Changes may not always be in your face. Small changes can add up to a big impact, like they do on the iPhone 14. We are not talking about the iPhone 14 Plus (the phone that pushed the Mini out of the running this year) or the iPhone 14 Pro (or Pro Max) that’s a heavy hitter for anyone truly inclined towards photography. This is the simple iPhone 14 that’s perfect for those who upgrade iPhones every few years or serve the important task of introducing people to the Apple universe.
Anyone who has used Apple products for several years will know that users don’t feel left behind despite not upgrading for three or four years. Be it the iPhone or the iPad, devices from, say, 2018 still work well. These are people who don’t suffer from FOMO or fear of missing out syndrome. At the same time, these are people who want money to buy peace of mind when choosing a new device, so that upgrades are not necessary for a few years. The iPhone 14 is that upgrade.
The new Photonic Engine ensures brighter pictures without losing details
Familiarity is important
Apple has a few new features for the iPhone 14 when compared to last year’s models and a few things don’t change, which breeds familiarity. If you are keen on mobile photography then the Pro models should be your choice or if having the latest is important then, once again, go Pro.
Apple has done a few things that are same and some are not. The first biggest feature of the iPhone 14 is familiarity, which can make one feel comfortable. A return trip to a cherished spot is heightened by happy memories. Similarly, many users don’t want to make a drastic design change from the iPhone they are using. The iPhone 14 has the same Notch design from the previous few generations (now it’s as small as it was on the iPhone 13) and may not want to jump to the Dynamic Island design on the iPhone Pro models where a lot is going on in way of changes to the UI.
Even in low light conditions, the camera does its trick to capture the exact moment and colour profile
The 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display with True Tone is among the best in the industry, offering 800 nits brightness (1,200 when it comes to HDR). Enough of making you jump into a spec whirlpool.
What one needs to know is that the body has the same matte finished aluminium chassis from the iPhone 13 and at the same time the phone is around 16-17 per cent lighter than the iPhone 14 Pro. Some people want a light phone just for ease of use. At the same time, it’s still water and dust resistant and the phone comes with IP68 rating or allowing dips of up to six metres for 30 minutes.
Also, it’s important to remember that the iPhone 14’s back glass isn’t attached to the housing, making it easy to repair if that ever crops up.
The main camera comes with a f/1.5 aperture, which lets in more light
I like mobile photography but that’s not stopping me from using the iPhone 14 over the iPhone 14 Pro. The Twitter tech bubble at times conveniently glances over important updates.
Sure, the megapixel count on the iPhone 14 has been kept to 12MP like it has been for a long time while the 48MP count is reserved for the Pro models. It’s important to note that 12MP is absolutely stunning and there are some changes that are noteworthy. Further, not everyone wants all the photography chops on a phone; the iPhone 14 is for them.
There are three cameras — the main 12MP wide angle camera with f/1.5 aperture, the ultra-wide 12MP camera with f/2.4 aperture while the front camera is also 12MP but f/1.9 aperture.
There is an element of familiarity in the form of a Notch on the iPhone 14. On the Pro models it has been replaced by the Dynamic Island
The main camera on the 14 is very similar to the main camera on the 13 Pro. The iPhone 14’s main shooter gets a larger sensor and a lens with a faster f/1.5 aperture, which combined with Apple’s new addition to the processing pipeline — called Photonic Engine — helps improve image quality, especially when taking photos in darker environments. All of this means the iPhone 14 takes great photos and videos. Even when the lighting wasn’t good I was able to get a very respectable snap. And by adding auto-focus on the front camera, Apple has made the selfie snapper a stunning performer.
Photonic Engine may come across as a marketing term but in real life it does make a difference. The computational photography and image pipeline have been improved. Photonic Engine is not replacing Deep Fusion or Smart HDR. There are changes in way how Deep Fusion works. It has been moved earlier into the pipeline, so it is being implemented before the image is compressed. The new technology improves photos taken in mid- to low-light scenes, like indoors or right before the sun sets. It provides up to 2.5x better low-light performance for photos on the new main camera and up to 1.8x better low-light performance on the new front camera.
Zooming in 2x keeps all details in check without compromising on the picture quality
The ultra-wide angle camera is one of my favourite cameras to take photos and videos with. The extreme field of view on the wide-angle camera gives photos a dramatic look. In terms of image quality, the ultra-wide camera is perhaps a step behind the main camera.
Videos continue to be one of iPhone’s big strengths. Two new features need to be spoken about: First Action Mode, which basically offers GoPro-level stablisation and basically makes an external gimbal redundant in most cases. If you are shooting in 4K, just tap the Action Mode button and the resolution drops to 2.8K but that’s not a problem. The other change is actually an upgrade on the Cinematic Mode; now it can record 4K video at 24fps.
While recording videos, you can use the
Speedier than before
Going deeper, let’s look at the processor. You get the A15 Bionic. Now, this is the same processor from last year but the chipset remains miles ahead of competition. Second, what many are failing to speak about is last year there were two versions of the chip — one for the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini and another with the extra GPU (five cores compared to four cores) for the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. You get the higher one, basically what we saw on the Pro models, which is a substantial bump. In terms of performance, iPhone 14 is speedy. And animation looks smooth, gaming is fun and the phone can tackle anything that’s thrown at it.
Tied in with this is battery life. The iPhone 14 lasts a little longer than the iPhone 13. I got through a day easily and my screen-on time average is six hours. When the iPhone 14 Plus becomes ready for delivery, you can even order that if battery life is crucial to you.
Colours are true to life and there is a small degree of sharpening
There’s more to the phone. Apple’s design philosophy is about thinking of the person behind the product, the person who will use the product. The company ensures that technology recedes into the background. So, there are two features that are consumer focussed rather than just showcasing new technology. One is Crash Detection which, as the name suggests, can detect a severe car crash and automatically notify emergency services and your emergency contacts. The second feature is important but at the moment restricted to the US and Canada (launching in November). Emergency SOS via satellite enables text-to-emergency services and location sharing in the Find My app without a cellular or Wi-Fi connection.
Should you buy it?
Like I said, the meaningful upgrades don’t come in the form of physical changes. These are upgrades that are on the tech side and the implementation has been made to ensure that users don’t have sweat over them. If you walk into an Adele concert and if she doesn’t play Rolling In The Deep or Set Fire To The Rain, will you be happy? That sort of defines the familiarity aspect. Second, wouldn’t you also like to hear a few recent songs, like Easy On Me and Oh My God? Those are the meaningful updates.
In case you are happy with excellent photography minus the 48MP or the design philosophy instead of Dynamic Island, the iPhone 14 is your device; it’s a measuring stick for what a good smartphone should be about. It’s a meaningful and capable upgrade that’s suited to most of us.
The camera module on the iPhone 14
At a glance
Device: iPhone 14
Price: Upwards of Rs 79,900 (128GB variant)
- Meaningful upgrades to the camera
- Action Mode offers excellent video stablisation
- Auto-focus on selfie camera
- Easier repairability
- Familiar design, which many look for
- Year-on-year upgrades have been kept minimal