iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus Review: Minor Refreshes and a New Balance

Can these new iPhones find an audience despite recycling last year's design and hardware?

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus Review: Minor Refreshes and a New Balance

iPhone 14 Plus (left) and iPhone 14 (right) start at Rs. 89,900 and Rs. 79,900 in India

Highlights
  • The iPhone 14 costs the same as the iPhone 13 did when it launched
  • You get much better battery life with the iPhone 14 Plus
  • Neither phone has the Dynamic Island as seen on the iPhone 14 Pro models

Apple's annual iPhone reveal event is supposed to be one of the biggest moments in tech each year. At this year's show – the company's first in-person product launch since the beginning of the pandemic – the new iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus were two of eight new products jostling for space and attention. The iPhone 14 Plus is an all-new option in the lineup, offering the size benefits of the Pro Max models without some of the features and the associated cost, and so it's clearly the more interesting of the two new siblings. I've been able to spend over a month with both, the iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Plus. If you're wondering which of these to buy, or whether either of them is right for you, read on.

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus price in India

It's interesting that Apple did not launch the iPhone 14 in India at higher prices than the iPhone 13, considering inflation and international currency exchange changes over the past year – and even more so considering the iPhone 14 Pro (Review) and iPhone 14 Pro Max are each more expensive than their predecessors. That said, prices are still extremely high by Indian standards. The iPhone 14 officially starts at Rs. 79,900 with 128GB of storage, and you'll have to pay Rs. 89,900 for 256GB or Rs. 1,09,900 if you want 512GB.

Unfortunately, there's no mini model and the new tier has been created for the iPhone 14 Plus, rather than having both slide down the scale. The same three storage options will cost Rs. 10,000 more each, bringing prices to Rs. 89,900, Rs. 99,900 and Rs. 1,19,900 respectively. If you want a smaller device, the iPhone 13 mini (Review) is still officially available starting at Rs. 64,900, and you can find it discounted quite significantly through third-party retailers.

Apple does offer trade-in value for an older iPhone and there are bank offers, but these prices do sting, especially if you look at what today's sub-Rs. 40,000 Android phones offer. Also note that you don't get a charger or headset in the box even at these prices.

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus design

If you've seen the iPhone 13, you've basically seen the iPhone 14. Virtually nothing has changed – the body is 0.15mm thicker and the cameras bump is slightly more pronounced, but you'd never be able to tell in passing. There are a few new colours – Midnight and Starlight are the same as before. There's still a (Product) Red option but it's brighter. The two new options are pale pastel shades of blue and purple. If Apple sticks to precedent, a new colour option might be added in early 2023.

I have the iPhone 14 in blue, which is quite a nice neutral tone and should be universally appealing. The iPhone 14 Plus in purple looks almost white under some types of light. The finish is extremely subtle but it won't be to everyone's taste.

The larger iPhone 14 Plus is an interesting middle ground between the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro Max. You don't have to pay through your nose to get the biggest possible screen anymore, and this is something that might tempt not only the Android crowd but anyone with an older iPhone who was on the fence about upgrading. It's much lighter than the Pro Max, at 203g compared to 240g, which negates one of my biggest complaints about the top-end model.

iphone 14 plus rear ndtv iphone 14

The iPhone 14 Plus (right) has all the same specifications except for a bigger screen and larger battery

 

It's still quite a handful though, and a 6.7-inch screen might be a little too much for some people. This phone will stick out of some pockets and I found it a bit awkward to hold and use while walking. Things like swiping up from the bottom of the screen to unlock the device or stretching to the Back button at the very top of the screen in many apps can also be difficult. The iPhone 14 Plus is less comfortable to hold up to an ear while talking than its smaller sibling, but at least it isn't heavy to the point that I began to feel fatigue.

You do see more content on screen – the UI isn't just magnified proportionately. That's great for games, videos, and many creative apps. It's also considerably better for reading, if you happen to be sitting down or lying in bed. That said, iOS doesn't allow multiple apps on screen at any time, either tiled or in floating windows, and there were times when I would have liked that flexibility.

Apple hasn't changed anything about the body shape of the iPhone 14 compared to the iPhone 13, and even that was pretty much identical to the iPhone 12 (Review), other than the rear camera arrangement. You still get the same flat front and back, largely to maintain compatibility with the MagSafe accessory ecosystem. There's a dull aluminium band running around the flat sides. The volume buttons, mute switch and Nano-SIM tray are on the left, and the power button is on the right – units sold in the US don't have a physical SIM tray anymore and are eSIM-only. There's only a Lightning port on the bottom, with a speaker on one side and mic on the other. The iPhone 14 Plus is exactly the same, just scaled up.

However there's a big change that you can't see. Both new phones have removable rear panels which should make repairs and battery replacements much easier and quicker for trained service pros. Apple has managed to do this without compromising the IP68 ratings that both devices still have.

iphone 14 plus sides ndtv iphone 14

You might find the iPhone 14 Plus a little awkward to use but it isn't as heavy as the iPhone 14 Pro Max

 

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus specifications

If you're underwhelmed by the iPhone 14's recycled design, the insides will also come as a disappointment. Apple has for the first time chosen to reuse the previous generation's processor, the A15 Bionic. Only the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max get the A16 Bionic. It's worth noting that you get the slightly more powerful version of the A15 Bionic that was in last year's iPhone 13 Pro siblings, giving you one more functioning GPU core so there's still a very slight upgrade over the iPhone 13. This is also a key reason that the iPhone 13 mini is still well worth considering – Apple really didn't need to refresh it, and it still serves just fine for those who want a smaller but still modern iPhone.

You get three storage options – 128GB, 256GB and 512GB – which should be more than enough for anyone. Apple doesn't disclose RAM and battery details officially but we know that both iPhone 14 models have 6GB of RAM, up from 4GB for the iPhone 13. The battery capacities are 3,279mAh and 4,323mAh respectively. Charging speed isn't advertised either, but Apple bases its estimates on using a 20W USB Type-C adapter. If you use a MagSafe wireless charger, you can get up to 15W but ordinary Qi wireless chargers will only work at up to 7.5W.

Sadly you don't get many of the signature features of the iPhone 14 Pro models – there's no high-refresh-rate display, no always-on functionality, and no Dynamic Island. There's still a fairly large notch which now seems outdated, though I don't miss the island much even after having used an iPhone 14 Pro. The iPhone 14 has a 6.1-inch 1170x2532-pixel display while the iPhone 14 Plus has a 6.7-inch panel with a proportionately higher 12 84x2778-pixel resolution (not accounting for rounded corners). Both are capable of 800nits typical brightness and 1200nits peak brightness with HDR content. They support the wide P3 colour gamut and Apple's True Tone white balance adjustment feature.

We'll talk more about these phones' cameras later, but it's clear that this is the biggest gap that there has even been between the Pro and non-Pro iPhone models.

iphone 14 plus display ndtv iphone 14

The iPhone 14 (right) has a 6.1-inch display while the iPhone 14 Plus (left) goes up to 6.7 inches

 

This is where comparisons to the Android world really show how Apple's strategy is pushing it into a corner. A huge number of Android phones that cost a quarter as much as the base iPhone 14 variant today have equally slick designs, crisp 120Hz screens, quicker charging, and various other conveniences. If you compare spec sheets it can be really tough to justify the cost of the latest iPhones.

On the other hand, there are some factors in favour of choosing to spend so much on an iPhone and forego these features. Other than the Apple name of course, there's Apple's in-house SoC and high-end camera capabilities. Features like crash detection and emergency messaging via satellite aren't available in India (yet) but are selling points in other countries. There are also less tangible factors – the longevity and security of the iOS ecosystem and the efficiency of Apple's in-house hardware, software and online services working together. It all comes down to the usage experience.

Software keeps evolving, and in the months since the iPhone 14 family launched running iOS 16, we're already on version 16.2. We've covered the major features of iOS 16 already, and using it on this phone is much the same as on the iPhone 14 Pro, with the exception of the Dynamic Island and always-on display. Everything will feel familiar to long-time iPhone users. There's a new stock app called Freestyle that lets you sketch and scribble ideas to share with others, and of course 5G is now available to users in India.

Apple's software experience is usually slick, though not quite as flexible as Android in key areas such as personalisation. Keep in mind that you'll have to pay a small amount each month for iCloud storage space and services such as Apple Music and Apple TV+ (or get Apple One) to fully enjoy the ecosystem.

iphone 14 plus lightning ndtv iphone 14

Apple has confirmed that it will comply with international regulations requiring USB Type-C in the future

 

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus performance and usage

There isn't much to say about the new iPhones' performance – they're both smooth and snappy, they'll work for several years before you'll feel any need to replace either of them, and you aren't at risk of being left behind in terms of software updates or app support. Having used an iPhone 14 Pro recently, I did notice the lower screen refresh rate and it did feel a bit ridiculous to not have that feature on a phone this expensive, but in day-to-day situations, it hardly mattered.

If you're using an iPhone X or older, you'll notice how apps are less likely to have to restart even if they've been in the background for a while. Face ID is relatively quick and I never had any trouble navigating through iOS. With all that said, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus have no new hardware capabilities and no functionality has been improved much because there just hasn't been a jump in processing power compared to the previous generation.

With the same processor as last year's Pro models, you shouldn't expect a big jump in benchmark numbers. Usage is smooth and you shouldn't face any slowdowns for years, but there's nothing exciting to look forward to either. Games run fine, including heavy titles such as Call of Duty: Mobile. The iPhone 14 Plus is great for gaming thanks to its big screen, and it's also relatively comfortable to hold for long stretches.

iphone 14 plus sim ndtv iphone 14

Apple has begun transitioning away from physical SIMs but iPhones sold in India can still use one nano-SIM

 

In terms of benchmark performance, I was expecting the iPhone 14 Plus to deliver slightly better scores since its larger body should allow for better heat dissipation. Geekbench 5 did do that, producing single-threaded and multi-threaded scores of 1,733 and 4,714 as opposed to 1,717 and 4,680 respectively for the iPhone 14. These numbers are unsurprisingly right in line with what the iPhone 13 Pro managed.

However, other tests such as AnTuTu favoured the smaller model slightly - 852,373 points versus 857,751 points for the iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 14 respectively. 3DMark's Wild Life Extreme test ran at 16.7fps on the smaller phone and 16.3fps on the larger one. Both phones maxed out GFXBench's Aztec Ruins (Normal Tier) test at 60fps but the more demanding High Tier run exposed a slight difference - 57fps on the smaller iPhone 14 versus 50fps on the iPhone 14 Plus. These differences could be down to screen resolution. It's worth noting that both devices did get a bit warm while tests were running.  

One of the biggest selling points of the new iPhone 14 Plus is battery life – in fact Apple claims that it beats even the iPhone 14 Pro Max, offering the best battery life ever for any iPhone. That's likely because there's no always-on display or high refresh rate, so it's nice to have some compensation for missing out on those features. Truly, the iPhone 14 Plus is excellent, lasting at least two days of casual usage (without 5G) and far longer than that when left in standby. Our HD video loop test ran for 22 hours, 47 minutes which is roughly 15 percent better than the iPhone 14 Pro's performance.

The iPhone 14 will also get you through a full day, or up to a day and a half with light use. It managed to run our HD video loop for 16 hours, 38 minutes which was below expectations. Surprisingly, both phones charged at roughly the same rate despite the difference in battery capacities, getting to 29 percent in 15 minutes and 54 percent in 30 minutes. You don't get a charger in the box, so a 30W Apple MacBook adapter was used for these tests. Both phones did get fairly warm while charging though.

iphone 14 plus rear hand ndtv iphone 14

One reason to choose the more expensive iPhone 14 Plus is its excellent battery life

 

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus cameras

Although Apple says camera quality has improved with this generation as usual, you still get only basic photo and video capabilities with one primary and one ultra-wide-angle camera. Only the iPhone 14 Pro models get the new 48-megapixel main sensor, autofocus ultra-wide camera with macro capabilities, telephoto camera, adaptive flash, second-gen sensor-shift stabilisation, LiDAR, and ProRAW/ProRes format support.

Both phones have the same camera setup – a 12-megapixel f/1.5 primary and 12-megapixel f/2.4 ultra-wide camera on the rear. Each phone also has a 12-megapixel f/1.9 front camera along with the TrueDepth imaging system that enables Apple's unique Face ID security system and personalised Memoji character models, but requires the dated notch. Video recording goes up to 4K 60fps with Dolby Vision HDR, and there's now an Action Mode for stabilisation, which the Pro models also have – and you can read about it in our review of the iPhone 14 Pro. Cinematic Mode and Photographic Styles are unchanged since their debut on the iPhone 13 series, and you can read about them here. In short, Action Mode is potentially useful while the others are novelties that will remain forgotten unless you're an avid photographer or video content creator.

iPhone 14 Plus daytime photo samples (top: primary camera, bottom: ultra-wide-angle camera) (Tap to see full size)

 

Apple's camera app has been a victim of feature creep with all these new modes requiring more buttons and controls, but there are still some things you need to dip into the main iOS Settings app to change. iOS 16 introduces subject extraction from within the Photos app – all you have to do is long-press to pull a subject out of its background, and you can then drag or paste it into other apps. iOS also uses on-device machine learning to help you search through photos by text, and optical character recognition is now as easy as tapping and swiping to select anything you see.

All said and done, no matter how you feel about the features that you do or don't get, the quality of photos and videos that the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus can take is undeniably impressive. Shots taken with the primary camera in the daytime came out detailed and sharp, and I had no trouble with exposure even in tricky lighting conditions. The textures on leaves and petals looked natural and colours popped nicely. It's possible to get some neat depth effects even without portrait mode, but extreme close-ups aren't as successful because there's no macro capability. The ultra-wide-angle camera delivers slightly lower quality but that isn't evident if you aren't magnifying photos to their actual size on screen.

iPhone 14 low-light photo samples (top: primary camera, bottom: ultra-wide-angle camera) (Tap to see full size)

 

iPhone 14 Plus low-light photo samples (top: primary camera, bottom: ultra-wide-angle camera) (Tap to see full size)

 

There's much more of a difference in quality between the two cameras in low light and indoors. The main camera continues to do very well. Even with a little light around, subjects come out looking bright and crisp, and even small points of light against dark backgrounds are usually defined well, without any bleeding. Portrait mode allows for some moody compositions, and motion blur is well under control. However, details are noticeably less crisp, colours aren't as accurate, and subjects at even a slight distance can seem a bit murky when using the ultra-wide camera at night.

iPhone 14 Plus low-light photo samples (top: primary camera, bottom: ultra-wide-angle camera) (Tap to see full size)

 

Apple doesn't seem to have changed much about the front camera compared to the iPhone 13. Selfies in the daytime look fine, but at night it's best to check the results so you can try again if needed.

Video is smooth at 1080p and 4K although colours are a little overpronounced at the higher resolution. The footage that both the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus can capture is good enough for capturing memories and possibly even for professional work. Just like with stills, the lower quality of the ultra-wide camera is much more noticeable at night, with a little visible judder when recording while moving.

iPhone 14 Plus low-light selfie sample (tap to see full size)

 

Verdict

We're at a point where there isn't much you can do to make a premium phone significantly better than its own predecessor, but even so the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus left me somewhat underwhelmed. In a nutshell, the iPhone 14 is Apple's least significant update yet, and that's because the company has locked itself into a pricing strategy that prevents Pro features trickling down. At least this model isn't more expensive than its predecessor, so you're still getting something a bit better at the same price.

The iPhone 14 Plus does have some novelty value and excellent battery life going for it, but it's far more expensive than competing Android devices. It might tempt anyone with an iPhone X or older to upgrade and it might be exactly what some people are looking for.

Since you aren't getting Pro features either way, it seems that you really won't lose much if you choose to buy last year's iPhone 13 instead of the current generation. Nearly all the things that make the iPhone 14 good apply to its predecessor as well. You could save Rs. 10,000 (or more when offers are factored in) and you'd get pretty much the same device, just with a bit less RAM and slightly weaker cameras. The only reasons to choose an iPhone 14 over an iPhone 13, especially in India, would be if camera quality is absolutely critical, you anticipate needing crash detection in the future, or you don't mind spending more money now to maximise usability and resale value many years down the line.

Rumours are already circulating about next year's iPhones, and it's likely that they'll have a minor design refresh including the Dynamic Island. Apple is also due to replace its Lightning port with USB Type-C. If those sound like features worth waiting for, you can quite easily skip the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus.


Apple unveiled eight new products at its September ‘Far Out' event. Which ones will float — and which will sink? We discuss this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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  • REVIEW
  • KEY SPECS
  • NEWS
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value for Money
  • Good
  • Good overall performance
  • Great camera quality in daylight
  • iOS ecosystem and ease of use
  • Bad
  • Dated design and notch
  • Very similar to iPhone 13
  • Relatively slow charging
  • Expensive
Display 6.06-inch
Processor Apple A15 Bionic
Front Camera 12-megapixel
Rear Camera 12-megapixel + 12-megapixel
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
OS iOS 16
Resolution 1170x2532 pixels
  • REVIEW
  • KEY SPECS
  • NEWS
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value for Money
  • Good
  • Good overall performance
  • Great camera quality in daylight
  • iOS ecosystem and ease of use
  • Excellent battery life
  • Bad
  • Dated design and notch
  • Same SoC as iPhone 13 series
  • Relatively slow charging
  • Expensive
Display 6.68-inch
Processor Apple A15 Bionic
Front Camera 12-megapixel
Rear Camera 12-megapixel + 12-megapixel
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
OS iOS 16
Resolution 1284x2778 pixels
Comments

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Jamshed Avari
Jamshed Avari has been working in tech journalism as a writer, editor and reviewer for over 16 years. He has reviewed hundreds of products ranging from smartphones and tablets to PC components and accessories, and has also written guides, feature articles, news, editorials, and analyses. Going beyond simple ratings and specifications, he digs deep into how emerging products and services affect actual users, and what marks they leave on our cultural landscape. He's happiest when something new ...More
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