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New iPhone 14 models compared: Which one should you buy?

Tim Cook with new iPhones

Image: Apple

The curtain has been lifted at Cupertino and four new iPhones will soon arrive at an Apple store near you: iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. That’s a whole lot of iPhones if you’re in the market for an upgrade, with new features aplenty to make your investment all the sweeter.

To get you up to speed on the latest handsets and help you make the best buying decision this fall, ZDNET experts sifted through spec sheets, price points, feature lists, and presentations to bring you all the information. Here are key reasons to buy one iPhone 14 model over the other — starting from the top of the line.

See also: Here’s everything Apple announced during its ‘Far Out’ event

Specifications

iPhone 14

iPhone 14 Plus

iPhone 14 Pro

iPhone 14 Pro Max

Display

6.1-inch OLED with 60Hz

6.7-inch OLED with 60Hz

6.1-inch OLED with 120Hz

6.7-inch OLED with 120Hz

Weight 6.07 oz (172 grams) 7.16 oz (203 grams) 7.27 oz (206 grams) 8.47 oz (240 grams)

Processor

A15 Bionic

A15 Bionic

A16 Bionic

A16 Bionic

RAM/Storage

4GB RAM with 128GB/256GB/512GB

4GB RAM with 128GB/256GB/512GB

6GB RAM with 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB

6GB RAM with 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB

Camera

12MP (f/1.5) Wide, 12MP (f/2.4) Ultra-wide, 12MP (f/1.9) front 12MP (f/1.5) Wide, 12MP (f/2.4) Ultra-wide, 12MP (f/1.9) front  48MP (f/1.78) Wide, 12MP (f/2.2) Ultra-wide, 12MP (f/1.78) 2X Telephoto, 12MP (f/2.8) 3X Telephoto, 12MP (f/1.9) front 48MP (f/1.78) Wide, 12MP (f/2.2) Ultra-wide, 12MP (f/1.78) 2X Telephoto, 12MP (f/2.8) 3X Telephoto, 12MP (f/1.9) front 
Software iOS 16 iOS 16 iOS 16 iOS 16
Battery Up to 20 hours of video playback Up to 26 hours of video playback Up to 23 hours of video playback Up to 29 hours of video playback

Connectivity

4G LTE, 5G, eSIM, Satellite

4G LTE, 5G, eSIM, Satellite

4G LTE, 5G, eSIM, Satellite

4G LTE, 5G, eSIM, Satellite

Durability

IP68

IP68

IP68

IP68

Colors

Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Purple, Product Red  Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Purple, Product Red  Space Black, Silver, Gold, Deep Purple Space Black, Silver, Gold, Deep Purple

Price

$799

$899

$999

$1,099


You should buy the iPhone 14 Pro Max if…

iPhone 14 Pro Dynamic Island bar

Image: Apple

1. You want the longest-lasting battery life

Out of all the iPhones announced during Apple’s fall event, the iPhone 14 Pro Max stands tall for the longest-lasting battery life. Apple says that the larger Pro model should last for up to 29 hours of video playback. If the 14 Pro Max is a step-up from the 13 Pro Max, which had an impressive endurance when tested, there are good times ahead for the new iPhone. 

2. You want the best iPhone camera system

Technically, both the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max have the best iPhone camera systems to date, so you can’t go wrong with either one. The benefit of the Pro Max’s larger display is that it functions as an expansive viewfinder when shooting photos and videos. The 6.7-inch panel should can also be of greater use for video editing on the go.

3. You’re willing to pay the big bucks

The iPhone 14 Pro Max starts at $1,099 for the 128GB variant, with the most expensive 1TB model peaking at $1,599. Those prices aren’t including taxes, cases, and chargers. For the 14 Pro Max, you’ll have to pay up to reap the large-screen benefits. 

You should buy the iPhone 14 Pro if…

iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max sizes

The iPhone 14 Pro (left) next to the iPhone 14 Pro Max (right). 

Image: Apple

1. You want ‘Pro’ features in a more regular size

The one and only reason to buy the smaller iPhone 14 Pro over the Pro Max is size preference. The regular iPhone 14 Pro is arguably the safer, less-fatiguing phone to use among the flagship duo. Its 6.1-inch display fits more comfortably in a hand and users switching over from older iPhones should feel at home with the palm-friendly size. Still, the iPhone 14 Pro comes with the same multi-camera system as the Pro Max, as well as all the exciting new safety and Dynamic Island features

You should buy the iPhone 14 Plus if…

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus next to each other.

Image: Apple

1. You want a large iPhone for less

For the first time in a while, Apple is offering a less expensive, big-screen phone, making the iPhone 14 Plus the perfect gateway for folks who want the “Pro Max” form factor. Instead of paying $1,099 for the highest-end iPhone though, the 14 Plus starts at $899. Still, you can expect similar software features like the new iOS 16 lock screen, satellite-based safety tools, and more. 

2. You don’t want to go ‘Pro’ for the best battery life

Apple made it clear during its ‘Far Out’ keynote that the iPhone 14 Plus has the best battery life ever on an iPhone. That’s a big claim, but one that’s not surprising. ZDNET has tested every iPhone to date and always found the larger “Plus” and “Pro Max” options to yield the most enduring performance. In the case of the new 14 Plus, Apple says that the phone should last up to 26 hours of video playback, besting the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro. 

You should buy the iPhone 14 if…

iPhone 14 in five colors

Image: Apple

1. You want the latest iPhone for less

And finally, the iPhone 14. It’s the least expensive model in the fall lineup but possibly the most important. Traditionally, the standard, non-Pro iPhone has been Apple’s bread-winner, appealing to the masses through value-driven prices, subtle drawbacks, and eye-catching colors (see image above). This year’s iPhone 14 is priced the same as last year’s with a starting price of $799. It’s not cheap, but also not as expensive as the other models. 

2. You have your eyes set on a specific color

There’s nothing more hypnotic than walking into an Apple store and seeing all the poppy iPhone colors perfectly laid out for you to play with. Between the Pro and non-Pro iPhones this year, the latter is noticeably more adventurous with its color options and should appeal to a wider range of consumers. If you’re dead set on a red, blue, or purple iPhone, then look no further than the regular 14.  

Bottom line

Clearly, there are a lot of new iPhones to shop from, and each one offers a feature or two that the others do not. My ultimate buying advice is this: Visit your local Apple store and give each model a test drive. Run your most frequented apps, take pictures and videos, and get a feel for each phone’s fit and finish. Naturally, your preferences will narrow down the options and allow you to choose the best iPhone for you.

Alternatives to consider

Open to other smartphone prospects? Consider these ZDNET-recommended devices:


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