Apple iPhone 14 Plus review: It's an iPhone, but bigger




  • In Business
  • 2022-10-06 04:00:56Z
  • By Engadget

Every year Apple has a surprise or two in store for its device lineup, and for 2022 one of those twists is the iPhone 14 Plus. That's because instead of continuing to make a mini version of the basic iPhone, Apple has finally created a more affordable big-screen option starting at $899 for anyone who doesn't need or want to shell out for a $1,099 iPhone 14 Pro Max.

That said, we've already taken a big look at the vanilla iPhone 14. So in lieu of rehashing what is essentially the same phone but with a bigger display, this review is going to focus on the most important components along with what's different on this year's new Plus model.

The basics

Packing a 6.7-inch OLED screen with a 2778 x 1284 resolution, the iPhone 14 Plus is the same size as the Pro Max, but with a much lighter body (203 grams vs 240 grams). In fact, due to things like its triple rear cameras and heavy stainless steel frame, the iPhone 14 Pro actually weighs a tiny bit more (206 grams) than the 14 Plus, despite having a significantly smaller screen.

Like the standard model, the iPhone 14 Plus features just two rear cameras.
Like the standard model, the iPhone 14 Plus features just two rear cameras.  

The iPhone 14 Plus has the same basic features as the standard iPhone 14. You get a more playful selection of colors (blue, purple, midnight, starlight and red) than the Pro line, but lose out on some more sophisticated tech such as Apple's Dynamic Island, the new A16 Bionic chip or a dedicated telephoto camera. Instead, you get an A15 Bionic processor (the same as last year's models), just two rear cameras (including the 12MP main sensor from the iPhone 13 Pro), and a new 12MP TrueDepth selfie cam in front.

The phone still feels premium though, and has more than enough performance to handle anything you can throw at it. And as another perk for all the butterfingered folk out there, the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus have a new mid-frame that makes it easier to replace front and back glass panels in the event of an accident.

The iPhone 14 Plus (203 grams) is significantly lighter than the iPhone 14 Pro Max (240 grams).
The iPhone 14 Plus (203 grams) is significantly lighter than the iPhone 14 Pro Max (240 grams).  

Just don't try to carry over the physical SIM card from your previous phone, because like the rest of the iPhone 14 line, the Plus only works with eSIMs. This change shouldn't be a huge deal because Apple has supported eSIMs on its phone for years. But for those who haven't made the switch, just remember to save time to contact your carrier in order to convert your physical card into a virtual one.

Display

The most obvious advantage of the iPhone 14 Plus' increased dimensions is its ability to fit a bigger screen, and over the course of about a week, using it has been a delight. When displaying HDR content, Apple says peak brightness can go as high as 1,200 nits. Meanwhile, using a light meter, I found that our review unit actually exceeded its claimed typical brightness of 800 nits, hitting just shy of 825 nits. And because it's an OLED panel, you get superb contrast and bright colors.

Thanks to its OLED panel, the iPhone 14 Plus outputs bright, vivid images.
Thanks to its OLED panel, the iPhone 14 Plus outputs bright, vivid images.  

Honestly, every now and then I find myself pleasantly surprised that a phone with a screen this big and vibrant is as light as it is. That weight reduction makes it just a little bit easier to hold than the Pro Max or similar big-screen phones while watching movies. The one downside to that is because the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus still feature 60Hz panels, display aficionados may more easily notice that fast action or UI animations don't look quite as smooth as they might on an iPhone or iPad with a 120Hz ProMotion screen.

Battery life

The other big upgrade on the iPhone 14 Plus over the standard model is battery life, which is simply awesome. A lot of device makers talk about making handsets that can last multiple days, but in my experience, the iPhone 14 Plus is one of the few that actually delivers. Even with me going through standard setup, running a slate of benchmarks, watching a handful of YouTube videos and plowing through a bunch of levels in Ustwo's charming tactics game Desta, I still finished the day with more than 45 percent juice left. That meant even with moderate use, I didn't have to worry about recharging until going to sleep the following night.

Sadly, the iPhone 14 Plus still relies on a Lightning connector for wired charging and data transfer.
Sadly, the iPhone 14 Plus still relies on a Lightning connector for wired charging and data transfer.  

And while I'm primarily an Android user, I also want to commend the excellent standby times you get with iPhones. Typically I'm used to phones losing between three and five percent battery overnight, but on the iPhone 14 Plus, I'm looking at one, maybe two percent. I know that doesn't sound like a ton, but it really goes to show how efficient Apple's handsets are. And in our standard video rundown test, the iPhone 14 Plus lasted a whopping 21 hours and 17 minutes, which is the second longest time we've seen from any phone this year, only behind the OnePlus 10T's mark of 22:59.

Cameras

Unlike the Pro line, the iPhone 14 Plus only gets two rear cameras: a 12MP primary shooter and a 12MP ultra-wide with a 120-degree field of view. In daytime shots, the iPhone captured rich, punchy colors and lots of detail that doesn't leave much room for critique. However, if I'm really nitpicking, I did notice that when compared to the Pixel 6 Pro, the iPhone 14 Plus occasionally overexposed some shots, which resulted in slightly more washed-out colors and a bit less dynamic range.

Thanks to its larger 6.
Thanks to its larger 6.  

Meanwhile in low light, the iPhone 14 Plus almost matched the performance of Google's Night Sight mode on the Pixel 6 Pro, capturing bright images with good detail. In one shot at night of Grogu (aka baby Yoda), the iPhone 14 Plus captured a lovely golden glow from nearby lights. Unfortunately, that effect was somewhat exaggerated as evidenced by the Pixel 6 Pro's image, which looks more balanced while also featuring slightly sharper details on Grogu's robe and the plants in back.

I think the biggest upgrade to the iPhone 14 Plus' general photo experience, though, is the Photonic Engine. Low light photo processing is up to two and a half times faster, which means there's less waiting around between shots, and more importantly, there's also a smaller chance you'll miss out on capturing that magic moment.

Apple's improved camera experience carries over to the iPhone 14's 12MP front-facing camera as well. That's because thanks to the addition of a true autofocus system (instead of a fixed focus distance like on a lot of other phones), you can take sharper selfies with way less effort. And for someone like me who doesn't have a tried-and-tested selfie-taking posture like our resident selfie queen Cherlynn Low does, this makes it a lot easier to grab a decent looking shot when I do.

Wrap-up

Now I know that the addition of a slightly larger basic iPhone to the line is far from a game changer. But, the introduction of the iPhone 14 Plus really fleshes out the lineup. Previously, if you wanted an iPhone with a big screen, you had no choice but to shell out for the Pro Max model, which costs over $1,000. But with the 14 Plus, you can get the same size screen without having to pay for fancy features you might not want or need. As a bonus, its thermal management is even better than the standard model, so you almost never have to worry about getting sweaty hands.

Thanks to a new mid-frame, it should be much easier to the repair the 14 Pluus compared to previous generations.
Thanks to a new mid-frame, it should be much easier to the repair the 14 Pluus compared to previous generations.  

I'm still a little bummed that it seems like the Mini line had to die to make way for the Plus, because then the iPhone family would have a truly great range of sizes and prices. I should also point out that Google offers a similarly sized screen and a dedicated telephoto lens for the same price in the Pixel 6 Pro (and soon, the Pixel 7 Pro, probably). But I know asking longtime Apple users to switch OSes is pointless. So for all the iPhone fans who just want a familiar device with a bigger screen and outstanding battery life, well then you're in luck because the 14 Plus is your new champion.

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