iPhone 14 Pro Hands-on: Welcome to Dynamic Island
September 26, 2022 Andrew Cheng

The iPhone 14 Pro finally sees a design revision. Gone is the notch, and it its place is a new…pill-shaped notch. But Apple did implement some smart software tricks to the new display cutout dubbed “Dynamic Island,” and it is quite interesting, to say the least.

While the iPhone 14 series does see a price hike in Malaysia – no thanks to our weakening Ringgit – the iPhone 14 Pro does bring a slew of improvements. If you’ve been waiting to upgrade your iPhone, now’s as good a time as any.

First, let’s talk about the iPhone 14 Pro’s Dynamic Island. Compared to the display notch on last year’s model, the new screen cutout is certainly an upgrade, in my opinion. Not only does it look better, it is also surprisingly functional.

When I’m playing music on YouTube Music or Spotify, for example, the Dynamic Island will actually expand to show the album art and waveform when I minimise the app. If I start a timer while the music is still playing in the background, the Dynamic Island will dynamically (excuse the pun) add the timer on the notch too.

Basically, instead of minimising the notch like every other phone maker, Apple is actually putting a lot of focus on the Dynamic Island cutout by adding these neat little features. Chances are, it’s only a matter of time before other brands copy the Dynamic Island – some are already doing it.

Beyond the Dynamic Island, the iPhone 14 Pro also brings another new feature: an always-on display. But compared to other implementations of the feature, Apple’s method is more…unconventional. When the always-on display is activated, it’s essentially a dimmed lock screen.

Of course, the display’s refresh rate is also reduced to only 1Hz to conserve power when it’s in always-on mode. But because it’s just a dimmed lock screen, I can’t quite get used to it in the first few days of use. I thought I hadn’t put the phone to sleep because the display looks…well, switched on.

Once I am accustomed to the always-on display, I actually like it quite a bit. I love the fact that I can see all of my notifications at a glance (instead of just icons), though I am curious if battery life will be impacted by this. I’ll keep an eye on this in the full review of the phone.

And then there’s the new camera system of the iPhone 14 Pro. It now features a triple camera system made up of a 48MP primary shooter, a 12MP ultra-wide angle sensor, and a 12MP telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom. There’s even an option for 2x zoom now, which crops a 12MP image from the larger 48MP primary camera.

I took some shots with the iPhone 14 Pro, and the results (naturally) look great on all three focal lengths. Well, four focal lengths if we count the 2x zoom as well, which looks good despite being a cropped image from the main 48MP sensor. I’m definitely looking forward to testing out the low light performance of this new camera configuration.

Under the hood, the iPhone 14 Pro is powered by the new Apple A16 Bionic chip; only the Pro iPhones get the new processor this year. Compared to last year’s A15 chip, the A16 offers better performance and superior power efficiency, ensuring that the iPhone can still deliver all-day battery life.

To put the A16 Bionic through its paces, I fired up Genshin Impact to see how well it can run the game. Not surprisingly, Genshin is buttery smooth on the iPhone 14 Pro, even though the game can only run at 60fps right now. Hoyoverse has not added support for 120fps to the new iPhone yet, it seems.

Speaking of which, the iPhone 14 Pro features a brighter 6.1-inch 2556 x 1179 OLED display now. It has a peak brightness of 2,000 nits now, and compared to the iPhone 13 Pro’s max brightness of 1,200 nits, this is quite a big improvement. The higher peak brightness will definitely come in handy when using the phone under bright sunlight.

As for the iPhone 14 Pro’s display quality itself, it remains one of the best screens on a smartphone. Not only can it get searingly bright, it also has punchy, vibrant colours, and the deep blacks of an OLED panel; winning characteristics of the display technology.

All in all, I am impressed with the iPhone 14 Pro. Even compared to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, I prefer the more compact design of the standard Pro model. It’s also more affordable with a RM5,299 starting price, compared to the 14 Pro Max, which retails from RM5,799.

Without a doubt RM5,299 is still a lot of money for a smartphone, but that’s how much you’ll have to pay for the latest and greatest Pro iPhone. Whether or not the iPhone 14 Pro is worth that kind of money…I’ll reserve judgment until the full review.

But for what it’s worth, I am enjoying using the iPhone 14 Pro as my daily driver so far.