7 Months in With the iPhone 14 Pro: The Good, Bad and Great

Spring has sprung. Baseball is in full swing, Tax Day is behind us and we’re past the halfway point until Apple typically announces new iPhone models. Last September, we got the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. Apple’s top-of-the-line jewels introduced the much-hyped Dynamic Island, updated cameras, A16 Bionic processor and a new deep purple color

The regular iPhone 14 and 14 Plus also launched alongside the new Pro models, with the Plus taking up the slot formerly occupied by the iPhone 13 Mini. For the sake of this check-in, I’m focusing solely on the Pro models, since Apple drew a strong line in the iPhone 14 series between Pro and non-Pro models for the first time in years. The regular models are essentially the iPhone 13 with some modest hardware improvements.

Apple’s new iPhones launched seven months ago, but a lot has changed since then. Most of the major iOS 16 features that were teased in September have finally launched, such as Apple Pay Later, Live Activities and Emergency SOS via Satellite. Google and Samsung also launched their Phone 14 Pro rivals, the Pixel 7 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra. And the regular iPhone 14 and 14 Plus got a new yellow paint job.

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Watch this: 7 Months Later and the iPhone 14 Pro Still Makes Me Happy

iOS 16 on the iPhone 14 Pro

Overall, I’m as happy with the iPhone 14 Pro as Tim Cook is seeing someone with a Macintosh SE at the new Apple Store in Mumbai. Apple’s iOS 16 software is the biggest thing that’s changed on the iPhone 14 Pro since it launched in September. At its heart, iOS 16 is what defines the iPhone 14 series. Yes, iOS 16 is available on older phones, but it shines on the iPhone 14 Pro because of the seamless way features work together, like the always-on screen, lock screen and Dynamic Island.

In December, Apple added the ability to turn off the always on display’s wallpaper and have the screen turn black, which has been transformative. I always found the Dynamic Island to be useful, but the relatively new Live Activities support makes it more intuitive and helpful. Live Activities is a slick widget that shows an app’s ongoing activity (like the score of a basketball game or the status of your Uber ride) on the lock screen, always-on display and Dynamic Island.

Overall, the Dynamic Island is like having a shortcut at the top of your screen no matter what you’re doing on your iPhone. Glancing at my Uber ride status from my lock screen or in the Dynamic Island just makes sense.

An iPhone 14 Pro with a camera indicator in the Dynamic Island

The Dynamic Island shows different tiny icons and animations. During a FaceTime call it show a green camera icon to the left side.

Celso Bulgatti/CNET

I want more from the Dynamic Island, especially if there were features that people could customize for their own iPhone. In 2016, Apple rolled out the iMessage app store for stickers and games with iOS 10. I don’t think we need a Dynamic Island app store, but something that can make it feel even more personal like the ability to pin an Memoji sticker as a Dynamic Island icon. But for the Dynamic Island to really take off, both Pro and non-Pro models in the next iPhone generation need it. That would incentive more apps to take advantage of it, as well as more features to be developed. And fortunately, iPhone 15 rumors indicate that all models will get the Dynamic Island.

But the iPhone 14 Pro and iOS 16 haven’t been without their bugs. And I’m not talking about Car Crash Detection being triggered on roller coaster rides or by skiers, though that did happen. And I should be clear that Car Crash Detection, even as Apple fine tunes the bugs, is actually one of the most significant additions. I’m glad Apple included the tool on all iPhone 14 models because it has already helped save people’s lives.

iPhone 14 Pro, Pro Max Get the Biggest Changes to Apple’s Phone Lineup

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In my seven months, there were times the 14 Pro froze for a second or two. No matter how I tapped the screen, it was unresponsive. Looking at discussion forums on Apple’s website, I’m not alone. Usually a restart got everything back in order. And I should point out that the issue wasn’t frequent and seems to have resolved itself — maybe this was through an iOS update.

I also suffered the Weather app bug where the app would only show the city name and the forecast would remain blank. As a loyal Dark Sky user for years who was forced to give the app up in January, this bugged me. Has it been fixed since? Seems so.

The iPhone 14 Pro cameras

Apple iPhone 14 Pro camera lenses

The iPhone 14 Pro’s camera bump.

James Martin/CNET

Beyond iOS 16, the iPhone 14 Pro is also where Apple flexes its camera prowess. On the whole, photos are quite good and at times excellent. I do find that the 14 Pro pushes shadows and highlights far, which gives some photos a flat look. Contrast isn’t a bad thing, Apple. I often find myself editing photos after I take them, but maybe I need to adopt a Photographic Style in the Camera app. Below are several photos that I took with the iPhone 14 Pro.

The Bay Bridge

The Bay Bridge at dusk.

Patrick Holland/CNET

A pair of shoes atop a shoe box

A fresh pair of retro Air Jordan 4 sneakers taken in Portrait Mode.

Patrick Holland/CNET

a cat on a rug

Peebles the cat on a black and white rug.

Patrick Holland/CNET

A view of houses, mountains and a cloudy blue sky

A scenic overlook south of San Francisco.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Two smart men in windbreakers

A very cold selfie during a video shoot.

Kevin Heinz/CNET

a cookie on a plate and a cappuccino in a cup and saucer

On the left is a vegan fudge cookie and on the right is an oat milk cappuccino.

Patrick Holland/CNET

jess-on-bench-14-pro-max

CNET’s Jessica Fierro in the park atop the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Video has always been an area where the iPhone is a step ahead of the competition in terms of image quality. But with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, it seems Samsung has finally caught up. But out of all the phones I have access to as a reviewer, the iPhone 14 Pro remains my go-to machine for making media.

Something I hope to see on the next iPhone are improvements to the Camera app. It’s getting full of tools and features, some of which require you to know where to swipe in order to find. Others are buried in the menu maze known as the Settings app. 

The iPhone 14 Pro battery and final thoughts

As I highlighted in my three-month check-in, the iPhone 14 Pro’s battery life is good, but it’s definitely a step down from the iPhone 13 Pro. And the same applies to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which has been my go-to. The larger 14 Pro Max battery gets through a day on a single charge even with heavy use. My screen time averages around seven-and-a-half hours, which is good.

At the end of the day, the iPhone 14 Pro is Apple’s best. And if you’re considering getting one, now is still a good time to buy, but know that the rumored iPhone 15 series will likely come out in September. 

iPhone 14 specs vs. iPhone 14 Plus, 14 Pro, 14 Pro Max

iPhone 14 iPhone 14 Plus iPhone 14 Pro iPhone 14 Pro Max
Display size, resolution 6.1-inch OLED; 2,532×1,170 pixels 6.7-inch OLED; 2,778×1,284 pixels 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR, OLED display, 2,556×1,179 pixels 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR, OLED display, 2,796×1,290 pixels
Pixel density 460 ppi 458 ppi 460 ppi 460 ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.78 x 2.82 x 0.31 in. 6.33 x 3.07 x 0.31 in. 5.81 x 2.81 x 0.31 in. 6.33 x 3.05 x 0.31 in.
Dimensions (Millimeters) 147 x 72 x 7.8mm 161 x 78 x 7.8mm 147.5 x 71.5 x 7.85mm 160.7 x 77.6 x 7.85mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.07 oz.; 172g 7.16 oz.; 203g 7.27 oz.; 206g 8.47 oz.; 240g
Mobile software iOS 16 iOS 16 iOS 16 iOS 16
Rear cameras 12MP (wide), 12MP (ultrawide) 12MP (wide), 12MP (ultrawide) 48MP (wide), 12MP (ultrawide), 12MP (telephoto) 48MP (wide), 12MP (ultrawide), 12MP (telephoto)
Front-facing camera 12-megapixel 12-megapixel 12-megapixel 12-megapixel
Video capture HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60 fps HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60 fps HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60 fps HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60 fps
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
RAM Undisclosed Undisclosed Undisclosed Undisclosed
Expandable storage No No No No
Battery Undisclosed; Apple lists 20 hours of video playback Undisclosed; Apple lists 26 hours of video playback Undisclosed; Apple lists 29 hours of video playback Undisclosed; Apple lists 29 hours of video playback
Fingerprint sensor No (Face ID) No (Face ID) No (Face ID) No (Face ID)
Connector Lightning Lightning Lightning Lightning
Headphone jack No No No No
Special features 5G enabled; MagSafe; water resistant (IP68); wireless charging; dual-SIM capabilities (e-SIM) 5G enabled; MagSafe; water resistant (IP68); wireless charging; dual-SIM capabilities (e-SIM) Dynamic Island; Always-On display; 5G enabled; MagSafe; water resistant (IP68); wireless charging; dual-SIM capabilities (e-SIM) Dynamic Island; Always-On display; 5G enabled; MagSafe; water resistant (IP68); wireless charging; dual-SIM capabilities (e-SIM)
Price off-contract (USD) $799 (128GB), $899 (256GB), $1,099 (512GB) $899 (128GB), $999 (256GB), $1,199 (512GB) $999 (128GB), $1,099 (256GB), $1,299 (512GB), $1,499 (1TB) $1,099 (128GB), $1,199 (256GB), $1,399 (512GB), $1,599 (1TB)
Price (GBP) £849 (128GB) £949 (128GB) £1,099 (128GB) £1,199 (128GB)
Price (AUD) AU$1,399 (128GB) AU$1,579 (128GB) AU$1,749 (128GB) AU$1,899 (128GB)

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