It’s a September thing, an event even iPhone baiters secretly look forward to. It’s that time of year when Apple takes the wraps off the new iPhone each year. The iPhone product presentation always tells us that the latest iPhone is the best ever the company has produced. We already know that. The question most of us ask is – ‘Is this the best iPhone for me?’ and the other question usually revolves around whether this is the year you upgrade from your older iPhone or from an Android device. I can start by saying that the new iPhone 14 Pro (and Pro Max) is more than just an incremental upgrade and that’s a great place to start.
A fun pill to swallow
If you’re one of those iPhone users who are relieved to see the Notch (that first debuted in 2017 on the iPhone X) get the boot, you are not alone. In the short time that I’ve used the iPhone 14 Pro Max, I’ve been gravitating to the Dynamic Island. I’m not sure I like the name, but I love the functionality. The Notch has shrunk to a new pill-shaped cut-out that houses Face ID components and the front facing camera. It isn’t just visibly smaller than the Notch but also adds a whole new, intuitive navigation experience. You can stay on your primary display even as you control ongoing background activities. I enjoyed using it with the Apple Music App and Maps directly from the cut-out. The Island suffix began to make sense as I started using this cool new feature. More than the current user experience, it’s the future prospect of multiple app developers jumping in with their own user experiences that excites me.
We checked out the Space Black colour variant. This is a darker version of the graphite colour variant we saw on the iPhone 13 Pro duo last year. It’s a gorgeous spin on matte black. It’s the new Deep Purple colour way that is likely to be this year’s most sought after. It swings from a deeper shade of purple to a more subtle, smoky purple depending on the light source. While the 14 Pro Max weighs the same 240 gm as its 2021 predecessor, it felt less clunky when I first unboxed it: it’s a hair thinner than the 13 Pro Max. The rear of both devices looks identical, it’s impossible to tell them apart. But the 14 Pro Max is a clearly a ‘hole’ new experience and it’s not just the Dynamic Island we’re talking about.
Powered by Photonic Engine
The camera has been a key differentiator between the Pro twins and the entry-level iPhone. This year is no exception. Apple’s big computational photography pitch is centred around Photonic Engine that delivers on the Apple promise of deep integration between the hardware and software. The iPhone 14 Pro Max (and Pro) becomes the first iPhone to feature a 48MP main camera that gets a boost from a quad-pixel sensor. It adapts to the photo being captured, and features second-generation sensor-shift optical image stabilization.
For most photos, the quad-pixel sensor combines every four pixels into one large quad pixel equivalent to 2.44 µm. Lowlight images look visibly better even as you capture them at a practical photo size of 12MP. You can shoot at ProRAW at 48MP if you need more details but you will need a lot of storage to accommodate the large size files on your iPhone. Overall, the results were terrific; I enjoyed using the new Action mode while riding and it manages to adjust against shakes and bumps. Stay tuned for our camera deep-dive of the iPhone 14 Pro Max as we test it in more scenarios.
The customary annual refresh
At the heart of the new iPhone 14 Pro duo is Apple’s by the new A16 bionic chip with two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. This chip features an accelerated 5-core GPU with 50 percent more memory bandwidth and a new 16-core Neural Engine capable of nearly 17 trillion operations per second. It’s clearly enough firepower for everything you throw at it. I didn’t see an improved battery performance over last year’s 13 Pro Max but that’s not a crib, given that the Pro Max versions deliver great battery life even on days when I’m travelling and use the camera extensively. This year, the battery also supports Apple’s cool new Always on Display. The display itself gets brighter than last year and now peaks at a whopping 2000 nits, the highest outdoor peak brightness in a smartphone.
That annual question
So, should you take the leap this year? I’d suggest staying put if you already own an iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max, even though the Dynamic Island makes a compelling case. The incremental camera performance doesn’t justify a jump from the 13 Pro. But if you own a 12 Pro or an older iPhone, the 14 Pro Max and 14 Pro are certainly worth considering. This year’s Pro twins offer quite a few new user experiences and all the stuff we’ve come to expect from an iPhone with the improved iOS 16 UI. Most of all, it’s the promise of cool new tricks and interaction possibilities with the Dynamic Island that make the iPhone 14 Pro Max an exciting proposition.
The iPhone 14 Pro starts at Rs 1,29,000 while the 14 Pro Max starts at Rs 1,39,00. Both phones are available in deep purple, silver, gold, and space black in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB storage capacities. There’s an instant cashback of Rs 6,000 on HDFC Bank credit cards.