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Should you upgrade to the iPhone 14?

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September is here, which begs the annual question: Is it time to ditch your old iPhone for the shiny new one? The new $799 iPhone 14, $899 iPhone 14 Plus, $999 iPhone 14 Pro and $1,099 iPhone 14 Pro Max are all up for preorder now, and they’re seriously promising devices. You can expect improved cameras and battery life across the board as well as some innovative new safety features that could save your life.

But not all new iPhones are created equal, and this year marks perhaps the biggest difference yet between the standard iPhone and its “Pro” counterpart. The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are the big standouts of the bunch, offering a faster processor, the most advanced iPhone camera yet and a new Dynamic Island feature that changes the way you interact with your iPhone.

If that all sounds overwhelming, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a guide to who should upgrade to the iPhone 14, who should splurge for the iPhone 14 Pro and who can skip out on this year’s iPhones entirely.

iPhone 14 2

Apple

Two of the most notable additions to the entire iPhone 14 family are Crash Detection and Emergency SOS via satellite, two features designed to keep you safe in dire circumstances. The former uses a variety of sensors to detect when you’ve been in a car crash, with the ability to automatically contact emergency services if you’re unresponsive. Just keep in mind that this feature is also coming to the new Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra, so you don’t necessarily need to get a new phone to take advantage of it.

If you find yourself without a cell phone signal and in need of emergency aid, the iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS via satellite feature uses a mixture of hardware and software to connect you to specialists via satellite and get you assistance. And if you’re a frequent hiker, you can use this feature to share your location with friends and family members via the Find My app when you’re out exploring.

Apple-iPhone-14-iPhone-14-Plus-5up-hero-220907

Apple

New to the iPhone lineup this year is the iPhone 14 Plus, which replaces the smaller Mini variation we’ve gotten for the last few years. This $899 model gets you a big 6.7-inch display for playing games and getting immersed in your favorite shows — that’s the same screen size as the $1,099 iPhone 14 Pro Max, but for $200 less. You won’t get all of the advanced display features as the latter — including ultra-smooth ProMotion capabilities and Always On functionality for quickly reading important info while the phone is locked — but you’ll still get a big, beautiful screen for a reasonable price.

“The iPhone 14 Plus is exciting for anyone who wants the largest iPhone with the biggest battery without having to pay over $1,000 for an iPhone Pro Max — that is going to make a lot of people happy,” says Avi Greengart, president and lead analyst at tech research firm Techsponential.

Apple-iPhone-14-iPhone-14-Plus-game-demo-220907

Apple

Aside from its safety features, improved cameras and larger size option, the basic iPhone 14 range is largely more of the same. That being said, if you’re coming from 2019’s iPhone 11 or older, you’ll enjoy a significant upgrade across the board. The iPhone 14’s A15 Bionic processor is two generations ahead of that model, which means more overall speed for multitasking and playing games.

Upgrading from an iPhone 11 or older will also finally bring you into the 5G fold, which potentially means much faster cellular connectivity based on your carrier and location, and will open you up to the many great MagSafe accessories out there. Apple is also promising the “best battery life ever in an iPhone” on the iPhone 14 Plus specifically, and while we’ll have to test that claim ourselves, you’ll almost certainly enjoy a big bump in endurance when upgrading from an aging iPhone. There are also the all-new front and rear cameras, which promise better overall shots (especially in low light), an Action mode that removes shakes during hectic videos and a Cinematic mode that lets you add dramatic layers of focus to your clips.

“If you’re on an iPhone 12 or older, it’s worth upgrading for better battery life alone, and carriers will offer rich subsidies for your trade-in,” says Greengart. “Any older than that and you’re likely to have better reception with a newer iPhone because the modems support newer frequencies that carriers are using.”

iphone 14 pro 3

Apple

While the base iPhone 14 is a nice incremental upgrade, the iPhone 14 Pro is the way to go for folks seeking something genuinely new. The higher-end iPhone’s new Dynamic Island feature significantly changes both the look and feel of the iPhone — gone is the controversial (but now iconic) display notch, which has been replaced by a much smaller camera hole in the front. But it’s not just for looks. By working in tandem with iOS 16, this area of the screen can dynamically expand and contract in real time to show you things like incoming calls, timers and important notifications, all while taking up far less screen space than these things normally would. It should be a boon for multitasking, and just looks plain old fun to use.

Also new to the iPhone line — and exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro models — is an Always On display. Like on the Apple Watch (and on many Android phones), this feature allows the iPhone to display pertinent info like the time, weather and select widgets on the lock screen while using minimal power, which should make it easy to see key info at a glance and result in better battery life across the board.

CUPERTINO, CALIFORNIA - September 7, 2022: AppleÕs senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing Greg Joswiak
 unveils the all-new iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max during a special Apple event, as seen in this still image from the keynote video.
(Photo by Apple Inc.)

The Pro series is always the go-to option for those serious about their photography, and the iPhone 14 Pro range promises the best iPhone camera setup ever. The star of the show is the new 48-megapixel main camera, which has a significantly larger sensor than that of the iPhone 13 Pro in order to capture even more detail. Factor in all of the aforementioned features of the entire line — including Action mode and better low-light performance — and you’ve got a major upgrade that even iPhone 13 owners may benefit from.

iphone 14 pro 5

Apple

This year’s iPhone Pro line doesn’t just offer better features and cameras — it’s also more powerful. The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max feature the all-new A16 Bionic processor, while the standard iPhone 14 and 14 Plus use last year’s A15 Bionic chip. This is a gap we’ve never seen before across a new iPhone line. Any of these phones should be ridiculously fast (the A15-powered iPhone 13 produced some of the best speeds we’ve seen on benchmark tests), but for those who want extra muscle for multitasking, photography and general future-proofing, you are best off with the iPhone 14 Pro.

9-green iphone 13 alpine green iphone 13 pro cnn underscored

Jacob Krol/CNN

While the iPhone 14 range brings lots of great upgrades, it also heralds the death of the iPhone Mini. First seen on the iPhone 12 series, this smaller 5.4-inch variation of the iPhone is ideal for folks with smaller hands who want a highly pocketable device that doesn’t sacrifice any of the key features of its bigger counterpart. If you’re a small phone fan, you’re better off with the iPhone 13 Mini that’s still being sold for $599 or the $429 iPhone SE that has a more old-school iPhone design with a 4.7-inch display.

iphone 14 pro 4

Apple

The iPhone 14 series marks the first time that the iPhone has fully ditched the physical SIM card (which is the little chip that delivers your cell service) in favor of eSIM, which allows you to activate and transfer cell plans digitally. While this might not pose a problem for the average user who picks up a new phone every year through their carriers, it could become a headache for frequent travelers who swap out when going abroad, or folks who rely on prepaid SIM cards rather than a set phone plan.

“Apple going eSIM only is going to cause confusion and a spike in technical support calls when things inevitably go wrong, but for most users on postpaid plans at AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, once your account is transferred, that’s it,” says Greengart. People using prepaid SIMs and MVNOs that don’t support eSIM will have to wait — likely only a few months, because this is a forcing issue that will have to be addressed quickly. Frequent international travelers will need to adopt new habits; instead of buying a prepaid SIM from a kiosk, they’ll buy an eSIM from an app.”

2-iphone 13 pro underscored review

Jacob KrolCNN

There are compelling reasons to upgrade to an iPhone 14 no matter how old your existing phone is, but those who picked up last year’s iPhone 13 have the biggest reason to wait. For starters, the base iPhone 14 has the same exact processor as the iPhone 13 range, so you won’t see a big bump in performance. The iPhone 13 Pro also sports many of the 14 Pro’s key features, including a ProMotion display for smooth scrolling, Cinematic video for movie-quality shots, a durable Ceramic Shield display and 5G support. If you bought an iPhone last year, you’ll be in good shape for at least another few years.

Display

6.1-inch 2532 x 1170 Super Retina XDR display

6.7-inch 2778 x 1284 Super Retina XDR display

6.1-inch 2556 x 1179 Super Retina XDR display

6.7-inch 2796 x 1290 Super Retina XDR display

Processor

Apple A15 Bionic

Apple A15 Bionic

Apple A16 Bionic

Apple A16 Bionic

Storage

128GB / 256GB / 512GB

128GB / 256GB / 512GB

128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB

128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB

Camera

Dual-camera system (12-megapixel main camera, 12-megapixel ultrawide)

Dual-camera system (12-megapixel main camera, 12-megapixel ultrawide)

Triple-camera system (48-megapixel main camera, 12-megapixel ultrawide, 12-megapixel telephoto)

Triple-camera system (48-megapixel main camera, 12-megapixel ultrawide, 12-megapixel telephoto)

Battery (video playback)

Up to 20 hours

Up to 26 hours

Up to 23 hours

Up to 29 hours

Size and weight

5.78 x 2.82 x 0.31 inches, 6.07 ounces

6.33 x 3.07 x 0.31 inches, 7.16 ounces

5.81 x 2.81 x 0.31 inches, 7.27 ounces

6.33 x 3.05 x 0.31 inches, 8.47 ounces

Colors

Midnight, Purple, Starlight, Product Red, Blue

Midnight, Purple, Starlight, Product Red, Blue

Space Black, Silver, Gold, Deep Purple

Space Black, Silver, Gold, Deep Purple

Price

$799



$899



$999



$1,099



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