The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus are an insult to shoppers — here’s why

iPhone 14 Plus shown held in hand
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Every year, we always hear from a particular group of people who scoff at the latest iPhone models as merely iterative upgrades. While, yes, year-over-year upgrades are rarely worth it, each new iPhone in the last few years has changed things up.

Whether it was the addition of 5G on the iPhone 12, the 120Hz ProMotion display on the iPhone 13 Pro, the Face ID notch on the iPhone X, or the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro, each year, there's been something new for Apple fans to get excited about.

And this year, that proved only half true. As soon as Apple started talking about the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max at its launch event back in September, it became patently obvious that all of the focus this year was on the Pro models. The iPhone 14, and the new iPhone 14 Plus, seemed to get left by the wayside. They didn't get any major upgrades, except a very slight boost in performance and camera capabilities.

And it looks like Apple miscalculated. It appears that consumers have caught onto the fact that the iPhone 14 models are really just iPhone 13s phones in disguise, because a report from DigiTimes (via MacRumors) says that early sales for the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are "lower than expected."

That follows after Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that demand for the two non-Pro models was "lackluster." 

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 Pro: It's not close

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

And here I sit with the biggest "no duh" look on my face. The iPhone 14 itself is practically an insult to shoppers, offering substantially few upgrades over the iPhone 13. Sure, there are some marginal updates in the camera system, plus the addition of Photonic Engine, but when the device costs $799 to start, I don't see a reason for people to upgrade over the iPhone 13 — which is marked down to $699. Or even over the still-great iPhone 12.

Granted, sales for the iPhone 14 are expected to match the iPhone 13.

I personally suggest the iPhone 13 over the iPhone 14. Why not save $100? It's still a good phone, and not so far behind the iPhone 14 in any conceivable way.

Normally, Apple gives the Pro and non-Pro iPhones the same chipset, though with perhaps some modifications to make the Pros more pro, such as a more powerful GPU in the iPhone 13 Pro's case. But the phone maker abandoned that tactic this year, leaving the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus with last year's A15 Bionic chip in the Pro models.

There are plenty of reasons why the iPhone 14 Pro series beats the iPhone 14. This includes a smoother 120Hz refresh rate, always-on display, the Dynamic Island and telephoto zoom. So the Pro premium is definitely worth is this year. 

I think people caught on that the iPhone 14 really didn't have much to offer over its cheaper predecessor. In fact, I personally suggest the iPhone 13 over the iPhone 14. Why not save $100 and opt for the 13? It's still a good phone, and not so far behind the iPhone 14 in any conceivable way. 

Bottom line

I think 2022 was a case of Apple underestimating its customers' intelligence. I saw some people call the iPhone 14 insulting with Apple thinking people wouldn't notice its lackluster nature. But in today's day and age with so much access to information, whether on sites like us, YouTube, or TikTok, I think people got the memo quickly that Apple might be attempting to pull a fast one.

Perhaps Apple should have retired the non-Pro iPhone for a year. I think maybe even a two-year cycle like the SE series would be appropriate. It'll never happen, but I hope Apple will think more carefully for the iPhone 15. Consumers seem to be getting smarter with each new iPhone launch. 

Next: The iPhone 15 Pro was just tipped for a killer upgrade that could be worth waiting for. 

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

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.