iPhone 14 hands-on early: All the action takes place in the camera


  • Improved Camera
  • Still has a strong performance
  • The battery life seems solid


  • The lack of a SIM card tray will be an issue for some

Deliveries of Apple’s iPhone 14 range are now arriving at customers and on store shelves. Apple announced the four new iPhone 14 models along with other new hardware at its Far Out event earlier this month. Traditionally, the models are divided into different sizes of the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro.

There are two models in each category, with Apple getting rid of the smaller Mini and replacing it with the iPhone 14 Plus. The Plus model is available to pre-order now, but won’t arrive until October 7th. Then there’s the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, both of which are the same size as their predecessors.

Likewise: Here’s how to get the most out of your iPhone’s new lock screen

I’ve had the iPhone 14, 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max on my desk or in my hands for about 48 hours now, using this for most of the time $799 for iPhone 14 as my main phone instead of last year’s iPhone 13 Pro max.


processor Apple A15 Bionic
advertisement 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR
memory 6GB
storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
cameras 12MP Main, 12MP Ultrawide, 12MP True Depth
battery Up to 20 hours
connectivity 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.3, 5G (Sub6/mmWave)
operating system iOS 16
Colours Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Purple, Product RED

Rely on eSIM

The entire iPhone 14 range lacks a SIM card tray. Apple is going for something called an eSIM, or a digital version of the little plastic card we’ve all been moving between phones. During the initial iPhone 14 setup, I was asked if I wanted to transfer my existing phone number from my personal iPhone 13 Pro Max to the iPhone 14. Remember, before you turn on the iPhone 14 and sign in with my Apple ID, there was no way for the iPhone 14 to know what phone number I had or that would be assigned to it.

After I selected the iPhone 14 to use my phone number, Apple and my carrier worked behind the scenes and my number was transferred to the new iPhone in less than 2 minutes. It was really an easy experience.

Likewise: This is how the major network operators handle the iPhone 14 eSIM

I’ve covered more details on how to switch from SIM card to eSIM here, which should get you started once you’ve got an iPhone 14 in your hands.

The iPhone 14 stood on end, showing its missing SIM card slot

The side of the iPhone no longer has a SIM card slot.

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

performance and battery life

If you visit Apple’s comparison tool and compare the iPhone 13 to the iPhone 14, you’ll see that they use the same A15 Bionic processor. This is the first time Apple has used the previous generation processor in a new iPhone model, with the iPhone maker relying on the already solid performance that the A15 Bionic has brought to the iPhone 13.

To be clear, there is a slight difference between the A15 Bionic used in the iPhone 14. It has a five-core GPU, as opposed to the four cores in the iPhone 13 version. Apple says the extra core will bring the iPhone 14 about an 18% increase in GPU performance.

Likewise: Bad battery after installing iOS 16? Don’t panic, do this instead

Other internal differences between the two generations include a memory upgrade from 4GB in the iPhone 13 to 6GB in the iPhone 14. This additional memory helps keep apps and tabs open longer in memory and improves multitasking overall.


Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

The first few days with a new iPhone are usually full of waiting for all my personal data to sync to the phone and that’s exactly my experience with the iPhone 14 so far, so I won’t be passing judgment on performance quite yet . However, I can say that I didn’t notice any areas or instances where the iPhone 14 felt slower than my iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Battery life is said to be slightly better, with the iPhone 14 gaining an extra hour of video playback. Although my iPhone 14 review unit was synced in one way or another and used almost constantly, I still didn’t need to charge the battery before the end of the day. Again, it’s early days so I’ll refrain from making a final judgment – but it’s looking promising!

I usually opt for the largest iPhone model for the extra battery life, which will be an option this year for those who don’t want a Pro model now that the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus exists.

Likewise: iPhone 13 vs iPhone 14: Should You Upgrade?

Back of iPhone 14 with cameras

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

camera upgrades

The biggest changes Apple has made to the iPhone 14 all have to do with the camera. Apple calls the iPhone 14’s camera system an “advanced dual camera system” thanks in part to some hardware upgrades, but also to some iOS camera software features that are new this year.

There’s a new 12-megapixel main camera with a larger sensor that uses Apple’s new Photonic Engine for better performance. Apple promises improved engine performance in low light conditions and the addition of a new action mode for recording videos.

Likewise: iPhone 14 Pro: Huge new camera sensor, same slow Lightning transfers

When enabled, Action Mode stabilizes your recorded video in a manner similar to GoPro cameras. You should use the new mode outdoors, or at least in an area with plenty of light. I did a few random jogs around my house and yard and can confirm that Action mode does indeed keep the iPhone’s video smooth and stable.

I can’t wait to play around with this feature some more to see where it really excels and where it falls short. The fact that it needs a well-lit environment is a bit disappointing.

As for the main camera, I took a few photos and it seems to take slightly sharper photos than the iPhone 13. Here’s a quick portrait photo I took of my dog ​​last night because sleeping dogs always make great subjects to test one out new camera.

A bulldog on a blanket with its soft, squishy face in high detail

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

When I enlarge the photo, there is a lot of detail in almost every area. His name is Emoji in case you’re wondering.

There’s more to come…

You can expect more features to be enabled on the iPhone 14. For example, the new emergency SOS function via satellite is not yet available. This is scheduled to go live in November and remain a free service for the next two years. Prices after that are not known. Garmin offers a similar service on standalone devices with pricing plans starting at $15 per month, but I imagine Apple will find a way to bundle it into its Apple One plans.

I’ll probably have a full iPhone 14 review next week, but in the meantime, if you’re coming from an iPhone that’s a few years old (or older) and the iPhone 14 fits your size and budget criteria, it certainly is big upgrade for you.

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