Apple iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max: now with a 48MP camera and always-on display

Apple's updates keep the new pro iPhones in line with their peers. Can they do it better though?

by Justin Choo

There’s always that trope that Apple bashers will keep hammering on the fact that iPhones are slow with introducing features but when it does get down to it, more often than not they do it better than anyone else.

Well, it’s time to bring out the popcorn again to see if the naysayers win or will they have to look for another thing to crap on: Apple has now introduced an Always-On display and a 48MP main camera with a quad-pixel sensor on the new iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.

As with tradition, the new iPhone Pros get the latest SoCs: the A16 Bionic in this case, which Apple says is up to 40 per cent faster than the competition; an improved GPU that has 50 per cent more memory bandwidth and a new 16-core Neural Engine capable of nearly 17 trillion operations per second.

The new processing unit is crucial for three new key features–the Always-On display, the Photonic Engine, which Apple says greatly improves the low-light performance of the camera, and Dynamic Island, which brings us to the TrueDepth camera notch.

The infamous notch has become somewhat of a proverbial dead horse that detractors never shut up about. Not that Apple really cares, or so I think, but they’ve kind of embraced it while taking a leaf out of their competitors’ books. The notch is now physically smaller and entrenched in an island-style demarcation. But they’ve gone a full 180-degree turn by making it dynamic in nature, allowing it to function like an interactive widget that will change its form according to the function, like sports scores, or music controls.

And with the Always-On display, the iPhone now has at-a-glance information on the redesigned Lock Screen, which supports widgets and Live Activities. Together, they form a considerably expanded toolbox of controls and applications that are readily accessible.

The new 48MP main camera with a quad-pixel sensor–accompanied by a second-generation sensor-shift optical image stabilisation–will no doubt garner a lot of attention. Like other phones before it, the sensor combines four pixels into one large pixel (approx 2.44 µm here) and is particularly useful for taking photos in low-light situations. The 2x Telephoto option (crop) uses the middle 12 megapixels of the sensor for native resolution photos and 4K video. It will also be a boon for photographers, thanks to the option to use the full 48-megapixel RAW file for an unprecedented level of tweaking.

Apple adds that the new Photonic Engine improves mid- to low-light performance for photos across all cameras: up to 2x on the Main camera, up to 3x on the Ultra Wide camera, up to 2x on the Telephoto camera, and up to 2x on the TrueDepth camera.

The new iPhone 14 Pro also gets Crash Detection, thanks to a new dual-core accelerometer that can detect G-forces of up to 256Gs (a range that is way more than what can kill you), a new high dynamic range gyroscope and the existing barometer (to detect changes in cabin pressure). Crash Detection automatically detects serious car accidents and will dial the designated emergency services when the user cannot reach their phone.

Other notable features
  • 6.1/6.7″ Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion, 1Hz refresh rate and 2000 nits peak brightness
  • new 12MP ultrawide camera with 1.4 µm pixels
  • improved Telephoto camera that offers 3x optical zoom
  • a new front TrueDepth camera with an ƒ/1.9 aperture and autofocus

Oh, and one more thing: the new iPhones are eSIM-only. So I guess we know what to expect from other phones now.

Pricing and availability

iPhone 14 Pro prices start from $1,649 while iPhone 14 Pro Max prices start from $1,799.  Both will go on sale starting 16 September, while pre-orders will start from 8 pm Friday, 9 September 2022. The colours for this year’s lineup are deep purple, silver, gold, and space black, while storage options are 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB.

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