Tech Review: The new iPhone 14 Plus backs up its street cred with some solid attributes

The iPhone 14 Plus sports a 6.7-inch screen, compared to the 6.1-inch of the base iPhone 14

By Anirban Bagchi

Published: Thu 26 Jan 2023, 10:18 PM

Steve Jobs was not a technocrat; he was a marketing genius. There, I’ve said it — what I consider to be the truth, albeit a controversial one, given the legion of fans of i-devices.

But why would I start a review of an iPhone of all devices — that darling of the tech-savvy and the hip, with-it crowd — with such a polarising declaration? Just to establish that I do not belong in the Apple camp and any unsubstantiated negativity in this review could just be my bias speaking. But then, who better to review an iphone than an i-device agnostic? If this piece of kit manages to sway me, then that’s probably a big win!

So, to dive into it, our test mule this weekend is the iPhone 14 Plus. And a very smart and appealing red — nay, crimson — one at that. But we will come to the looks presently.

The iPhone 14 Plus sports a 6.7-inch screen, compared to the 6.1-inch of the base iPhone 14. The ‘Super Retina XDR’ display, as Apple calls it, is a 4K OLED, designed for “an incredible HDR experience for photos and videos”. In my experience, the video playback, while detailed and sharp, lacked the vibrancy of my Moto G 5G Plus (blasphemy!), although I was able to watch videos indefinitely without eye fatigue, owing probably to the brilliant contrast, which was among the best I have experienced on any phone.

Compared to videos, still images were markedly better and definitely in the league of the iPhone 14 Plus’ biggest rival, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra — or even marginally better.

The 5G iPhone 14 is powered by the A15 Bionic chip with a 5-core GPU and a 6-core CPU, speeding up its performance by 18 per cent over the iPhone 13. Apple explains that with the chip using 5nm technology and nearly 15 billion transistors, it is capable of up to 15.8 trillion operations a second, equipping the phone with machine learning to speed up all its tasks.

But such geeky technical details are only for the hardcore Apple fans, and if you are one, then I’m only preaching to the converted — for, you know what the iPhone is all about after using it through several iterations.

Improved features

Let me, rather, highlight some new and improved features, the first of which is the camera. The iPhones have established a reputation for returning great images, and this new one is no exception. The twin 12MP lenses on the rear main camera have larger sensors, larger pixels and faster apertures for a 49 per cent increase on the already impressive low-light performance. Add in optical image stabilisation and an ‘Ultra Wide’ camera that uses Apple’s Photonic Engine, and we saw pictures that exceeded expectations on every shot.

For selfie buffs, the front camera gets autofocus for the first time. A Cinematic Mode now supports 4K resolution and 30fps, and records in Dolby Vision HDR, while modes such as Action aid creative control.

Supporting all your clicking is a long battery life, the best yet on an iPhone. We consistently got over two whole days of extensive use on a full charge.

There are also great new safety features. Crash Detection can detect a severe car crash and automatically notify emergency services and your emergency contacts. Another feature, Emergency SOS via satellite, sends text messages in emergencies and shares your location in the Find My app without a sim or Wi-Fi connection. However, this is yet to come to our region.

Sticking points

While these are great features, there remain some sticking points with the iPhone 14 Plus. There is no expansion slot for the on-board memory, so if you carry heavy files around and do not want to use cloud storage, then 512GB is the maximum that you will have to make do with.

Also, while the battery is powerful, it seems to take an eternity to charge up, especially compared to similarly-priced Android phones. Meanwhile, Apple insists on not offering any headphone jacks and on sticking to its proprietary Lightning port ­— so you simply have to use a Bluetooth headset and carry around the charging cable.

In the final analysis, is the new iPhone 14 Plus worth its Dh3,799 price? Yes and no. Its big brother, the 14 Pro, is better in almost every aspect — except availability. So the Plus will appeal to die-hard iPhone fans who simply have to have the latest model but cannot fork out the extra moolah or wait for the Pro.

But if they do get the Plus, they will have an exceptionally beautiful phone, which, with its aluminium and glass case and flawlessly finished enamelled colourways, is a delight to see and touch. And flaunt!

So, as someone in the Android camp, is yours truly swayed yet? I confess I am! And by the sheer ‘flauntability’ of the device. Is it the best mobile phone out there? No, but it’s still the one to be seen with. Told you Steve Jobs was a marketing genius!