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It looks like the iPhone 14 could be a letdown vs. iPhone 14 Pro

iPhone 14 Pro front and back in white
(Image credit: the Hacker 34)

FYI: We reckon the iPhone 14 Max is heading in the right direction — here's why.

iPhone 14 rumors have already indicated that Apple is looking to make the upcoming Pro models stand out from the less expensive versions of its flagship phones due out this fall. But just how substantial the differences between the different phones is coming into sharper focus, thanks to a new report outlining Apple's supposed iPhone 14 plans.

As with the past two flagship iPhone releases, we're expecting four different iPhone models — an iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max on one side of the divide, and the standard iPhone 14 plus an iPhone 14 Max on the other. (The latter handset will replace the iPhone mini and feature a 6.7-inch display.)

Apple has already differentiated between the standard and pro iPhones by giving the two Pro models fast-refreshing displays and telephoto lenses — features missing from the standard iPhone. But those differences are about to get more substantial, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in a report on just what the iPhone 14 is going to miss out on relative to the iPhone 14 Pro.

In addition to the telephoto lens on the back of the Pro models, for example, Gurman expects the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max to get a 48MP sensor as the main camera. The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max would stick with a 12MP main camera, as has been the case on iPhones for years.

Other rumors have predicted a 48MP camera for the iPhone 14 Pro, so Gurman's forecast isn't out of line with what we've heard so far about the phone. Apple's chief competitors for the best camera phone — Samsung and Google mostly — have added more powerful sensors to their flagship phones as well in recent years, so Apple would be keeping pace, with this rumored change.

Gurman also backs another popular rumor about the iPhone 14's chipset, namely that the standard phone is likely to get a modified version of the A15 Bionic chip found in this year's iPhone 13. (Specifically, some rumors have indicated that the iPhone 14 will get the same A15 chipset with added RAM that powers the iPhone 13 Pro models.) Meanwhile, the iPhone 14 Pro would run on new A16 Bionic silicon.

The Bloomberg report mentions other iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 14 Pro differences, such as the likelihood that the Pro models will ditch the notch in favor of two cutouts — one circular, one pill-shaped — to house the front camera and Face ID sensors. Another rumor that Apple was going to switch to USB-C over Lightning for the iPhone 14 has been shot down recently by some leakers, but you never know.

Why Apple needs to make the iPhone 14 Pro stand out

Why is Apple taking such pains to make the iPhone 14 Pro stand out from the more affordable models? The answer could be the iPhone 14 Max that's likely to join the lineup, according to Gurman. 

Adding a standard iPhone with a bigger screen means that people will no longer have to opt for the Pro Max version — the most expensive phone Apple sells — to get the biggest display possible. Instead, they'll be able to buy a big screen iPhone for what Gurman figures will be at least a $200 discount from the Pro Max price. (That would place the iPhone 14 Max's price at $899 if you use the iPhone 13 Pro Max's $1,099 starting price.)

Features like a better camera and a faster processor will help Apple convince some shoppers to pay up for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max rather than opting for the cheaper iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max models. Or, at least, that's the way Gurman sees it.

It'll be a bit before we find out just how much the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro differ from one another. The iPhone 14 release date isn't expected before September, giving us a few more months to see if any further iPhone 14 differences emerge.

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.