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1 year on with iPhone 14 Pro – was it a year in paradise or a big miss?

For most of the past year the 14 Pro has been the only phone that I have carried with me – are those times about to change…

iPhone 14 Pro 1TB storage - purple

Loyal as they come

A year ago after the Apple event I very nearly didn’t buy the iPhone 14 Pro. Don’t get me wrong, it sat in my basket for a couple of days after the event, but I just wasn’t certain if I should make the jump.

I planned to buy the phone outright and free myself of paying for it on contract – and for the first time I was going to buy the Pro – I reallywanted that camera setup.

Well, as you’ll now know I weakened and bought it but with a very specific use in mind and here is how my iPhone 14 Pro year has panned out.

Trading up

About a year before last year’s iPhone event, I had started my YouTube channel and the only camera I had to use was an iPhone 12 – not a 12 Pro just an iPhone 12 and the video looked, if we are being kind, average!

I’d been trying to weigh up whether or not I should buy an actual camera when the iPhone event came along and the timing could not have been more perfect – well from Apple’s profit point of view at least!

Rather than trying to learn another skill set, I figured I could use the video from the iPhone 14 Pro. It would prove a huge improvement over what I’d been using and I’d pretty much be able to use it out of the box with no downtime.

Quality

As I mentioned, this was my first Pro phone.

Because I was going to be using it so heavily for video I plumped for 1TB of storage and went for the purple colour.

Colour wise I made the right choice – it looks stunning and depending on how the light catches it it can range from a deep, flat colour to a shimmering oasis – just lovely.

On the storage front, on reflection, I probably dropped a ball – little was I to know that about a month later I’d end up buying my first DSLR camera which meant I hardly ever used the iPhone 14 Pro in the way I’d planned. Without those large ProRes files on the phone, I could easily have got away with 512Gb of storage – but hey, if with the benefit of hindsight we’d all be smart huh?

But the quality of the phone cannot be argued with. It feels every inch of the premium, Pro phone that it sets out to be. The gold-tinted chassis is virtually unmarked and the rear glass is still pristine as are the cameras and the camera housing too.

The front glass doesn’t tell quite the same story though. I have never used screen protectors – I just can’t get on with how they feel. Previous iPhones though have managed to remain scratch free whereas the Gorilla glass on this 14 Pro has two tiny scratches on it. I’m not the only one to have noticed it either. On Reddit, there have been loads of comments about it – so it seems a fairly common complaint.

Outside those two scratches though it’s held up well over the past year.

Battery life

For some reason, battery life remains one of Apple’s weaker hands.

At launch, they said this was the best iPhone ever and they probably weren’t wrong, but the battery is not where it should be for a phone that costs this much. It’s fine if it is just sitting on my desk for most of the day on standby, but if you should dare to use it fairly hard then the battery drops like Boris Johnson ratings!

It still struggles to keep up with the demands that you can ask of it. A few hours of using Apple CarPlay and sat-nav which is exactly what I’ll be doing later today and you’ll pay the price.

I was a recent (and late) convert to wireless charging. Buying the Belkin tree has been a revelation – it’s just so much more convenient and the fact I can charge my watch, AirPods and phone all on the one device is super-convenient and it also means I am free of cables for the first time as well – not a lightning cable in sight – apart from when I need to charge the Magic Mouse/Keyboard/TrackPad that is!

iPhone users had long cried out for an always-on display which we got with the iPhone 14. Their first attempt at it didn’t go down too well and Apple released an update within weeks of release. Is that always-on feature part of the reason for the poor battery life?

Luckily, unlike many other iPhone users, my battery health has held up well and is at 97% after very nearly a year.

For me though, if I was ranking the battery I’d give it a 5/10 – yeah, I reckon that’s fair.

Cameras

Nothing short of brilliant.

Although I only used the camera to the max for a short while, I still use it all the time and it never lets me down. You’ll possibly be aware that I’ve been playing with Android phones and cameras a bit recently which has given me some good context.

With the Nothing 2 in particular and even the Pixel 7 Pro, you have to work just that bit harder to get good results, whereas, with the iPhone 14 Pro, it just works! The ProRaw feature means you can shoot photos in good resolution giving you far more details to edit with in post. Although the files are larger shooting RAW, they are not prohibitively so and generally I’d say it’s worth leaving your camera set to shoot ProRaw. This year’s 15 Pro Max is supposed to be getting an improved periscope optical zoom lens – but on mine, you still only get x3 which is a little dated now.

The video on iPhone 14 Pro is simply stunning and you could easily get away with nigh-on professional videos with it. I started shooting ProRes which is great, but…

The files are enormous so you’ll need plenty of storage and be good at file management too – as in getting the files off the phone as quickly as possible. To give you an idea a minute of 10-bit HDR ProRes is about 6GB for 4K/24fps. But file management is only part of the story – transferring them is so slow.

For anything over 5 minutes you’ll struggle with the limitations of AirDrop. If you’ve got great speeds you may find they have synced to your iCloud library and you could download from there, but I’ve not had much luck with that route either.

You could argue that my use for the camera was on the extreme side – shooting 25 minutes of ProRes video but at the event, Apple was at pains to show this camera was a pro option. This year with a Thunderbolt-style USB-C port I’m hoping that issue may be improved upon.

Living with iPhone 14 Pro

It has been as reliable as ever and the experience I’ve had with it day-to-day has been nearly perfect.

I’ve had no overheating issues and the screen brightness means it’s useable even on the sunniest days. The A16 Bionic chip has performed as you’d expect a phone at this price point too – fast, quick and responsive with no lag at all. The 120Hz refresh rate works in perfect harness with the processor making it a great phone to use.

iOS 16 in all its various iterations has been OK. My recent day of woe with iOS 16.6 has been well covered, but apart from that, there have been very few dramas – it kind of just works in the typical Apple way.

One of the other big headline features for the iPhone 14 Pro was Dynamic Island. After all the hoopla died down I pretty much forgot about it! I Hardly ever use it and when I do it’s because I happen to notice it’s on. I never seek to use it – but then again, I have never been a notch hater!

iPhone 15

As we near this year’s iPhone 15 release, that leads me to the obvious question of whether I’ll trade in my 14 and buy it.

If you had asked me that a few weeks ago it would have been a resounding yes – the trouble is though, that was before I had used Android. I’m not sitting here proclaiming I’m about to switch – I’m not, but it has made me take a closer look at what we’re getting this year and whether it’s worth the cost and the hassle of switching.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I actually don’t like changing phones. It’s similar to my iOS 16.6 meltdown. Everything needs to be re-loaded, passwords added and 2FA enabled etc. In short, it’s just a pain. And you have to ask for what net gain?

On the Pro Max, you’ll get the periscope lens, a titanium chassis, a larger battery and the Thunderbolt port but that is about it. There will be minor tweaks to the specs on the cameras, but they are already so good that will the improvements be meaningful or just a lick of paint?

Oddly I might sit back and wait on the iPhone 15 and have a look at the Pixel Pro 8 instead. The 14 Pro will still be my main phone with my main SIM, but for reviewing and having some fun with, possibly Google can tick more boxes for me than Apple – and that’s sad.

How times have changed…

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