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Apple Unveils Four Models of the iPhone 14

At its Far Out event, Apple unveiled the expected iPhone 14 lineup, introducing the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. For those who aren’t interested in the latest and greatest, Apple is keeping both the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 in the lineup alongside the inexpensive iPhone SE. The iPhone 13 mini also remains available for those who want a smaller iPhone.

2022 iPhone lineup

The new iPhones became available to pre-order on 9 September 2022 and will ship and arrive in stores on 16 September 2022, except for the iPhone 14 Plus, which arrives on 7 October 2022.

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus Core Improvements

If you’re looking for exciting technological innovations, keep scrolling. There are a handful of new features in the iPhone 14, but for the most part, it’s a warmed-over iPhone 13 with the same A15 Bionic chip as last year. Here’s a quick rundown of its improvements:

  • In addition to the 6.1-inch iPhone 14, Apple has given us an iPhone 14 Plus with a 6.7-inch screen. Apparently, the iPhone mini didn’t sell well, so Apple decided to try the opposite approach. This move offers a more affordable alternative to the iPhone 14 Pro Max for those who prefer a larger iPhone. The iPhone 14 starts at $799, while the iPhone 14 Plus starts at $899.
  • As usual, the main improvements are in the camera. The iPhone 14 features a new 12-megapixel main camera (same as the iPhone 13) with 49% better low-light performance and Night Mode exposures that are twice as fast thanks to a larger ƒ/1.5 aperture and the new hardware/software Photonic Engine.
  • The new front-facing TrueDepth camera boasts autofocus for the first time and performs better in low light.
  • Deep Fusion now kicks in earlier and combines multiple uncompressed images to create a single high-detail image.
  • For video, there’s a new Action mode with advanced stabilization for smoother action videos, and Cinematic mode now supports 4K at 24 fps and 30 fps.
  • At least in the US, the iPhone is going eSIM only. The US iPhone 14 lineup will not have SIM slots. Overall, that’s a win because it eliminates a hole in the case and physical tray that can break, plus SIM cards can be finicky. eSIM should simplify switching carriers, but it may make picking up pre-paid SIMs while traveling more difficult until eSIM support becomes ubiquitous.

The iPhone 14 is available in midnight, blue, starlight, purple, and Product(RED). Storage starts at 128 GB and goes up to 512 GB.

iPhone 14 info card

Now let’s talk about the two most innovative features of the lineup.

Emergency SOS via Satellite and Crash Detection

By far, the coolest new feature of the iPhone 14 is Emergency SOS via satellite, which taps into the new iPhone 14’s long-rumored satellite capability. But don’t get too excited, as the iPhone 14 is still not a full satellite phone, which would require a big antenna. That’s just physical reality. Instead, Apple figured out how to leverage the iPhone 14’s normal antennas with custom components to connect directly—if minimally—to satellites without additional antennas.

Emergency SOS via satellite is, as it says, for emergencies. It’s intended for contacting emergency services when you’re lost in the wilderness and can’t access a cellular tower. Since satellites are moving targets with very low bandwidth, it can take minutes for even minimal text messages to get through. The Emergency SOS process asks the user vital questions to distill the information for emergency responders and uses a special compression algorithm to shrink the messages.

Diagram of how Emergency SOS via satellite works

There’s another hitch: you need to point the iPhone at the satellite to send or receive a message, ideally on a tall hill. The ham radio operators among you may be instantly familiar with this, as receiving or transmitting radio signals via satellite requires pointing a directional antenna like a yagi at a fast-moving satellite. Since satellites are seldom visible to the naked eye, you need a good sense of the satellite’s location and direction of travel. I use an app called ISS Detector for this.

Fortunately, the iPhone’s Emergency SOS mode will show you where to point to hook up with the satellite. I’ll be curious to see how good the coverage is since satellites tend to remain over a section of the sky for only a few minutes. Working with a satellite like the International Space Station or SO-50 requires speed and dexterity.

Targeting a satellite with iPhone 14

Most people will never have occasion to test Emergency SOS via satellite (we’re hesitant to test Emergency SOS even when it’s just going to call a local 911 number), but you can also use the satellite capabilities to manually share your location over satellite with Apple’s Find My system when there’s no cellular or Wi-Fi connection. Apple’s imagery revolved around remote mountaintops deep in the wilderness, but it’s easy to end up without cell service in rural areas.

Apple mentioned that the Emergency SOS feature would be free for 2 years but said nothing about how much it will cost after that or what the other details will be. We’d like to see it remain free for emergency use—it would be both tragic and terrible optics for Apple if someone died because they hadn’t thought to resubscribe before leaving for a hike with a 2-year-old iPhone 14. Alternatively, Apple could bill people who use the service after the fact. It’ll be a bit longer before we find out: Emergency SOS via satellite won’t arrive until November.

The other new emergency service is Crash Detection, the same as in the new Apple Watch models (see “Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra Expand Health, Safety, and Connectivity Features,” 7 September 2022). The iPhone 14 uses the built-in accelerometer, barometer, and microphone to detect changes in g-force and air pressure, as well as loud crashing sounds, to determine if there’s been a crash. In the event of a crash, the iPhone will offer to call emergency services automatically and notify your emergency contacts.

iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max Innovations

Apple poured most of its new ideas into the high-end iPhone 14 Pro models. Let’s start with Dynamic Island.

iPhone 14 Pro info card

No, Dynamic Island is not a short-lived reality show on Fox in the 2000s, a comedy troupe known for hilarious raps, or a literal island. It’s the small, pill-shaped sensor package near the top of the screen that replaces the notch. It’s the biggest change in iPhone design since the iPhone X.

Dynamic Island

Instead of just letting the Dynamic Island sit there soaking up screen real estate, Apple decided to take advantage of the area to display various alerts, notifications, and Live Activities—a new dynamic notification type being introduced in iOS 16. The Dynamic Island can display the currently playing track in music, how long you’ve been on a phone call, a popup when your team scores, where your Lyft ride is, and many other things. Cleverly, even though the iPhone can’t display anything over the sensor package, it can use some screen real estate below and alongside to make the black pill-shaped area seem to be part of the notification.

The other big iPhone 14 Pro innovation is an Always-On display, much like in recent Apple Watch models. It slows the display refresh rate to 1 Hz and intelligently dims the wallpaper to conserve power. The screen is also the brightest ever in an iPhone, ramping up to 2000 nits outdoors.

Unlike the basic iPhone 14, the iPhone 14 Pro models get a new chip: the A16 Bionic, which Apple predictably claims is the fastest smartphone chip ever—40% faster than the competition! That’s probably true, and no one is complaining about getting a faster chip, but it’s probably relevant mostly in terms of behind-the-scenes processing, such as with the iPhone’s extensive computational photography capabilities. When was the last time you said to yourself, “I need a faster iPhone.”?

As is often the case now, Apple put significant effort into improving the iPhone 14 Pro’s cameras. The Photonic Engine technology from the iPhone 14 is here as well, improving mid- to low-light performance in photos across all cameras by two or three times. The iPhone 14 Pro’s main camera now features a 48-megapixel, quad-pixel sensor that combines four pixels into one for most photos, improving low-light capture and reducing file size to the equivalent of a 12-megapixel camera. However, the iPhone 14 Pro can also shoot ProRAW photos with a full 48 megapixels for an unprecedented amount of detail. It also features an improved telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom, an improved macro mode, and a redesigned Adaptive True Tone flash that changes pattern based on focal length and is twice as bright as previously.

The 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro starts at $999, and the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max starts at $1099. Both models are available in space black, silver, gold, and deep purple, with storage starting at 128 GB and going up to 1 TB.

Upgrade Decisions

It’s hard to recommend upgrading from an iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 to an iPhone 14. The changes aren’t that significant, particularly if you’re already using a Pro model. Welcome as the new safety features are, I can’t see most people upgrading to get crash detection or Emergency SOS via satellite. That said, the iPhone 14 is enough better than the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 that plenty of people will choose it when upgrading from a much older iPhone or switching from Android.

The iPhone 14 Pro is a different story. The Always-On display, Dynamic Island, and improved camera system make it an easier upgrade decision for those who like to have the latest and greatest. Particularly for those who have enrolled in the iPhone Upgrade Program.

How about you? Are you tempted by one of these models, and if so, why?

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Comments About Apple Unveils Four Models of the iPhone 14

Notable Replies

  1. Does anybody dare to guess when Apple will finally switch to USB-C connectors for the iPhone?

  2. oh well, i won’t be buying a new iphone for a long while. guess it was futile to hope the fruities would continue to make a small phone. already have the 13mini. as is, it’s still a tad too big but it was the best one could hope for.

  3. I had an online class during the event so I was only watching out of the corner of my eye. Visually, the most interesting part was the Dynamic Island. They really ran with it. I think they did a great job.

    I’m not in the market for new stuff anyway. My iPhone 12 and Series 5 Watch are doing everything I need. And I’m still paying off my Mac Studio and Studio Display. :stuck_out_tongue:

  4. I am still happy with my iPhone 11 Pro and Series 5 Apple Watch.

    • I recently replaced the batteries of both, and now the devices end the day with at least 40% battery capacity - so I have no need for a bigger battery or longer battery life.
    • I turn most notifications off and usually place the phone face down while on my desk, so also no need for an always-on display.
    • The new camera system seems nice, but the improvements seem incremental and image quality is probably still nowhere near the capabilities of full frame cameras.
    • My old inReach probably has much better satellite communication and SOS capabilities than the new iPhone, especially with the GEOS SAR subscription.

    It is not that I feel the iPhone 14/Pro models are not good, but just how good the recent iPhones have become that even older phones are still very capable.

  5. I’ve been thinking about upgrading from an iPhone 11 this year. The battery is starting to show its age, and it doesn’t support 5G, which I figured has been around long enough now so it’s worth adopting.

    The fact that iPhone 14 only supports eSIM, however, has complicated matters. Neither Ting, my former provider, nor Tello, my current provider, supports eSIM yet. A Tello rep told me yesterday the company hopes to have support by December, so I’ll wait a few months to see if it follows through.

    Apple may be starting a new trend, and other phone manufacturers will follow suit and switch to eSIM-only phones. This trend might finally spur the adoption of eSIM by MVNOs.

  6. Happy 12 mini owner here. See no need to upgrade presently.

    Good thing the 14 is just a “warmed-over iPhone 13”. That means we actually did get a 14 mini. It just happens to be called 13 mini. And it’s cheaper too. :wink:

  7. I’m not sure I get the whole point of always-on display. When I stick my iPhone in my pocket, the display doesn’t need to remain on — what purpose would that serve other than drain battery (even if it’s just a little due to fancy display wizardry)? And when I got to bed I sure don’t want my display to remain on even just a little bit.

    I think often times what I’d like much more is a mode where I can display whatever a certain app is showing as a “lock screen” just that it doesn’t react to taps or on/off button press. Basically so I can use my iPhone to monitor something that gets displayed by that app without having to unlock the phone or worry about accidental input when I drop it into my pant pocket to free up my hands for a moment. But AOD doesn’t appear to enable that either.

  8. This is one of the main reasons I’m interested to try the iPhone 14 Pro—to see how it works and if it’s useful or annoying. I strongly suspect that we’ll be able to turn off the Always-On display, if the Apple Watch is a precedent.

  9. Oh, I’m sure Apple will let users turn off AOD. I’m not so much concerned with not having it, I was wondering what the use case is for those keeping it on.

    I did in the meantime learn that supposedly dropping it in your pant pocket shuts off the screen. So no extra drain there. Apparently. (if it works reliably)

    So, perhaps there are people who want it to always stay on when propped up on a desk? Before AOD that would require setting auto-off to never which means you’d still be draining battery when you drop it in a pocket and forget to manually turn it off. I guess that would be an improvement for those folks.

    Thinking more about this, I’d love for some magic button press that would set the iPhone into a mode where the display will not react to button press. Together with AOD that would be great for times when I use an iPhone app to just monitor something. At first I was going to suggest using the mute switch for that (because mute rarely means mute these days), but in the few cases where mute actually still does mute, I’d really miss not having it. :wink:

  10. Driving in the car while you are not navigating with the iPhone in a mount - you can see if there are any new notifications at a glance, see widget info on the Lock Screen, etc.

  11. Or the screen staying lit while playing music, like it used to do.

    Diane

  12. Think of a possible replacement for a clock-radio on a nightstand. You get a charger-stand that holds it upright, and with the always-on-display, you’ll be able to see the time without needing to interact with it.

    Which could definitely be a problem.

    One feature Android phone have always had (as a part of the “Developer options”) is a feature where the screen will never sleep when connected to a power source, but will go back to its configured sleep interval when running on battery.

    I’d love iOS to get this, since there are plenty of uses beyond the needs of developers. Like when the phone is in a charger-dock on your desk (see above) or on the dash of your car. Today, some apps (like Maps) will prevent sleep when they’re running, but it’s up to each app and some (like the Music player) won’t prevent sleep.

    I’m sure Apple will say that the solution is CarPlay, but not every car has it and I’m not going to buy a new car in order to get it (even though the car makers would really like me to do that).

    And CarPlay doesn’t support the iPod Touch for some inexplicable reason - my CarPlay-equipped vehicle falls back to a legacy iPod interface when it is connected, which isn’t nearly as nice. Of course, the Touch is now discontinued and isn’t supported by iOS 16, so that’s one feature I’m never going to get.

  13. Re no physical SIM: I travel -Europe & Mexico mostly but Asia too. I upgraded to 12 because it offered the opportunity to put my “regular” network on a e-sim, and to install physical SIMs that I could buy relatively easily almost anywhere I went. What a deal! Not having a physical SIM is a great loss to me; it is not available world wide, if it is available it is more difficult to buy and does not make any sense for a short stay. The article suggests that loosing the tray is an advantage since e-SIM may come to your next destination “soon”. I disagree; the combination of the physical and virtual SIMs was a brilliant idea and a sold travellers on an upgrade. Why would I buy a phone that has an average life of 3-4 years at best, for a maybe in far the future convenience? I hope this idea does not spread to the other models. For now I’ll hang on to model 12, maybe longer than I planned if the physical SIM option disappears.
    Adam

  14. If you’re buying foreign SIMs just for data, then a Flexiroam eSIM may be a good solution when the physical SIM tray goes away. They provide data options in most geographic regions using a single eSIM.

  15. Thus Apple’s pivot to services. Gotta monetize all those existing iPhones.

  16. Ken

    Was waiting for the 14s to upgrade, but disappointed there’s no mini, so will probably buy the 13 Mini. At least I hear it’s discounted (I think).

  17. I missed SlackBITS this time out, working with my daughter on College applications…

    But tuned in later, I am definitely in the running for a 14 Pro this time. Not a lot wrong with my 11 Pro but the newer cameras beckon…

  18. There is actually. The 14 is a 13 with new branding. And 13 mini is still on sale. For $130 less actually. :+1:

  19. Well, with satellite connectivity and a better camera. But performance-wise, the 14 should be ever so slightly faster than a 13 mini with its extra GPU core and more RAM. But, barely noticeable for almost all of us.

  20. the watch does a fairly reasonable take on that scenario. better, it only lights up briefly when you touch it. however, being an active sleeper, i’m always triggering mine, which then wakes me up.

    briefly worked for developer relations at the chocolate factory where we’d explain to developers how to code for the always-on screen. there were so many warnings about misconfigured code killing the battery that i figured it was a fairly common problem when letting developers touch that feature.

    never did understand the use case for an always-on phone screen, droid or ios. fortunately, apparently my hardware doesn’t support it (i hope) so i can carry on blissfully ignorant.

  21. I hadn’t heard of the chocolate factory, I presume a Willy Wonka reference. Met some employees of the fruit company at a conference, took a minute but I am slow sometimes.

  22. The plot thickens.

    While delivery estimates for the ‌iPhone 14‌, iPhone 14 Pro, and ‌iPhone 14 Pro‌ Max remain delayed by days and even weeks, all models of the ‌iPhone 14‌ Plus remain available for same-day delivery upon launch on Friday, October 7, with no delays.

  23. The Plus seems a bit expensive. The Pro Max has the same screen size and costs only $200 more.

  24. But the same is true if you compare 14 to 14 Pro.

  25. Gruber’s review of the iPhone 14 Pro at Daring Fireball.

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