iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max Review: Welcome to Apple’s Dynamic Island

The Apple iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max may look the same as last year’s iPhone 13 Pro on the back, but don’t let that fool you. It’s the iPhone 14 Pro screen where something different and amazing is happening. The iPhone display notch that defined iPhone Face ID since 2017’s iPhone X has been replaced by a pill-shaped screen cutout that houses an improved TrueDepth camera system. This cutout alone will make some people happier than the notch. But it’s the area around the viewport that now shows system notifications and background activity that has become one of my favorite features.

Apple calls it Dynamic Island, and it zooms in and out when you take a call to show the music you’re playing, timers and other notifications. I know it’s not the best name, but it really is one of the best features on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max.

Apple’s new phones will also get improved cameras, a faster processor, an always-on display and iOS 16, as well as new safety features including crash detection and emergency SOS via satellite.

The 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro starts at $999 (£1,099, AU$1,749) and the 6.7-inch 14 Pro Max at $1,099 – the same prices as the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max from 2019. After some the time spent on the phones I think is worth every penny. Also Read – How to set up eSIM on your new iPhone 14

The new Pros come in space black, gold, silver and dark purple – which depending on the light can look like a drab shade of gray or a purple Grimace. The iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max go on sale on Friday, September 16 and are currently available for pre-order.

How the dynamic island of iPhone 14 Pro works

There are several external ways in which the iPhone 14 Pro differs from previous models. There’s the aforementioned display cutout. The camera bump is skosh more robust. And like the iPhone 14, the US models lack a SIM card slot and use an eSIM instead.

iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max Review

But it’s the oddly named Dynamic Island that defines the phone. The more time I spent with the 14 Pro, the more comfortable I became. It works in many situations and is an easy way to see what’s going on without completely distracting you from what you’re doing.

The dynamic island is interactive. For example, if music is playing, a miniature curve and a small thumbnail of the album cover will appear on either side of the viewport. When you tap either side, Spotify will show you the song that’s currently playing. If you’re on a FaceTime call, you can tap and hold on the interface to bring up the controls. MSI Confirms Z790 Motherboards to Launch on Sept 27th

You can tap directly on the TrueDepth cameras or to the sides. I didn’t notice any smudges building up on the selfie camera during my time using it, and it didn’t seem to affect Face ID.

If there is more than one activity going on in the background, for example, you are listening to music and have a timer on, the dynamic island splits into two parts like a lowercase i.

The iPhone 14 Pro and Dynamic Island are an excellent example of how Apple has packed a powerful tool into a pleasant interface. It’s a shame you can only use it on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. Such a fun and accessible feature is sure to be a big hit with non-Pro iPhone users.

The iPhone 14 Pro has an always-on display

The iPhone 14 Pro runs on iOS 16, which adds a lot of welcome features including new ways to customize the lock screen. But there is one lock screen feature reserved for the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max: the always-on display.

The always-on display is a low-power version of your lock screen that can display important information when your phone is locked. Most Android phones have had this feature for years, but Apple’s implementation might be the coolest yet.

The 14 Pro’s always-on display shows the time, date, your widgets, notifications, and a shaded version of the lock screen wallpaper. Depending on how your lock screen is set up, it can look significantly different when it’s displayed as an always-on display. I enjoyed trying out different combinations of lock screen wallpapers and widgets to see how they would look. The colorful wallpaper is also the biggest difference Apple’s always-on display makes from Android phones, which usually only illuminate the time and notifications in monochrome. Return to Monkey Island: Casual Mode or Hard Mode?

Seeing my iPhone 14 Pro sitting on the table with the screen on took some getting used to. I kept thinking I forgot to lock it. To wake up, just tap the screen or unlock the phone.

When the 14 Pro is face down, in your pocket, bag, or near another Apple device you’re using, it won’t turn on. There is also an option to turn it off completely in Settings.

iPhone 14 Pro, Pro Max Get the biggest changes to Apple’s phone lineup

I wish there was an option to make the always-on display look more discreet and just show the time and date, for example. Technically, you could probably set a black wallpaper as your lock screen and just select the date and time for a more minimal always-on display. Visually, the 14 Pro’s always-on display has a lot going on that distracted me when my phone was next to me face up.

iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max Review

All in all, the Dynamic Island, new lock screen layout, and always-on display make the 14 Pro the most accessible iPhone for managing alerts and notifications. And I imagine the experience will only improve once Live Activities for the lock screen are fully available in iOS 16. (The Live Activity feature displays real-time updates from apps on the lock screen, so you can follow the progress of a carpool or follow the score of a sporting event.)

iPhone 14 Pro camera

iPhone 14 Pro has three rear cameras: a main wide-angle camera, an ultra-wide camera and a telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom. The lens on the main camera has a wider focal length, from the 26mm equivalent of previous iPhone models to 24mm. It’s not drastically different, but it helps bring more of the scene into the frame. Google Photos just got a bunch of upgraded features — here’s what’s new

The main camera also gets a new, larger 48-megapixel sensor. While more megapixels don’t necessarily mean better photos, Apple splits the pixels into groups of four and combines them into one larger pixel. The result is a 12-megapixel photo that is brighter, has less image noise and better detail.

The main camera takes excellent photos: Image quality and detail are great for a phone. I noticed the biggest improvement is in medium and low light situations: Colors look good and textures are great. Check out the photo below that I took on a foggy San Francisco morning. Notice the textures in the bricks of the buildings and the gradual way the 14 Pro captured the fog engulfing the top of the Salesforce Tower.

The photo below was taken under the dark canopy of a palm tree. The 14 Pro did a good job of capturing the different textures of the leaves and bark while increasing the brightness.

If you’re so inclined, you can capture 48-megapixel photos using the phone’s ProRaw settings. I should warn you that these files are large. The file for the Bay Bridge at sunset photo below is 48 megabytes. After editing, the photo is saved as a much smaller JPEG. Look closely at the details of the cars and the bridge’s supporting cables.

The ultra-wide-angle camera has a new multi-focus pixel sensor and f2.2 reduced aperture lens. All of this adds up to much sharper ultra-wide-angle photos. The sensor—combined with Apple’s redesigned photo processing, which it calls the Photonic Engine—gives you much better photos in less-than-ideal situations.

Ultra-wide photos and videos are still a step down from the main camera, but these improvements are welcome.

Macro photos will also get support. When you try to take a photo with the main camera while standing close to the subject, the iPhone 14 Pro switches to the ultra-wide camera and crops the framing to mimic the main camera. This allows for closer focus, which is great for close-ups of small things. Last year’s 13 Pro had a similar feature, but with the new ultrawide, macro photos have better image quality, especially in medium and low light.

The telephoto lens is basically identical to the camera on last year’s 13 Pro, but gets a boost thanks to the 14 Pro’s Photonic Engine processing. As with the ultra-wide image, image quality is a step behind the main camera – especially in dim environments.

iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max Review

Movie mode can now record in 4K and 24 frames per second. There is a new video image stabilization tool called Action mode. When you’re shooting a video, you can turn it on and the phone will crop a bit to keep the image centered and the horizon level. If you’re shooting in 4K, Action mode drops the resolution to 2.8K, but the results are still impressive. While other phones like the Galaxy S22 Ultra have similar stabilization features, it’s great to see this tool coming to the iPhone. And it works across all three rear cameras.

While testing video shot with and without Action mode, I was reminded of how good the image stabilization is in regular video mode. Watch the video below to see the clips I shot with the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max.

iPhone 14 Pro speed

All of these upgrades are driven by Apple’s new A16 Bionic chip. Everything feels spicy when used. It is an absolute pleasure to play. And subtle things like the animations when you move in and out of Dynamic Island are super smooth. In our benchmark tests, the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max proved to be not only faster than any iPhone we’ve ever tested, but the fastest phones you can buy today.

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