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What we want to see on the iPhone 14

You don’t have to be a mobile tech expert to be fairly certain that Apple will release the iPhone 14 during the second half of 2022, but what do we want it to be like? It’s not long ago that Apple released the iPhone 13, but rumors are already pouring in about the next iPhone. As there is still some time to go before it’s even close to release, plenty could change before then.

That’s what makes it fun, and the ideal time, to talk about what we want to see on the iPhone 14, particularly the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. This list isn’t about what it will be like, but more what we hope it will be like, hence the addition of a probability score for each entry on the list.

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An always-on display

It’s baffling why the iPhone doesn’t already have an always-on display. The ability to glance at your phone to see the time, date, or notification icons is one of the most helpful features on an OLED-equipped Android phone, yet the iPhone’s screen remains totally black when not in use. Apple had something of an excuse when only the iPhone 11 Pro models used its Super Retina OLED screen, but now that the complete iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 range have Super Retina and Super Retina XDR screens, that excuse has gone away.

Yes, an iPhone with an always-on display may take a battery hit, but it’d only be small, and provided the feature was built into the Focus feature in iOS to activate only when Sleep is off, it’d be smaller still. Tapping the screen to show the time is undeniably fast and reliable on an iPhone, but not having to tap at all is even faster.

Probability score: 6/10

ProMotion on all the models

Super-smooth high refresh rate screens are common on modern Android phones, almost regardless of price, but on the iPhone, only the Pro models have Apple’s 120Hz ProMotion feature. By the end of 2022, there will be little reason to maintain this split, outside of pushing people to spend more for the Pro versions.

An iPhone 13 Pro viewed from the side.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Perhaps you’re not sold on high refresh rate screens? It’s one of those features that’s harder to notice when you upgrade, but much easier to see when you downgrade. Going from a 90Hz or 120Hz screen back to a 60Hz screen, the blur is far more obvious than what you’ll notice going in the opposite direction. The smoother scrolling and animations are easier on the eye and cause less fatigue, making ProMotion a feature all iPhone models need.

Probability score: 7/10

Genuine camera improvements

The iPhone 14 Pro’s camera needs to improve not only over the iPhone 13 Pro, but over the iPhone 12 Pro, too. New features like Cinematic Mode are just too niche to encourage most people to upgrade, and any alterations on the next phone need to make the camera more versatile and more creatively enjoyable for more people. Whether that’s the addition of a Galaxy S21 Ultra-style periscope zoom, more consistency between the main and wide-angle cameras, or improved computational ability doesn’t really matter.

Ultimately, what I want is for the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera to be my go-to camera again, just like the iPhone 12 Pro was, and like the iPhone 13 Pro was until it was surpassed by the Pixel 6 Pro’s amazing camera. Following Apple’s traditional schedule, the iPhone 14 should be a more substantial upgrade generally, meaning it’s highly likely the new phone will benefit from hardware as well as software upgrades.

Probability score: 8/10

Don’t make the Pro Max too different

The iPhone 13 Pro Max has the same features as the iPhone 13 Pro, just with a bigger screen, and this will hopefully be the same on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Apple chose to add a few extra features to the 11 Pro Max’s camera that didn’t make it on the iPhone 11 Pro, which frustrated those who want Apple’s best camera, just without the hand-stretching size of the Pro Max.

A bigger screen and battery are the only real differences the Pro Max model needs. It’s always going to be the reason people opt for it, and because Apple’s biggest phone is such a monster, forcing those with normal-sized hands to get it because of a different feature that doesn’t rely on a big screen to operate seems unfair.

Probability score: 8/10

Make the notch a pill

One interesting rumor around the iPhone 14’s design at this stage is how Apple may swap the notch for a pill-shaped, hole-punch-style cutout in the screen. While doing so won’t serve any real purpose — it just changes the shape and size of the current notch — and not everyone agrees it’s even a possibility, it will bring the iPhone 14’s style right up-to-date. For this reason alone, it’ll be a very welcome change.

Artist's render of the iPhone 14 with a pill-shaped cutout in the screen.

Apple has used the notch since the iPhone X, and despite it getting shorter-but-deeper on the iPhone 13, it’s looking undeniably old. Keeping something like a pill-shaped cutout in the middle of the screen’s top-edge, rather than going for an under-display camera, means the notification center and control center swipe-down gesture remains neatly split.

Probability score: 5/10

Port-less design, not USB Type-C

I don’t think I’ve plugged my iPhone 13 Pro into anything since the first time I charged it up. MagSafe wireless charging is all I need, and AirDrop is efficient and fast when I want to transfer files to my computer. If Apple is going to drop the Lightning connector, then it shouldn’t bother with USB Type-C. It’s a pointless stop on its journey to an entirely port-less iPhone, and if that’s where it’s headed, let’s just get there.

It’s a stretch to think this will happen in 2022 for the iPhone 14 range generally, but I’d definitely prefer it removed the charging port instead of swapping the perfectly adequate Lightning for a basically the same USB Type-C, only to then drop it in the next few years. However, I’m aware some people do want a USB Type-C connector on the iPhone and there are pressures on Apple from the European Union to adopt the format. But if it can stretch the Lightning port out for another year or two, it may avoid having to do so.

Probability score: 2/10

Touch ID, with a difference

Another rumor circulating is the return of Touch ID, Apple’s fingerprint sensor feature, but this time set inside the power button on the side of the phone. After Apple removed the Home button from the iPhone with the iPhone X, it has relied on Face ID to secure the device. Although it’s the fastest and most secure face identification you can use on a phone, there are those who want the fingerprint sensor to return, as it is more convenient, works in all lighting conditions, and obviously doesn’t need you to look at the phone.

Whether it will make a comeback is up for debate, especially as Apple is testing a feature to adapt Face ID to work when you’re wearing a mask, indicating it wants to refine the feature rather than complement or replace it.

Probability score: 5/10

Apple will probably launch the iPhone 14 range toward the end of 2022, with the company likely to hold a special event in September or October, should it continue with its traditional annual release cycle.

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