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iPhone 14 and 14 Pro hands-on reactions: here’s what people are saying

Apple’s Far Out event on September 7 was important for a couple of key reasons. First, it gave us a lot of important product announcements. There were plenty of new iPhones to drool over, including the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. We also got to see the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE 2, Apple Watch Ultra, and AirPods Pro 2.

Why else was this latest Apple event important? It marked the first in-person iPhone event since the iPhone 11. Apple invited members of the press and media to check out all of the new gadgets in person. Although Digital Trends wasn’t there, we’ve been keeping a close eye on what our colleagues have reported from their hands-on experience. And, taking a look through their first impressions, it looks like Apple has some winners on its hands this year.

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Here’s what people who have used the new iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro are saying about them.

Dynamic Island is off to a great start

Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro.

Without a doubt, one of the biggest new additions to the iPhone 14 is the “Dynamic Island” found on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. This is the new pill-shaped cutout at the top of the screen that can transform its shape and contents based on what you’re doing. Apple’s presentation showed the Dynamic Island displaying incoming calls, timers, charging status, and a lot more. It looks really slick in photos and videos, but is it any good in person?

Introducing Dynamic Island on iPhone 14 Pro | Apple

In his coverage on SlashGear, Chris Davies calls the Dynamic Island a “cheat,” but also says that it does work for what it is. Apple’s not quite ready to create a 100% full-screen iPhone, and the Dynamic Island is likely a half-step in between the notch and that full-screen dream. And where the notch was always seen as an annoying, unuseful element, Davies says the iPhone 14 Pro “actually gives you a good reason — beyond just taking a selfie — to look at that cut-out.”

Samuel Axon of ArsTechnica also came away impressed, calling the Dynamic Island “clever” and praising the feature for having “snappy” animations and “useful” functionality.

Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro.

Engadget‘s Cherlynn Low does note that you can still see the 12MP front-facing camera “if you peer hard” at the Dynamic Island, but it sounds like Apple has more than done its homework for this one. I’m personally most excited to see how third-party developers take advantage of the Dynamic Island, and considering how well widgets have been supported since their introduction in iOS 14, I’m hopeful for the future of Dynamic Island beyond the initial buzz and hype.

A very bright always-on display

Always-on display on an iPhone 14 Pro.

Another big feature you’ll find on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max is the always-on display. Once again, looking at Low’s coverage on Engadget, Low says the always-on screen is very dim but bright enough that it’s still easy to see everything being displayed. She also calls out its fast performance: “When I lifted the iPhone 14 Pro slightly, its display quickly reverted to full brightness, just as responsively as older iPhones wake from sleep.”

iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max hands-on: Introducing "Dynamic Island"

The Verge also noted that the always-on display is “surprisingly bright.” Furthermore, their hands-on photo shows an always-on display that looks noticeably brighter and more colorful than what we see on competing Android phones. The Verge also got confirmation from an Apple spokesperson that the always-on display will highlight people’s faces if you have a photo of someone on your lock screen.

Going big with the iPhone 14 Plus

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus.

Although most of the really exciting features went to the Pro lineup this year, the baseline iPhone has a big weapon up its sleeve — more specifically, the iPhone 14 Plus. Just as the rumors suggested, Apple didn’t release an iPhone 14 Mini this year and instead replace it with the iPhone 14 Plus. It has a 6.7-inch display, is just as big as the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and is getting pretty good buzz following its debut.

iPhone 14 & 14 Plus Hands-on

Mark Spoonauer of Tom’s Guide made a good point to notice the iPhone 14 Plus’s weight. While it has the same 6.7-inch screen as the iPhone 14 Pro Max, it’s also significantly lighter — weighing about 203 grams compared to 240 grams. While using the 14 Plus, Spoonauer says he “appreciated how relatively portable the device is.”

TechRadar editor Lance Ulanoff also wrote about the iPhone 14 Plus’s surprising weight, though also stressed the potential importance of getting a bigger screen and battery without having to go all-out with an iPhone 14 Pro Max. Lance says the iPhone 14 Plus isn’t “the flashiest big iPhone,” but says that it may be “among the most popular” thanks to its battery claims and $899 price.

Apple stepped up its color game

iPhone 14 Pro rear with camera array.

Every new iPhone launch brings the introduction of a flagship color. For the iPhone 14 Pro, the hot new color this year is Deep Purple. It replaces last year’s Sierra Blue for the iPhone 13 Pro, and so far, it seems to be a winner. Tim Gideon of PCMag says Deep Purple is “the most striking” color this year. It apparently has a two-tone design in real life and is described as being “very regal.”

But it’s not just Deep Purple that’s getting all the attention. While it is the most eye-catching, Apple’s also introduced Space Black to replace Graphite and has improved the Silver finish.

Graphite iPhone 13 Pro vs Space Black iPhone 14 Pro

— Panzer (@panzer) September 7, 2022

In a Tweet from the Far Out event, Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch took a couple of photos of the Graphite iPhone 13 Pro next to the Space Black iPhone 14 Pro. You can clearly see that the 14 Pro is much darker than the 13 Pro. It’s not quite matte black, but it’s much, much darker than last year’s styling.

Muuuuuch better

— Panzer (@panzer) September 7, 2022

Panzarino also shared a photo of the iPhone 14 Pro in Silver. In response to a Tweet asking if the new Silver finish has an “off-white-dishwater color like the previous ones,” Panzarino says this year’s Silver is “Muuuuuch better.”

While these first impressions are encouraging, they’re also far from final verdicts on the latest iPhones. How does the new A16 chip perform? Is the 48MP camera in the 14 Pro worth it? How about that new selfie camera? These are all questions we’ll be able to answer in due time, so keep an eye on Digital Trends as we have our own impressions, reviews, and more in the days and weeks ahead.

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