The iPhone 14 should arrive in a few months, leaving many to wonder if it's worth an upgrade over the iPhone 13. By the sounds of it, the iPhone 14 Pro will certainly be a worthy successor to the excellent iPhone 13 Pro. But as much as we liked the four iPhone 13 models, there is always room for improvement.
So with the iPhone 14 fast approaching, I wanted to take a moment to spell out two things I really want to see. My colleague Philip Michaels laid our seven potential upgrades over the iPhone 13, but I want to hone in on the display.
In short, there are two things I want to see from the iPhone 14's screen: ProMotion on all four models and an always-on display.
Give us more than 60Hz
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max both feature 120Hz ProMotion displays. That means that the phone can dynamically scale up to 120 frames per second, making for smoother scrolling and gameplay. Sadly, the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini did not get this feature.
While we're pretty sure that Apple will keep 120Hz a unique feature for its Pro phone, I think that the company could give the iPhone 14 and rumored iPhone 14 Max 90Hz ProMotion displays. This would help the iPhone be more competitive with Android phones like the Pixel 6 or Galaxy S22. (The former of which will be the iPhone 14's chief photography rival until the Pixel 7 launches.)
A lot of the best Android phones sport high refresh rate displays and the iPhone 14 will look oddly out of place and rather dated if it does not have one. If Apple opted for 90Hz on the non-Pro iPhone 14 models, these phones would look a lot more appealing for the people who don't want to spend big bucks on a Pro model. After all, that's the thought behind the iPhone 14 Max rumors — giving people a big-screen iPhone option that isn't the most expensive version.
The best performance and strongest camera hardware will always remain a Pro exclusive. But in this day and age, with even some of the best cheap phones rocking high refresh rate screens, I want to see the regular iPhone 14 get ProMotion, even if it's 90Hz.
I want an always-on display
I talked about this in the lead-up to the iPhone 13 launch, quite extensively if memory serves. The iPhone 13 uses OLED technology for its display, meaning that Apple could add something that Android phones have had for years — an always-on display, or AOD.
If you don't know what this is, here's the gist. Since OLED panels can turn off individual pixels to save battery (which is also how they give you those true blacks), the display can light up certain portions to show the time, notifications, and other pertinent info. It's really quite handy and something I miss every time I look at the blank screen of my iPhone 13 Pro Max.
AOD offers a level of utility that the iPhone just doesn't have right now. It consumes far less power than lighting up the whole screen for you to check the time or look at your notifications. AOD can also surface other stuff, like calendar appointments, weather, and battery percentage.
We can talk about the lackluster iOS lock screen all day, but I want to see AOD on all of the iPhone 14 models. This shouldn't be just a Pro feature, especially since the technology is right there at Apple's fingertips. In fact, at this point, the lack of AOD is mere stubbornness on Apple's part. I see no reason why the iPhone 12 and up can't have AOD.
iPhone 14 outlook
Will Apple listen to me? I doubt it. But smartphones have hit the iterative stage, where there's precious little that's actually new each year. You're often best served by waiting two or three years between phone upgrades, because that's when the differences are more obvious.
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max did great things for iPhone displays. I adore ProMotion. I think it's smoother than anything I've seen on Android, especially now that Apple has fixed the bug that affected ProMotion in third-party apps.
I just want the iPhone 14 to finally climb above 60Hz. Once you see those higher frame rates, it's hard to go back. And the lack of always-on displays baffles me to this day, so the iPhone 14 would win serious brownie points with me if it got this feature.
The next iPhone will probably sell in crazy numbers just like it does every year, but these two screen upgrades would go a long way in making the iPhone 14 a worthy upgrade.