iPhone 14 Plus review: A nice big screen without any 14 Pro Max extras
Why pay extra for “pro” features you might not need when all you want is a big screen and really long battery life?
As feature-packed and easy to recommend as the iPhone 14 Pro Max is, there's no getting around some disadvantages that come with its massive size.
Weight is a common complaint — the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the heaviest phone Apple has ever released. It's no exaggeration when reviewers like myself liken it to a brick. The top-tier iPhone also is the most expensive starting at $1,099. Lesser trade-offs — but potentially important to you, dear consumer — include a less repairable design and more mature color options.
If you're nodding your head in agreement, Apple has a better huge iPhone for you: the iPhone 14 Plus. In virtually every way, the iPhone 14 Plus is a larger version of the iPhone 14, just as the iPhone 14 Pro Max is a bigger version of the iPhone 14 Pro.
Like the iPhone 14 Pro Max, the iPhone 14 Plus has a 6.7-inch display. You don't get any of the 14 Pro Max's more advanced features such as the 48-megapixel camera or Dynamic Island, but the 14 Plus does have its own upsides, like a lighter design (fun fact: it's lighter than the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro); the price starts at $899; the glass backside has the same easier-to-replace design as the iPhone 14; and, yes, the available colors are more fun in my opinion.
Having spent a week with the iPhone 14 Plus, I'm confident that anybody who just wants the biggest iPhone display, and not the bells and whistles on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, is going to be very satisfied with it.
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A bigger iPhone 14
The iPhone 14 Plus really is just the iPhone 14, but bigger. The display is larger at 6.7 inches, with more pixels to match; websites, videos, games all look fantastic. The aluminum design and notch cutout are identical; both models come in the same colors (blue, purple, midnight, starlight, and Product Red).
Both the iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 14 share the 6-core CPU/5-core GPU A15 Bionic chip. They come in the same three storage capacities: 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. They have the same 5G connectivity (mmWave and sub-6 GHz). In the U.S., both phones are eSIM-only just like the iPhone 14 Pros. The pair also has the new SOS Emergency via satellite messaging and crash detection features available in the iPhone 14 Pros.
Even the dual-camera system and front-facing selfie camera are the same on the iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 14: 12-megapixel f/1.5 main lens, 12-megapixel f/2.4 ultrawide lens, and 12-megapixel f/1.9 front camera with autofocus. Photos are pretty comparable to what you get from the iPhone 13s and iPhone 13 Pros. Apple's improved the whole image pipeline (branded as the "Photonic Engine") and while there is a marginal boost in sharpness, the differences are hard to pick out unless you're examining the fine details. If you’re hoping for a big boost in low-light shooting compared to the iPhone 13s/13 Pros, you’re not gonna any.
Video features are identical to the iPhone 14 Pros. The new Action mode is reliable for capturing mostly shake-free videos in up to 2.8K resolution at up to 60 fps. Cinematic mode does a solid, though not perfect, job faking video bokeh — now in 4K HDR in 30 fps.
Paying an extra $100 for the iPhone 14 Plus (starting at $899) over the iPhone 14 (starting at $799) gets you more than a bigger, sharper screen. Battery life is several hours longer: up to six hours longer for video playback, up to four hours longer for video playback (streaming), and up to 20 hours longer for audio playback, according to Apple. The iPhone 14 Plus's phenomenal battery life is only behind the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but at least your hand and wrist won't cramp from holding it up.
iPhone 14 Plus or 14 Pro Max?
The answer to this question is as simple as this: Do you want or even need the very best? Because if you do not need the "pro" features below, you can save yourself $200 (maybe use the money to buy AirPods Pro 2, a nice case, or a fast charger).
Features the iPhone 14 Pro Max has that the iPhone 14 Plus doesn't:
The Dynamic Island — Apple's pill-shaped cutout isn't just a visual distinction between the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the iPhone 14 Plus, it also acts as a background app manager and notifications experience of sorts.
Always-on display — In addition to the smoother 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate that makes iOS 16 more responsive and scrolling more fluid, the iPhone 14 Pro's adaptive refresh rate — a hardware-only feature that drops the framerate down to 1Hz — is the key ingredient to an always-on display. If you don't care for an always-on display, which some people have found to really hurt battery life on the iPhone 14 Pros, that might be a point for the iPhone 14 Plus.
2,000 nits of brightness — One underrated feature that I love about the iPhone 14 Pro Max display is how bright it gets outdoors. Under direct sun, it peaks at 2,000 nits of brightness for better visibility; the iPhone 14 Plus only peaks at 1,200 nits.
48-megapixel main camera — As I said in my review of the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, the new 48-megapixel image sensor for the main camera lens is the real deal. Photos taken in 48-megapixel ProRAW have an absurd amount of detail, especially for editing and cropping. The 48-megapixel camera also enables a fourth 12-megapixel 2x telephoto lens achieved from cropping in on the center portion of a 48-megapixel photo. This kind of image quality is impressive, but not essential if you're a casual photographer or only post to social media where a 12-megapixel image is more than enough. These high-res photos also eat up storage fast — a 48-megapixel ProRAW image clocks in around 70MB compared to 1.6–2.5MB for 12-megapixel JPEGs.
12-megapixel 3x telephoto camera — Some people like to zoom in on people or things. Most people don't, and a main and ultrawide lens will suffice. The iPhone 14 Pro Max has three physical lenses plus that pseudo 2x telephoto, which makes it the more versatile camera system.
Macro photography — Even though the iPhone 14 Plus has the same camera hardware as the iPhone 14 Pros, it doesn't shoot macro photos. I think macro photography is pretty neat, but I also admit I don't spend all my days taking extreme close-ups.
A more powerful A16 Bionic chip — The iPhone 14 Pro Max has a CPU that's about 10 percent faster and a GPU that's around 23 percent faster than the iPhone 14 Plus. In daily use, you won't feel the difference. But it's something to consider if you need every ounce of performance.
Longest battery life — The iPhone 14 Pro Max technically has the longest-lasting battery of any iPhone, but it can be negated by the always-on display. Turn it off, though, and it lives up to being the longest-lasting iPhone with a few more hours compared to the iPhone 14 Plus.
Stainless steel design — Since the iPhone 11 Pro, Apple has used "surgical-grade" stainless steel for the Pro iPhones. This is a more premium material, but it's also heavier and picks up fingerprints easily. The iPhone 14 Pro is no exception and the reason why it's so much heavier than the iPhone 14 Plus.
iPhone 14 or 14 Plus?
In my honest opinion, the iPhone 14 (starting at $799) is the least compelling iPhone in Apple's lineup. It's only $100 more than the iPhone 13 (starting at $699) and the new bits (the Photonic Engine, selfie camera with autofocus, 5-core GPU variant of the A15 Bionic chip, minor battery improvement) are really modest. If you’re good with a 6.1-inch iPhone, you should just shop around for an iPhone 13 Pro — Apple doesn’t sell it new anymore, but you can find them at retailers for about the same price as a new iPhone 14.
Starting at $899, the iPhone 14 Plus is a much better buy. You get a larger screen and extended battery life. The next tier up would be to an iPhone 14 Pro (starting at $999) with a smaller 6.1-inch display or the iPhone 14 Pro Max (starting at 1,099).
I keep saying this because it's more true than ever when buying a new iPhone: Write down the features you care most about. Then ask yourself whether you think any extras, like the ones in the iPhone Pros, are worth paying more for.
The iPhone 14 Plus is a bigger iPhone 14 or a lesser iPhone 14 Pro Max depending on how you want to look at it. It's a very good all-around iPhone — you can't go wrong with it, unless its features aren't enough for you.