It’s nice that you don’t have to swipe down the Notification Center to quickly access these live activities; like the name, it’s just playful and fun. It’s worth noting that not every app works with Dynamic Island yet. YouTube Music worked perfectly, while Google Maps did not. I expect this feature will feel a bit richer in a year’s time.
Then there is the always-on display. It’s been a staple feature on Android phones for years, but it’s finally an option (if you want it!) on the iPhone. Apple says it consumes very little battery, as the display runs at a power-hungry 1 Hz, and that seems to follow suit. Put the phone upside down, in your pocket or bag, and the screen will turn off, so you never have to worry about it drinking the juice from your precious battery.
Speaking of the buttery smooth 120 Hz display, it gets brighter than ever before. Frankly, I’m not sure if it’s necessary as I’ve never found the iPhone’s screen to be not bright, but I’ll say that at these extreme brightness levels, the iPhone 14 Pro retains really great colors, while some phone screens tend to have to wash them out.
In an unusual move, these are the only two iPhones with the latest and greatest A16 Bionic processor (usually the entire range gets the new chip). My benchmark tests show that they are indeed some of the fastest mobile chips out there, and that is reflected in any task, especially gaming. I performed flawlessly during a 45-minute session playing Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm and Rocket League Sideswipe with my BackBone One controller, and the iPhone didn’t get uncomfortably hot. However, will you notice a dramatic day-to-day difference from the A15 Bionic in the iPhone 13 or iPhone 14? Probably not.
Okay, it’s time to talk about the eSIM. In the US, all iPhone 14 models ship without a physical SIM tray, meaning you’ll need to set up an eSIM to connect it to your carrier’s cellular network. This technology has been around for a while, but this is the first phone to completely ditch the physical SIM system. I had never used an eSIM before and I found the process very simple. When I set up the iPhone 14 Pro, it asked me to transfer my number from my iPhone 13 Pro. I gave in and within minutes my number was on the new phone. No small SIM tool needed! I transferred the song to iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max one by one without any problems.
Until… I decided to transfer my number to an Android phone with eSIM support: the Google Pixel 6 Pro. I couldn’t get very far because the Pixel just asked me to scan a QR code from my carrier, which I didn’t have. That inevitably meant I would have had to call my carrier if I wanted to move my number from my iPhone to the Pixel. How this should be easier than just popping a physical SIM card in and out, I have no idea. (You probably don’t always switch to multiple different phones, so this is more of a headache for me.) Yes, eSIMs are more secure. But here it introduces a significant amount of friction for anyone who doesn’t want to stay locked into Apple’s ecosystem. I really hope this experience will get better over time with improved interoperability between devices.