoyance into something unique, useful fun.
It’s a genuine surprise: Apple was lagging behind rivals when it came to the notch, and then blitzed past them with a single dash.
The exterior of the iPhone is hardly different from last year’s iPhone 13 Pro. Why fix what’s not broken?
Two new colours (Space Black and Deep Purple) join the old Silver and Gold options to keep things feeling fresh.
Possibly my biggest surprise was how much I liked the Deep Purple.
I’ve never really cared for purple as a colour. It’s a bit depressing, right?
But the Deep Purple looks very slick, so I guess I’m a convert.
And like many of Apple colours, it’s changeable in the light: it can look purple, pink, grey and even black.
The Space Black (admittedly more of a grey) is also very attractive – and probably a safer pick. I’d recommend checking them out in person before buying if you have the chance.
Apple’s new Always-On Display definitely takes a bit of getting used to.
For maybe two days, you constantly think something is happening on your iPhone.
Once you get over the fact that no one is actually speaking to you, it’s great.
You can easily see album art, the time and date, and any other (new in iOS 16!) Lock Screen widgets you might have.
I’m using a few global times for work, a temperature chart for the day, and the sunset time. I’m not a vampire, I promise.
Now I’m five days in and it’s hard to imagine not having an Always-On Screen.
It saves you from tapping your iPhone to check it – now it’s just a glance away.
Photography is magnificent: in fact, daytime images have been largely flawless for years now.
Where Apple is rightly putting most of its efforts is in low-light photography.
The iPhone 14 Pro manages to produce detailed and colourful images even in very dim settings.
And there’s a new 3x Telephoto zoom option that lets you snap some great close-ups – even if you can’t get very near to your subject.
Really though, the iPhone 14 Pro’s real magic is in video.
We rarely talk about video on iPhone, even though the quality is borderline ridiculous given the small size of the sensors on board.
Apple has managed to pair its impressive hardware with expertly crafted computing to create shockingly good video quality.
You can record 4K video right up to 60fps, or Cinematic Mode in 4K at 30fps.
There’s also a new 60fps Action Mode that massively smoothes your footage capture during high-movement situations – removing any bumping, rolling, wiggling and shaking.
It’s extremely impressive: the effect is like you were using a physical gimbal, but it’s all done by software.
If you fancy yourself as a bit of an adventure snapper, you’ll adore Action Mode.
Apple has fitted its new iPhone 14 Pro with an A16 chip – unlike the A15 powering the regular iPhone 14.
The A16 is about as fast as mobile chips get.
Benchmark test apps that put processors through their paces have proven it out against rivals from a raw computing perspective.
But when you use the iPhone 14 Pro (or even the A15 on last year’s model) you’ll see there’s no shortage of power.
The performance is almost intangibly good, because no normal process works slowly on the iPhone. It is as smooth as you could hope for, or even imagine.
Really the chip’s advantages come from intense image computing, AI processing, efficiency for battery life and more.
The battery will comfortably take you through an entire day, and then some.
There are two features I simply couldn’t test: car-crash detection and emergency SOS calling.
Unsurprisingly, I don’t fancy trying out car crash detection. Hopefully I’ll never have to use it, and I’ll just have to put faith in Apple that it works.
It uses special sensors in the phone to identify a severe car crash, and will automatically share your location with emergency services (and emergency contacts) if you’re unresponsive for 10 seconds.
SOS satellite calling is also very clever, but I didn’t want to waste emergency responder time with a false report.
But it’s a great feature that gives you an extra option to save yourself in a tricky situation.
If you’ve got not signal, it will use satellites to contact emergency services – and even share your location if possible.
Thankfully there’s also support for speedy 5G internet, and digital eSIMs to replace your physical card.
And the iPhone comes with 128GB of storage as standard (it’s plenty really), but can be specced right up to a titanic 1TB.
iOS 16 is great, generally.
The software isn’t exclusive to iPhone 14 – it’ll work on models right back to the iPhone 8.
Its big advantage is that you can make your iPhone more personal than ever before – largely thanks to the customisable Lock Screens.
Other neat tricks include the ability to edit and unsend iMessages, as well as pinning Safari tabs.
To buy or not to buy?
Lots of Apple naysayers will look at the new iPhone 14 Pro and say: “Well it’s only got a few new features compared to last year’s iPhone 13 Pro.”
They’re not wrong, but that’s not the right way to think about it.
So few people upgrade their iPhone every single year. Most people will hang on to an iPhone for two, three, four or more years.
It’s getting easier to do that, as Apple still offers iOS updates for very old models.
So if you’re using something like an iPhone 8, iPhone X, iPhone XS or iPhone 11, the difference is going to be wild.
The obvious downside here is cost. The iPhone 14 Pro could be considered the best smartphone in the world, so it’s not exactly cheap.
If you want this clearly high-end gadget, you’re looking at a bill of £1,099/$999 or more.
Even split out across a 12-month or 24-month plan, it’s still a high price to pay.
So really consider whether you need the extra bells and whistles of the Pro model, or if the far more palatable £849/$799 iPhone 14 would do. Chances are, it probably will.
For pro users, Apple die-hards and gadget geeks, the iPhone 14 Pro is a titan standing on the shoulders of giants that won’t disappoint.
The Sun says: A smartphone that over-performs by almost every measure, the iPhone 14 Pro is as close to perfect as they come – if you can afford one! 5/5
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All prices in this article were correct at the time of writing, but may have since changed.
Always do your own research before making any purchase.
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