Apple iPhone 14 Pro review: A dynamic upgrade

The iPhone 14 Pro combines a fabulous new camera with a smaller cutout up front.

iPhone 14 Pro back view on red background
(Image: © Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Android Central Verdict

The iPhone 14 Pro is packed full of interesting upgrades. The cutout at the front is smaller than previous generations, and the Dynamic Island makes engaging with notifications that much more interactive. The A16 Bionic is the fastest mobile platform around, the new 48MP camera at the back takes phenomenal photos, and the new OLED screen enables an always-on mode for the first time. You're still limited to the Lightning port, and there's no SIM slot in the U.S., but on the whole, the iPhone 14 Pro ticks all the right boxes.

Pros

  • +

    Fantastic OLED screen

  • +

    New 48MP camera takes outstanding photos and videos

  • +

    Dynamic Island has a lot to offer

  • +

    Faster A16 Bionic hardware

  • +

    Crash Detection and Emergency SOS

  • +

    At least five platform updates

Cons

  • -

    Always-on mode has limited use

  • -

    Still no USB-C charging

  • -

    Average battery life

  • -

    No SIM slot in the U.S.

  • -

    Satellite-based Emergency SOS not available in all markets

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Apple marches to the beat of its own drum; it introduces hardware features when it sees fit and doesn't feel inclined to play the specs game with its Android counterparts. That's one of the reasons why iPhones usually take so long to get features that are a mainstay on Android — wireless charging, widgets, and high refresh screens come to mind.

That situation is unchanged in 2022; the iPhone 14 Pro introduces a new feature that has been present on Android for six years: an always-on screen. But as is the case with everything Apple does, the implementation is different from that of most Android phones. That's not all either; the iPhone 14 Pro has a smaller cutout for Face ID dubbed Dynamic Island, a brighter OLED screen, a new crash detection feature, and an Emergency SOS mode that uses geosynchronous satellites to deliver messages in areas where there's no cellular service.

There's also a new 48MP camera at the back with a new software processing engine, and Apple is introducing the A16 Bionic, its latest mobile platform. The iPhone 14 Pro has a lot to offer, so let's dive in and find out how these features hold in real-world use.  

Apple iPhone 14 Pro: Pricing and availability

iPhone 14 Pro back with logo highlighted

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Apple introduced the iPhone 14 Pro on September 7, and the phone went on sale globally from September 16. You'll find plenty of trade-in deals for carriers in the U.S., and the unlocked model starts off at $999 — the same as its predecessor. While that's true in the U.S., the phone is costlier by an average of $130 in other countries.

The iPhone 14 Pro is available in four colors and storage options, and this is what you'll have to pay to get your hands on the device in various global markets:

  • iPhone 14 Pro (128GB): $999 / £1,099 / €1,299 / ₹129,900
  • iPhone 14 Pro (256GB): $1,099 / £1,209 / €1,429 / ₹139,900
  • iPhone 14 Pro (512GB): $1,299 / £1,429 / €1,689 / ₹159,900
  • iPhone 14 Pro (1TB): $1,499 / £1,649 / €1,949 / ₹179,900

Like previous years, the iPhone 14 Pro continues to be incredibly costly in India, with the base 128GB model debuting for ₹129,900 ($1,591) — $92 more than what the 1TB variant costs in the U.S. 

Apple iPhone 14 Pro: Design

iPhone 14 Pro back view on red background highlighting cameras

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Apple isn't known for making changes to its design language, so the iPhone 14 Pro looks nearly unchanged from its predecessor from the back. You get the same camera housing with large rings around the three modules, a similar matte finish over the glass back, and the same flat sides.

The overall design aesthetic hasn't altered, but the smaller notch is a welcome addition.

This design holds up much better on the smaller iPhone 14 Pro than the iPhone 13 Pro Max that I used last year; the smaller size makes it less unwieldy and easier to hold and use. The device is available in four color options — silver, gold, purple, and black — and although the purple variant looks interesting, the color choices aren't as bold as the standard iPhone 14 and 14 Plus.

While the design at the back is the same, the same isn't true up front; the notch has made way for a smaller cutout that doesn't look as ungainly. In fact, there are two cutouts now — a pill-sized cutout that houses the requisite hardware for Face ID and a round one for the front camera — but you won't notice this in daily use as the pixels in the middle are blackened to create a seamless cutout dubbed Dynamic Island.

Most brands would have just left it at that, but not Apple; it turned the cutout into an interactive element that surfaces alerts, notifications, and so much more. It is a brilliant way to turn unused real estate into something actionable and works well in daily use. The feature essentially serves as a way to show relevant information without having to leave the home screen. 

iPhone 14 Pro Dynamic Island showing timer

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

So if you set a timer, the countdown is shown directly on the Dynamic Island when you go back to the home screen, so you don't need to pull up the app to see this information. A long press on the card will turn it into a pop-up that contains additional options; in this case, pausing the timer. 

iPhone 14 Pro Dynamic Island timer view

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

That's just one use case; there are plenty of areas where the Dynamic Island makes a difference in daily use, and if two activities use the island, the second is minimized to an icon that sits to the right. The island also serves alerts for everything from calls, Face ID, battery and charging alerts, Bluetooth pairing requests, NFC payments, and more.

The one thing I would have changed is the long press action. By default, pressing on a card in Dynamic Island will pull up the app, while you need to press and hold to get the pop-up options — this should have been the other way around. 

Rounding out the design, the iPhone 14 Pro is still made out of stainless steel, and it has a nice heft and good weight distribution. One change with this generation is that the device doesn't come with a SIM card slot in the U.S., with eSIM being the only option. Thankfully, that isn't the case in other countries, and while eSIM use is gaining more ground — and will take off now that Apple is onboard — I'm not a fan of the move. Going this route makes it easier to lock devices to a particular region in the future.

One area where things should have changed is the Lightning port. While iPads like the iPad air M1 and MacBooks now use USB-C as standard, the iPhone 14 Pro still relies on the Lightning port to charge. I don't understand why iPhones still use this port, but that should change next year. Finally, the iPhone 14 Pro has the latest glass protection and comes with IP68 dust and water resistance as standard.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro: Screen

iPhone 14 Pro home screen on red background

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The iPhone 14 Pro has a 6.1-inch OLED panel with a resolution of 2556 x 1179, 120Hz refresh, and HDR10 alongside Dolby Vision. The screen goes up to 1000 nits in daily use and can hit up to 2000 nits in auto mode under direct sunlight. In short, there are absolutely no issues with brightness levels, and the panel itself is among the best you'll find today.

This is among the best OLED panels around, and while we finally get an always-on mode, it isn't quite useful.

The screen has True Tone tech that automatically adjusts color balance based on ambient light, and it has excellent contrast and color accuracy. It is particularly well-suited for streaming videos and playing games, and the stereo sound also makes a big difference. There's LTPO tech to automatically scale refresh according to on-screen content, with the phone able to go from 120Hz all the way down to 10Hz.

But that's not all; the screen can now hit 1Hz when using the always-on mode, a feature that's finally making its way to iPhones. In characteristic Apple fashion, it isn't like the usual always-on mode that you get on Samsung or Google phones, where you just get the clock face and icons for unread notifications. On the iPhone 14 Pro, the entire screen — including the background — is visible, with the only difference being that the brightness is lowered.

I usually stream music over Spotify while working, and it was just distracting to have the full album art on the screen in always-on mode. There isn't much in the way of customizability either — you're looking at an on or off situation. I'm not a big fan of how the feature works, and I turned it off after a few days.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro: Performance

iPhone 14 Pro back view on red background

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

With every new iPhone launch comes a new generation of Apple silicon, and that's no different with the iPhone 14 Pro. The phone is powered by the A16 Bionic and includes six CPU cores, five GPU cores, a new neural engine, and Qualcomm's X65 5G modem. Like the Dimensity 9000 and Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, the A16 Bionic is fabricated at TSMC's 4nm node and delivers decent efficiency gains over the A15 Bionic.

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CategoryiPhone 14 Pro
OSiOS 16
Display6.1-inch XDR OLED (2556x1179), 1 - 120Hz, 2000 nits max brightness, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Ceramic Shield
ChipsetApple A16 Bionic, 2 x 3.46GHz Everest + 4 x 2.0GHz Sawtooth cores, 5-core GPU, 4nm
RAM6GB
Storage128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
Rear camera 148MP f/1.8, 1.22um pixels, sensor-shift OIS
Rear camera 212MP f/2.2 wide-angle, 1.4um pixels, 120-degree FoV
Rear camera 312MP f/2.8 telephoto, OIS, 3x optical zoom
Front camera12 MP f/1.9 autofocus, 4K at 60fps video
ConnectivityGlobal 5G bands, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, UWB, Emergency SOS (NA)
Ingress ProtectionIP68 dust and water resistance, 6 meters for 30 minutes
SecurityFace ID
AudioStereo sound, Lightning jack