iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Should you upgrade? | Cult of Mac

iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Should you upgrade?

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Should you upgrade from iPhone 13 Pro to iPhone 14 Pro?
Should you upgrade from iPhone 13 Pro to iPhone 14 Pro?
Photo: Rajesh/Apple

Apple’s newest iPhone is here. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max represent the best of what the company has to offer customers this year.

But if you already own the iPhone 13 Pro, should you upgrade to the iPhone 14 Pro? Or is it better to save your money for next year’s model? Find out in this comparison.

Comparing the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro

As successive generations of the ‌iPhone‌, the ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ and ‌iPhone 14 Pro‌ share a lot of design similarities and key features.

However, the ‌iPhone 14 Pro‌ offers several key upgrades over the ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌, including better cameras, an always-on display, and improved A16 Bionic chip. But the clincher is the all-new Dynamic Island, a fun and quirky new UI element that makes the iPhone 14 Pro one of the most exciting iPhones we’ve seen.

Design: Not much difference

The new iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max come in four colors -- two of them new (space black and dark purple).
The new iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max come in four colors — two of them new (space black and dark purple).
Photo: Apple
  • iPhone 13 Pro: 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.65 mm; 204 grams; IP68 water and dust resistant up to 6 meters
  • iPhone 14 Pro: 147.5mm x 71.5mm x 7.85mm; 206 grams; IP68 water and dust resistant up to 6 meters

The iPhone 14 Pro series follow the same design language as the iPhone 13 Pro lineup. They use Ceramic Shield glass at the front, surgical-grade stainless steel, and are IP68 water-resistant.

There’s a slight difference in the dimensions and weight of the new iPhones, but it is not radical enough that you will notice immediately.

The more significant change is the pill + hole notch Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 series. Apple has used this new setup smartly to surface information and important notifications.

Color is the only other notable change. The iPhone 14 Pro lineup comes in four shades: silver, space black, deep purple, and gold. The older iPhone was available in five colors, with Apple dropping both sierra blue and alpine green shades from last year.

Display: Dynamic Island is the highlight

The Dynamic Island morphs into different sorts of notifications.
The Dynamic Island morphs into different sorts of notifications.
Photo: Apple
  • iPhone 13 Pro: 6.1-inch, Super Retina XDR display, 2532 x 1170 pixels resolution, 1000 nits brightness, 1200 nits max brightness, HDR10, Dolby Vision, 120Hz ProMotion
  • iPhone 14 Pro: 6.1-inch, Super Retina XDR display, Dynamic Island, 2556 x 1179 pixels resolution, 1000 nits brightness, 2000 nits peak brightness, HDR10, Dolby Vision, 120Hz ProMotion

On paper, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max retain the same display size as their predecessors. This year, you get the usual generational improvements and Always-On display support.

Apple claims the iPhone 14 Pro’s display can reach a peak brightness of 1600 nits while displaying HDR content. And outdoors, the peak brightness tops out at 2000 nits. That’s double the max brightness of last year’s model.

Apple uses two ambient light sensors on the iPhone 14 Pro: one at the front and another at the back. This small quality of life improvement will allow the new iPhone to manage the display brightness more accurately according to the ambient light.

Performance: Efficiency improvements

  • iPhone 13 Pro – A15 Bionic, 5nm fab, 16-core Neural engine
  • iPhone 14 Pro – A16 Bionic, 4nm fab, 50% more memory bandwidth, 16-core Neural Engine

Apple claims the A16 Bionic is its “fastest chip ever in a smartphone.” And while this might be true, this year’s A-series chip does not bring as big a jump in performance as the last few generations. Instead, based on the 4nm fab, Apple seems to have focused on efficiency improvements for better battery life. There’s a claimed 20% reduction in the power draw of the high-performance cores. This should help with sustained peak performance while playing games and running heavy apps.

The chip also has a new display engine to manage Always-On display and enable refresh rates as low as 1Hz.

There’s no difference between the two phones in storage and RAM. They both come with 6GB RAM, and you can buy them with up to 1TB of storage.

Battery life: Better, but not really

There’s no major difference in the rated battery life of the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro. Apple still claims both devices can provide up to 75 hours of audio playback or up to 20 hours of streamed video playback. Regular video playback time has increased by an hour for the iPhone 14 Pro, up from 22 hours on the iPhone 13 Pro. But this is probably not a big enough difference to impact daily use.

Charging speeds remain the same as well. The phones can fast charge to 50% in 30 minutes using a 20W or higher power adapter.

Camera: Massive upgrades

Some of the biggest upgrades in the Pro models involved the cameras.
Some of the biggest upgrades in the Pro models involve the cameras.
Photo: Apple
  • iPhone 13 Pro: 12MP f/1.5 primary camera, Sensor-shift stabilization; 12MP f/2.8 telephoto camera, 3x optical zoom, OIS; 12MP f/1.8 Ultra Wide, Macro photography; True Tone flash, Deep Fusion, Cinematic mode (1080p@30fps); Front: 12MP camera with f/2.2 aperture
  • iPhone 14 Pro – 48MP f/1.78 primary camera, Second-gen sensor-shift stabilization, 12MP f/2.8 telephoto camera, 3x optical zoom; 12MP f/2.2 Ultra Wide with bigger 1.4um pixels, Macro photography; Adaptive True Tone flash, Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Cinematic mode (4K HDR@30fps), Action mode; Front: 12MP camera with f/1.9 aperture, autofocus

Apple says the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max’s camera system “pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in a smartphone.” The triple-camera setup has been upgraded to include a new 48MP primary camera and an upgraded 12MP Ultra Wide with bigger pixels.

Add in the software enhancements like the Photonic Engine, and Apple claims you get some massive improvements in low-light scenarios: up to 2x on the primary camera, 3x on the Ultra Wide, and 2x on the Telephoto and TrueDepth cameras.

Besides delivering better image quality, Apple uses the 48MP sensor to offer a new 2x telephoto option. So, now you get a zoom range starting from 0.6x to 1x, 2x, and 3x without any noticeable hit in quality.

Apple has upgraded the True Tone flash as well. It has been redesigned with nine LEDs that now change their intensity depending on the camera you are using.

The front 12MP camera now uses a wider f/1.9 aperture, letting it take more light. Plus, it now has autofocus, so you will look better than ever in selfies.

Video Recording: Handy new features

In the video department, the iPhone 14 Pro series introduces an Action mode that provides GoPro-like stabilization when recording action footage. It uses the data from the main and Ultra Wide camera to achieve this. Thanks to the A16 Bionic, you can now record Cinematic videos in 4K 30fps resolution.

All these improvements add up, but they are not big enough to ditch your iPhone 13 Pro and upgrade to the iPhone 14 Pro for the camera performance alone.

Connectivity and sensors: Satellite!

Emergency SOS via satellite app
Yep, iPhone 14 Pro can connect to satellites.
Screenshots: Apple/Cult of Mac
  • iPhone 13 Pro: Emergency SOS, Three-axis gyro, physical nanoSIM slots, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS
  • iPhone 14 Pro: Emergency SOS with satellite, High dynamic range gyro, Car crash detection, dual eSIM slots, Bluetooth 5.3, Precision dual-frequency GPS

Apple’s latest iPhone packs some notable changes compared to the iPhone 13 Pro in the connectivity and sensors department.

For starters, iPhone 14 Pro models sold in the US will not come with a physical nanoSIM card slot. Instead, they will only have dual eSIM support. Depending on how frequently you switch phones and your carrier, this could be an issue.

The main highlight of the iPhone 14 Pro series is Emergency SOS with satellite. In an emergency, the phone can connect to a satellite and let you contact your friends/family or emergency services. The feature is free for the next two years but is only available in the US and Canada.

Another new safety feature on the iPhone 14 Pro is car crash detection. This is made possible by the new high dynamic range gyroscope and other software improvements. Your iPhone will automatically detect when you are in a crash and contact emergency services.

iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 14 Pro: Is an upgrade worth it?

Yes, with caveats. The better cameras, always-on display, video stabilization, and improved chip are reasons enough to upgrade, but the Dynamic Island seals the deal. The Dynamic Island is some of the best UI work Apple has done in years. Even though Apple designed it to cover up a flaw, the Dynamic Island looks like it’ll provide real utility in day-to-day usage — and will be hecka fun to use! Is it necessary? Probably not. But I can’t remember a time when the pro iPhone was so different from the normie iPhone.

Of course, if you have a perfectly good iPhone 13 Pro and are happy with it, it makes sense to hold onto it for another year. This way, you will better enjoy the improvements the next year’s iPhone brings to the table.