Art by Thea Phillips

Don’t waste your money on the new iPhone 14

Before 2016, the release of a new iPhone often created a mass sensation. Tremendous processing power jumps, major new features and big innovations made the new phone better than the previous one.

Now, though, new phones don’t really introduce any game-breaking features and present only minor improvements. Having used the iPhone 12, I can confidently say I have not seen any major improvements compared to my previous phone. But having upgraded from the iPhone 12 to the iPhone 14, the minor improvements can add up.

The biggest difference between the iPhone 14 Pro and the iPhone 12 is the increase in battery life. However, the battery life increase of the iPhone 14 mostly comes from the iPhone 13 lineup.

Compared to the iPhone 13s, the iPhone 14s exhibit similar (if not marginally worse) battery life: 8 hours 17 minutes on the 13 Pro and 7 hours 49 minutes on the 14 Pro. The iPhone 12 trails behind the other two at 5 hours 54 minutes.

This is mostly due to the always-on display: when the phone is off, you can still see a dim lock screen.  You can also add widgets to your lock screen to receive more information, taking the place of notifications that are now at the bottom of the screen.

Sure, it’s cool to be able to see the time and your widgets when your phone is off. Yet, considering most of the time my phone is either in my pocket or in use, the features on the iPhone 14 are not that useful.

The iPhone 14 Pro also has a high peak brightness for outdoor viewing. Under the direct sun, I haven’t felt the need to increase the brightness, unlike when using my iPhone 12. Its 2000 nits peak brightness is two times brighter than that of the iPhone 13 Pro and is higher than any other smartphone.

In terms of the camera, it is the second-largest change you’ll actually use. The new main camera shoots in a higher-quality 48 megapixels rather than 12 from previous phones. While you have to shoot in ProRAW — a button you click in the camera app — in order to take advantage of all 48 megapixels, the larger sensor downsamples the pixels, combining four pixels into one, for more accurate photos during non-ProRAW shots.

The 48 megapixel sensor also allows you to take 2x zoom shots, cropping into the middle of the shot, without having a 2x zoom lens. In addition to this new feature, all cameras have better low-light performance. They take slightly less time to get the shot and produce crisper images in dark lighting.

However, when using ProRAW to capture all 48 glorious megapixels, my storage space quickly filled up at about 50 megabytes per shot, which is ridiculous considering the base model iPhone 14 Pro still only has 128 gigabytes of storage.

The last important change from the iPhone 13 to the iPhone 14 is the dynamic island, or that pill at the top of the screen. Apple claims this is a revolutionary way to get notifications, but in the end, a hole in the screen is a hole in the screen.

While it’s fun to see music at the top of the screen when it’s playing and the phone is displaying something else, it’s certainly overhyped. Also, the dynamic island bites into the top of the screen whenever viewing widescreen content, unlike the previous notch, which hides away.

The iPhone 14 is a modest upgrade over the iPhone 13. Unless you are in constant danger of crashing your car or are an avid off-the-grid hiker where the new crash-detection and SOS features would be helpful — if not life-saving — I wouldn’t recommend upgrading your iPhone for this generation. If you didn’t have any reason to upgrade your phone before the new phones came out, you still have no reason to upgrade.

Still, carrier offers do have some really great deals, such as getting the new phone for free. If you have any iPhone from the 11 series or newer, you can get at least $800 of credit (up to $1000) when trading in your phone at AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.

If you can get the new iPhone 14 for free, go for it. But if not, last year’s iPhone 13 is still a strong choice. For most people, the iPhone 14 is a skip.