To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Apple iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max preview: New look ‘notch’ and always-on screen the highlights

The Apple iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max are unveiled, with a new notch and always-on displays

Apple has taken the wraps off the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max and it looks as if all the rumours and leaks were pretty much bang on.

Launched alongside the iPhone 14 and new max-sized iPhone 14 Plus, the new Pro models come with a significant new look and revamped internals, plus a bundle of new features.

READ NEXT: These are the best smartphones you can buy today

Key specifications – iPhone 14 Pro

  • Super Retina XDR: 6.1in, 1,179 x 2,556, AMOLED, ProMotion 120Hz display
  • Apple A16 Bionic chipset, hexa-core, Apple GPU
  • 6GB RAM
  • 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB storage
  • 3x rear cameras: 48MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP 3x telephoto
  • Price: From £1,099 
  • Availability: Preorder from 9 September, shipping from 16 September

Key specifications: iPhone 14 Pro Max

  • 6.7in, 1,290 x 2,796 resolution AMOLED, 120Hz ProMotion display
  • Apple A15 Bionic chipset, hexa-core, Apple GPU
  • 6GB RAM
  • 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB storage
  • 3x rear cameras: 48MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP 3x telephoto
  • Price: From £1,199
  • Availability: Preorder from 9 September, shipping from 16 September

All the news from the iPhone event: iPhone 14 and 14 Plus preview | Apple Watch Ultra | Apple Watch Series 8 and SE | Apple iPods Pro 2

Apple iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max preview: Design and key new features

Physically, the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max look very much like last year’s phones. The body of each phone is the same shape aside from slightly more rounded corners and they have similar dimensions, too. There’s a new purple colour to go with the regular black, gold and silver colours but, otherwise, there is no major overhaul here.

Instead, the first thing that’s likely to hit you is when you turn on the phone and activate the display. Apple has, for the first time, reworked the much-maligned “notch” and replaced it with a far less invasive design that Apple is calling the “Dynamic Island”.

This long pill cutout isn’t just a black void, though. Apple has significantly reworked iOS’ popup notification system to integrate the cutout, with notifications, messages and background activity expanding around it and flanking it with icons and graphics. Instead of munching up huge swathes of screen space at the top of the display, this makes a virtue out of a necessity and looks to be so much better than what went before.

That’s not the only change on the display front, either. Although the specifications for each of the new iPhones Pro haven’t changed – the 14 Pro has a 6.1in AMOLED display while the 14 Pro Max’s is 6.7in – it’s brighter, peaking at a retina-burning 2,000nits, and – slightly more usefully – Apple has introduced an always-on screen for the very first time.

Thanks to an update to Apple’s ProMotion high-refresh tech, the new iPhones can refresh from 120Hz all the way down to 1Hz (versus 10Hz in last year’s phones). This means the display won’t burn through the battery while displaying information on screen in standby. It isn’t a particularly radical feature – Android phones have been at this game for a few years now – but, in typical Apple fashion, there’s more. Not only can it display icons and text, it can also show display photos, thanks to the ability to “intelligently” dim the display. The always-on display will also be able to show more traditional time and date, weather, message notifications and calendar alerts on the screen without you having to pick it up and unlock it.

Naturally, the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, being the firm’s flagship smartphones, are also moving to the latest Apple silicon; in this case, the A16 Bionic chipset, which Apple says will be faster and 20% more efficient than last year’s A15 Bionic, thanks in the main to the chip’s new 4nm fabrication process. The GPU has 50% more memory bandwidth, which is nice, but the big update comes on the communication front: just like the iPhone 14, the 14 Pro and Pro Max will come with Apple’s new Emergency SOS via Satellite feature, which allows users to send canned messages to emergency services when out of cellular range. The feature will be free for two years for all iPhone 14 customers but will only work initially in the US and Canada.

In amongst the updates and upgrades, however, one long-awaited, long hoped-for change once again hasn’t happened this year. The move away from Apple’s ageing Lightning cable is still at least a year away. The much talked about in-screen Touch ID system also failed to materialise – Face ID will still be the phone’s primary method of biometric login. And despite rumours that the iPhone 14 Pro would dump the SIM tray, it turns out this is only happening in the US.

iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max preview: Cameras

As you’d expect, the updates continue with a series of improvements to the 14 Pro’s camera system and not only with the rear cameras; there’s a fairly hefty update to the front-facing camera this year as well. The latter finally gets autofocus capability, there’s a better six-element lens and a wider f/1.9 aperture to allow more light to fall on the sensor.

As far as the rear camera is concerned, there are still three camera units on the rear of the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max but there are significant changes. First up, there’s a wider 24mm field of view for the main camera, the ultrawide camera has better light gathering capabilities and although there’s no increase to the zoom range on the latter – it’s still stuck on 3x – there’s a new 2x setting in the camera app. The big upgrade for this year’s iPhone 14 Pro main camera is that it has a 48MP sensor, up from the 12-megapixel sensors on the iPhone 23 Pro series.

Most of the time you won’t get 48MP images, however. Instead, just like many Android smartphones, the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera will use a technique known as pixel binning to combine four pixels into one and deliver 12MP images. The only time you’ll get 48MP images will be when you shoot in ProRAW.

There’s also a new and improved flash this time around but other improvements are mainly computational, with Apple using its new “Photonic” engine to deliver “up to 2x” improvements in low light photography, and an action mode that smooths out ultra shaky footage to generate footage that’s supposed to look like you shot it with a gimbal. Again, this is not new, and it’s also worth noting that it’s not available in full 4K – it’s limited to 2.8K resolution at 60fps.

The move to a higher resolution sensor also means there’s a small increase to the size of the camera bump. That’s not ideal but it’s hard to know how much or how little an issue this will be until we get our hands on a review unit.

iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max preview: Early verdict

As usual, it’s the iPhone 14 Pro and the iPhone Pro Max that are the beneficiaries of the biggest upgrades and there are a fair few of them this time around. I’m looking forwards to how well that always-on display works in particular.

Are the upgrades worth it? One thing is certain, with prices rising, opting for the iPhone 14 Pro will be a more expensive choice than ever, starting at £1,099 SIM-free (up a whopping £150 from last year), although the 14 Pro Max has remained the same price at £1,199.

I’m also sure that, Apple’s decision to stick with the A15 Bionic on the regular iPhone 14 and 14 Plus and to leave out the always-on display means that those wanting the very best Apple will feel they have to move to the Pro models this year. I do get the feeling, though, that more than a few will simply stick with their iPhones 12 and 13 and wait another year until the 15 comes out.

The new iPhone 14 goes on pre-order from Friday 9 September with the first units shipping out to customers and appearing in stores from the following week (16 September). 

Read more