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  • Cheryl Tan

iPhone 14 Series Unveiled: Better Cameras, New Notch & More

It's that time of the year again, although this time around, Apple has brought their September event forward a little. Regardless, the highlight of the event - the iPhone 14 lineup - is certainly still one of the most exciting launches of the second half of the year.

This time around, Apple has decided to scrap the Mini model due to apparently lacklustre sales from previous years, opting instead for a combination of the 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch screen sizes across the normal and Pro lineups, resulting in the four new models: the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.

While the normal lineup certainly will be excellent phones in their own right, the biggest changes this year will be exclusive to the Pro lineup.

Let's talk about the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus first. Both phones will be coming with a Super Retina XDR OLED display that can get up to 1,200 nits of brightness and supports Dolby Vision. The iPhone 14's display clocks in at 6.1-inches while the iPhone 14 Plus will be 6.7-inches large and both phones will still retain the notch from before.

The A15 Bionic chip which was introduced with the iPhone 13 lineup will be in the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus, which means we most likely will not be seeing a big improvement in performance here.

The lineup will also be improved with a new 12MP main camera that has an f/1.5 aperture with sensor-shift OIS that Apple claims offer a 49% improvement in low-light photos. The front camera is also a new 12MP f/1.9 TrueDepth camera that now comes with a hybrid autofocus system, offering a 38% improvement for low-light conditions. This improvement in low-light photography is thanks to a new "Photonic Engine" that applies Deep Fusion earlier in the image pipeline, going beyond what hardware alone can provide. There's a 2x improvement in low-light conditions for the front and ultra-wide cameras, and a 2.5x improvement on the main camera.

There's also a new stabilisation mode for video called Action Mode that supports Dolby Vision HDR and uses the full sensor with more overscan and roll correction.

Apple is also pushing for eSIM, with the removal of SIM trays on US models of the new iPhones. There's no confirmation yet of whether this change will impact other countries.

As for colours, the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus will come in Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Purple and PRODUCT(RED). The iPhone 14 starts at S$1,299 while the 14 Plus will start at S$1,499. Preorders start 8pm SGT on 9 September, with iPhone 14's availability on 16 September while the 14 Plus will only be available from 7 October onwards. Local pricing is yet to be announced.

Before we move on to the Pro lineup, let's talk about two new safety features that will be introduced with the entire iPhone 14 lineup - One is the Crash Detection feature that was introduced earlier with the new Apple Watch Series 8, thanks to the new gyroscope and accelerometer.

The other is support for satellite connectivity for emergency SOS pings. While this was rumoured, it's not quite the same as the satellite connectivity is limited to just emergency use for now. Users will have to be outdoors with a clear view of the sky, phones will also have to be pointed at a satellite and Apple had to design a custom short text compression algorithm to reduce message sizes by 3x.

Apple has also set up relay centres to get texts and relay them to emergency services that only allow for calls. Satellite connectivity also works with Find My, and the service will be provided for free for two years with iPhone 14. The service will be available in November across the United States and Canada.

So now we get to the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Talking about physical changes, one of the most obvious visually would be the change from a notch housing the front camera and Face ID sensors to a pill-shaped cut-out for the Pro models. This notch is called the "dynamic island", and it can "move", shifting and expanding to show different information for different apps. The proximity sensor is now behind the display, with notifications that can "pop out" of the notch with fluid animations. This is certainly an interesting way to integrate the notch and make it feel more useful.

Aside from that, the design is relatively unchanged, with the same camera bump on the back. This time around, the signature colour for the iPhone 14 Pro lineup is a striking Deep Purple. There are also Space Black, Silver and Gold colours available.

The sizes of the phones have been left unchanged, with 6.1-inches for the iPhone 14 Pro and 6.7-inches for the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Bezels are thinner, but the screen now has a max HDR brightness of 1,600 nits. Peak outdoor brightness is now 2,000 nits. The ProMotion refresh rate can go as low as 1Hz, and Apple is finally introducing an always-on display that works with the new lock screens introduced in iOS 16 to show information like calendar events, weather and more.

And of course, there have been improvements internally as well. The Pro phones will come with Apple's new 4nm A16 processor that has 16 billion transistors. It's a six-core CPU that has four high-efficiency cores and two high-performance cores. There's also an entirely new display engine that enables the aforementioned 1Hz refresh rate, always-on display and antialiasing that helps the dynamic island's fluid animations.

The cameras have been upgraded, with a new 24mm focal length 48MP f/1.78 main wide lens for the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models. The new quad-pixel sensor is 65% larger than the previous sensor in the 13 Pro lineup, and it allows for pixel-binned images, with 2x improved low-light performance. Thanks to pixel-binning, Apple can deliver true 2x zoom at a 48mm focal length. ProRaw photos can be shot as well in 48MP resolution, although those files will definitely be incredibly large.

There's also a new 12MP ultra-wide camera with an f/2.2 aperture and 13mm focal length. The new camera offers 3x improvement in low light as well as an improvement in detail for macro photos. The flash has also been completely redesigned with an adaptive feature that can adjust the intensity of the light according to the focal length of the photos.

Video on the iPhone 14 Pro models also gets an upgrade, with Cinematic mode now able to be shot in 4K/30fps and 4K/24fps.

The iPhone 14 Pro starts at S$1,649 with the 14 Pro Max starting from S$1,799, with storage options from 128GB all the way to 1TB. Preorders start at 8pm SGT on 9 September, with general availability from 16 September onwards.

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