I’ve never upgraded my iPhone every year, but have on the last three: the iPhone 11, 12, and 13. I fully expect the improvements to the iPhone 14’s camera to continue this trend.
A new look never hurts, and this year’s Pro models get it in the form of a pill-shaped cutout. I’ve taken advantage of a simple yet clever way to view this on my own phone…
Ian Zelbo came up with the idea of a clipping sample. Only download his imagewatch it in full screen and turn your phone upside down.
I don’t see much practical benefit. The amount of usable screen space lost is about the same anyway. Indeed, if the cutout extends further down, you lose in some respects Lake of the screen with this approach.
But I like two things about it. First, just the novelty value. There comes a time when you’ve looked at the same thing so many times over such a long period of time that you get bored of it, no matter how appealing the design. A pill recess is not betterin my opinion, but at least it is different.
Second – assuming the reports are correct – I think it’s a good idea that the camera and microphone alerts are in the center of the cutout. This seems like a much neater and more logical place to put them.
Some have criticized them as “fake LEDs” and asked why Apple didn’t just use real ones instead. With my pedantic hat on, I’d argue that they are in fact real ones: real OLED. But using virtual offers more flexibility. For example, if only the microphone is used, Apple could vertically center the orange LED for a neater look. It could also do the same with the location indicator. (I don’t know if it’s shall do this, but it’s better to have the option.)
I wouldn’t upgrade to a new phone only for this. I am also not interested in the reported new colors. Gadget Rule #1 applies: All gadgets must be silver or black.
But I do expect that the camera improvements will sell it to me. I now never routinely carry a standalone camera with me, even when I travel, so the importance of the camera features has increased significantly for me.
One of the things that has gotten better with each generation is the low-light photography capabilities. The iPhone 12 was the last big jump here, with night mode portraits.
The iPhone 13’s headline camera feature — Cinematic Video — got me excited, but fell short of its billing. ProRes video recording was certainly a worthwhile feature, though, and the slightly larger apertures mean there was at least a slight boost for low-light shots.
What we think we know about the iPhone 14 in front of the camera is:
- 48MP sensor (probably reverted to 12MP in low light)
- 8K video recording
- Autofocus for front camera
The 48MP sensor doesn’t necessarily excite me – I’ve always preferred fewer, larger pixels over lots of small ones. But I really expect Apple to use the four-cell merge output mode to get better quality 12MP photos, at least in low light. And any improvement here is welcome.
8K video recording is the definition of luxury to me. I’m currently shooting in 4K to output at 1080p, which allows for lots of digital pan and zoom options when editing. I don’t see myself switching to 4K output anytime soon, but shooting in 8K would allow for even more editing flexibility, so it’ll certainly be interesting to play around with.
I don’t use the front camera much. I’m not a selfie type, but I have friends who are, and since I usually have the best camera, my iPhone is used for group selfies, so any improvements here will be helpful at least some of the time.
The big question for me is whether Apple has managed to make improvements to Cinematic Video. We’ve seen portrait mode photography still get better and better, and I’m confident the same will happen here. Cinematic Video has tremendous potential for improvement from both hardware and software, and I hope some of the iPhone 14’s additional processing power will be directed in this direction.
All in all – and based only on what we think we know so far – I don’t think this year’s iPhone range is as exciting as some might suggest. At least, not unless Apple has managed to keep “one more thing” up its sleeve.
But since I’ve been using my iPhone as my primary camera 99% of the time, I’m willing to pay every year for camera improvements, both bigger and smaller. I’ll apply my usual “monthly usage fee” formula (and use the usual US pricing for convenience):
If the rumors of storage upgrades are true, and this year’s models start at 256 GB, then I’ll buy the base iPhone 14 Pro Max for what I believe is $1200. I should be able to get a minimum of $600 for my existing phone, so that gives me:
($1200 – $600)/12 = $600/12 = $50/month
That’s a price I’m willing to pay for the best possible camera that’s always in my pocket.
And you? What are your impressions after trying the preview image? And if you plan to upgrade this year, what will it sell to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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