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iPhone 14 Pro — so what's the Dynamic Island?

iPhone 14 Pro Max
(Image credit: Future)

After five years of notches, the iPhone 14 Pro has arrived with something new. The clunkily-named "Dynamic Island" is here to give users back some more display space, as well as fulfill many new functions the notch never could.

The regular iPhone 14 still has the notch though, so you won't get this taste of the future unless you pay for it. However, it's still the smallest the notch has ever been on an iPhone, so you can at least be glad of that if you go for the iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Plus.

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Read on for the breakdown of what's happening with the Face ID and camera notch for both the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro. And make sure you check out the other big new features for these new Apple phones with our iPhone 14 cameras and the iPhone 14 specs guides.

iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max Dynamic Island

iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future)

After many rumors discussing the fate of the iPhone notch and what a new cut-out design will look like, Apple finally revealed how the notch has been replaced by the Dynamic Island.

It's something akin to two punch-hole camera cut-outs placed next to each other, But there's more to this pill-shaped cut-out than meets the eye. Using a blend of software and graphics, the cut-out can seemingly expand and change shape to display alerts and additional content, rather than just house Face ID sensors and the front-facing camera.

iPhone 14 Pro dynamic island

(Image credit: Apple)

Familiar widgets, like those for the timer or media playback, now appear within the island area when active. It means you can keep an eye on relevant information at all times rather than having to open the app or pull down the lockscreen. You can also long-tap on the island to open up the full widget when you need it.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future)

We don't know how useful this pill-shaped island will prove to be yet, but during our iPhone 14 Pro Max hands-on we were certainly impressed by it. It'll likely come down to how Apple's managed to integrate it with all the default iPhone apps, and in future how third-party developers can make use of the feature, such as this concept for a game using the Island.

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max: The notch lives on

iPhone 14 Plus

(Image credit: Future)

While the Dynamic Island is an exciting upgrade for the iPhone 14 Pro models, the standard iPhone 14 handsets have missed out. 

Instead at the top of their displays they still feature the familiar notch design, albeit the slightly smaller one that Apple introduced with the iPhone 13.

iPhone 14 Plus

(Image credit: Future)

It's part of the general theme of this year's iPhone reveal, which is the base model iPhone 14 has received scant changes compared to the iPhone 14 Pro models. At least Apple gave us something new in the form of the iPhone 14 Plus though, which splits the difference between regular and Pro iPhones.

iPhone 14 Pro Dynamic Island and iPhone 14 notch outlook

Even though only the iPhone 14 Pro models sport the new Dynamic Island, it's a pretty big deal when the world's most prominent smartphone gets a redesign. The notched iPhone design that's become so ubiquitous over the past five years is about to enter a gradual retirement, and the new, but just-as-unique pill-shaped cutout is here to add a new way of interacting with your iPhone apps.

For now though, it's a shame only the Pro iPhones will be abandoning the notch. Not only does it mean less display for the regular iPhones, and even fewer new features, but it makes them look old-fashioned, even though they're brand new.

To make up your own mind about whether the new Dynamic Island is a good idea, and if the old notch style still holds up, take a look at our iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 14 Pro Max hands-on for a more detailed look direct from Cupertino.

Next: Here's why our Phones Editor thinks Apple went overboard on the iPhone 14 Pro always-on display.

Richard Priday
Staff Writer

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.