The iPhone 14, and especially the iPhone 14 Pro, are not just great phones; they come close to smartphone perfection right now. Even though Apple didn’t update much from the last generation, that generation was already so far ahead of most of the competition that little improvement was needed to keep the iPhone on top. Still, I feel like Apple could have done more; there are some obvious improvements the manufacturer could have made, but I think there are even deeper changes to consider.
Apple’s new phone will be a winner, but will it be a definitive win? Will it be the easy choice at the top of every top ten best smartphone list? Will it maintain Apple’s spot as the majority platform among phone users in the US? It seems that, with a few improvements, Apple could have created a device that is unquestionably the only device buyers should consider.
1. A bigger battery, of course
Apple should have added a bigger battery, even if that made the iPhone much thicker. Despite the current slab-sided design language, the general consensus doesn’t appear to be concerned with the current thickness. By contrast, improved battery life is a perennial wish among the Apple faithful. Apple claimed that the iPhone 14 range would have the best battery life of any phone they’ve launched, but our tests don’t hand Apple a definitive win, compared to the rest of the market.
Apple should have added a class-leading battery. Why not? A few millimeters thickness would provide hours more usage, especially on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but also on all of the 2022 models. Despite promising ‘the best battery life in an iPhone ever’, imagine if the iPhone 14 Plus had the advantage of not just a larger screen, but true market-competitive battery life. That would make the phone a real winner, and not what it is – a real question mark.
2. Something cool for the cameras to do
The new iPhone 14 family also skimps on cameras. I’m curious to get my hands on the new shooter in the iPhone 14 Pro and see what I can eke out of its ProRAW images and all 48 million pixels. Otherwise, the iPhone 14 doesn’t have anything unique to compete with all the best camera phones out there.
I’d like to see some camera bona fides with wider apertures and larger pixel sensors, not to mention more potent zoom functionality. I’d like to see more capability from the camera.
3. Everyone goes crazy for that new iPhone look
It is time for Apple to take a new, bold design step and come out with something that moves the industry forward. The iPhone 4 set a new standard for fit and finish on a mobile device. I’m not joking – before that phone, other phones from Samsung and LG would creak and bend when you used them, and nobody questioned this or expected anything more.
All phones felt ‘fine’ until the iPhone 4 came along, after that they just felt cheap by comparison. The iPhone 4 felt like a piece of jewelry, a finely crafted instrument, and it moved the industry forward. Even without Jony Ive at the helm of Apple’s design, I feel like the company has what it takes to pull off such a shift again.
4. Who wouldn't to save some money?
The other easy win would be a price drop, and it wouldn’t even need to be a significant one. That seems the most fanciful suggestion on this list, in today’s economic climate, but what if Apple had dropped the price of its entry-level iPhone 14 by $100? What if the most expensive iPhone 14 Pro Max started at $999? I’d love to see a bigger price cut to put the top iPhone more in line with the top Pixel, for example, but let’s start there.
The iPhone sets the price ceiling for the entire market. Whatever phone you consider, you can always price it against an iPhone. Samsung’s Galaxy S phones are priced to compete with the iPhone, and the Galaxy S22 Ultra conspicuously costs more than the iPhone 14 Pro Max; as if Samsung is trying to declare its worth and higher standing through this higher asking price.
If Apple set the base model iPhone at $699 and the Pro Max model at under $1,000, that would form a nice window for the industry (and buyers) to peep through. Even better – make the iPhone 12 a $500 phone, and drop the iPhone SE (2022) as close to $300 as possible. That would then be a guaranteed win across the board for Apple’s iPhone family.
5. Just give me USB-C already, Apple
If Apple adopted USB-C this generation, it would have marked an ecosystem-shattering shift for the company, consumers, and the industry. Apple could have puffed its chest proudly for following a global standard and pushed further still by making the iPhone’s USB port a true Thunderbolt port, with superior capabilities.
Apple moving to USB-C would immediately reignite the mobile accessory market. Every iPhone owner would need a new charger. While inconvenient for long-time iPhone users, this would push manufacturers to try new concepts that work much better with a mature standard, like USB-C.
6. Not just a folding phone – a folding iPhone
If Apple really wanted to blow minds, it would make the best folding phone we’ve ever seen; a folding phone so great that we mark all previous folding phones as try-hard imposters. If you don’t think Apple is capable of creating such a shift just consider what passed for a ‘smartphone’ before the iPhone arrived.
The first iPhone, with its huge (for the time), colorful and responsive display as well as its premium metal and glass construction, was unlike anything else out there. In the same way that the iPhone made us forget trackball BlackBerry phones and kludgy Palm stylus phones, Apple’s first folding phone needs to completely outshine the existing crop of Razrs, Flips and Folds, and conure gasps and applause from the crowd in the same way the original iPhone did back in 2007.
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Phil Berne is a preeminent voice in consumer electronics reviews, having reviewed his first device (the Sony D-EJ01 Discman) more than 20 years ago for eTown.com. He has been writing about phones and mobile technology, since before the iPhone, for a variety of sites including PCMag, infoSync, PhoneScoop, and Slashgear. He holds an M.A. in Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University.
Phil was the internal reviewer for Samsung Mobile, writing opinions and review predictions about top secret new devices months before launch. He left in 2017. He worked at an Apple Store near Boston, MA, at the height of iPod popularity. He has been a High School English teacher at Title I schools, and is a certified Lifeguard. His passion is smartphones and wearables, and he is sure that the next big thing will be phones we wear on our faces.