There's never been a worse time for the iPhone 14's huge update

An iPhone SE 2022 in red, resting on foliage
(Image credit: Future)

For Apple fans, 2022 is shaping up to be a big year, not just with iOS 16, but particularly with the massive iPhone 14 overhaul that many different leakers are cueing up.

We're expecting better rear cameras, the loss of the notch, bigger batteries, an always-on display feature and more, all of which are promising to make this the biggest iPhone series upgrade since the iPhone X was unveiled.

That all sounds great - we've had too many years with too few upgrades - except 2022 is really the worst possible time for this.

Big phone, big costs

While the iPhone 14 sounds like Apple's biggest upgrade for a while, it also sounds like the company's most expensive.

The most affordable member of the iPhone 13 line was the iPhone 13 mini, but it sounds like this isn't getting a successor - instead, Apple is apparently gearing up to launch a pricier iPhone 14 Max in its place. So there won't be a budget member of the line for people with limited funds.

It also sounds like the maximum price of the range is increasing, with the iPhone 14 Pro improvements, like the redesigned front cameras, upgraded rear cameras and newer chipsets, likely to cause the price of the top-end phones to reach even higher.

The iPhone 13 mini in someone's hand.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

And while Apple does purportedly offer a 'true' low-cost option in the form of the iPhone SE (2022), we'd accuse it of being a joke, if Apple only had a sense of humor. At $429 / £419 / AU$719, it's far from cheap and has a very outdated design and specs. It's certainly not as futureproof as any Android phone that costs half as much.

But there's another issue with the iPhone SE - with it not being the company's flagship phone for the year, it's not exactly as eye-grabbing as the iPhone 14. You don't see as many posters for it, or see it on adverts all year round. No, all eyes are on the iPhone 14, as everyone knows that's coming.

Bad times for big money

Lots of countries in the world are facing a cost of living crisis right now, with the gap between wages and the overhead costs of everyday life getting narrower and, in some cases, closing completely.

In this kind of climate, expensive tech is much less appealing - there's a reason we've been spending so much time sprucing up our list of the best budget phones, after all.

iPhones are expensive, there's no question about that. Naysayers will call them overpriced, and fans will say they're worth the money, but it's hard to argue about them being some of the most expensive mobiles around. And that's not great when people are struggling to pay for food.

No - dropping the Mini, and bumping the price of the Pro Max, is a dubious move in this kind of climate.

Right now is the perfect time for a true value-for-money device, not like a super-pricey Pro Max model or an SE, which can be found in the dictionary listed under 'budget' as an antonym for it.

Apple has enough money to take a hit on its profit for a year or two - it's reportedly working on VR glasses and its own premium car, when most of us can't even afford to learn to drive at all. By dipping the price of each iPhone 14 model by just $100 / £100 from the iPhone 13 equivalent's price, it could be great for people who need new tech but can't afford super-premium phones, or need a good reason to justify the purchase.

We don't see this happening - Apple is a big tech company, after all - but the brand really needs to do something to stop its biggest iPhone upgrade in years being a total flop.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.