iPhone 14 long term review: Stands tall and strong no matter what you throw at it

    The iPhone 14 got some flak from critics for being an iPhone 13 replica. But after using it for a significant amount of time, it is easy to see the value it offers. But does it hold up compared to its rivals? Find out in our long term review.

    By: AKASH DUTTA
    | Updated on: Feb 07 2023, 14:00 IST
    iPhone 14: Camera, battery to display, 6 things to know if you are eyeing a Christmas buy
    iPhone 14
    1/6 In terms of design, the iPhone 14 fails to bring anything new to the table. It looks like a carbon-copy of the iPhone 13, just in a few new colors of Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Purple and Red.  (Akash/HT Tech)
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    2/6 The iPhone 14 features a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display. While the screen refresh rate is set at 60Hz unlike 120Hz of the Pro models, the display is dynamic with a vivid color range and has wide viewing angles.   (Akash/HT Tech)
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    3/6 The iPhone 14 gets a dual rear camera setup with a 12MP primary camera and a 12MP ultrawide camera. The primary camera has a larger sensor than the iPhone 13 and boosted by the new Photonic Engine, can take sharp images.   (Akash/HT Tech)
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    4/6 One drawback of the camera is its low light performance where you see some artificial colors in the images and the sensor struggles to highlight the darker areas of the image. (Akash/HT Tech)
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    5/6 The iPhone 14 gets last year’s Apple A15 Bionic chipset but a new 5-core GPU which significantly improves the graphic performance of the smartphone. Playing games on the smartphone definitely feels like a premium experience.   (Akash/HT Tech)
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    6/6 The smartphone offers a decent battery life that lasts an entire day. However, charging speed is sluggish as it only offers support for 20W wired charging. The iPhone 14 is priced starting Rs. 79,900 for the 128GB variant. You can get it cheaper on ecommerce sites. (Akash/HT Tech)
    iPhone 14
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    Apple iPhone 14 price starts at Rs. 79,900, but that is not what the focus should be on. (Akash/HT Tech)

    The dust has finally settled around the iPhone 14 lineup and much has been said about the base model of the series. The iPhone 14 has been called an iPhone 13 replica and that it barely offers an upgrade over its predecessor. And to find out if that truly was the case, I have been using the iPhone 14 for the last two months. And what I found out was surprising. Despite many calling it an underwhelming device, I found it to be a really value-for-money (a lot of money!) device that does bring some fun upgrades from the previous year. However, there are a few nuances to it.

    It cannot be ruled out that the device does carry a lot of features from its past iteration. The design is exactly the same and so is the display. And the chipset is also a boosted version from last year's lineup. However, to call it an iPhone 13 replica would be a disservice. The smartphone packs a larger camera sensor with a faster aperture, an action mode, satellite connectivity, crash detection mode and a great battery life. And that is for starters.

    And then, you have to look at the price point as well. While the iPhone 14 starts at Rs. 79,990, the ‘upgraded' iPhone 14 Pro starts at Rs. 1,29,900. That's a difference of almost Rs. 50,000. A massive amount indeed! And when you consider that, the value you get from the iPhone 14 starts to become more apparent.

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    However, that is still just analyzing on-paper . There is always a difference in real-life usage of a device. So, with cautious optimism I went on a month-long journey with Apple's newest smartphone and the findings were quite interesting. So, let's get down to the brass tacks.

    iPhone 14 Design

    iPhone 14
    iPhone 14 Design (Akash/HT Tech)
    iPhone 14
    iPhone 14 Design (Akash/HT Tech)

    The design of the iPhone 14 has probably been the most controversial part of it, and sadly it is true. The smartphone has the same diagonal camera module (albeit slightly larger), flat sides, the 6.1-inch display and the notch from the iPhone 13. You do get new color options, but that's about it. If you've seen the iPhone 13, you have seen the iPhone 14.

    I feel iPhone design has gained an iconic status and while it is nice to be treated with an innovative design year-on-year, the familiarity is not necessarily a bad thing. You get a premium Ceramic shield, polished aluminum frame and the new muted lavender color that I had felt was nice.

    And at 172 grams, the smartphone is not heavy to carry around at all. It's touch and feel instantly lets you know that you're holding a premium device. And finally, it is pretty durable. I put it through pretty rough usage and despite my manhandling, the phone still feels as new as on day one.

    iPhone 14 Display

    iPhone 14
    iPhone 14 Display (Akash/HT Tech)
    iPhone 14
    iPhone 14 Display (Akash/HT Tech)

    The iPhone 14 gets a 6.1-inch OLED display with HDR10 support with 1,200 nits of brightness. Alongside you get punchy and vibrant colors with great viewing angles. What it means is that using the smartphone is a treat. Whether I was watching videos on Netflix or just checking out memes on social media, the viewing experience was always great.

    However, a refresh rate of 60Hz can sometimes feel a bit slow. Especially if you're an avid social media scroller or online gamer, you will notice the difference and it can get a bit tiring to your eyes as well. Considering that even a Rs. 30,000 Android smartphone such as the iQOO Neo 6 come with 120Hz, this becomes unacceptable from a premium range smartphone.

    And then the notch always takes away a chunk of display real-estate which took me a bit of time to get used to, when watching videos in landscape mode.

    But while these issues are there, the overall display quality cannot be denied. You get a premium experience no matter if you're just doing your everyday tasks or binge watching. Everything, from the photos on Instagram to just the various app icons look stunning.

    iPhone 14 Performance

    iPhone 14
    iPhone 14 performance (Akash/HT Tech)
    iPhone 14
    iPhone 14 performance (Akash/HT Tech)

    The inclusion of the previous year's A15 Bionic chipset in this year's iPhone 14 was an unpopular decision that has been criticized by just about everyone from critics to users. But in my usage over a period of a month, I was surprised to see just how reliable, power efficient and powerful this processor still is. Apple claimed it has boosted the last year's chipset to make it more capable, I found it tackled everything I threw at it without a hitch.

    The iPhone 14 also benefits a lot from the iOS 16 updates. In the initial days, they came with a few bugs that caused some issues in usage as well as faster battery draining, but Apple has taken care of it all with its iOS 16. 2 update. The iPhone 14 offers a smooth performance no matter how much of a RAM intensive app you open. I played everything from COD: Mobile to eFootball to Genshin Impact and the load times were super fast and the frames rates never really dropped. Despite gaming for hours, I never noticed it heating up either. I also loved the depth to the haptic feedback and the loud and rich audio quality while gaming.

    Additionally, the smartphone also gets a couple of new features like crash detection (which will auto detect if the car is involved in a crash and will automatically contact emergency services) and satellite calling for emergency (where you can contact emergency services even in areas without a mobile network). While I was not able to test out these features, they give the smartphone some crucial safety tools that can save people's lives.

    The iPhone 14 now also supports 5G connectivity and if your network provider has the coverage in your area, you can also make use of it (at the expense of faster battery draining). Network drops were also next to none and even while riding the Delhi Metro, I could easily make calls without experiencing call drops.

    iPhone 14 Cameras

    iPhone 14
    iPhone 14 camera (Akash/HT Tech)
    iPhone 14
    iPhone 14 camera (Akash/HT Tech)

    While the headlines were stolen by the iPhone 14 Pro models for the new 48MP primary camera, I found the iPhone 14 cameras to be a hidden gem that nobody talks about much. I had previously used the Google Pixel 7 and while it adds its dramatic flair to photos and has a much nicer balance of contrasts, I personally prefer the iPhone 14 camera for its natural tone, brightness and high details. Even with a 12MP primary camera and a 12MP ultra wide camera, the smartphone impressed me.

    And a large reason for that is the new Photonic Engine that processes and optimizes images efficiently. I was also a fan of its low-light/night photography, which has received some criticism by experts. During my recent trip to Jaipur, I was able to take images of Jal Mahal during the night time and the amount of detail it captured and the balance of light and shadows it maintained for an object placed 50 meters away in the middle of a lake in complete darkness is simply brilliant. We have added the image in the camera samples below, in case you want to take a look.

    Another highlight for me was video recording. The iPhone 14 has a new action mode which lets users record very stable videos even while in motion. Sure, it is not as good as GoPro, but the quality is worth praising. But do note, action mode can only record videos up to 2.8K resolution and you will lose the clarity you would otherwise get in 4K video recording.

    Overall, the smartphone cameras have clearly stepped up with both upgrades in hardware and software and it is easily my favorite camera phone of the last year among the one's I have used personally. You can check out the camera samples below or on this link here.

    Image Samples

    See all photos

    iPhone 14 Battery

    iPhone 14
    iPhone 14 battery (Akash/HT Tech)
    iPhone 14
    iPhone 14 battery (Akash/HT Tech)

    During my usage, I have subjected the iPhone 14 to all kinds of situations. Whether it was multiple hours long calls, video calls, long gaming sessions, or just scrolling through social media and watching uncountable Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, the iPhone 14 withstood it all to give me a day's worth of usage in a single charge. In most cases, I still had some juice leftover for the next day. Color me impressed!

    However, the charging is where I felt a little disappointed. It takes about an hour to take the phone from zero to 80% and another 20-30 minutes to fully charge it. At a time where the Xiaomi 12 Pro offers a full charge in 20 minutes and many mid-range smartphones can charge the device in 30-40 minutes, this feels quite sluggish.

    iPhone 14 Verdict

    iPhone 14
    iPhone 14 verdict (Akash/HT Tech)
    iPhone 14
    iPhone 14 verdict (Akash/HT Tech)

    I tried to look past the iPhone 13 vs iPhone 14 comparison and judged the new smartphone on its own performance. And to my surprise, in my day-to-day usage, nothing about the smartphone actually felt dated. The design, which many may call a replica of iPhone 13 is iconic and lack of change did not bother me. Further, from performance to display capabilities, nothing really felt short or left a lot of room for complaint.

    And we have to say that if you are a shutterbug, you can find more value in the Samsung Galaxy S22 and Google Pixel 7.

    But with that being said, if you are already an iPhone 13 user, you will not get a massive upgrade for switching, and we would not recommend it. For anyone else, switching to the iPhone 14 definitely gives you a big camera upgrade, a smaller notch, a bunch of minor new features and more years of iOS support. And of course, you get the reliability and efficiency that comes with owning an iPhone.

    Rating
    4 out of 5
    Price
    INR 79,900/-
    Product Name
    Apple iPhone 14
    Brand Name
    Apple
    Pros
    • Still photography
    • Fast performance
    • Battery life
    Cons
    • Charging speed
    • 60Hz refresh rate Display
    • Design
    Specifications
    • Display
      6.1-inch OLED 60Hz
    • Chipset
      A15 Bionic
    • Rear Camera
      12MP + 12 MP
    • Front Camera
      12MP
    • OS
      iOS 16
    • Charging
      20W wired, 15W MagSafe wireless

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    First Published Date: 31 Jan, 22:42 IST
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