Can this be the shortest tech review we have ever done? If you want to buy the latest generation iPhone, just stump the extra cash for an iPhone 14 Pro and be done with it. If not a Pro phone, then the iPhone 13 is the ticket.
Unfortunately, that's not how finances work for most folks. Even if you can point at Dynamic Island, the new 48-megapixel cameras and that fresh take on always-on displays, for being so inviting. Neither can you run from the fact that Apple has sown the seeds for this conundrum. The iPhone 14, as mighty as it is, isn't entirely dissimilar to the iPhone 13 it succeeds a year later (we believe the iPhone 14 Plus is an interesting proposition, and that arrives in stores later).
So much so, the iPhone 14's beating heart remains largely the same – a tweaked A15 Bionic chip. As does the display size, refresh rate and resolution. Same for the wired and MagSafe charging speeds. The camera system has been tweaked (there's an upgraded sensor for the main camera), even though the troika remains 12-megapixel each. The new image processing smarts, the Photonic Engine, steps in sooner which should help with photos in certain lighting conditions.
Accident detection is definitely new (still very rare; Google's car crash detection on Pixel phones is the closest to it) and works even better if you get an Apple Watch. The satellite SOS functionality isn't coming to India yet. You do have the eSIM option, as before. Upgrade enough? Or would you consider borrowing a bit more money and go "Pro" instead?
The latter also costs less too, with the passing of time. The iPhone 14 prices start ₹79,900. Officially, the iPhone 13 has a sticker price of ₹69,900. But this isn't even close to the complete picture. The credit card offers do shave off a bit more from the total expenditure. At this time, up to ₹6,000 instant cashback can be availed with HDFC credit and debit cards on the Apple India online store.
On online shopping websites such as Amazon.in, you start out with an even lower price tag ( ₹65,900 at the time of writing this) and can get 5% straight cashback using an Amazon Pay ICICI Bank credit card, for starters. You can, and must scout, and the deals will keep rolling in. These are just some deals – it's a very dynamic space. All this simply complicates matters for the iPhone 14, considering everything is so similar.
The iPhone 14 uses the A15 Bionic chip, and that signals Apple's biggest differentiation bid in any generation of the iPhone. The two Pro phones get the latest generation A16 Bionic chip, but the iPhone 14 doesn't. That said, the processor has received the slightest of upgrades, with one more graphics core added. There are two parts to the processor coin.
Even though the A15 Bionic isn't the family torchbearer anymore, it is still faster than a lot of the fastest chips Qualcomm and MediaTek make for Android phones. The performance is well and truly among the fastest phones out there, bettered perhaps only by the iPhone 14 Pro phones – while closely matching most high-end processor options in the world of Android phones.
Yet, the processor in a phone is directly related to iOS, and that in turns defines how many future annual upgrades the phone will be able to receive. If history tells us anything, the iPhone 14 should still get at least the next 5 years or so of upgrades (iOS 16 is available for the iPhone 8 series, which was launched in 2017).
If you do persist with an iPhone 14 after 5 years, there is the chance it'll reach the end of upgrade eligibility a year before the iPhone 14 Plus. Reduce one year from that band, if you're saving money now and buying an iPhone 13.
But do you really want to think that far ahead?
We haven't (we thank our lucky stars) had the chance to test Crash Detection in our review period, but Apple has confirmed to us there are a bunch of metrics in play for when an iPhone 14 (or indeed the Apple Watch) consider the scenario as a car crash – sudden speed changes with the accelerometer's reading of G-forces, cabin pressure changes from the barometer, direction or orientation changes and detected sounds from the car's cabin.
This is one of those features (much like fall detection on the Apple Watch) which one hopes to never have to use, but there's that layer of reassurance their presence does create. It's good to have that layer.
The differentiation attempts include the cameras too. The iPhone 14 doesn't have 48-megapixel cameras. It's still the two 12-megapixel cameras, albeit the primary wide camera now has a new sensor. In essence, this is the sensor that the iPhone 13 Pro series used. That's been paired with the Photonic Engine tech (this is the rare parity with the iPhone 14 Pro series) which makes Deep Fusion begin work sooner in the imaging pipeline, from the uncompressed image stage itself.
It'll be a combination of the two which should make low light photos feel that much more detailed on an iPhone 14 compared with an iPhone 13. It isn't a huge difference, but the slightest of enhancements in detailing are perhaps worth it. The sensor has more captured light, which means there's less noise to eliminate.
For good light scenarios and even for portraits, the incremental improvements are visible only if you look closely. On an Instagram timeline, the uploads from an iPhone 14 will not look much different from an iPhone 13 so far. Your followers wouldn't know you've bought a new iPhone. What's the point of anything then?
All things considered, it is up to you (and how much you can flex your credit cards) to decide whether the step forward improvements with cameras and that extra core for graphics (gaming and image editing will be a notch faster, for instance) is really worth spending extra on a phone that's essentially an iPhone 13s.
Perhaps next year, the iPhone 15 (a wild guess) will adopt a 120Hz refresh rate display, add the always-on display, perhaps get a third camera while gleaning the battery stamina benefits of the A16 Bionic chip (which we've experienced in the iPhone 14 Pro Max).
In the meantime, the iPhone 14 is an upgrade definitely worth considering if you're still on an iPhone 12 or older iPhone. For an iPhone 13 user, it's nothing more than an "s" series upgrade for most intents and purposes – though Apple doesn't do "s" cycles anymore. We would suggest you watch out for the iPhone 14 Plus, which is a very interesting proposition in the works. Pity, we have to wait a bit longer for those to arrive in stores.