Apple iPhone 14 Plus review: does the supersized device justify its price tag?

Size does matter, especially in smartphones, as bigger has now become the norm

The iPhone 14 Plus screen matches the iPhone 14 Pro Max's, but retains the notch and does not have always-on display. EPA
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The last time Apple had an iPhone with "Plus" attached to its name was with the iPhone 8 in 2017, and it was overshadowed by the iPhone X.

Now, it’s making a big comeback with the iPhone 14 Plus. Effectively the replacement of the Mini versions, it aims to offer Apple’s entry-level device on a bigger screen.

Size can matter, especially in smartphones, as bigger has become the norm. We’re here to find out if this upgrade “outsizes” all the surrounding talk.

Design: a supersized iPhone 14

TECH SPECS: APPLE IPHONE 14 PLUS

Display: 6.1" Super Retina XDR OLED, 2778 x 1284, 458ppi, HDR, True Tone, P3, 1200 nits

Processor: A15 Bionic, 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine 

Memory: 6GB

Capacity: 128/256/512GB

Platform: iOS 16

Main camera: Dual 12MP main (f/1.5) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.4); 2x optical, 5x digital; Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting

Main camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD @ 30fps; HD slo-mo @ 120/240fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (f/1.9), Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4; Animoji, Memoji; Portrait Lighting

Front camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD slo-mo @ 120fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Battery: 4323 mAh, up to 26h video, 20h streaming video, 100h audio; fast charge to 50% in 30m; MagSafe, Qi wireless charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay)

Biometrics: Face ID

I/O: Lightning

Cards: Dual eSIM / eSIM + SIM (US models use eSIMs only)

Colours: Blue, midnight, purple, starlight, Product Red

In the box: iPhone 14, USB-C-to-Lightning cable, one Apple sticker

Price: Dh3,799 / Dh4,199 / Dh5,049

The 14 Plus is basically an iPhone 14 stretched to 6.7 inches, matching the size of the highest-end iPhone 14 Pro Max. It’s lighter at 203g, compared with the Pro Max’s 240g.

Its distinguishing feature is that it retains the notch, as with the iPhone 14. This gives a familiar look to long-time Apple users, but also means you don’t get to experience the versatility of Dynamic Island, which is found in the Pro models.

You do still get the tough ceramic shield on the display, a glass rear and aluminium finish, compared with the Pro Max’s matte and stainless steel finish. It does, however, feel less slippery than the Pro models.

And with its bigger size, the device almost makes the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 look like the new Mini.

Performance

The 14 Plus, like the 14, uses the A15 Bionic, which was the same chip used in last year's 13 and 13 Mini. But, as we pointed out in our iPhone 14 review, this iteration of the A15 comes with an extra graphics core. We also now believe that this is a move meant to handle games better since Apple is, seemingly discreetly, pushing its gaming catalogue further.

This leads to the one great plus of this device — it lets you enjoy content on a bigger screen. At the risk of stating the obvious, the experience of games, videos, messaging and browsing is better when you have more wiggle room and are not limited to a smaller frame.

And if we circle back a bit, one downside is that you don’t get the features Dynamic Island offers. Hence you won’t have the versatility to switch apps without closing another — for example, you can either control music or see an incoming call — so that’s extra taps and/or swipes on your part.

While most iPhone users are probably familiar with the notch, you’d be missing out on some added convenience.

One more thing that’s missing — the always-on display. Available only in the 14 Pro models, this feature dims the lock screen yet shows the time, widgets and any notifications that come in. This can be turned off, if you don’t want to mistake the always-on display for when your iPhone usually comes to life with a call.

Camera

Similar to the iPhone 14, the 14 Plus comes with an identical dual-lens camera system. Like we previously pointed out, Apple has added its Photonic Engine technology, meaning it does the same image processing tricks as the Pro models.

We do have to stress, however, that this is a key distinguishing factor from its indirect predecessor, the 13 Mini, aside from the obvious bump-up in size. Apple’s signature Cinematic Mode for video is also available on the 14 Plus.

The results are at par with the 14: images look natural and aren’t overexposed.

Battery

The 14 Plus has a 4323mAh battery, which is actually at par with the 14 Pro Max and way above the 14’s 3279mAh. That’s a good sign, since it doesn’t have the top-heavy features the 14 Pro Max has, which presumably consume more power.

Starting with a full charge in the morning, we were down to about 40 per cent at night, and it was still good enough to get us through to the following afternoon.

Take note that this run involved all-around functions such as emails, web surfing, the camera, calls and a bit of gaming. We did, however, avoid gaming and used the camera sparingly on the second day, and that gives an idea that you can, in theory, drag it to the 0 per cent finish line by evening.

In our one-hour YouTube-at-full-brightness test, the 14 Plus lost only 7 per cent, which is at par with the 14 and just 1 per cent lower than the 14 Pro Max. The bigger screen, which emits more brightness and eats more battery, definitely comes into play here.

For the charging test, we used a 30W Apple charger — Apple says the 14 Plus can be charged to half capacity in half an hour with a 20W or higher brick — and the 14 Plus clocked in at 59 per cent in 30 minutes, 85 per cent in an hour and 100 per cent about 45 minutes later.

The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus. Photo: Apple

We’re seeing a trend here: the iPhone 14 line-up can potentially last for two days and can zip to more than 80 per cent with an hour’s charge. In any case, battery life is very good.

Verdict

For those on a budget seeking a bigger device with the Apple logo on it, the iPhone 14 Plus is certainly a boon. We’ve already talked about how the now entry-level iPhone 14 does what you want, but this Plus model takes it up another notch.

In short: it takes everything great about the iPhone 14 and stretches the screen size. There are a certain set of users who don’t want or need specific features of the Pro models, and this lower-tier — for lack of other words — will serve them great.

For us, it’s honestly a serious toss-up between the 14 and 14 Plus, depending on preferences and budgets.

Updated: October 06, 2022, 12:31 PM
TECH SPECS: APPLE IPHONE 14 PLUS

Display: 6.1" Super Retina XDR OLED, 2778 x 1284, 458ppi, HDR, True Tone, P3, 1200 nits

Processor: A15 Bionic, 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine 

Memory: 6GB

Capacity: 128/256/512GB

Platform: iOS 16

Main camera: Dual 12MP main (f/1.5) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.4); 2x optical, 5x digital; Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting

Main camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD @ 30fps; HD slo-mo @ 120/240fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (f/1.9), Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4; Animoji, Memoji; Portrait Lighting

Front camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD slo-mo @ 120fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Battery: 4323 mAh, up to 26h video, 20h streaming video, 100h audio; fast charge to 50% in 30m; MagSafe, Qi wireless charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay)

Biometrics: Face ID

I/O: Lightning

Cards: Dual eSIM / eSIM + SIM (US models use eSIMs only)

Colours: Blue, midnight, purple, starlight, Product Red

In the box: iPhone 14, USB-C-to-Lightning cable, one Apple sticker

Price: Dh3,799 / Dh4,199 / Dh5,049

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