iPhone 14 Pro shipping delays — should you get a regular iPhone instead?

iPhone 14 Plus vs iPhone 14 Pro Max
(Image credit: Future)

If you're eager to get your hands on a new iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max, I hope you're a big believer in the old adage about good things coming to those who wait. Because it sounds like iPhone ship times are going to test the very limits of that philosophy.

Apple's iPhone 14 Pro models were already facing constrained supplies, pushing iPhone 14 wait times past a month for the $999 and $1,099 iPhone models that Apple started selling toward the end of September. And now it's very possible those wait times are going to get worse, thanks to Covid lockdowns where Apple assembles its phones.

Specifically, Apple has released a statement warning that the Zhengzhou, China-based production plant responsible for putting together the iPhone 14 Pro models is "operating at significantly reduced capacity" as a result of a Covid-19-related lockdown. Apple says that iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments will be lower than anticipated; more worrisome for shoppers is that wait times for those phones are expected to increase.

There's a silver lining to all this, and it's the fact that iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus models appear to be unaffected. Order those phones right now, for example, and you can have them in your hand by tomorrow in the U.S.

Then again, there's a reason demand for the iPhone 14 isn't as fervid as it seems to be for the iPhone 14 Pro. As our iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 14 Pro comparison details, Apple's Pro handsets got all the big features this time out. The iPhone 14, in contrast, is a more modest upgrade from recent versions.

Still, an iPhone in the hand is worth two on back order, to paraphrase another old adage. Jf you've been holding out for an iPhone 14 Pro, does it make more sense to grab the standard iPhone or iPhone 14 Plus, given the lengthy waits for the Pro models? Here's what we think about the trade-offs you'd have to make.

Just when can you expect to get an iPhone 14 Pro?

A big factor in deciding whether to buy an iPhone 14 Pro and wait for it to ship or buying an iPhone 14 so you can have your phone now boils down to how long you'll actually need to wait. Unfortunately, that's in flux right now.

iPhone 14 Pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As of Monday, November 7, ordering an iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max in the U.S. requires a month-long wait before the phone ships to you between December 8 and 14. U.K. shoppers face that same lengthy wait for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
ModelEstimated delivery date (U.S.)Estimated delivery date (U.K.)
iPhone 14TomorrowNovember 9
iPhone 14 Plus TomorrowNovember 9
iPhone 14 Pro December 8 - 14December 7 - 14
iPhone 14 Pro MaxDecember 8 - 14December 7 - 14

And that could be the shortest wait you experience for a while. In alerting people about reduced capacities at the plant where the Pro models are made, Apple suggested that supplies are going to be stretched even thinner. "Customers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products," Apple's statement on supply issues (opens in new tab) says.

While it's unclear just how much that will add to shipping delays and even less clear on when Apple expects to ramp up iPhone 14 Pro production, it's a safe bet that the window for getting a Pro model before the end of the year is rapidly closing. Wait until Black Friday to place your order, and it's very likely your new phone will arrive sometime in early 2023.

For some people, the length of that wait won't matter so long as it ends with a new iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max — understandable since the latter tops our best phone rankings. But if you need a new phone before the end of the year, you'll need to figure out if you can live with the iPhone 14 and its more modest improvements compared to the Pro models.

What are the biggest iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 14 Pro differences?

If you decide to skip the wait and go for the iPhone 14, here's whet you're giving up:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 iPhone 14iPhone 14 PlusiPhone 14 ProiPhone 14 Pro Max
Screen size6.1-inches6.7-inches6.1-inches6.7-inches
Refresh rate60Hz60Hz1-120Hz1-120Hz
CPUApple A15 BionicApple A15 BionicApple A16 BionicApple A16 Bionic
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB256GB, 512GB, 1TB256GB, 512GB, 1TB
CamerasDual 12MP (Wide, ultrawide)Dual 12MP (Wide, ultrawide)48MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom 48MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom
Size5.78 x 2.82 x 0.31 inches6.33 x 3.07 x 0.31 inches5.81 x 2.81 x 0.31 inches6.33 x 3.05 x 0.31 inches
Weight6.07 ounces7.16 ounces7.27 ounces8.47 ounces
Dust/Water resistanceIP68IP68IP68IP68
ColorsPurple, blue, midnight, starlight and Product REDPurple, blue, midnight, starlight and Product REDPurple, gold, silver and space blackPurple, gold, silver and space black

• A newer processor: Technically, the A15 Bionic chipset powering the iPhone 14 is different from the one inside the iPhone 13 — it's got an extra core in its GPU, so the newer iPhone still outperforms the older model in our iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13 benchmarks. But if you want the fastest iPhone available, you're going to want one of the iPhone 14 Pro models, as they have the more powerful A16 Bionic silicon. Our iPhone 14 Pro benchmarks show what kind of performance you can expect, and that would be somewhat faster than the regular iPhone 14.

• A fast refreshing display: Apple continues to reserve adjustable display refresh rates for its more expensive phones. As with the iPhone 13 lineup, the iPhone 14 Pro models can scale up to 120Hz when on-screen activity benefits from a higher refresh rate. The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are stuck with 60Hz displays. If you're upgrading from another 60Hz phone, you'll notice no difference with the iPhone 14, but if you're coming from a phoe with a fast-refreshing screen, the iPhone 14's 60Hz panel will feel like a step back.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

There's one other iPhone 14 Pro-only feature related to the display refresh rate. Both the Pro and Pro Max can scale down to 1Hz when on-screen activity is static. That allows those phones to support an always-on display feature — the first iPhones to offer that capability.

• Dynamic Island: The iPhone 14 continues to have a notch dipping down into its 6.1-inch screen, as does the iPhone 14 Plus. But on the Pro modes, the notch has given way to the Dynamic Island. That's a more subtle cutout for housing the iPhone's front camera and Face ID sensors.

The Dynamic Island on an iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Dynamic Island also serves as an area where alerts and notifications appear. With the arrival of Live Activities via the iOS 16.1 update, those special alerts show up in the Dynamic Island as well. But that's a capability notch-equipped iPhones like the iPhone 14 don't offer.

• Better cameras: You already know that the iPhone Pro models offer a telescope lens that you won't find on the standard iPhone. But the chasm between camera setups grows even wider with the iPhone 14 lineup, as Apple now equips its Pro phones with a 48MP main sensor. That allows the iPhone 14 Pro to shoot more detailed shots in the ProRAW format — and the difference in 48MP ProRaw images we shot with our iPhone 14 Pro Max turned out to be quite impressive.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 14 is no slouch when it comes to capturing images, but there's a reason we put the iPhone 14 Pro Max at the top of our best camera phones list.

Which iPhone 14 model should I get?

On paper, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are the more feature-packed phones, and certainly the ones to get if money and shipping delays were no object. But not everyone is prepared to spend $999 or more on a new phone — and having to wait more than a month for your new handset adds insult to your wallet's injury.

While it's nice to have the latest and greatest processor powering your phone, you're unlikely to notice the difference between the A16 and A15 chipsets in every day tasks. (Indeed, the iPhone 14 Pro only took 2 fewer seconds than the iPhone 14 to transcode a video in our Adobe Premiere Rush test.) So if the main reason you're considering the iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max is because of the processor, you're not really giving up too much by getting the iPhone 14 now.

Cameras are a different story. The telephoto lens and the ProRAW capabilities of the Pro models make them the better choice for people who put a premium on mobile photography. If having the greatest cameras at your disposal is a minor consideration, you can turn to the iPhone 14, but we think the triple lens setup on the iPhone 14 Pro makes that phone worth the wait.

The same goes for the displays on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. The faster refresh rates and brighter screens justify the higher prices of those models. And it's something you'll be glad you waited for if you endure the iPhone 14 Pro's lengthy backorder times.

On the other hand, people who place the greatest importance on screen size have an alternative to the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max. While the iPhone 14 Plus doesn't offer that faster refresh rate, its screen size is just as large. And because it has room for a big battery, the iPhone 14 Plus joins the Pro Max on our best phone battery life list, with an outstanding time on our custom battery test. That's not a bad trade-off to make, especially considering that you can save $200 with the iPhone 14 Plus and you can get that phone right away.

In the end, most people who want one of the iPhone 14 Pro models will do well for themselves just to place their order and bide their time until the new phone arrives. But if the waiting truly is the hardest part, you can still get a new phone from Apple with minimal trade-offs.

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.