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Hands-on with the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max

Hands-on with the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max

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A first look at the new always-on display, camera, and more

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Apple just announced the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. They’re big upgrades to last year’s iPhone 13 Pro handsets with always-on screens, a new pill-shaped cutout that moves and animates, a faster A16 Bionic chip, and even an improved 48-megapixel camera.

The iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max look very similar to last year’s 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max until you look more closely at the display. The new pill-shaped cutout means the notch is gone, kind of. It actually moves around and animates in what Apple calls the Dynamic Island. Notifications and alerts will adapt and move around the pill-shaped notch, and Apple is using this system for live activity widgets and even when you swipe up to move background tasks like music playback to the island.

The new notch will indicate when music is playing. It can also show when a timer is active.
The new notch will indicate when music is playing. It can also show when a timer is active.
An image of an iPhone held in a hand. The Dynamic Island feature is prominent on the display. It’s a black box that shows a music player in it.
Tapping the Dynamic Island when music is playing will bring up quick playback controls.

The Dynamic Island is a big change for the iPhone 14 Pro, and its shape-shifting seems to be a playful way to make better use of the notch real estate. If you can’t lose it, use it, I guess?

Also new to the displays on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max is an always-on feature. It works by showing widgets of information on the display without it needing to be powered on. You can check out the weather, calendar information, and more. It looks great, and wallpapers even darken to match the always-on mode. This works with any wallpaper you use, and according to an Apple spokesperson, is optimized to highlight faces when one is detected.

Apple’s always-on display is surprisingly bright, with a dimmed version of your wallpaper visible in the background.
Apple’s always-on display is surprisingly bright, with a dimmed version of your wallpaper visible in the background.

It wouldn’t be a new iPhone without new cameras, though. For the first time ever, the iPhone is moving away from a 12-megapixel sensor to a 48-megapixel one. Improvements include advancements in low-light photography, all using a quad-pixel sensor with f/1.78 aperture and 24mm focal length.

The iPhone 14 Pro, with no SIM slot on the right side.
The cameras aren’t quite flush with the rear panel but sit on a slightly raised pedestal.
Image of someone holding an iPhone 14 Pro in the air.
The Pro model gets three cameras while the standard 14 models stick with two.

For most photos, the sensor will take 12-megapixel binned photos to maximize light capture. This also allows Apple to crop the sensor in different ways to deliver true 2x zoom at a 48mm focal length.

Also inside the iPhone 14 Pro models is Apple’s upgraded A16 Bionic chip. It’s hard to test the performance in the limited hands-on time we get with these devices, but Apple says it has focused on power efficiency, display, and camera with its new chip. This new chip also helps power the new Dynamic Island system.

All in all, the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max feel every bit as solid as the previous generation, with some interesting improvements under the hood — particularly to the camera — that we’re eager to dive into.

The iPhone 14 Pro lineup comes in purple, gold, silver, and black.
The 14 Pro comes in four colors: purple, gold, silver, and black.

Photography by Allison Johnson / The Verge

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