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iPhone 14 – what’s it REALLY like?

I bought mine 3 months ago, and used it every day since…

iPhone 14 Pro in Deep Purple
image courtesy of author

A Pro!

iPhone 14 has been among my daily carry for a few months now. I realised I’d not brought you up to date on how I’m finding it.

It’s funny you know, I remember sitting watching the September Far Out event, thinking, that there was not much for me in it. Ha – famous last words…

That event ended up costing me a small fortune, as it finally resulted in me buying AirPods Pro 2, an Apple Watch 8, and then, out of the blue, an iPhone 14 Pro too.

Before the event, I thought I may be interested in the AirPods Pro 2, but that would be it. In honesty, the watch had been a long time coming. I had bought a few for family as gifts, and I kept being told how I was missing out. But the iPhone 14, that was a complete, last moment decision.

Turns out, it was one of the best choices I made this year, though.

A first for me

After a day with the iPhone 14 Pro sitting in my basket on Apple’s website, I woke up the next morning, and decided, right…let’s do it.

I had only ever had an iPhone supplied by a carrier until this point. But things were different for me now; I write daily about Apple gear, and also need content for my YouTube channel as well. Although my current contract, at that point, was a few months away from finishing, eventually, I knew it would pay me back to buy an iPhone outright. All round, it seemed to make sense.

It was more of a business decision than an emotional one. I had known for some time, that the camera quality on my channel, well, sucked, to be honest. It was not altogether surprising, either. I was shooting on a standard iPhone 12. So, the main driver for me was the camera, and in particular, the video camera set-up. But, we’ll get to that in a bit.

What am I packing?

A little dose of good fortune played in to my hands, actually. If you have watched my latest video, you’ll hear me mention I love large screens. Initially, I had wanted to opt for an iPhone 14 Pro Max. That huge 6.7” screen had my DNA running all over it. But – in the UK, none of those were available over the release weekend. However, as it turns out, the 6.1-inch screen is the sweet spot!

Knowing that the phone was going to be an absolute workhorse, I was spec’ing it up, very much with that in mind. I ended up with an iPhone 14 Pro, with 1TB of storage, in deep purple. I knew I was going to be shooting 30 or 40-minute videos on the phone, so having enough storage was critically important to me. Although, I would always delete them once they were on my Mac, and backed up, I still needed to enough space to record them in the first place.

Screen and general size

I mentioned luck played a part in my purchase, and if I had of ended up buying the Pro Max, with its 6.7-inch display, it would actually have been too big, and too heavy. The price you pay for that impressive camera set-up, is that it is a thick, chunky, heavy boy! All that glass comes at a price – again, just something to consider.

The iPhone 14 Pro has never felt small. It is heavy enough as it is, the extra size, would just have made it that bit too cumbersome. If you are shopping this Christmas for an iPhone 14, just bear that in mind. And don’t forget, I use it creatively every day, and I am a lover of large screens, but the regular 14 suits my needs fine.

The screen is great, but one thing has concerned me about it, which I will get to soon.

If you use your phone outdoors at all, the 2000 nits peak brightness is a real winner. No more covering the screen to read an email. The 120Hz adaptive refresh rate is very cool too. I find the ProMotion technology much more usable, and noticeable on smaller screens, than on, say, the MacBook Pro.

A lot was said about Dynamic Island on launch. Now, I don’t know if it is just me, but, I just don’t use it. Yes, you could argue we should take our collective hats off to Apple, for the ingenious, innovative invention, but, it never factors in to my day at all.

If anything, it draws my attention to the top of the screen, which it never did before. Yeah, you get a cool display of your AirPods up there when paired, or what podcast you are playing. But honestly, the notch was never a problem for me, but now I am aware of it. So for me, the jury is out on iPhone 14 and the Dynamic Island feature – clever as it is.

I have finally given in with the Always-On-Display (AOD), too. For three months, I gave it a try, but eventually, it beat me. I loved the idea of it, but wearing an Apple Watch all day, which too has an AOD, means I can check the time quickly on that.

The fact that you see every notification with the AOD enabled, I found, highly distracting in the end. The phone always looks as if it has just received a message. It never looks ‘off’. I have not used an Android phone, but I believe they have this feature far better nailed than us iPhone users. I know an improvement for AOD is coming soon, in iOS 16.2, so maybe I will give it another go then.

Since turning AOD off, my battery life is way better as well. A real noticeable improvement, that I didn’t think would be as startling.

Now, the one thing that has surprised me about the screen on the iPhone 14 Pro, is how easily it scratches. My 12, after two years, was scratch free. But what seemed like after only a day or two of use, my iPhone 14 has a scratch on the front. It seems I am not alone either. As soon as I Googled it, a load of other people have been reporting the same issue.

It has a Ceramic Shield front, which is supposed to be the toughest ever glass on the front of an iPhone. Well, it definitely doesn’t feel that way to me. The deep purple looks great, though, and I am happy with that choice.

The battery

Recent firmware updates seemed to have helped a bit, but the battery life is not what I was expecting.

A few months back, I flew out to Brussels, and the iPhone struggled to make it through the day. I had to have an emergency battery top-up at the airport, and on the flight back, I was still down to under 5%. It virtually ran flat in just twelve hours…

I have only ever felt it get warm or hot, though, when processing Cinematic videos. Day-to-day, it always remains cool.

Speakers, finish, and function

I hardly ever use the speakers on the phone, as I always pair up my AirPod Pro 2 with it. But on the odd times I have used them at home, or at the studio, they are an improvement on the iPhone 12 I had. They are powerful enough, loud and with some bass too.

Apart from the glass issue, the rest of the phone feels very premium, and is scratch, and blemish free. The satin feel to the reverse of the iPhone 14 Pro is simply lush.

The A16 Bionic chip is, as you’d expect, superfast, responsive and snappy. It is every bit, the match for the demands that you’ll put this iPhone 14 Pro through.


This is the main reason I bought the phone, and it doesn’t disappoint.

I have used it on every video since I bought the phone back in September. With the video side of the phone, you have two choices. You can choose Cinematic, with it’s vastly improved soft, depth of field. It now gives you the option of shooting in 4K at 24or 30FPS, which is not too shabby.

The normal video mode gives you the ability to shoot in 24,30, or 60FPS in 4K. It actually does offer a very natural, modest depth of field as well. You can shoot in ProRes, but more of that in a moment.

The camera set up, which consists of the main 48MP camera, and a 12MP Telephoto, and Ultra-wide camera, will have you covered for all eventualities. For stills photography, I always shot in ProRaw, to fully utilise that 48MP camera. That amount of information that ProRaw retains is amazing, and has been a game changer. The files are, obviously, larger, but only around 50MB, so not too prohibitive.

As for ProRes on the video, though, I used it only once or twice. The drawbacks, did not outweigh the benefits for me. Once uploaded to YouTube, even in 4K, there was not enough of an end quality bump to keep shooting ProRes. I guess that is in part because of YouTubes compression, but the only small improvements, and they were tiny, I noticed, were in skin tones.

But the ProRes files were just far too big. A 10-minute video will normally mean that I will shoot for around 30 minutes. Those ProRes files would typically be around 30GB. They were huge! And the next problem, was getting them off the iPhone 14 Pro. Forget AirDrop, Bluetooth simply cannot handle that kind of file size. The only way I have found to transfer files, was by using the native Image Capture app on Mac. But, this is limited by the woefully slow speeds of the lightning cable and connector.

So, having tried ProRes, it just wasn’t for me. I have been shooting in Cinematic mode, and have it set at 4K, 30FPS at ƒ6.3, which, in my mind, offers just enough of a soft blur.

Just be aware, though, that these Cinematic videos will require processing camera-side before transferring. That is when I notice the phone getting hot. But, a 4K, 30FPS, 30-minute video is only about 3GB, and can easily be AirDropped.

I have not had reason to use the Action Mode. I have heard good things about it, but, it does apparently require an awful amount of light, to get the best results.

Wrapping up

It is an expensive outlay. This spec cost me a whopping £1700. Last week, I finally came off contract, though. That means, my cell bill comes down from £88/month to £28/month. Over the two years, that is a saving of over £1400, which means, that saving alone will almost pay for the iPhone 14 Pro.

I intend to trade this one in with Apple in the fall of 2023 though, and get the iPhone 15 to make content about. Now I am free of being on contract, this phone, kept in good condition, will not lose much relative value.

Is it for you? That very much depends on your use-case. My needs were pretty specific and, I guess, unique. Although last week I have finally bought a Canon camera, I do not regret buying this iPhone 14 Pro at all. Those cameras have already meant the iPhone has earned its keep.

When considering your options, though, be aware, as I was, of making sure you choose the right amount of storage for your needs. You don’t want buyer’s remorse, whatever the cost.

So, if you are a heavy user of cameras, both still, and video, then I can say hand-on-heart, that the iPhone 14 Pro is a wonderful tool. But, just be cautious…if you can hold on for only a few months, next year’s iPhone 15 will most likely have a thunderbolt connector. That will be a massive step forward for file transfer etc. So, if you currently have a 12, or 13 Pro, then consider waiting until September 2023.

The camera will doubtless be even better, but, you’ll have the added bonus of actually being able to transfer those large files, more easily, from your iPhone.

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