The iPhone 14 Pro has celebrated its three-month birthday, fully settling in after some software updates. By the three-month mark, a lot of hype and excitement for a smartphone starts to die down, giving us a clearer picture on what the device gets right and where it falls short.
And Apple’s latest flagship is no exception. Launching to laudable praise from many outlets, Tom’s Guide included, the iPhone 14 Pro finally changed things up in a product line that had grown stale. The new Dynamic Island replaces the notch on Apple’s Pro models, offering tangible benefits for things like Live Activities. The phone’s new 48MP main camera certainly impressed me in my original review, and it continues to do so in everyday use.
But the iPhone 14 is not totally perfect. Battery life falls noticeably short of its predecessor, the iPhone 13 Pro. It’s frankly the phone’s biggest weakness, as Apple has worked to address other annoyances.
I’ve had the iPhone 14 Pro as my daily driver since Apple launched the device in September, so I wanted to take a look at how it’s held up after three months. Do I still like it as much as I did in my review? Mostly.
iPhone 14 Pro: What I like
There’s a lot I really like about the iPhone 14 Pro. From the cameras to the display and the handset’s raw power, I have little problem calling this one of the best phones you can possibly buy.
Without a doubt, the iPhone 14 Pro has one of the best displays on a smartphone ever. The 6.1-inch panel is insanely bright with excellent colors, superb viewing angles, and deep blacks thanks to the OLED panel. It is matched only by the Galaxy S22 Ultra in most respects, but it easily outpaces anything else.
The 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate on the iPhone 14 Pro display is also a treat. It’s buttery smooth with hardly any jankiness, unlike some Android phones. The iPhone 14 Pro is also the first iPhone to sport an always-on display, which has vastly improved since launch thanks to options introduced in iOS 16.2.
When talking about smartphone cameras, it comes down to Apple and Google. They constantly trade blows — where one is better, the other isn’t far behind. For the iPhone 14 Pro, Apple upgraded from the 12MP sensor it had used for a while to a much larger 48MP one. Using pixel binning, Apple’s camera phone can capture vivid 12MP images full of rich detail and color.
What’s more, the ProRAW mode can use the full 48MP, taking huge pictures that can easily be edited and cropped. We even tested the ProRAW mode shortly after the iPhone 14 launch and Tom’s Guide Content Director Mark Spoonauer came away very impressed.
The ultrawide macro mode on the iPhone 14 Pro also improved, focusing faster with clearer results in optimal conditions. The autofocus on the front-facing camera leads to much better selfies, I think, with stronger detail and clarity.
Overall, the iPhone 14 Pro’s cameras feel like a substantial improvement in most areas over the iPhone 13 Pro’s.
Apple Silicon has easily led its competitors for a while now, and the new A16 Bionic chipset is no different. It packs in a ton of horsepower, AI smarts, and GPU power. It handles any task you can possibly throw at it, even editing 4K video right on the phone.
Gaming is an absolute blast with the iPhone 14 Pro easily able to max out Genshin Impact and Apex Legends Mobile with playable frame rates to boot. That’s why the iPhone 14 Pro is among the best gaming phones, especially when combined with the beautiful 120Hz display.
In day-to-day life, the iPhone 14 Pro is a joy to use. I have yet to find a hiccup or place where it lags. I can play whatever games I want, edit photos and videos on the fly, and rest assured knowing that there’s nothing in my typical workflow that could make this phone falter.
iOS 16 is the best version of Apple’s mobile operating system ever. It offers previously unparalleled levels of customization on an iPhone, centering mostly on the lock screen. You can add widgets and change things up whenever you want — change the clock typeface, rearrange widgets, and so much more.
The iPhone 14 Pro also enjoys better access to Live Activities thanks to the Dynamic Island. This is extremely useful for things like real-time sports scores, the status of your food delivery order or Uber, and more applications that we haven’t seen yet. Without a doubt, iOS 16 is best experienced on an iPhone 14 Pro.
iPhone 14 Pro: What I don't like
Of course, nothing is perfect. The iPhone 14 Pro has one notable fault that bothers me to this day. And it lags behind other competitors when it comes to charging.
Strangely enough, the iPhone 14 Pro suffers from painfully average battery life, unlike the iPhone 13 Pro. Part of that comes down to the always-on display, which drains more power than a fully powered-off screen. Disabling the AOD makes noticeable improvements to the phone’s longevity, but then you’re shutting off a key iPhone 14 Pro feature.
The battery life on my iPhone 14 Pro has definitely gotten better since launch and after a few iOS updates. I can now easily make it through a day with more than 50% remaining by bedtime. (I previously had closer to 20-30% with the same usage pattern.) That’s with AOD enabled and checking it periodically during working hours and heavy Reddit browsing at night.
The battery life isn’t as bad as what I’ve seen from the Pixel 7 Pro, but I still find myself disappointed nonetheless. I don’t know where Apple went wrong, especially since the A16 Bionic should be a more power-efficient chip than the A15 Bionic. (And battery life on the larger iPhone 14 Pro Max is fantastic.)
Apple trails other phone makers with its measly 20W wired and 15W MagSafe charging speeds. When companies like OnePlus push 65W and higher with the OnePlus 10 Pro, the iPhone looks like a relic in this regard.
If I do need to top off the iPhone 14 Pro to go out for an evening, it’s painfully slow compared to handsets like the OnePlus 10 Pro and Galaxy S22 Ultra. I don’t think the Lightning connector standard is limited to 20W, but with the iPhone 15 allegedly switching to USB-C, maybe we’ll see a charging speed bump in 2023.
iPhone 14 Pro: Bottom line
The iPhone 14 Pro is a great phone — there’s a reason why it’s my daily driver over any other phone available on the market right now. As much as I like other devices like the Pixel 7 Pro and Galaxy S22 Ultra, the iPhone beats them out.
Despite the mediocre battery life, I like the other things that the iPhone 14 Pro offers. The display and cameras alone make this phone worth using. But the software experience combined with the performance result in a truly powerful handset. Android phones in 2023 better pull out all the stops to convince me to switch back, otherwise I’m holding out to see what Apple does with the iPhone 15 Pro.
Switching to iOS after more than a decade on Android wasn’t easy, but it was worth it so that I could use the iPhone 14 Pro.
Next: The iPhone 14 Pro has a weird display problem — what we know so far
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Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.
Interesting take. How do you like esim support?Reply
I had an iPhone 13 Pro Max and I think it is still one of the best iPhone ever made. That being said I would have liked the camera improvements in the 14 Pro.
I don't see the cutout on the screen as an improvement and I feel like dynamic island is a clever way to cover up an ugly pill shape cutout that really doesn't add any value in terms of screen real estate over the notch and is aesthetically worse. I wish they would have just reduced the notch or used an under display camera setup. Having a completely usable screen would have been really cool.
I don't know why but I really don't like iOS 16. It has ruined the battery life on my 13 Pro Max which used to be a 3 day or longer phone. In fact the 13 Pro Max was the best phone I have ever used in terms of battery life. The Pixel 7 Pro seems to be very close to battery life as the 13 Pro Max now. I find the battery life of the Pixel 7 Pro to be impressive considering the large display.
Also I can't speak to the iPhone 14 display but I am sure it is better than anything else but the Pixel 7 Pro has a surprisingly good display. Color temperature and accuracy are better than any phone I have used. While I am not a fan of curved displays it is in the top 3 phones with Samsung Galaxy s22 ultra and iPhone 14 Pro being better.
The performance and efficiency is surprisingly to hear about from the a16. I expected better. Specifically with battery life but maybe it is software related since my 13 Pro Max is worse with iOS 16 and it doesn't even use the AOD. It might have something to do with stage Manager being baked into the new OS release. Stage Manager is not very good right now and I never thought I would say this as I am not a fan of Dex either but Dex on Samsung seems a lot better.
I will be switching back to Android from iOS after using iPhone since the 11. If T mobile didn't screw me over by refusing to unlock my paid off iPhone which I used for over a year on their network and complied with their own unlock requirements I would have kept it and if Apple would have given me a better trade in value I might have traded it for a new iPhone but alas Google is basically giving me the Pixel 7 Pro as a straight trade in for my locked iPhone I am sticking with Pixel for now. I still wish Apple would have included an option for buyers to get a physical sim card iPhone if they wanted. Hopefully in a year esim support will be better.