iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max First Impressions: Lots to Like, but Prices Keep Rising

The brand new iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max have just been launched and Gadgets 360 is on the scene at Apple Park in Cupertino to bring you your first look at them. We can finally put all rumours and speculation to rest, which is interesting because the devices that I have with me are not quite what I’d been expecting – or perhaps dreading. Beyond the obvious new “Dynamic Island” front camera design there’s quite a bit to talk about. If you like always having the latest and greatest iPhone, or if you’ve been waiting a while to upgrade, read on.

iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max price in India

Thanks to a stronger US dollar, both of Apple’s new Pro phones are more expensive than their predecessors in India even though the price levels in the US have not changed. The iPhone 14 Pro starts at Rs. 1,29,900 for 128GB, Rs. 1,39,900 for 256GB, Rs. 1,59,900 for 512GB and Rs. 1,79,900 for the 1TB option. The larger iPhone 14 Pro Max costs Rs. 10,000 more at each level, so the prices are Rs. 1,39,900, Rs. 1,49,900, Rs. 1,69,900, and Rs. 1,89,900 respectively. It’s still unclear why the gap between iPhone and iPhone Pro prices is so much wider in India than in other countries – Apple should be using the same multiplier across its products, but that isn’t the case.

The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max (Review) are officially discontinued but should continue to be available from third-party retailers for some time, hopefully at discounted prices.

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The new 48-megapixel main camera is said to allow for more flexibility and better low-light shots


iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max “Dynamic Island”

So, all the leaks and rumours were accurate, but it turns out that what we knew before this launch was only a tiny fraction of the whole story. This is a fantastic reminder that we shouldn’t all get on the hype (or hate) train based on leaks alone, and it’s also an example of how we can still be surprised and delighted by tech. I think Apple must have quite enjoyed knowing that it can still surprise people, and as a spokesperson said during the keynote, it’s Apple’s unique dedication to designing hardware and software together that makes things like this possible.

Multiple leaks and renders based on technical specifications, over the course of several months, all seemed to agree that Apple had settled on a weird pill-and-hole camera cutout design. Although it seemed so obviously awkward and distracting, it wasn’t hard to imagine Apple going with it just to be different – this is after all the company that brought us the idea of the notch, tried and failed to make the Touch Bar catch on, and even once convinced itself that a buttonless and screenless iPod was a good idea.

The latest leaks before this reveal were somewhat on the right track. While there is space between the pill and hole, it isn’t going to be visible to users because the hole has actually been expanded using software, so you get used to seeing a black patch. It’s integrated into UI elements for notifications and status indicators, and it’s interactive. Apple has worked on a set of fluid animations and transitions that all turn this distraction into an asset.

I’m glad that full-screen video won’t play around two holes – I still dislike having even one – and I’m actually intrigued to see how Apple is using its hardware and software expertise together to turn this into a useful UI element. The active display area expands into a notification popup when needed, and will otherwise show things like a tiny version of album artwork when music is playing, a charging or payment indicator, etc. Apps can use it to show ongoing activity status, such as your next turn-by-turn direction, ongoing sports scores, or updates about the status of a delivery. In fact you can see two activities at once – the secondary one appears in a little circular bubble to the right of the “island”. This is where I’m convinced Apple is just trolling the leakers – it looks exactly like the leaked “pill and hole” arrangement.

Overall, it’s undoubtedly an improvement over the notch, and it makes the premium iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max feel very fresh. It’s still distracting when watching full-screen video but that’s something we live with anyway now. In my brief hands-on experience, it seemed that while the cameras still interrupt the display area, no part of the island is a dead zone for touch, so swipes work no matter where in the island your finger moves.

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The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max might be hard to distinguish from their predecessors at a glance


iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max design

This year, the new signature colour is Deep Purple and it’s quite subtle. The colour is dark and desaturated so it actually looks grey with a slight tint. If the past two years are any indication, a new colour option could be introduced mid-cycle, early next year. The other options are Space Black, Silver, and Gold. The frames of both phones are still made of polished stainless steel. The iPhone 14 Pro weighs 206g while the iPhone 14 Pro Max comes in at a hefty 240g.

In terms of shape and proportions, not much has changed since the iPhone 12 Pro series was launched. You still have a flat back and frame that runs around all four sides – the MagSafe accessory ecosystem does constrain Apple a bit in this regard. The camera module on the rear has grown yet again so unfortunately cases for last year’s phones won’t fit. If you’re in the US, you’ll notice the complete lack of a SIM tray – this is a goal that Apple has been working towards for a while, but it has its downsides and India has been spared for now.

There’s still a lightning port on the bottom – rumours now suggest that next year will be the year that Apple finally goes all in on USB Type-C. This might become required by law in many countries but it also just makes a lot of sense.

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New display, battery and SoC technology all work together to enable the Dynamic Island and always-on ] mode


iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max display and specifications

The Dynamic Island is exclusive to the Pro iPhones because of the display technology that Apple can take advantage of at these prices. The Super Retina XDR display is now slightly taller and has narrower borders. Apple claims a massive 1600nits peak brightness for HDR and these panels are rated to hit 2000nits outdoors. The refresh rate can go down to 1Hz to save power.

The always-on display is a first for iPhones and it’s a huge change. In typical Apple fashion, there’s a very particular visual style to its implementation. Rather than the plain text or simple graphics on a black background that you might expect on Android phones, the new iOS 16 always-on display is simply your lockscreen, but dimmed. Apple uses machine learning to adapt your wallpaper image to reduce brightness but preserve detail. Your lockscreen widgets continue to be visible.

Apple claims 29 hours of battery life with the iPhone 14 Pro Max and 23 hours with the iPhone 14 Pro. There’s a new A16 Bionic SoC with improvements across the board. It has 16 billion transistors and uses a 4nm manufacturing process. Apple claims industry-leading performance and power efficiency with its six CPU cores, five GPU cores, 16 neural engine cores, and various other subsystems.

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Deep Purple is the new signature colour for this launch


iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max cameras

Of course there’s also a brand new camera setup, with a 48-megapixel camera and quad-pixel binning for the first time. Apple claims the sensor is 65 percent larger than the one in the iPhone 13 Pro. In most cases, the camera will be optimised for light capture, with four pixels grouped into one, resulting in 12-megapixel photos. Low-light quality is said to be 2X better and subjects can be in sharp focus even with blurred motion behind them. On the other hand, you can optimise for detail using pixels individually, which lends itself to more creative options for shooting and editing. There’s even a new 2X zoom option which effectively crops the middle of a 48-megapixel shot to give you a 12-megapixel result with high detail. You can shoot ProRAW 48-megapixel photos too. Action Mode is a new video feature that also crops video so motion can be compensated for, effectively stabilising video like a gimbal would.

Then there’s a new 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera sensor with more focus pixels for sharper macros and better low-light shots. The front camera gets autofocus for the first time, and an f/1.9 aperture for much better low-light shots. The flash at the back is now adaptive, with nine LEDs and intelligent pattern and intensity adjustment. We’ll see how all of this works when we review all the new iPhones.

Other new features include crash detection and satellite-based emergency messaging (only in the US and Canada for now). The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max will ship with iOS 16 which also introduces a bunch of new capabilities.

It seems as though the new Pro iPhones are fresh enough to motivate people to upgrade, and the gap between these phones and their non-Pro counterparts is the biggest it’s ever been. However, prices will keep them out of reach for many buyers. To decide whether you should take the plunge, check out the full Gadgets 360 reviews, coming up soon.

Disclosure: Apple sponsored the correspondent’s flights and hotel stay for the launch event in Cupertino.

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