Video

iPhone 14 Pro long term review: Still worth the upgrade

iPhone 14 Pro box

iPhone 14 Pro

4.5 / 5

AppleInsider may earn an affiliate commission on purchases made through links on our site.

In our long-term review of the iPhone 14 Pro, we differentiate between Apple's marketing machine and nice-to-have features.

With the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, Apple introduced plenty of new features. We have a new, faster processor, satellite connectivity, improved thermal performance, and more.

After living with the iPhone 14 Pro every day for the last few months, we wanted to revisit our review to see what features wound up not much more than hype and which ended up as truly useful.

Always on display

One of our most asked-for features preceding the iPhone 14 announcement was an always-on display. It was a possibility with the iPhone 13 Pro, but it was apparently scratched at the last moment.

While testing competing Android handsets, it had always been one of the few features we wished Apple would take and expand upon. Apple delivered and even improved upon the always-on display post-release.

After first getting our iPhone 14 Pro a few months ago, the display took some getting used to. We constantly thought our iPhone was actually on and we needed to turn it off, but that was just the new display.

Now that we've adequately adjusted to it, it feels indispensable. Without touching our phones we can see the time, see unattended to notifications, as well as any Live Activities that are ongoing.

Despite many believing it is just another way for Apple to make you use your iPhone more, it has caused us to actively use our phones less. We don't have to pick up our phone to check things like a timer or the bowl game score — we can already see it.

This stops us from grabbing our iPhones and getting sucked into an email or social media rabbit hole. Funny enough, it took our iPhones being on all the time to cut our usage.

Cameras

Apple consistently iterates on the cameras and this year had one of its most substantial upgrades to date. It moved to a massive 48MP sensor and used pixel binning to output 12MP photos.

In reality, most users won't notice this. The output is still 12MP, and few are going to play around with the full 48MP RAW option.

We can see some low light improvement, but it's minor without seeing pics side-by-side.

The iPhone 14 Pro camera bump
The iPhone 14 Pro camera bump

What was surprisingly helpful were the new zoom levels. Apple now lets you move between .5X, 1X, 2X, and 3X optical zoom levels.

The 2X zoom is created by using the center 12MP of the 48MP sensor, effectively cropping the outer edges of a higher-resolution image, to create an optical-quality zoom without the need for an additional camera lens between the standard and telephoto lenses.

We found ourselves zooming quite often to 2X in plenty of indoor situations. Before this option, if you wanted 2X zoom, you'd have to digitally zoom in on the old 12MP sensor, losing quality.

Plus, you can take 1X, 2X, and 3X zoom portrait mode shots. This may seem small, but it is one of the things we noticed most after months of using the iPhone 14 Pro.

Dynamic Island

Arguably, the most talked about new feature of the iPhone 14 Pro has been the Dynamic Island. This reimagining of the front-facing camera module has taken a static notch and turned it into useful information.

It has perhaps single-handedly changed the feeling of the phone the most. Pop-up alerts that used to obfuscate the display no longer do that.

The low power alert would pop up as a modal and force you to tap out of it, but now, that can now show in Dynamic Island. You can see charging status without having to open Control Center, see when your AirPods connect, see an AirDrop file download, and much more.

Not to mention Live Activities that will show, such as timers, scores, Uber Eats orders, and so much more. The Now Playing music UI is delightful, allowing you to quickly control it with less tapping than accessing Control Center.

Controlling AirPlay from the Dynamic Island
Controlling AirPlay from the Dynamic Island

If you have an Apple TV, the TV controls can display in the Dynamic Island. Pause, open the remote, or jump forward or back quickly from that interface.

This is an entirely new UI element that comes into play with so many facets of the phone, and it reinforces Apple's entire ecosystem from the software to the hardware, to all of its other devices.

Worth the upgrade

Inventory of iPhone 14 Pro is finally starting to normalize, which means if you're interested in one, you should be able to get it with little delay. This is good news as we'd easily recommend picking up the iPhone 14 Pro over an iPhone 14 or iPhone 13 Pro.

There are always features that end up being hyped by Apple, but end up underwhelming as you use the device. Some things are nice but the always-on display, the Dynamic Island, and the updated cameras have left a significant impression on us.

Three months later, iPhone 14 Pro is still worth the purchase.

iPhone 14 Pro - Pros

  • Always-on display
  • High performance A16 Bionic
  • Upgraded 48MP camera
  • Notch traded for Dynamic Island
  • Long battery life
  • Crash Detection
  • Emergency SOS via Satellite

iPhone 14 Pro - Cons

  • Reused physical design, again
  • One 48MP camera sensor, but two 12MP sensors
  • Still Lightning, no USB-C

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Where to buy the iPhone 14 Pro

Apple's iPhone 14 Pro is available for purchase, with wireless providers AT&T and Verizon offering incentives on the latest devices.

For the latest iPhone deals, be sure to head over to our iPhone 14 Pro Price Guide.

If you have a used iPhone, you can also check out our Apple trade-in deals for exclusive cash bonuses on pre-owned devices, putting more money in your wallet for a new iPhone 14 Pro.