iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 Pro Review: Is It Even a Competition?

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 Pro Review: Is It Even a Competition?

It’s been a little over a month since Apple revealed its new iPhone 14 range and in that time we’ve had the chance to get hands-on with the new smartphones. Having the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro as my constant companions over the past month has opened my eyes to a lot of the features, quirks and even a couple of issues these devices have to offer, so allow me to break them down.

Before we get into the details let’s run over the different devices. As is standard these days, Apple launched four new models this year: two standard iPhone 14s and two iPhone 14 Pros. The major difference this year is that Apple did away with the iPhone Mini size and instead introduced the iPhone 14 Plus, which is basically just the same phone in a larger size.

For this review, I took the iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Pro for a test run. While both are definitely great phones, one definitely outstrips the other by a wide margin.

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 Pro: Which is better?

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Image: Lifehacker AU

Let’s lay out some specs for you before getting into the meat of these reviews.

iPhone 14 Pro specs:

  • Size: 147.5 mm x 71.5 mm x 7.85 mm
  • Display: 6.1-inch (OLED) [HDR display/True Tone/Wide colour (P3), 1,200 nits peak brightness (HDR)]
  • A16 Bionic chip
  • Camera: 48MP Main, 12MP Ultra-Wide, 12MP 2x Telephoto, 12MP 3x Telephoto
  • Battery life: Up to 23 hours of video playback
  • Water resistance: Rated IP68
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
  • Colours: Space Black, Silver, Gold, Deep Purple

Read more here.

iPhone 14 specs:

  • Size: 146.7 mm x 71.5 mm x 7.8 mm
  • Display: 6.1-inch (OLED) [HDR display/True Tone/Wide colour (P3), 1,200 nits peak brightness (HDR)]
  • A15 Bionic chip
  • Camera: Dual-camera system (12MP main, 12MP ultra-wide), 12MP TrueDepth camera
  • Battery life: Up to 20 hours of video playback
  • Water resistance: Rated IP68
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
  • Colours: Midnight, Purple, Starlight, (PRODUCT)RED, Blue

Read more here.

iPhone 14 Pro review

iphone 14 iphone 14 pro review
Image: Lifehacker AU

What’s good?

For context, I’ve never used an iPhone Pro. My last couple of phones have all been the standard model and for the last year, I’ve been using the iPhone 13.

Let me tell you, I did not realise what I’d been missing out on until I started using the iPhone 14 Pro. It is easily the best smartphone I’ve ever had.

The upgrade in speed and quality was something that was instantly noticeable — and it’s not like I’d been using an outdated smartphone before this.

The iPhone 14 Pro is outfitted with the latest and greatest technology. A new A16 Bionic chip is capable of 17 trillion operations per second and allows you to do fancy things like editing ProRes and ProRaw content directly on your phone.

For the everyday person like me, I mainly saw the difference the new processor made in simple things like the fast loading speed of apps. I was also wowed by the new “lift” feature in iOS16 which essentially allows you to magically crop a subject out of a picture and paste it elsewhere. This isn’t exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro, but it was certainly easier on the latest model.

Another thing that was instantly noticeable to me on the iPhone 14 Pro was the display. The new Pro model is capable of between 1600-2000 nits of brightness and has a 120hz refresh rate. The refresh rate makes things like scrolling a web page or swiping on the home screen appear silky smooth and the brightness makes the colours in videos and photos positively pop.

iphone 14 iphone 14 pro review
Image: Lifehacker AU

Something else that’s exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro is the new Dynamic Island, which replaces the notch on the phone’s display for a pill-shaped bar that is home to the camera and speaker. It may seem like a small change but I’ve actually found it to be one of the coolest new features of this device.

Apple has taken the opportunity to turn its little notch into something interactive and fun. The Dynamic Island is not just a place to house your selfie camera, it responds intuitively to things like phone calls, timers and music, providing cute little animations whenever an app is in action. I think of it as an equivalent to the MacBook Pro’s touch bar, a flashy gimmick that isn’t necessary but is cool to have all the same.

One new feature that is exclusive to the Pro, which I’m still undecided about, is the Always On display. This is a feature that’s been a staple in Android devices for a while now, but it makes its way to Apple for the first time in this model.

Always On allows your lock screen to constantly be illuminated on your device at a lower brightness, constantly showing you the time and any other widgets you have pinned to your screen. It’s a smart feature that adjusts when it’s placed in a pocket or bag and Apple claims it has no impact on battery life.

Even after a few weeks of using the Always On display, my brain is still hardwired to think that when my iPhone screen is lit up it means I have a notification or message. This means I’m checking it way more often than I need to. Of course, you can easily switch off this feature, but it’s one thing I’m training myself to get used to.

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Image: Lifehacker AU

Finally, we can’t move on without talking about the iPhone 14 Pro camera. This has always been where the Pro models stand out from the bunch and the same can be said here.

The new phone is packing an upgraded 48MP main camera, alongside the ultrawide and telephoto lenses. The best feature I noticed here was just how far you could zoom with the iPhone 14 Pro camera and still not lose any quality in the image.

The iPhone 14 Pro’s camera was the biggest difference that I noticed between phone generations. Where my iPhone 13 struggled to capture low-light environments or faraway objects, the iPhone 14 Pro had no issues. It’s possibly the best camera I’ve ever owned, let alone in a phone.

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iPhone 14 zoomed all the way in (left) vs iPhone 14 Pro zoomed in (right) [Image: Lifehacker AU]

What’s not so good?

Honestly, it’s hard to find things I don’t like about the iPhone 14 Pro.

Apple is really only improving upon perfection here. The iPhone 14 Pro makes slight adjustments to the previous generation, but it’s not a complete overhaul.

Perhaps it’s a little disappointing that there aren’t more new features to write home about in this next generation. It’s probably not worth an upgrade if you’re already using an iPhone 13 Pro, which has so many of these features already.

iPhone 14 review

iphone 14 iphone 14 pro review
Image: Lifehacker AU

What’s good

I have less to write home about when it comes to the iPhone 14.

Having been a standard iPhone 13 user for the last year, I did definitely notice some slight differences, but nothing really that would make me drop everything to upgrade.

The camera of the iPhone 14 is the main thing that’s seen improvements between generations. A new photogenic engine helps to better capture low light environments, but it still doesn’t have that telephoto lens so misses the powerful zoom of the Pro models.

The front-facing camera also has autofocus now, so that’s a plus for those upgrading from the 13.

The iPhone 14 does come with a couple of new safety features like Crash Detection and Emergency SOS (the latter of which hasn’t rolled out in Australia just yet). Thankfully, I didn’t experience any car crashes during my time with the phones so will have to take Apple’s word for this one.

What’s not so good

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iPhone 14 (left) vs iPhone 14 Pro (right) [Image: Lifehacker AU]
The iPhone 14 misses out on many of the Pro models’ best features, which makes it a nice phone, but not a great one.

The display doesn’t have the sleek ProMotion features or the 120Hz refresh rate, it lacks the extra brightness power and it still has the notch so can’t take advantage of the Dynamic Island.

The 14 also still runs on the A15 Bionic Chip, which is the same as the one in the 13, so there aren’t really any significant processing improvements to talk about.

All around it’s still a decent phone and maybe worth an upgrade if you’re a few generations behind. But it’s such an incremental improvement this year that it’s hard to see the value if you’re moving from a recent iteration like the iPhone 12 or 13.

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 Pro Review: The Verdict

When it comes down to choosing between the two models, it says it in the name — the iPhone 14 Pro is just too hard to beat.

The additions of the Dynamic Island design, camera enhancements and upgrades to the processor and display make it Apple’s best iPhone yet. I found it to be a noticeable improvement over my iPhone 13.

Yes, the standard iPhone 14 is cheaper by a few hundred dollars ($1,399 vs $1,749), which might be enough of an incentive depending on your budget. But if you’re dropping that much money on an iPhone anyway, you may as well pick the better model and go with the 14 Pro.

I certainly can never go back after using the iPhone 14 Pro. I’ve been an Apple user for generations now, but I didn’t realise what I’d been missing out on until I picked up this device.

These are just some of the everyday musings I’ve had during my time with both iPhone 14 models. If you’d like a more technical review of the two phones, we suggest checking out what our friends at Gizmodo had to say.

If you’re looking to buy a new iPhone 14, you can do so over on the Apple website. Alternatively, check out some of the best phone plans for the new Apple devices here.

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