iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max review roundup: A trip to Dynamic Island

iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max review roundup: A trip to Dynamic Island

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iPhone 14 Pro wait times already stretch into October
Early reviews of the iPhone 14 Pro models are generally very positive about the Dynamic Island, Apple's replacement for the screen notch.
Photo: Apple

The first reviews of the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max praise the replacement for the screen notch and the always-on display. Most are unimpressed with the 48-megapixel camera, though.

Some early feedback from reviewers on Apple’s newest top-tier handsets might help you decide if you want to upgrade.

iPhone 14 Pro: iPhone 13 Pro with improvements

Apple is on the final year of the iPhone three-year design cycle, which is why the new 2022 models have the same general design as their predecessors. They have the same screen sizes, flat edges, etc.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t significant improvements. Apple replaced the static peninsula (aka the Notch) with a better alternative. The iPhone 14 Pro series also have an always-on display and better cameras.

Visit Dynamic Island

Perhaps the standout feature of the iPhone 14 Pro models is the Dynamic Island. Apple transformed the cutout for the front-facing camera and other sensors from a notch into a pill shape, and then built in plenty of functionality.

“Apple didn’t just shrink the iPhone’s notch and move it down; it found a way to make this area useful and even fun,” says Tom’s Guide. “In addition to housing the TrueDepth camera, the Dynamic Island acts like a mini dashboard, providing access to the info you need no matter what app you’re in.”

“The animations throughout this experience are slick, making everything feel polished and thought-through,” notes Engadget.

Always-on display

While the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max use the same 6.1- and 6.7-inch screen sizes as their predecessors, they are the first iOS handsets with an always-on screen.

“Apple’s late to having an always-on display, but it’s much more vibrant than other always-on displays,” says The Verge review.

Apple used iOS 16 to revamp the Lock screen with the new Pro models in mind. “Because the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s display refresh rate can scale all the way down to 1Hz, Apple designed its AOD to essentially mirror the lock screen (in color) but at a much lower brightness level,” says Tom’s Guide.

The screen itself drew praise. “The iPhone 14 Pro Max’s Super Retina XDR display is amazingly bright and vivid,” notes the Tom’s Guide reviewer.

48 megapixel main camera

Apple’s 2022 Pro models include a 48 MP main camera, up from the 12 MP cam in the earlier models. But it’s not really impressing many reviewers.

“In my testing so far, the changes seem minor,” said the Engadget reviewer. “In fact, most of the photos I took from the iPhone 14 Pro and 13 Pro are basically indistinguishable.”

The Verge reviewer was equally meh. “In general, the 14 Pro and 13 Pro take really similar photos. The 14 Pro is a little cooler and captures a tiny bit more detail at 100 percent in dim lighting, but you really have to go looking for it.”

To be clear, no one says the new camera is worse than its predecessor. It’s just not a noticeable improvement.

Performance gains

The A16 processor in the two 2022 Pro models is faster than its predecessor. Cnet‘s review indicates that iPhone 14 Pro Max scored 5521 in the multi-core section of Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5. That’s 16% faster than the iPhone 13 Pro.

“In use, everything feels peppy. Gaming is an absolute delight. And subtle things, like animations as you move in and out of the Dynamic Island, are super smooth,” noted Cnet.

Apple’s latest is hugely faster than rival Androids.

Preorder iPhone 14 Pro now

If the Dynamic Island or always-on display make your iPhone XS Max look very dated, the iPhone 14 series went up for sale on September 12. Those who pre-ordered quickly should start receiving their devices on September 16.

But demand for the Pro and Pro Max exceeded Apple’s early supply. Orders for these handsets placed at the time of this writing won’t arrive until mid October.