The iPhone 14 series is official and there’s a lot to talk about the new smartphones that Apple announced at its “Far Out” event. But wait, Apple also announced the next-gen AirPods Pro TWS earbuds, and three Apple Watch models, including a rugged “Ultra” model for explorers, adventure enthusiasts, and ultra-athletes. Below is our quick analysis of everything Apple announced.
Apple iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus: New wine in an old bottle, but with a better taste
Let’s start with the new iPhones. This time, Apple has skipped the mini model and now offers a regular iPhone 14 with a 6.1-inch screen, and the iPhone 14 Plus with a 6.7-inch screen. The new iPhones retain the same design as the iPhone 13, and both have the same Super Retina XDR OLED panels with up to 1200 nits of peak brightness.
The iPhone 14 starts at $799 for the base 128GB storage model, the same as the iPhone 13, but comes with new and improved capabilities. The iPhone 14 Plus, on the other hand, starts at $899, which is $100 less than the Pro model but offers the big screen experience. Users can also choose between 256GB or 512GB storage options by paying a bit more. Apple is also offering upgrade offers to consumers where users can get up to $800 off when trading-in a qualifying iPhone – offers will vary by geo and maybe be bettered by some carriers. The iPhone 14 will go on sale starting September 16, whereas the iPhone 14 Plus will go on sale starting October 7.
One major change this time around for the new iPhone 14 and Plus models is that they are not powered by the latest SoC. Instead, Apple has equipped these smartphones with the same powerful A15 Bionic SoC that powers last year’s iPhone 13 line-up.
There are other iterative improvements coming to the new models:
- New 12MP main camera with a wider f/1.5 aperture for improved low-light performance together with a new Photonic Engine that uses software, hardware, and machine learning.
- Users can now record 4K HDR videos up to 30fps in Cinematic Mode, and there is a new Action Mode as well which uses the entire sensor to record video and crops it to stabilize the video, like a gimbal or GoPro would do.
- The front camera is also improved now with a wider f/1.9 aperture to improve the low-light performance, and also comes with an auto focus feature to help you capture sharp, blur-free photos and videos.
- The iPhone 14 models support 5G network connectivity, but one major change in the US is that there is no physical SIM card, instead, these are eSIM-only iPhones.
- Apple has also added an Emergency SOS via Satellite safety feature that lets you send emergency messages to get help when a cellular or Wi-Fi network is unavailable.
- Another safety feature, crash detection, is a great addition that uses a high g-force accelerometer, gyroscope, and machine learning algorithms to detect a severe car crash and automatically contact emergency services.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max: Redefining Ultra-Premium with “Pro” Features
Apple is finally offering “Pro” grade features on the iPhone 14 Pro models, differentiating them from the regular iPhone 14 & Plus models. These include the latest A16 Bionic SoC built on the cutting edge TSMC 4nm process node, a new 48MP high-resolution camera, a pill-shaped notch cutout with dynamic functionality, and much more.
The iPhone 14 Pro starts at $999 for the base model with 128GB storage, whereas the iPhone 14 Pro Max starts at $1,099 for the base model. Users can configure the storage up to 1TB. With carrier offers, consumers can also get up to $1,000 off when trading in an old iPhone, again, these offers may vary by geo. The new iPhone 14 Pro models will go on sale starting September 16.
A16 Bionic: Key Specifications and Features
Under the hood is a new 4nm A16 Bionic SoC which focuses on enhancing three core experiences – power efficiency, display, and camera. It has nearly 16 billion transistors, the most ever on an iPhone. The SoC features a new 6-core CPU, featuring two performance cores using 20% lower power compared to the A15 Bionic, and four high-efficiency cores consuming 33% less power than the competition. Apple says that the new CPU is also up to 40% faster than the competition.
There is also a new 16-core Neural Engine that is capable of 17 TOPS powering the new iPhone’s advanced computational photography. The CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, and camera ISP perform together offering 4 TOPS to unlock new Pro Camera features on the iPhones.
Lastly, the 5-core GPU has 50% more memory bandwidth for playing graphics-intensive games. The A16 Bionic also comes with a new Display Engine that enables the 1Hz refresh rate powering new always-on display capabilities on the iPhone 14 Pro models and peak display brightness.
Dynamic Island: in-display notch, but a more functional implementation
Apple spoke at length about the pill-shaped display cutout notch, which it is calling “Dynamic Island”. We have seen Android OEMs try out different types of notches but the one on iPhone 14 Pro seems to be the cleverest implementation. Apple shrunk the selfie camera and Face ID True Depth sensor by 30%, making room for more display space.
So how does it work? As the name suggests, the notifications from the active apps extend and shrink, with dynamic effects and nice animation. So, whether you have a timer or music playing, these will show up in an extended form next to the camera cutout. You can then tap, or tap and hold, on the icon to expand or open that app to take action, like Play/Pause music, and more. Currently, Dynamic Island is supported by stock apps, but Apple said that it will be working with developers to bring third-party app support too.
Key features of the new iPhone 14 Pros:
- The iPhone 14 Pro & Pro Max feature 6.1-inch & 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED panels with 120Hz LTPO adaptive refresh rate that can go as low as 1Hz, enabling a new Always-On display feature.
- The display has a typical brightness of 1000 nits, 1600 nits peak HDR brightness and up to 2000 nits in outdoor conditions.
- New 48MP camera sensor with 4-in-1 pixel binning outputting 12MP photos by default, and full res 48MP photos in Apple ProRAW mode.
- The new camera sensor is 68% larger than the iPhone 13 Pro, with an f/1.78 aperture, 24mm focal length, 2.44um pixel size, and second-generation sensor-shift OIS technology.
- Combined with the new Photonic Engine, the main camera on iPhone 14 Pro can capture 2x better low-light performance.
- Similar to the iPhone 14, the Pro models also come with Emergency SOS via Satellite and Crash Detection feature.
New Apple Watch models: Health, fitness & safety at the core
Apple announced three new line-ups of its smartwatches – the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE, and a premium Apple Watch Ultra. The Series 8 & SE models will be available in GPS & Cellular variants, whereas the Ultra model will come with cellular connectivity as standard.
In terms of pricing, the Apple Watch Series 8 starts at $399 for GPS variant and $499 for the cellular variant. The Apple Watch SE starts at $249 for GPS variant, whereas the cellular variant is priced at $299. The most expensive, Apple Watch Ultra will start at $799.
Apple started with some brilliant storytelling on how Apple Watch technology has become key in making a huge difference in our lives, and how the health features have saved lives. The biggest addition to the new Apple Watch Series 8 is a new edge-to-edge display and a new temperature sensor for women’s health – featuring advanced cycle and ovulation tracking. This is a big achievement for Apple. All this data is end-to-end encrypted on the device and accessible via passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID. Users also get granular control over the data they share.
There is also a new G-Force accelerometer, together with GPS, mic, and gyroscope, bringing crash detection features to the smartwatch. When a crash is detected, the Apple Watch will immediately notify your emergency contacts, and can also make emergency SOS calls. But that’s not all, there is a new Low Power Mode that retains many core features like activity tracking and fall detection while disabling other features like always-on display and auto workout to extend the battery life, offering a total of up to 36 hours. This feature will also be rolled out to Apple Watch Series 4 and upwards with Watch OS9.
Moving on to the second-gen Apple Watch SE, it offers all the core benefits of the Apple Watch to the users at a much lower price. These include workouts and activity tracking, water resistance, high/low heart rate notifications, fall detection among other core features.
The new addition is the same motion sensors as the Watch Series 8 to support crash detection. Apple says that the display on the second-gen Watch SE is 30% larger than the Series 3, and comes with the same SoC as the Series 8, making it 20% faster than the first-gen Watch SE.
With Family Setup, users can pair the Apple Watch SE for their kids who don’t have their own iPhones yet. Features like calling and messaging contacts, sharing the location and connecting to emergency services are enabled on the watch with Family Setup.
Apple Watch Ultra: Rugged smartwatch for extreme users
One common feedback from the “power users” like marathon runners, and those into adventure and exploration was that the Apple Watch’s battery life is insufficient compared to dedicated athletic watches from competitors. Clearly, the new Watch Ultra aims to cater to these power users and compete with the likes of Garmin and Suunto. It’s built to use in extreme environments – from freezing cold mountains to the extreme desert heat.
From the design to the build, Apple has completely reworked and reengineered this one. The Watch Ultra comes with an Aerospace Grade Titanium case which improves durability and corrosion resistance. The display is covered by Sapphire Crystal glass making it more resilient from edge impacts that can occur in extreme conditions.
The display is the biggest and brightest on any Apple Watch to date, making it easier to read in the harshest sunlight. And there is a new Night Mode where UI turns RED for better visibility in the dark and to preserve night vision. Apple has also added an extra action button that is customizable giving users quick access to key functions. There are dual speakers and extra mics for a loud, increased volume in outdoor conditions.
Apple is promising up to 36 hours of battery life and up to 60 hours in low power mode. Better than Apple Watch, but still limited compared to some competing watches. There is a new watch face to go along with the Ultra model with critical information such as compass and dial, and details of mountains, ocean, or a trail. The watch also comes with a new, thinnest band which Apple says is convenient for making quick adjustments.
The Watch Ultra is also Water Resistant up to 100 meters, meaning you can use it as a dive watch.
Apple AirPods Pro: Iterative Update with Better Audio & Long Battery Life
Apple AirPods Pro is one of the most popular TWS earbuds across the globe, and the second-gen AirPods Pro is built on the same foundation to bring in key improvements. It comes with the new H2 chip bringing key upgrades to battery life, performance, and ANC. Priced at $249, the new TWS earbuds will be available starting September 23.
Apple mentioned that the H2 chip unlocks high bandwidth connectivity but did not go into much detail on whether or not it supports Lossless Audio. Using iOS 16 and TruDepth camera on the iPhone to create a personal Spatial Audio profile to match your needs based on the size and shape of your ears.
The AirPods Pro offers 2X better noise cancellation, as per Apple. There is also Adaptive Transparencymode which can dynamically reduce noise, like the ones of construction equipment. One big addition is a new capacitive touch control on the Force Sensor to adjust the volume by swiping up or down.
Apple has also improved the battery life and it can offer up to six hours of listening time on a single charge, a 33% improvement over the first gen AirPods Pro. With the charging case, you can get up to 30 hours of total listening time. That’s not all, Apple has also added a small speaker in the case that buzzes, and lets you find it using the Find My app. The speaker can also buzz to indicate charging sounds and a low battery.
- The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus bring new experiences with improved cameras and safety features.
- The iPhone 14 Pro models unlock new experiences with the latest chipset A16 Bionic, Dynamic Island notch, and a 48MP camera sensor.
- In the US, Apple is going with eSIM-only iPhones, whereas the rest of the world continues to get a physical SIM + eSIM setup.
- Apple has also introduced Emergency SOS via satellite on new iPhones.
- The Apple Watch Series 8 with a new temperature sensor focuses on women’s health and safety features like crash detection.
- The Watch SE brings new upgrades such as a bigger display, the latest chipset, and safety features like crash detection.
- Watch Ultra is Apple’s rugged smartwatch built for extreme environments aiming at adventure users, explorers, and deep-sea divers.
- Apple also announced the next-gen AirPods Pro with a new H2 chip bringing improvements to ANC, battery life, transparency mode and audio.