I’m buying the iPhone 14 Pro, and unlike many excited Apple fans, I have mixed feelings about it. I’m not getting a review sample that I’ll have to eventually send back. I’m not going to just fix the catastrophically broken screen on my iPhone 11 Pro Max and make that my working iPhone. No, I’m going to buy the iPhone 14 Pro, maybe in silver or Deep Purple, but I’m not looking forward to it.
I’m not excited about the color: the iPhone colors are so boring this year. Deep Purple is fine if you live in a drab iPhone world of black, silver, and gold, but I can’t get myself to love it. It’s almost as though Apple is conceding that the color is only an accent, just a hint of which will peek through whatever case you slap upon it.
I wish there were some exciting color options. I’d like to see something dynamic, something new. I don’t need neon or pop and flair. I just want something that I couldn’t have found on a phone fifteen years ago. That would be exciting.
A camera for sharing is not exciting
I’m not excited about the camera and it’s not because I expect to be disappointed; I’ve read the reviews (our iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max review included), so I know what to expect. A camera with more accurate colors, a bit of oversharpening, and some dramatic low-light handling.
It’s a camera made for shooting and sharing, as evidenced by the addition of autofocus on the selfie camera. The 48MP sensor bins down to much smaller 12MP images. The new telephoto 2x zoom feature is actually a sensor crop; it’s smart but not a killer feature.
The iPhone 14 Pro won’t make me give up my DSLR, or keep me from wanting a new mirrorless camera. I won’t be more likely to print the images to hang on my wall. To paraphrase the old saying, the iPhone 14 Pro will be my best camera because it will be the camera I have on me.
I wish there was more to it. I don’t need DSLR quality – I want something made for mobile. I want a truly great macro mode on a camera since it’s so easy to get up close with a phone. I want modes that do more to combine the various lenses attached. Having multiple lenses and multiple sensors is one of the best advantages a phone camera has over a full-fledged camera and despite all the amazing imaging hardware and software in the iPhone’s armament, the setup still feels underutilized.
A notch by any other name
I’m definitely not excited about the Dynamic Island – it’s a redesigned notification bar. It makes the camera punch-hole look nice. That’s a reason to commend Apple’s ingenuity, but not a reason to get excited.
I’m not excited about new satellite features or car crash detection, because any situation in which I’d actually need them is going to be the wrong kind of exciting.
I’ll concede that setting up my phone with an eSIM seems interesting, but that’s because I’m a phone geek who gets paid to geek out about phones. No normal person should be excited about eSIM.
Giving up a fantastic phone
A big reason I’m not excited about the iPhone 14 Pro is because of what I’m giving up. I love those phones, but for all the cutting-edge review samples that pass through my desk, I still keep a personal phone that I own. I send my personal messages from one device and one device only, and it’s the one I pay for with my own money.
Right now, that’s a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. I love this phone; it takes the greatest photos from a million miles away. It feels fantastic and looks cutting-edge. Best of all, it always seemed to grab a signal when my iPhone-toting friends swore that there was no cellular network in the mountains where we spent the summer.
I’m not going to trade it in for the new iPhone, because I respect my S21 Ultra too much. Apple offers a pittance in trade for Samsung phones. Old rivalries never die. I’ll sell the phone online instead and hopefully make back twice what Apple offers for the trade.
So, who is forcing you?
Apple. Apple is forcing me. I was a Mac OS user from 1992 until this year – when I sold my MacBook Pro. I was an iPhone user from day-one, literally. I have used iCloud for storage and email, iTunes for my music library, and iPhoto for pictures. It is difficult to synchronize a lifetime of content to one single platform. I simply accept it is necessary to keep an Apple device around to give me a lifeline back to the legacy of my digital life.
I also need to connect the way Apple insists I connect – via iMessage. There are groups of people I know who use iMessage and iMessage only, and not just for simple communication. Events are planned and relationships are maintained exclusively within the confines of Apple’s walled garden, and I need a way in.
This seems to be a US-exclusive phenomenon, it’s worth noting. I have numerous friends and family abroad and we use WhatsApp with an equal degree of exclusivity. It’s not a question of simple SMS messaging; it’s about an in-club that Apple has created Stateside. The ‘blue-bubble club’ is not a replacement for messaging – it’s a social network that is exclusive to Apple devices. If you want in, you’ve got to pay Apple for the keys. So here I am.
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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.