It’s been a little over two months since the iPhone 14 Pro dropped. In fact, it is rapidly approaching three. So I thought it would be a good chance to talk about things that have changed, things that haven’t, and ultimately my thoughts after the dust has settled.
So to recap, I opted to go with a 14 Pro in Space Black, 512 GB of storage because I do shoot a lot of video with it. And truthfully, the more I’ve used it, the more I’ve enjoyed it. It is an incredibly well-rounded phone.
A majority of the focus, curiosity, and questions are centered around two things – the Always On Display and Dynamic Island.
Always On Display
I’ll go ahead and start out with Always On Display just because that was probably the single most heated topic when it came to the 14 Pro. Either you didn’t mind it or you absolutely despised it with a burning hatred and turned it off altogether.
Myself, I am someone who lives in Do Not Disturb mode, so I usually never see notifications on my lock screen. I much prefer going to seek them out than them coming to me, which helps me not be so attached to my phone.
So I think that was a huge reason why I didn’t mind Always On Display and left it on. But conversely, if you had tons of notifications coming in, I could see that being annoying. Fortunately though, speaking of things that have changed since launch, in the next iOS update 16.2, there’ll be an update that will give you more control over Always On Display, which should hopefully fix most of the complaints.
What this is going to do is give you control over both the wallpaper and notifications separately so you can toggle either on or off. So when wallpaper is toggled off, that’s going to do is give you a pure black screen when you’re in the always-on display state, but at the same time, it’s not going to affect your lock screen when it’s awake. With notifications that’ll give you the ability, of course, to turn those off without having to go into a focused mode or do not disturb. More importantly, your notifications will be there on your lock screen when it’s awake.
And while I think these features absolutely should have been there from day one, I’m just glad they’re coming because it should also help out with battery life. I don’t think Always on Display completely obliterates battery life, but I think it does contribute to it feeling mediocre. Especially if you’re coming from something like an iPhone 13 Pro.
Two months later, I find myself calling it just The Island. Not sure if that’s any better. This though is something that clearly distinctly separates the 14 Pro and Pro Max against the 14 and 14 Plus. And again, I don’t think it by itself is a real reason why you should ditch a 13 Pro or Pro Max.
I find it useful to the point where at this point in time, going back to not having it would feel a little weird. Early on, the one transition I had to make was building the muscle memory to tap towards the top left or right instead of the notch. And at this point that is also second nature. So there’s really nothing that feels foreign to me. I would say there hasn’t been a huge jump in terms of applications or new things that take advantage of Dynamic Island.
But again, those things that I do find useful are alarms, timers, AirDrop, Face ID, and then I use it as a media control a ton. In this use case, I wish it was actually reversed because if you long press the Island, that then expands the widget and gives you control right then and there. And if you single tap, that takes you directly to the file or the application for whatever reason, my brain wants to process it the other way around.
The other interesting topic to talk about with the 14 Pro and Pro Max is availability. Because as good as the phone is, if you can’t get one, it kind of doesn’t matter. For the first time, maybe ever, Apple just openly said – “Hey, we are having supply chain issues. So if you’re looking to grab one of these, you might have to wait.”
As of right now, it looks like there’s about a month lead time if you place the order today. So depending on the model you are looking at, there’s a good chance that you wouldn’t get it before the year’s end.
There’s always gonna be something new around the corner. And I would say at this point, for those who are still interested in upgrading, if you’re coming from something earlier than a 13 Pro, something like a 12 Pro, 11 Pro, or even 10, even if you got it next month, it’s still going to be a phenomenal upgrade.
If you are on a 13 Pro or Pro Max and you’re still on the fence, however, I would say given the wait times and if it is something that you’re not going to get until 2023, that might not be a bad idea to wait until next year’s iPhone.
So now that we’ve addressed that and moved beyond Always on Display and Dynamic Island, I wanted to rattle off some other questions you guys had.
What is the most underrated feature? For me, I would say it is definitely Cinematic Mode because that was something that surprised me the most. Again, going back to the iPhone 13 Pro. When they introduced Cinematic Mode, it was very cool, but it was still very much like “oh, I could see this being more useful in the future”. And again, I just didn’t realize it would be that quickly into the future.
Having that jump to 4K, having multiple frame rates, and I think it combined with just the sensor on the camera itself, which even without cinematic mode gives some pretty wild depth, has resulted in some pretty incredible video.
Even looking at the feedback from the video that I shot with Fly by Midnight, it is a pretty substantial jump from the 13 Pro, not only resolution in terms of 1080 to 4K, but really edge detection. And now the fact that it again can detect foreground depth is pretty nuts.
Does 48 megapixels make a difference? To my surprise, yes. And again, that’s something that you do have to turn Pro Raw photos on to take advantage of because if you’re not using Pro Raw, you’re not going to get to use those 48 megapixels.
But when you are, it does make a pretty substantial difference, not only in terms of sharpness but just dynamic range and overall image quality.
In terms of file size with Pro Raw, I am someone who openly has complained about USB 20 speeds on the iPhone for the last couple of years and I think in this specific use case, it’s not something that stops me from using Pro Raw because I’m usually working on the image itself directly on the phone.
With the Pro RAW video, though, I still find myself not using or taking advantage of it because that’s an instance where I’m going to want to transfer it and use it on my laptop. So in terms of Pro RAW 48 megapixels, it is absolutely more useful for me at this point than ProRes video.
Do the keyboard vibrations take a hit on the battery? Funny enough, I actually just turned that on a little over a week ago and I’m still up in the air from going to keep it on or not.
But in terms of battery life, like anything, the more you use something, the more it’s going to sip away at the battery and ultimately it doesn’t depend on how you use the phone. If you’re constantly typing, typing, typing, and you’re using your phone consistently throughout the day, it’s going to sip more, but I don’t think it’s anything that’s going to just obliterate battery life.
As far as battery life as a whole, compared to last year, again, I would say it’s a little underwhelming and definitely not better than the 13 Pro. Hopefully, with 16.2 and the extra control over the Always on Display, that brings some of it back. But again, battery life by itself is not a reason why you would upgrade to the 14 Pro or Pro Max.
Surprisingly, that’s one of the features I haven’t really used or found myself needing to use. In general I think the stabilization, especially on the 14 Pro by itself without action mode is phenomenal, so I really haven’t found myself needing to go beyond that. From the things I’ve seen on it, it does seem to work tremendously well.
But again, I’ve just never found myself needing to go beyond what’s already there.
Favorite Feature of the iPhone 14 Pro
Again, I still don’t know if this is a placebo in my head or if it does have something to do with Bluetooth 5.3 and AirPods Pro 2, and the iPhone 14 Pro.
But continuously, even months later, Spatial Audio with AirPods Pro 2 and the 14 Pro has been insane. I will also note that I have implemented personalized Spatial Audio, but the combination specifically of the iPhone 14 Pro and AirPods Pro 2 has been one of my favorite combos in a tremendously long time.
So to recap, it is an incredibly well-rounded phone that I’ve enjoyed tremendously so far. Again, if you’re coming from a 13 Pro or Pro Max, I don’t think you need to upgrade. Anything before that I think you will love it. Aside from that, hopefully, enjoyed the review. If you did and you are feeling like being awesome, make sure to drop a like down below.