Apple iPhone 14 Plus review: big screen, great battery life

This is the new iPhone that most people want. It’s not the iPhone with the neat new display features or a high-resolution camera. It’s the iPhone with a big display and a battery that goes for days.

That’s really all you need to know about it, honestly. If you’d rather have an iPhone with the best possible battery life than an iPhone with the very newest features, then the iPhone 14 Plus is the one for you.

The 14 Plus is the big-screen version of the standard iPhone 14. This year, rather than going iPhone Mini / iPhone Big, Apple went iPhone Big / iPhone Bigger. It shares nearly all the same features but offers a 6.7-inch screen compared to the standard 14’s 6.1-inch display. It also claims the best battery life of any iPhone — officially, Apple calls it “all-day battery life,” but in my experience, you can get much more than that.

Oh, and there’s one more distinct difference: the Plus starts at $899, while the regular 14 starts at $799. That makes it the least expensive 6.7-inch iPhone released yet, but it’s still far from cheap.

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What the iPhone 14 Plus doesn’t include are the new display features on the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. That’s the shape-shifting notch called Dynamic Island that displays system status indicators and an always-on display that shows a dim version of your wallpaper even when the screen is locked. They’re handy features, but they’re more of a sign of what’s to come for the iPhone than must-haves. Instead, the 14 Plus provides the kind of quality-of-life upgrades that a lot of people want from a new phone right now.

The 14 Plus’ display features a slightly higher 2778 x 1284 resolution than the 14’s, so even though it’s much bigger, it maintains roughly the same pixels-per-inch (458ppi compared to 460ppi on the 14). That means images look just as sharp on this screen — they’re just, you know, bigger, and you can see more emails or parts of a webpage before you need to start scrolling.

There’s more to see on a bigger screen. iPhone 14 (left) and iPhone 14 Plus (right).

There’s no ProMotion, super-smooth scrolling 120Hz refresh rate here, which is a shame. Apple’s still reserving that for the Pro models, long after fast refresh rates have become the norm for Android phones at the same price. It’s not something you’ll miss if you’re coming from a phone with the same standard 60Hz refresh rate, but I did notice it when I switched from the 14 Pro — maybe even more so because the screen is so big. On the other hand, the lower refresh rate is less power-intensive and probably contributes to the 14 Plus’ excellent battery performance. I think that’s a tradeoff most people will happily live with.

This is probably an obvious point, but the feeling of having more visual space while using this phone — especially compared to a 6.1-inch model — is real. More text fits onto its screen, and games and videos are a little more immersive. But it also very much handles like a big phone. It’s a real struggle to use it one-handed, even with the iOS 16’s “reachability” UI controls. Lots of people get along with a big phone just fine, but the 6.1-inch 14 and 14 Pro feel much more comfortable in my hand.

Genshin Impact on the iPhone 14 Plus’ screen

Gaming is more comfortable on a big 6.7-inch display.

It may be big, but the 14 Plus is lighter than I expected it to be. It weighs 7.16 ounces (203g), or just about an ounce (28g) more than the iPhone 14 — and a little less than the 6.1-inch 14 Pro. Its light weight was something I appreciated every time it came clattering out of the pocket of my joggers because this phone doesn’t truly fit in any pants pocket I own. In use, it makes the 14 Plus feel a little easier to handle than the Pro Max iPhones.

The screen is this phone’s big draw, but the extra real estate lends itself to the 14 Plus’ other killer feature: battery for days. MacRumors reports that there is indeed a much bigger cell in the 14 Plus than in the standard 14 — on par with the battery in the 14 Pro Max. But because the 14 Plus doesn’t have all of those fancy, new, power-hungry display features, it manages to eke out better battery performance.

The 14 Plus’ battery can deliver multiple days of use on a single charge.

The 14 Plus’ battery can deliver multiple days of use on a single charge.

Apple’s claim of the “best battery life in an iPhone” isn’t an exaggeration. Typically, a day of moderate use with about two hours of screen-on time and plenty of time away from Wi-Fi only drained the battery by about 25 percent in my experience. I even managed to get three days of use on a single charge. Reader, I can’t remember the last time I used an iPhone that comfortably made it through multiple days of use.

Not everyone should expect multiday performance. With heavier use like extended periods of gaming or video streaming, two days feels more reasonable, and that might mean pushing into the single digits by the end of day two. My two hours of screen-on time isn’t a whole lot, but I didn’t take it easy on the 14 Plus by any means. Throughout each day, I used some navigation, connected to 5G rather than Wi-Fi as often as I could, and recorded some short video clips. And at the end of every day, I felt like I should have pushed the phone’s remaining battery percentage much lower than I had. Color me impressed.

Using the iPhone 14 Plus feels like using the iPhone 14, which feels like the iPhone 13

In every other way, using the iPhone 14 Plus feels like using the iPhone 14, which feels like using the iPhone 13. Performance is snappy, and the A15 Bionic chipset recycled from last year’s 13 Pro keeps up with just about anything you can throw at it. There’s no physical SIM tray, as on the rest of the 14 series, so be prepared to get acquainted with eSIM.

There are a couple of new emergency features included on the 14 Plus (also available on other 14 and 14 Pro models): Crash Detection and Emergency SOS via Satellite. Crash Detection uses multiple phone sensors and inputs to automatically detect when you’ve been in a car accident and call emergency services. We haven’t tested it, but early reviews are mixed. On the one hand, it can sometimes work too well. On the other, it seems to rely on a lot of signals to indicate that you’re actually in a moving car, which might cause it to miss some crashes if, for example, you haven’t been driving for very long before an accident.

Satellite SOS is a feature that’s coming in November and helps relay a message to emergency services when you’re out of cellular range. It might cost extra down the line, but for the first two years, it’s included free with the iPhone 14 Plus. Even if you don’t end up needing it, you will likely be able to try it out to see how it works.

The iPhone 14 (left) and iPhone 14 Plus (right) both include a capable A15 Bionic processor.

The iPhone 14 (left) and iPhone 14 Plus (right) both include a capable A15 Bionic processor.

The 14 Plus includes the very same cameras as the 14, which means a 12-megapixel f/1.5 main camera with sensor-shift stabilization, a 12-megapixel ultrawide, and a 12-megapixel selfie camera with autofocus. There’s no high-res, 48-megapixel sensor here (or the nice 2x crop for Portrait Mode that comes with it), but the 14 Plus does gain the benefits of Apple’s updated image processing called Photonic Engine.

What that boils down to is better low-light performance, especially from the ultrawide and selfie cam, even though the hardware isn’t exactly new or special. You can read a little more in-depth analysis in my iPhone 14 review, but the short version is that this is a very good camera system — not solely worth upgrading for, but it’ll be a pleasant update if you’re coming from an iPhone 11 or older.

When I reviewed the iPhone 14, I couldn’t find a compelling reason to pick it over the iPhone 13. The 14 Pro, maybe, if you want the latest and greatest features. But the standard 14’s improvements over the 13 are so minor that most people would be better off living without them and saving a little money.

The iPhone 14 Plus, on the other hand, actually does make an argument for spending a little more. Its $899 price tag is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s lower than the iPhone 14 Pro’s starting price of $999 — and lower still than the $1,099 you’d need to pay for the 6.7-inch 14 Pro Max. For $899, you get a significant boost in battery life, no matter what iPhone you’re upgrading from. And a phone with good battery life now stands a better chance of providing healthy battery life a few years down the line when it inevitably degrades. Given that Apple will likely support the 14 Plus with at least five years of software updates, this device could really go the distance.

You get a significant boost in battery life, no matter what iPhone you’re upgrading from

There’s the screen, too, and as we learned from the iPhone Mini Experiment, people don’t want small phones. Big screens let you see more and scroll less — the fact that the phone isn’t really pocketable or usable with one hand doesn’t seem to bother most people. This isn’t the best big phone screen Apple offers, but it’s still very good.

If it’s time for an upgrade and you’ve been eyeing the big iPhone, but you’d rather get the best battery life possible than the very latest features, then the iPhone 14 Plus is for you. It is an iPhone with a really big screen and great battery life for under $1,000. That’s a combination of features that a lot of people will find appealing, and the 14 Plus delivers on its promises.

Photography by Allison Johnson / The Verge

Agree to Continue: Apple iPhone 14 and 14 Pro

Every smart device now requires you to agree to a series of terms and conditions before you can use it — contracts that no one actually reads. It’s impossible for us to read and analyze every single one of these agreements. But we’re going to start counting exactly how many times you have to hit “agree” to use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people don’t read and definitely can’t negotiate. 

To use any of the iPhone 14 models, you have to agree to:

  • The iOS terms and conditions, which you can have sent to you by email
  • Apple’s warranty agreement, which you can have sent to you by email

These agreements are nonnegotiable, and you cannot use the phone at all if you don’t agree to them.

The iPhone also prompts you to set up Apple Cash and Apple Pay at setup, which further means you have to agree to:

  • The Apple Cash agreement, which specifies that services are actually provided by Green Dot Bank and Apple Payments, Inc. and further consists of the following agreements:
  • The Apple Cash terms and conditions
  • The electronic communications agreement
  • The Green Dot Bank privacy policy
  • Direct payments terms and conditions
  • Direct payments privacy notice
  • Apple Payments, Inc. license

If you add a credit card to Apple Pay, you have to agree to:

  • The terms from your credit card provider, which do not have an option to be emailed

Final tally: two mandatory agreements, six optional agreements for Apple Cash, and one optional agreement for Apple Pay.

Originally appeared on: TheSpuzz