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iPhone 14 Plus review: Finally, a big iPhone without the Pro Max tax


Although it doesn't have the Dynamic Island of the Pro models, the iPhone 14 Plus is a perfect new addition to Apple's iPhone line-up. No longer do we have to pay Pro Max prices just to get a large display – a basic feature many of us want and need from our smartphones these days.


So if you're an Apple fan who wants a bigger screen, but doesn't need all of the iPhone 14 Pro Max bells and whistles, which do jack up its price quite significantly – the iPhone 14 Plus is the one and only iPhone for you.


However, don't expect any surprises – if we look past its size and battery life, from the design and feature standpoints this is a rather boring new model that could've been a bit more exciting than it is. A Dynamic Island and always-on display would've been nice to get here, but alas, the iPhone 14 Plus keeps things simple, and very, very familiar.

iPhone 14 Plus Unboxing

The unboxing experience is the usual Apple ordeal – we have a very tiny, compact, and minimalist retail box, which you need to hold by the sides as its bottom slides out slowly, to reveal your new tech toy. Savor the moment if you will; that's the whole point of the whole slidey mechanism after all! And there it is – your new iPhone 14 Plus.


Inside the box is also some paperwork, a white Apple sticker, plus a USB Type-C to Lightning cable. There's no charger included, and if you're in the US – there's no SIM ejector tool either, as the new iPhones only use eSIM now in that region.


But we have an EU variant of the iPhone 14 Plus here, so the good old SIM ejector is included, and the phone does have a physical SIM card slot in our case.


Back to that missing charger for a quick tangent. A lot of brands tend to not give us chargers "for free" anymore, at least with flagship phones, and the excuse is protecting the environment. You're encouraged to reuse any old chargers you may have lying around, but keep in mind that those will have to be at least 20W, if you wish to take optimal advantage of the iPhone 14 Plus' fast charging.


iPhone 14 Plus Specs

Basically - it's bigger than an iPhone 14, with a bigger screen and battery, yet lesser than an iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. Below we have for you the official iPhone 14 Plus specs from Apple.


Perhaps most notable is the fact that the iPhone 14 Plus keeps the older A15 Bionic processor, while the Pro models got upgraded to A16, but to be fair – the A15 is still a great performer in 2022.


iPhone 14 Plus Design & Colors

Unlike the more expensive iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, the iPhone 14 Plus still has the notch we've become so familiar with.


We basically have a last-gen design here, nearly identical to the 2021 iPhone 13 Pro Max visually, except that the new Plus has a dual-camera on the back, as opposed to three cameras. And, the bezels around the display here are ever so slightly thicker.


The iPhone 14 Plus has one, main, defining feature over the base iPhone 14, and that's its larger size. Regardless, and despite being cheaper than the Pro models, the iPhone 14 Plus still sports a premium Ceramic Shield front, a glass back, aluminum sides, beautiful flat edges, and a slight camera bump on the back. On the bottom, the Lightning port returns yet again, for charging and data transfer.


On the front, around its nearly-7-inch display are some small black bezels, and again – the good old notch, unchanged from last year.


The iPhone 14 Plus is rated IP68, meaning it has been tested to survive submersion in water at up to 6 meters, for up to 30 minutes, so using it during a light rain shouldn't be an issue.


Perhaps the biggest surprise for me initially was that for its size and weight of 203 grams, the iPhone 14 Plus feels pretty light, and again – nicely premium in the hand. Just do keep in mind you'll definitely need some larger hands to hold and use it easily. It's main selling point is the fact that it is big, and… Well, it sure is. You'll need large hands and large pockets for this beast.


As for the color options, here's what we get...

iPhone 14 Plus colors:

  • Midnight

  • Purple

  • Starlight

  • Blue

  • Product Red

iPhone 14 Plus Display

So as we mentioned, the iPhone 14 Plus is essentially just like the 14 Pro Max and the 13 Pro Max in terms of size, but its specs are nerfed to match its lower price. We're getting a 6.7-inch OLED display clocked at the traditional 60Hz refresh rate. It's a Super Retina XDR display, with a 2778‑by‑1284 pixel resolution, and pixel density of 458 PPI (pixels per inch). What does all that mean in plain English? The display is sharp. Big and beautiful, with pitch blacks and vibrant colors, as can be expected from OLED screen technology.


This phone getting the always-on display feature was speculated by some, but as we could've seen a mile away – that came only to the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. So no always-on display for the iPhone 14 Plus. Nonetheless, True Tone returns, as well as HDR support.


According to Apple we have 800 nits max brightness (1200 nits HDR peak brightness), which is also below, say, the Pro Max, but regardless, more than bright enough for most users. Realistically, the iPhone 14 Plus' display is well visible even outside on a sunny day, so unless you're planning for a summer trip to the desert, you'll find the brightness more than apt.


So, real life usage – the iPhone 14 Plus is fantastic for browsing the web, watching movies, and doing pretty much anything, thanks to that big, beautiful display that it's packing.


I compared it side-by-side with the iPhone 14 Pro Max to see if the phones' bodies are exactly the same in size, and they appear to be. However, we do have bigger bezels around the display of the iPhone 14 Plus. So as we should've expected, Apple found a way to extra-nerf it, even if only a tiny bit. And with those screen bezels in mind, the Plus has an ever so slightly smaller display than the Pro Max, even if its body is about the same size.


iPhone 14 Plus Camera

As we can see from our main, ultra wide and night / low light samples below, the iPhone 14 Plus has a pair of very competent dual cameras. Those are a 12 megapixel main one with sensor‑shift optical image stabilization, and a 12 megapixel wide one with 120° field of view.

Although daylight shots tend to exhibit a bit of over-sharpening, when the bokeh effect kicks in, it does a fantastic job blurring background elements and letting whatever's in focus pop. Even in night photos! Which, by the way, do look respectably bright, clear and detailed.


Turning the phone around, we have a selfie camera inside that notch, which is also 12 megapixels. Like the back camera, this one supports Portrait mode, Night mode and 4K, 60FPS video recording.


Portrait mode in selfies is better than ever, and even manages to deal with challenging shots like the one above. Many phones that have a Portrait feature would've struggled to detect the little spots between the frames of the glasses and the subject's head, likely either blurring the glasses, or not blurring the background properly. But the iPhone 14 Plus handled it like a champ.


On the video side of things, that optical image stabilization (OIS) we mentioned earlier does come in handy. It's better than electronic image stabilization (EIS), as with OIS the camera sensor physically moves while you're shooting a video, in order to stabilize it. Meanwhile EIS normally crops the video and uses software tricks to stabilize it, resulting in some image loss. No such problem here.

The iPhone 14 Plus can record videos at up to 4K, 60 frames-per-second (FPS). 8K recording didn't come to any of the new iPhone 14 models, including the Pros, so it's no surprise that it's not here either. Even so, 4K footage like our sample video below looks very impressive. The stabilization is indeed solid, colors are true to life, and the mic handled the very loud environment perfectly too, keeping my voice clear despite it.


iPhone 14 Plus Performance & Benchmarks

Powering the iPhone 14 Plus is the 2021 A15 Bionic chip, unlike the 14 Pro models which got a new A16. But despite the fact that Apple is clearly cutting corners here again, A15 is still quite a beast today. Whether you're pushing it with intensive 3D gaming or even video editing, you likely won't see it stutter, ever. This is still one of the best performing smartphones right now.


We also get 6GB of RAM, which too is more than enough for smooth switching between apps, without the phone running out of memory and forcing them to reset.


iPhone 14 Plus iOS version

The new iPhone 14 Plus comes with the also new iOS 16, so aside from the familiar smooth and reliable phone experience we all know and love, there are also some nice new features to talk about.


Perhaps most notably – the lock screen is now customizable – you can add Apple Watch-like widgets to it (battery percentages, reminders, etc.), you can change the font of your lock screen date and time, or even browse a whole lock screen gallery and pick something premade, to freshen things up.


Other notable iOS 16 features include web push notifications in Safari (coming soon), Passkeys, which aims to replace your many web passwords with something simpler, unified and easier to manage, plus there are a bunch of smaller app, privacy and security updates. Check out our iOS 16 review for all the details.


A notable new security feature in iOS 16 is Lockdown Mode, which is pretty much as cool as it sounds. It's meant to be used by "the very small number of users who face grave, targeted threats to their digital security," as it further hardens your iPhone's defenses and "strictly limits certain functions" that may or may not be theoretically exploitable by hackers. Think Edward Snowden-type of people, not so much the rest of us. But the mere fact that this is available is more than welcome for those who value their privacy and security above all else.


New features aside, iOS 16 is indeed running like a breeze on the iPhone 14 Plus, without any stutters or lags. Sure, having a 120Hz display would've made things feel even smoother, but alas – we get the more traditional 60. To be fair, this saves on battery, so many may consider 60Hz preferable. Speaking of battery…


iPhone 14 Plus Battery

Apple is boldly marketing the iPhone 14 Plus as having the "longest battery life ever" on an iPhone. Now, in theory, this makes a lot of sense – as we have a big 4,325 mAh battery, an older, yet very power efficient processor, and a 60Hz screen with no always-on display. Some of those things sound like negatives, some are clear positives, but all of them bode well for that battery life endurance. And Apple's promise of long battery life is true – the iPhone 14 Plus' battery can easily last two days of normal usage, or even longer with sparse usage. Apple's claims are for up to 20 hours of video streaming on a single charge, but as always – we are doing our own video streaming battery tests, the results from which we'll add here very soon. Stay tuned!


iPhone 14 Plus Charging Speeds

For charging via that Lightning port on the bottom of the phone, we get up to 20W wired fast-charge, that tops the phone from 0 to 50% in just about 30 minutes. Of course, you don't get a 20W charger out of the box, and will have to buy it separately. When it comes to wireless charging, the iPhone 14 Plus supports up to 15W MagSafe charging, which goes down to about 7.5W if you use a generic Qi wireless charger. So although you get the full convenience of fast charging without being limited to just Apple's MagSafe, using that over Qi would deliver twice as fast wireless charging speeds.


iPhone 14 Plus Audio Quality and Haptics

As always, Apple surprises pleasantly with the quality of the speaker that it's packed into this iPhone. It's loud, punchy, and even a tad bassy, which is way more than we usually get even from some competitor flagships.


So we have this down-firing speaker, plus the earpiece, which doubles as a second speaker, creating a reasonable stereo effect when watching movies or listening to music in landscape orientation. Not that the earpiece matches the speaker in terms of volume and fullness, but again – for the sake of a stereo effect, it gets the job done.


While we're on the subject of audio, needless to say we don't have a headphone jack, but the iPhone 14 Plus does employ Bluetooth 5.3 for connecting with all of your favorite wireless headphones and speakers.


As for the haptics – iOS does finally offer haptic feedback when typing with the on-screen keyboard. Although this is off by default, I obviously tend to enable it, and the haptics are pretty reassuring and nice-feeling, as opposed to the hollow and nasty vibrations I've occasionally felt from some other phones. No complaints here.


iPhone 14 Plus Competitors

On the iPhone front, the iPhone 14 Plus really has no competitors, since it's a brand new model. Previous iPhones as big as this were always the more expensive Pro Max models, so we can't consider them equal competitors at all. However, if you're willing to switch to Android, there are certain smartphones you may want to take into consideration, before pulling the trigger on a new iPhone 14 Plus…


Like the iPhone 14 Plus, the Pixel 7 Pro starts at $899, and also features a 6.7-inch display. However, unlike the iPhone, the Pixel 7 Pro's display is twice as smooth (120Hz), the phone has a triple camera system on the back (the extra one being a 5x telephoto lens), and for those who value security – Google gives you a free VPN service out the box.


Check out our iPhone 14 Plus vs Galaxy S22 Plus comparison for the details, but in short – this iPhone we're looking at here may actually be Apple's response to that exact Samsung phone.


Both smartphones have similar screen sizes – 6.7 inches on the iPhone 14 Plus, 6.6 on the Galaxy S22 Plus, but the latter also has 120Hz refresh rate, while Apple still reserves that only for its Pro models. If we look at things like performance, speaker quality and long-term software support, the iPhone 14 Plus does have the upper hand, though.


iPhone 14 Plus Summary and final verdict

For its starting price of $899, the iPhone 14 Plus is a great new addition to Apple's smartphone line-up. It offers a big display and a big battery, without forcing you to pay Pro Max prices. With that in mind, it does lack Pro features like a 120Hz always-on display, a newer processor, a telephoto camera, and Apple ProRAW video recording.


It's also a phone you'd hardly recognize as a 2022 model, since it's virtually identical to the older iPhones, right down to the notch. No Dynamic Island here.


But ultimately, if you want a big iPhone for watching your content comfortably, with fantastic battery life, and you don't need any Pro bells and whistles, this is the phone for you. You no longer have to pay the Pro Max tax for that big screen.



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