Apple iPhone 14 Pro Review: The Best, but Not Better Enough


Person holding iPhone 14 Pro with back of the phone to camera

Apple releases a new iPhone just about every year, usually in September or October, like clockwork. This cycle can make it tough to pinpoint when you should upgrade. The iPhone 14 Pro falls prey to this trap, cementing itself as an outstanding phone, but a question mark in the upgrade department.

To put it shortly: if you just picked up the iPhone 13 or 13 Pro, I’d stick with it. The iPhone 14 Pro brings a few new elements to the table, like the dynamic island and an Always-On Display (AOD), but I think these features could use a year or two to establish a real base of use cases and create a “must-upgrade” handset.

Here’s What We Like

  • 120Hz, Always-On Display
  • Fantastic camera set
  • All-day battery life
  • Workhorse of a processor
  • Feels great in your hand

And What We Don’t

  • Costs an arm and a leg
  • Can stick with the 13 Pro
  • No USB-C port yet

How-To Geek’s expert reviewers go hands-on with each product we review. We put every piece of hardware through hours of testing in the real world and run them through benchmarks in our lab. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product and never aggregate other people’s reviews.

Design and Display: Still Beautifully Elegant

iPhone 14 Pro with display on resting on original box
  • Dimensions: 5.81 x 2.81 x 0.31in (147.5 x 71.5 x 7.85mm)
  • Weight: 7.27oz (206g)
  • Available colors: Space Black, Silver, Gold, Deep Purple
  • Water & dust resistance: IP68
  • 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display
  • 2556 x 1179px resolution (460ppi)

iPhones have definitely gone through a few major facelifts and complete reworks in the design and materials area. Compare the iPhone 6 to the iPhone XS, and you can see a clear trend in the direction Apple’s handsets move. More screen real estate, fewer buttons, and a wider variety of color options (save for a few outliers like the budget iPhone SE).

This extends to the iPhone 14 Pro, albeit in subtle ways. While the smartphone features the same 6.1-inch display as its predecessor, it does away with the infamous camera notch in favor of a new feature coined the “Dynamic Island” (more on this later).

iPhone 14 Pro resting on edge of desk

Other than the notch replacement and the addition of a Deep Purple color scheme (as seen in this review), the iPhone 14 Pro looks largely the same as the iPhone 13 Pro that came before it. You still have three rear-facing camera lenses for various shot types (discussed in a later section), one power and two volume buttons, and a silent mode switch. The bottom of the phone, much to many’s dismay, still lacks the presence of a USB-C port in favor of Apple’s Lightning connection, though this will reportedly be phased out by autumn 2024.

If you’re an established iPhone user, you may notice something that’s already been phased out (in the United States): the SIM card tray. Nowadays, all you need to do is set up eSIM and forget the little card that used to slot into the side of your smartphone.

Onto the display: one of the first things I noticed when using the iPhone 14 Pro was how buttery smooth the 120Hz display is. I’ve talked about refresh rates a number of times, but if you haven’t used anything higher than 60Hz, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. Is this a make-or-break addition to the phone? No, but you’ll certainly feel like you’re using something new and improved, which is nothing to scoff at.

Most media, including YouTube videos, Hulu series, and the likes run at 60FPS or even lower—meaning you won’t make full use of the available refresh rate. However, pop into iMessage, navigate Safari, or play your favorite games, and you’ll see the benefits immediately (as long as you have “Limit Frame Rate” disabled in the Accessibility settings).

Refresh rate aside, the iPhone 14 Pro’s Super Retina XDR display is just as beautiful as Apple’s smartphones always are, and now you can see more of it. With the Always-On Display, your iPhone shows you your notifications, weather alerts, date/time, and widgets at a glance. No need to wake your iPhone first.

“Won’t this drain my battery?” Yes and no. It does use up some battery life, but the 14 Pro takes some precautions to make sure it doesn’t chew through a full charge before you need to use your phone.

Note: You can always turn off the iPhone 14 Pro’s Always-On Display if you so choose.

First, the display’s refresh rate will drop to 10Hz, rather than the 120Hz it’s capable of. This is a huge performance and therefore battery saver. The screen’s brightness will also fall to the lowest setting. Combined with sparingly little processing power used and few on-screen updates, the Always-On tech barely makes a dent in your battery. And, if you’re still worried, I recommend investing in a wireless charger to keep your smartphone near 100% all day long.

Since this phone costs well over $1,000, I’d strongly consider protecting it from accidental drops and the elements with an iPhone 14 Pro case. There’s no shortage of Apple- and third-party-brand options to choose from, and if you ask me, it’s better to have one that you never need rather than wish you had one when it’s too late.

Dynamic IslandiPhone 14 Pro image showing dynamic island
iPhone 14 Pro image showing dynamic island video controls
iPhone 14 Pro image showing dynamic island with video and timer
iPhone 14 Pro image showing dynamic island timer controls

The Dynamic Island, successor of the camera notch, is the most apparent change present in the iPhone 14 Pro from previous models. Frankly, it’s neat as it stands, but feels more like a gimmick than a core functionality. Sure, you can see what you’re listening to or how long you have left on your timer at a glance (which is nice), but I found myself forgetting it was there for me to use.

There are a few different ways to interact with the Island. Say you have a YouTube video running in the background; you can tap the Dynamic Island to bring the video to the forefront, or tap and hold the Island to expand media controls. If you have more than one Dynamic Island-enabled app running at a time (say, YouTube and a Clock timer), they’ll display side by side for you to control either or.

As more apps fuse with the Dynamic Island, I can see it becoming a useful tool for cutting down on notifications and exercising quick controls. Right now, I can take it or leave it (though it does look better than the stagnant camera notch.)

Performance: The A16 Bionic Chip Doesn’t Mess Around

iPhone 14 Pro resting on desk with display on

A16 Bionic Chip:

  • 6-core CPU, 2 performance & 4 efficiency cores
  • 5-core GPU
  • 16-core Neural Engine

When it comes to iPhones, if you’re going Pro, you’re expecting performance. The 14 Pro stacks up to those expectations.

As much as I tried, I could not push the A16 Bionic chip past its limits. I downloaded Google Chrome and opened 31 tabs, all leading to different sites. I left them open in the background and swapped over to PokerStars Play for some Texas Hold ’em. I played a few hands and left it open in the background. I checked the Weather app to see a mostly cloudy day with a high of 80 degrees. You can probably sense the pattern, I left it open and hopped to another app (YouTube, to catch up on the latest in tech).

With all of my daily drivers open in the background at the same time and way more Chrome tabs than I’d use at once, I could still hear the 14 Pro laughing as if to say “is that all you got?” It felt just as smooth as if I’d had a single app open.

I’m confident the iPhone 14 Pro can handle almost anything you throw at it, whether it’s photo and video editing software, resource-hungry games, or 50 tabs of documentation, research, and entertainment.

Storage: More Than Enough

  • Available storage options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

The iPhone 14 Pro features the same storage levels we’ve seen since the 2021 Pro line, starting at 128GB and scaling to 1TB. While the amount of storage you’ll need ultimately comes down to how you use your iPhone, 128GB and a cloud storage plan for pictures, apps, and files will be more than enough for most.

Camera: Is This a Smartphone?Apartments on either side of greenspace with two trees in the middle
1x Zoom
Apartments on either side of greenspace with two trees in the middle
2x Zoom
Apartments on either side of greenspace with two trees in the middle
3x Zoom
Rain drops falling on a puddle

Husky dog sniffing grass

Freshly rained-on rocks with sidewalk on either side
0.5x Zoom
Freshly rained-on rocks
1x Zoom
Freshly rained-on rocks
2x Zoom
Freshly rained-on rocks
3x Zoom
Person taking selfie with iPhone
Portrait Mode Disabled
Person taking selfie with iPhone Portrait Mode enabled
Portrait Mode enabled

  • Main Camera: 48MP, 24mm, ƒ/1.78 aperture
  • Ultra Wide: 12MP 13mm, ƒ/2.2 aperture and 120-degree field of view
  • 2x Telephoto: 12MP, 48mm, ƒ/1.78 aperture / 3x Telephoto: 12MP, 77m, ƒ/2.8 aperture

When it comes to smartphone cameras, few contend with the iPhone onslaught. Sure, you can make solid arguments for the Google Pixel 7 Pro or Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra, but Apple is constantly pushing hardware forward and improving when it comes to software as well. Take Cinematic Mode or the Wide lens’ quad-pixel sensor and optical image stabilization for examples. Features like these feel unique to iPhone and give your photos a crisp, personalized look that will leave you asking “did these photos really come from a smartphone?”

I was particularly impressed with the level of quality when using 2x or even 3x zoom—iPhone photos of the past would quickly become grainy and washed out the further you zoomed in, but the iPhone 14 Pro holds up like a champ. This is perfect for being your family’s number-one fan at sporting events, capturing nature shots, and just about anything else you want to get closer to.

And if you want to get further away from the subject? Give the 0.5x zoom a try, a feature I’ve had fun playing around with. This gives your shots a wider FOV, allowing you to capture an almost panoramic-like photo of your surroundings.

You’ll also have access to all the bells and whistles, of course. Take slo-mo shots of rain cascading off a tin roof, Cinematic Mode shots of movie-esque events, or flip to the front camera for a Portrait Mode shot, blurring the background behind you.

It’s becoming harder to justify purchasing a full-blown DSLR or mirrorless camera when a device that fits in your pocket can do just about everything you need for capturing life’s memorable moments. Whether you want clear photos as soon as you press the shutter button or you’re big into post-processing to achieve that perfect style, the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera and host of lenses will get the job done and then some.

Battery Life: All Day Long

  • Video playback: Up to 23 hours / Video playback (streamed): Up to 20 hours
  • Audio playback: Up to 75 hours
  • Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Fast-charge capable

If you’re after all-day battery life, this is one of the first iPhones that I can truly recommend. From the first time I charged the iPhone 14 Pro to a full 100%, it took about an hour of mixed-use, including the Always-On Display, to drop it to 99%. Seriously.

I find I only need to charge the phone once a day (if that) to have battery all the way into the next morning, where I could stretch out the ~20% that still remains if I wanted. Using the lightning cable that came with the phone and a standard 5W Apple power adapter, it took about 1 hour and 45 minutes to recharge the phone from 1% to full battery. If you have a 20 or 30W adapter, you can cut that time down significantly.

And if you hate forgetting to plug your phone in before work, school, or bed, I can’t recommend a MagSafe wireless charging stand enough—using one will put the Always-On Display at your fingertips almost indefinitely.

iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 14 Pro

Model Processor Camera Display Battery Life Storage
iPhone 13 Pro A15 Bionic, 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU 12MP Telephoto, Wide, Ultra Wide lenses 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR, 2532 x 1170px, 1200 nits Up to 22 hours video playback 128GB to 1TB
iPhone 14 Pro A16 Bionic, 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU 48MP Main, 12MP Telephoto & Ultra Wide lenses Telephoto 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR, 2556 x 1179px, 2000 nits Up to 22 hours video playback 128GB to 1TB

Now, if you haven’t upgraded in a few years and you’re deciding between the 13 Pro and 14 Pro, I’d go with the 14 Pro for the A16 Bionic chip, display upgrades (brightness bump, AOD), and substantial leap in camera quality. But, if you’re happy with the iPhone 13 Pro you recently purchased, I think you can stand to wait for a generation or two.

This isn’t because the iPhone 14 Pro is a poor smartphone (quite the contrary), but as previously mentioned, Apple is constantly striving for bigger and better. One of the few downsides of this generation iPhone, and those that come before it, is the lightning port in favor of USB-C. Since this is coming to iPhone by autumn 2024, you may want to hold off for faster charging, inevitably improved performance, new features, and ways to utilize the Dynamic island and Always-On Display.

However, if you want stalwart battery life, ultra-clear photos, the ready benefits of the AOD, and an absolute powerhouse of a processor, the iPhone 14 Pro is hard to pass up.

Should You Buy the Apple iPhone 14 Pro?

The Apple iPhone 14 Pro: one of the best smartphones on the market right now, but not quite different enough from the 13 Pro that I’d recommend an upgrade from the previous generation. If you haven’t picked up a new phone in a few years, I’d consider the iPhone 14 Pro for its truly all-day battery life, outstanding set of camera lenses, and unphased A16 Bionic processor.

If you’re content with your current iPhone, I’d wait until Apple implements the USB-C charging port for its handsets come 2024. If you’re itching to upgrade, it’s tough not to recommend the 14 Pro. You’ll have power and style in the palm of your hand, as long as you’re willing to fork over $1,099 without the inclusion of a case, accessories, or a storage upgrade, which can quickly push the price near the $2,000 range.

If you don’t mind shelling out the dough, the 14 Pro is one of the best smartphones you can carry in your pocket.


Starting At $1099.99

Here’s What We Like

  • 120Hz, Always-On Display
  • Fantastic camera set
  • All-day battery life
  • Workhorse of a processor
  • Feels great in your hand

And What We Don’t

  • Costs an arm and a leg
  • Can stick with the 13 Pro
  • No USB-C port yet

Original Article