iPhone 14 Quick Impressions: Good, but Just Another iPhone

Originally published at: iPhone 14 Quick Impressions: Good, but Just Another iPhone - TidBITS

Josh Centers unexpectedly received an iPhone 14 to test for several days. His overall sense in comparison to his iPhone 11 Pro? The iPhone 14 might be the best model in its class, but there’s nothing particularly special about it other than its crash detection feature.

The bunny did it for me. :slight_smile: :+1: Thank you, Sir.

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To test out cell service, you could sign up for a new line with a low-cost provider that supports eSIMs, like US Mobile or Tello. It would take just a few minutes.

It seems Apple’s move to eSIM-only phones has finally spurred MVNOs to support eSIMs after years of foot dragging. I discovered late last night that Tello had added support even though I was told it wouldn’t be coming until December when I asked right after the iPhone 14 was announced, so early this morning I pulled the trigger on an iPhone 14 Pro, which I will be picking up tomorrow from the local Apple Store.

Yeah, if I had the iPhone for longer than a few days I would have done something. As it was, I didn’t even have a week with the phone. I’m sure the phone stuff is fine.

Yeah, I don’t think they have a choice. I imagine it’s a 24/7 project at some companies.

On a related note, my wife suggested that Apple’s sudden pivot to eSIM could be because of chip shortages. Lo and behold, she was spot on.

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Thanks for the report. I loved the bit that “yep, it’s an iPhone”. Plus the side by side photos - good to see what I am missing from my older phone!

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Got a 14 Pro a couple of days ago and you’re right, it’s more evolution than revolution. The camera is fabulous though, with one tiny issue… Once protected in a case the lens bulge is so big that the phone no longer sits flush on some MagSafe chargers - including Apple’s expensive Duo phone/watch version; it still charges, just on a slight slant.

It’s been a long while since I replaced my iPhone every year, and now I’m retired that gap is likely to extend considerably!

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Josh,
I think you wrote this in a reviewers state of mind, not a penny pinching consumer state of mind. I have an iPhone 6, it would only upgrade to iOS 12 (the 6s can take iOS 15 I think), but still a month ago Apple sent out a security patch, so Apple hasn’t forgotten us completely. I got this much life out of it partly due ‘battery gate’, Apple offered to replace a iPhone 6 battery for $25. I waited til the last week it was good for. That got me to now. Its battery drains normally then jumps from about 30% to 15% instantly. It says I still have 85% capacity. The one feature of an early iOS upgrade that I really wanted was the measure app but it was incompatible with the 6, so I knew then I was running on borrowed time. My adult kids got me a drone for Christmas, and although the software runs fine on the 6, the app says the iPhone is maxed out. That and the screen is too small to read some the stuff displayed, and the screen is hard to see in the daylight (I did get a shade marketed by the drone maker). I thought about getting a used iPad mini for the drone. But one thing I noticed, and you didn’t mention, neither anybody here, is the 14 Pro models are the only iPhones on the market with a 2000 nit screen, all others are only 1000 nit (the main reason for me to get a 14 Pro over the 13 Pro). And I really I don’t think I want the always on screen, and plan on turning that feature off (I was told you could), to get more battery life. I just saw it it might turn that off if face down or in your pocket, we’ll see.

P.S. I think I like the exposure of the rabbit in dark mode on the 11 better than the 14.

I updated the article to reflect iFixit’s report that the iPhone 14 is much easier to repair than any iPhone in years. Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to the Pro model.

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Since the iPhone 14 line doesn’t support a physical SIM, what about those who used BOTH a physical SIM and an eSIM? Are they SOL and back to being limited to just the one SIM?

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Not at all. All the 14 models can hold at least two eSIMs. The 14 Pro models can hold more, but only two can be active at a time. Check the Tech Specs pages.

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Thanks, Mark. I don’t know why they buried it at the bottom as it should have been up with the carriers and cellular sections. I stopped looking at the specs when I reached the Apps section.

Josh,
I think you missed a big difference the 14 pro models verse everything else.

I noticed, and you didn’t mention, neither anybody here, is the 14 Pro models are the only iPhones on the market with a 2000 nit screen, all others are only 1000 nit (the main reason for me to get a 14 Pro over the 13 Pro). And I really I don’t think I want the always on screen, and plan on turning that feature off (I was told you could), to get more battery life. I just saw it it might turn that off if face down or in your pocket, we’ll see.

P.S. I think I like the exposure of the rabbit in dark mode on the 11 better than the 14.

I have an iPhone 12 Pro and am perfectly happy with it. Well, other than the fact the battery is now showing 87% battery health. Will most likely replace the battery at some point.
I like the form factor, I had an iPhone 5 that I loved. The right angle edges, the size, it was perfect for the time. There was an app that would activate the haptic feedback to cause the phone to rotate by itself as long as it was on a flat surface where it wouldn’t fall over. It allowed me to make a 360º photo. Great tool!
When the 12 came out with the straight edges, that was great. Somewhat larger than the 5, but not terrible. Not sure I’m happy with seeing everything get larger. Before you know it, we’ll be in phablet mode.

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We mentioned that in our original coverage. Screen brightness in phones is not something we hear a lot of complaints about these days.

Really? That’s odd.

When I’m out on a bright sunny day, that’s when I want my 12 mini’s screen cranked up to its max possible brightness. But soon after it does that it overheats and then shuts the screen lighting down to minimum. D’oh! :man_facepalming:

The single-most wanted feature I have (besides perhaps 20+ hrs of battery life) is to get a screen that remains bright in sunshine for as long as I need it to be bright. And so bright that I can actually read what’s on the screen without squinting and looking for a shady spot.

The iPhone is developed around the corner in one of the sunniest spots in this country. It would be nice if the screen were actually tailored to that reality rather than say that of northern Norway (which apart from the weather I will concede is a mighty spectacular place).

Adam,
The brighter screen was the deal breaker for me on whether the 13 vs 14 Pro Max. One use is to fly a small drone (DJI Mini 2) my kids got me for Christmas. The larger screen to help see all the sensor displays on the screen and the 2000 nit screen to just see it in the sunshine. I did get a sun shade sold by DJI but it doesn’t help much. This will be a step up from a iPhone 6. The drone fly app runs on the 6, but reports the phone is maxed out, The drone sends back a lot of info, like altitude, GPS coordinates, speed (s), and HD video. I do live in sunny Albuquerque, and that might also be a factor on needing a bright screen.

Seems like you have some Norway experience, so do I. We can continue this discussion offline if you’d like, probably most appropriate. I tried to send you a private message but I guess you have that turned off? I think you can send me one with contact info. I recently spent 3 winters at a remote observatory near Andenes.

I surrender! :-) I agree that more screen brightness is helpful—I was merely noting that it’s not something I’ve heard complaints about much in the past.

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Hey, once you have some experience with that please post! I have the exact same use case (substituting SoCal for A9e). I’m perfectly happy with my 13 Pro Max, but if the 2K nit screen on the 14 makes a significant difference with the DJI app, I might just be tempted…

Unfortunately, Apple (and all other cell phone makers) are in a no-win situation here.

LEDs, whether OLED or a backlight, generate heat. Their brightness is a function of their current draw and high current means high temperatures. If you make a display bright enough to view in direct sunlight, it is going to get hot and if the phone isn’t being cooled somehow (e.g. on a vent-mount in a car with the AC running), it is going to quickly overheat, causing the software to turn off all that brightness.

Displays designed for outdoor kiosks (e.g. billboards, gas pumps, etc.) generate a tremendous amount of heat (and also must deal with baking in the sun) and typically have fans and other cooling systems to prevent overheating. But that’s not really possible for a pocket device.

What we need is some new tech to use instead of LEDs that can generate light with less power. Unfortunately, I’m not involved in that kind of research, so I don’t know what might be next up on the horizon.

Back in the early 2000’s, Palm solved this problem (in their m505 and m515) using a reflective LCD and a front-light system. Bright ambient light actually made it easier to see the screen. The front-light used some creative optics to shine light evenly from above the LCD in order to illuminate it in dark rooms. It worked great for their low-resolution, low-color displays (160x160 16-bit color), but I don’t think the tech could scale up to higher resolutions because later models switched to a more traditional transmissive backlight (and hence became hard to read in bright sunlight).

It looks like the modern version of this tech is a transflective LCD display. These combine transmissive and reflective modes so bright light will reflect off the LCDs, but a backlight can shine through to make it visible in low light. The problem with this is that contrast in the reflective mode is much worse than when in the transmissive mode (about 1/10 the contrast), making them unsuitable for use in a modern smartphone.

We need the display industry to invent something better. :slight_smile: