It has been a rollercoaster journey since I got my hands on the iPhone 14 Pro about six months ago. At first, I was super excited about the new camera system, Dynamic Island, always on display, and other features. However, my opinion has shifted significantly since then.
Major changes with the iPhone sometimes take Apple a while to sort out the kinks, and there’s definitely been some of that happening with this model. Today, I will share my real-world usage experience with the iPhone 14 Pro, covering the highs and lows, the issues I’ve come across, and some unexpected surprises that have emerged within the last month or two.
I bought the iPhone 14 Pro as soon as it was announced, and I was thrilled about it for obvious reasons: first major design change to the front display since the iPhone 10 was released in 2017, a new camera system, new software features, and the new deep purple color, which I chose.
I still love the color, but one downside is that the darker colors tend to look dirty 99% of the time around the camera bump. The lenses stick out far on the Pro, combined with the glossy finish, making it a dust collector and hard to clean at times.
Despite this, it’s hands down my favorite design out of any phones released in the last six months. Visually, it’s stunning, the build quality is outstanding, and it doesn’t seem to scratch easily either.
This could be because I’ve had it in a case pretty much the entire time. I’m not brave enough to go caseless, as phones without cases tend to look like a tractor ran over them.
I’ve been using the transparent case since day one, which has seen a few drops and held up really well. These cases seem to be more durable than the Apple-branded ones.
I had a transparent case on my iPhone 12 for two years, and it held up really well. Opposite the side of the case is the display, which is one of the best things about this phone.
The iPhone 14 Pro features a 120Hz ProMotion display, ensuring super smooth scrolling. I generally notice higher refresh rates more on touch devices than on monitors and TVs. While I feel that the smoothness in touch feedback or motion is more noticeable on some 120Hz Android devices, the iPhone 14 Pro’s display is still amazing.
One thing that sets the ProMotion display apart is the overall color saturation and accuracy. It feels more natural and accurate than most OLED displays.
Having a color-accurate display like this is great for viewing content and comparing images between your color-calibrated monitor and your iPhone.
If you’re making wallpapers, editing photos, or videos on your monitor, they will generally look good on your phone as well.
The iPhone 14 Pro’s display is exceptionally bright, with a peak brightness of 2000 nits. It is more visible outdoors than most phones, although I haven’t noticed it as much in the winter, when there’s less sunshine.
Always On Display
The display has an adaptive refresh rate, going as low as 1Hz, while the 13 Pro goes down to 10Hz. The 1Hz frequency is used for the Always On Display, exclusive to the 14 Pro, but it hasn’t been without issues.
Initially, there were problems with power draw, and the Always On Display felt too alive, depending on the selected wallpaper and dark mode settings. The difference between an active and inactive state was minimal, leading me to turn the feature off.
Apple eventually fixed this issue, allowing users to turn off the wallpaper on the Always On Display from the settings, making it more usable. The Always On Display has a couple of features I love: when using your iPhone as an Apple TV remote, it shows the remote at all times, making it more convenient.
It does the same with Apple Maps, showing a navigation screen with the phone locked and using less power than it would if it were open. Utilizing the screen more at 1Hz to conserve battery life is a smart move.
iOS 16 & Bugs
While Apple has worked hard to improve the Always On Display since its launch, there’s still a display-related bug that occasionally appears and remains unfixed. Additionally, there’s the dead touch problem, where the phone becomes unresponsive to touch.
This issue seems to be intermittent and is likely a software issue tied to iOS 16, which has been somewhat buggy. Face ID issues, particularly when using Apple Pay, and inconsistent widget and complication performance have also been reported.
Thankfully, most of these issues have been resolved or improved with the latest updates, but they still occur more frequently than in previous years. Despite these minor setbacks, the Dynamic Island feature has grown on me, allowing quick access to media or live apps like maps.
Though I had high hopes for the camera system, with features like a 48-megapixel main lens, 4K cinematic mode, more zoom options, and action mode, there isn’t a significant difference between the iPhone 13 Pro and 14.
One area where the native camera app could improve is by adding a pro camera mode, similar to some Android devices, where users can adjust shutter speed, ISO, and white balance.
The telephoto lens is a standout feature, and it’s the main reason I prefer the Pro over the regular iPhone 14. While the camera has ProRes video recording and can shoot raw photos, I find the standard video and photo modes to be sufficient most of the time.
The iPhone 14 Pro’s camera system allows for great shots and keeps things light and fun when I don’t want to bring my professional camera everywhere.
Features like action mode seem gimmicky at this point, and the marketing material around the photonic engine can be easily ignored.
Overall, the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera system is likely the best out there when it comes to combining photo and video capabilities, offering more than enough quality for the average user. The ability to record in different formats and shoot in ProRes showcases the phone’s power and performance.
Impressive Capabilities and Geekbench Results
Throughout my experience with the iPhone 14 Pro, I have noticed impressive performance across various tasks, including recording video, playing games, and watching content. As an iPhone user for the past two or three years, I can vouch for a smooth experience with no lag.
The iPhone 14 Pro excels in Geekbench version 6, which better reflects modern usability and workflows, and outperforms most other phones on the market.
iOS 16’s Impact on Battery Life
I have found that battery life has been a concern for me while using the iPhone 14 Pro. I frequently find myself on low battery, and I have to put my phone on the charger more often than I’d like. Initial battery issues were tied to the Always On Display, but I discovered that it’s much more about how iOS 16 actually works.
With iOS 16, especially on the 14 Pro, there’s a lot more background processes running, such as fitness goals, spotlight search, and lock screen widgets. All these contribute to battery draw, and I’ve noticed that the more of that stuff I have on, the quicker the battery drains.
So, if you’re someone who’s feeling things draining faster than you’d like, you can try turning some of that stuff off.
In my case, my battery capacity is still sitting at 100%. I’ve never plugged my phone in, always charging it using MagSafe through the Apple MagSafe Charger(Amazon Link).
I recommend MagSafe charging, as it not only charges faster than a regular wireless charger, but also ensures proper charging due to the snap-on mechanism.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
To be honest, the iPhone 14 Pro has been great for me. I have considered moving down to the regular 14 due to its lighter weight and the overlap in functionalities. However, the display, brightness, Always On features, and the extra camera lens keep me attached to the Pro.
The main concern for me is iOS 16, as Apple has historically kept things simple and polished on the software side of things.
Reflecting on the last five months or so, I wonder if they’ve spread themselves thin with new features, making it harder to maintain the level of polish they’ve achieved in the past. It’s been a strange experience dealing with more bugs this year than in previous years.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with iOS 16 and the iPhone 14 Pro. Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.