The iPhone 14 series around the corner — and for the first time ever I’m paying attention to it for personal as well as professional reasons.
I wrote before that I was preparing to retire my trusty Samsung Galaxy S10e for a move to iOS assuming cross-platform WhatsApp transfers could be sorted in time. Meta duly delivered on my request and now I’m ready to upgrade. Extremely ready, in fact, after an "incident" with my S10e and a swimming pool while on vacation last week.
I’m very likely to go Pro. I want my phone to last as long as possible, and when viewed through that prism, it makes sense to get the best you can possibly afford.
But for those looking at a basic iPhone 14, I’ve got some simple advice: don’t.
iPhone 14 might be the latest but iPhone 13 Pro is the greatest
I’m sure the iPhone 14 will be a fine phone, but the rumor mill has coalesced around the idea that it will use the same A15 Bionic chip as last year’s handsets. If you want the A16 chip, you May need to go Pro.
Now, don’t get me wrong: the A15 is a fabulous chipset, wiping the floor with Qualcomm’s best in benchmarks. But if you accept last-gen speeds, then it seems to me that you’re simply better off buying a last-gen handset — specifically the iPhone 13 Pro.
Assuming the chip rumor is correct, performance should be indistinguishable, but you’ll also gain Pro features that are unlikely to be included with the regular iPhone 14. That means you’ll get the buttery smooth ProMotion 120Hz display (opening the door to 120fps gaming, too) and the 3x telephoto lens to take your photography to the next level.
Won’t cost be an issue? Well, maybe.
Even assuming the iPhone 14 starts at the same $799 as the current handset, then a refurbished iPhone 13 Pro is at least comparable. A quick glance at Amazon shows unlocked Renewed units starting at $859.99.
No doubt you can do better if you shop around, and that’s before the price is knocked down further by the arrival of the iPhone 14 Pro.
The only way is down — in the past, Apple has reduced the price of previous generation handsets by around $100 on the release of a new model. If the company does the same again, then the iPhone 13 Pro feels like a no-brainer to me, unless Apple has something huge that the leakers have missed for the entry-level handset.
iPhone 14 Max: The one exception
There is one exception to this advice. The upcoming iPhone 14 Max (or maybe iPhone 14 Plus) could be the first time Apple has released a cheaper big-screen smartphone, and I suspect the iPhone 13 Pro Max will still prove too expensive to be a viable alternative.
Since my S10e’s diving accident, I’ve been using a review unit I had lying around — the Xiaomi Poco F3. It’s a 6.67-inch handset — comparable to the 6.7-inch screen that the bigger iPhone 14 Max will have — and it’s an absolute joy compared to the cramped experience of typing on my dinky S10e.
So if you want a big-screen iPhone but can’t afford Pro Max prices, then I grudgingly accept this advice won’t be for you. But if the 6.1-inch iPhone fits your hand like a glove, then seriously: resist the allure of the new and shiny iPhone 14, and get yourself an iPhone 13 Pro instead. You won’t regret it.
Read next: What does Apple's 'Far Out' invite tell us about iPhone 14?