iPhone 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro, and 14 Pro Max Review – Consumer Reports

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Apple’s latest smartphones have updated cameras and other improvements, yet they cost the same as the iPhone 13 models. Should you buy one?
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If you’re thinking of upgrading to one of Apple’s new iPhone 14 models this year, the choices are pretty clear.
If you like significant new features, you’ll want the iPhone 14 Pro or 14 Pro Max. 
The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus are great choices, too, and they cost less, but they don’t give you much that isn’t already provided in the iPhone 13 models.
Finally, if you like smaller phones, you should know that Apple isn’t making a 5.4-inch Mini version of the iPhone 14. So you’ll be shopping for a 13 Mini, 12 Mini, or 4.7-inch iPhone SE.
To review the basics, Apple has revamped its phone lineup to offer just two distinct size options: There are midsized 6.1-inch models and large 6.7-inch models. 
The 6.1-inch iPhone 14, $799, and iPhone 14 Pro, $999, should be easy for most people to use with one hand, and they take up less room in a pocket or handbag. For $100 more, the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus, $899, and iPhone 14 Pro Max, $1,099, offer more canvas for watching videos, playing games, and scrolling through content. Whether those models are actually too big to handle is a matter of personal preference.
When trying out the phones, I was particularly interested in this year’s camera upgrades and, for the Pro line, the always-on display and interactive notification feature dubbed the Dynamic Island. (Honestly, I’ve never been more excited to see a small bubble design on a gadget.)
Here’s more on what the phones have to offer and how each performed in our rigorous lab tests. (Consumer Reports uses normal consumer outlets to buy all the products we rate, from printers to pickup trucks.)
If you own an iPhone 13 or have spent time in an Apple store playing with one, you know what it’s like to use an iPhone 14. The two models look and feel about the same. 
The larger iPhone 14 Plus could be mistaken for the iPhone 13 Pro Max (now discontinued at Apple) or the 14 Pro Max, although the 14 Plus is a tad lighter by about 1.3 ounces. That might not sound like much, but it’s noticeable if you’re used to big phones, and the 14 Plus is even lighter than the smaller 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro.
The company made a few improvements to the new models.
First, the new Action Mode stabilizes the camera when you’re shooting video. I tested that on a rumbling train careening from Manhattan out to Long Island. The iPhone 14 did a great job of minimizing the hand shake as I filmed the buildings and people passing by. The video looks like it was filmed with a cell phone gimbal.
Action Mode won’t matter if you’re standing still and shooting your kid’s soccer game, but if you’re running along the sidelines, it can make a big difference. (Turn off Action Mode if you’re going for hand shake in your “Blair Witch Project” parody.)
Apple also introduced a new autofocus feature on the iPhone 14’s forward-facing camera. The benefit is subtle, at least to my untrained eye. The selfies I shot on both the 14 and 14 Plus didn’t seem more Instagram-worthy than photos taken with the iPhone 13—or, to be honest, with my old iPhone XR, released in 2018.
Still, CR testers were impressed by the camera performance of both the iPhone 14 and the 14 Plus. The 12-megapixel main cameras received top scores for still image and video quality, placing the phones among the best smartphone cameras.
As with the Pro phones in this latest series, the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus can contact emergency services through a satellite link if you’re in an area without cellular service. The feature is supposed to become operational in November and come free for two years. After that, you’ll need to spring for a paid subscription; the pricing information hasn’t been released yet.
This safety feature alone could push you toward the iPhone 14 if you’re choosing between that model and a previous option, though the phone won’t have all the functionality of a dedicated back-country device like the Garmin inReach. The offering might be particularly useful for hikers, but the satellite function would also be appealing if I were buying a phone for my teenager who’s just learning to drive. The new iPhones have a crash-detection feature, too, as does the Apple Watch, some Android phones, a number of apps, and many cars.
The battery in the iPhone 14 lasted 39 hours on a single charge in our labs. That’s one hour less than the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 14 Pro logged, but it’s not exactly a deal breaker. Performance for the iPhone 14 is top-notch, with testers praising the phone’s fast speed and easy-to-use touchscreen.
The larger 14 Plus had 47.5 hours of juice. Although Apple claims this model has the longest battery life of any iPhone ever, the iPhone 13 Pro Max and 14 Pro Max clocked in slightly more time in CR’s tests.
Apple saved its most notable upgrades for the iPhone 14 Pro phones. 
The features I couldn’t wait to try were the always-on display and the Dynamic Island.
I’m surprised it took this long to bring an always-on display to the iPhone. The feature works like the always-on display on the Apple Watch and many Android phones. It lets you see useful information, like the weather forecast and reminders, without having to interact with the phone.
Photo: Apple, Melanie Pinola/Consumer Reports Photo: Apple, Melanie Pinola/Consumer Reports
If you do want a novel way to interact with your iPhone, though, there’s the new Dynamic Island. Instead of the “notch” cutout at the top of the iPhone 14, 14 Plus, and earlier models, there’s now a pill-shaped cutout that shows system alerts and notifications. It can update you on your phone’s battery level, for example, or alert you to incoming calls.
It’s interactive, too. You can pause or skip songs on Spotify or audiobooks on Audible, manage calls from Google Voice, or adjust your route in Maps.
I kept trying to find new ways to use this tiny space on the screen—playing music and audiobooks, mostly, but also texting myself, as one often does. The Dynamic Island seems to have a lot of potential but as of now, the feature is limited to apps created by Apple and a handful of third-party developers.
Apple updated the Pro cameras as well. Both models have the selfie autofocus and Action Mode available on the standard iPhone 14 models. But the Pro and Pro Max also have a 48-megapixel main rear camera instead of the 12-megapixel option on the other models. More pixels mean the camera can capture more information to create crisper photos, the kind that let you zoom in to see every freckle on a subject’s face. The improved cameras should perform better, particularly in low-light situations.
I found that to be true when taking photos after midnight in my backyard with the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the iPhone 13 Pro Max using only a string of dim, solar-powered lights to illuminate the scenery. Both phones did admirably well in this tough environment (see below), but if you look carefully, you can see that the 14 Pro Max captured greater detail in the foliage in the background and that the color is warmer—closer to what it looked like in person.
Photo: Melanie Pinola/Consumer Reports Photo: Melanie Pinola/Consumer Reports
The differences between the two phones were even more subtle when I took photos of my poodle, who has the curliest hair of any dog I’ve ever seen. Look closely, though, and you can see that the iPhone 14 Pro Max captured more detail in the shadows and the details in his tail.
Photo: Melanie Pinola/Consumer Reports Photo: Melanie Pinola/Consumer Reports
These were informal experiments, however. CR’s lab testing is much more granular and rigorous and the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max now top our chart for best smartphone cameras, with excellent scores for still image, selfie image, and rear video quality.
The iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max have Apple’s latest chip, the A16. The company says it’s more powerful than any chip before it, which is to be expected. The A16 should also be more energy-efficient and can take credit for some of the Pro phones’ new camera tricks.
The 14 Pro earns an excellent rating for performance in our lab tests. But the battery life, while impressive, remains at 40 hours, just like that of the 13 Pro.
The 14 Pro Max, meanwhile, logged 50 hours, just slightly below the 13 Pro Max, which currently tops our charts with a 52.5-hour battery life.
A friend bought an iPhone 13 a few months ago, and after reading all the news about the new phones, he said he has no regrets about not waiting for the latest model. That sounds about right to me, but your decision may depend on what deals you find.
I do think the new safety features are compelling, and the Dynamic Island on the Pro models has potential.
It’s also worth noting that the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro have risen above their last-generation counterparts in our ratings, making them the best 6.1-inch iPhones you can buy today.
When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn affiliate commissions. 100% of the fees we collect are used to support our nonprofit mission. Learn more.
Melanie Pinola
Melanie Pinola covers smartphones, home office products, and a wide range of other technology topics for Consumer Reports. A seasoned service journalist, her work has appeared in the New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Laptop Magazine, PCWorld, and other publications. A former IT administrator and the author of two books about remote work and software, she was a longtime CR reader before joining the company as a tech writer and editor. Follow Melanie on Twitter @melaniepinola.
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