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Review: iPhone 14 Plus is the new battery king

While it’s pricey and lacks the better display of the Pro models, the new large-screen version of the standard iPhone 14 is one of the best-ever phones for battery life. It will suit a lot of people.

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iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

iPhone 14 Plus has two 12-megapixel read cameras, powered by Apple’s ‘Photonic Engine’

iPhone 14 Plus has two 12-megapixel read cameras, powered by Apple’s ‘Photonic Engine’

iPhone 14 Plus screen is 6.7 inches in size compared to iPhone 14’s 6.1 inches

iPhone 14 Plus screen is 6.7 inches in size compared to iPhone 14’s 6.1 inches

iPhone 14 Plus comes in five different colours

iPhone 14 Plus comes in five different colours

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iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

Apple has a new type of iPhone this year. The iPhone 14 Plus is basically a standard model with its screen stretched out to match the 6.7-inch size of a Pro Max.

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Price: from €1,179

Pros: superb battery life, far lighter than same-sized iPhone 14 Pro Max

Cons: older display, no telephoto camera, pricey

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There are two reasons to consider buying the iPhone 14 Plus, the first time Apple has made an ultra-large screen model without calling it a ‘Pro’.

One reason is the very size of that display, which lets you see and read in more comfort.

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iPhone 14 Plus screen is 6.7 inches in size compared to iPhone 14’s 6.1 inches

iPhone 14 Plus screen is 6.7 inches in size compared to iPhone 14’s 6.1 inches

iPhone 14 Plus screen is 6.7 inches in size compared to iPhone 14’s 6.1 inches

But the second reason may be the clincher: battery life.

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In the few days I’ve been using it, I’ve gone to bed each night with between 40pc and 60pc battery life left.

That outperforms not only the regular 6.1-inch iPhone 14, but both the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max models, too.

Apple isn’t kidding when they say that this is the best-performing iPhone for battery life.

It makes sense. The 14 Plus has a less energy-hungry, ‘slower’ display (60hz) than its ‘Pro’ counterpart. It also can’t shoot photos and videos at quite the same high resolution as the Pro models, again saving some battery power. And it doesn’t have the always-on screen option that the Pro variants boast as a key upgrade feature this year; this has resulted in a little extra battery drain in my testing of those devices.

Even still, after just a few days, I feel like I’m back to the days of the 13 Pro Max, a device that virtually never needed to be recharged twice in one day.

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iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

Does this battery bonus make up for the compromises you’ll make in other key features? That will depend largely on how keen a photographer you are and how much you like your display technology.

If you’re set on a large-screen iPhone, the two biggest differences between the 14 Plus and the 14 Pro Max are the lack of a telephoto lens on the back of the camera and a lower-end screen.

Whereas the iPhone 14 Pro Max throws the kitchen sink at the camera system, with a new 48-megapixel main camera, a powerful 3x telephoto camera and a hybrid 2x cropped focal length in between, the 14 Plus has two 12-megapixel main (1x, 26mm) and ultrawide (0.5x, 13mm) cameras, the same as the standard iPhone 14.

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iPhone 14 Plus has two 12-megapixel read cameras, powered by Apple’s ‘Photonic Engine’

iPhone 14 Plus has two 12-megapixel read cameras, powered by Apple’s ‘Photonic Engine’

iPhone 14 Plus has two 12-megapixel read cameras, powered by Apple’s ‘Photonic Engine’

By themselves, these are excellent general cameras, which are an upgrade on last year’s (also excellent) standard iPhone 13 cameras; Apple’s latest ‘Photonic Engine’ computational wherewithal has at least as big a part in the low light photos as the larger sensor and faster lenses under the hood.

The video smoothness quality from them, too, is the best on the market, outside the 14 Pro models.

But there are times when a photography-conscious phone owner can really use that standalone telephoto zoom lens, whether it’s landscape, pets or even portraits.

I’m one of those people. So I do miss the absence of the 3x telephoto lens and the flexibility it offers.

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iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

I’m not as fussed about the lower specification that the iPhone 14 Plus’s 60hz display represents, compared to the 120hz ‘Promotion’ technology on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models.

To be sure, the higher-end display in the Pro models results in slightly smoother, slightly faster scrolling. But I’m not a heavy gamer, so it feels a little more marginal for me than it might for someone else. And besides, that 6.7-inch screen on the iPhone 14 Plus still looks and feels great, with vibrant colours and a generally premium experience.

Even if the 14 Plus screen isn’t quite as bright as the Pro models, the ‘Super Retina XDR’ Oled screen can still get up to 1200 nits, which is a little brighter than last year’s iPhone 13.

Just to be clear, this isn’t to let Apple entirely off the hook for not including a 120hz display. In many ways, it’s the cheekiest thing about this device. This is a €1,179 (to €1,569) phone and is the only model anywhere near this price that doesn’t automatically include a flagship 120hz display. But there we go.

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iPhone 14 Plus comes in five different colours

iPhone 14 Plus comes in five different colours

iPhone 14 Plus comes in five different colours

There are some other significant, though not quite core, differences, too.

The 14 Plus has the usual ‘notch’ of previous iPhone models and not the new smaller ‘Dynamic Island’ Face ID system of the Pro models. While the ‘Island’ is quite a clever, innovative way to deal with a camera cutout gap that’s disrupting a display, it’s not yet fundamental to the way you use the phone. You’ll go another year without really missing it too much.

The build quality on the iPhone 14 Plus is also not quite as premium (although it is as tough and as water-resistant) as the Pro models, with aluminium instead of stainless steel. In other words, it’s almost identical to last year’s iPhone 13. Still, that leaves it as one of the handsomest, most elegant phones you can get. Its metallic, ceramic finish in a choice of colours is arguably prettier than the more muted iPhone 14 Pro aesthetics.

Ironically, its cheaper aluminium also brings one odd advantage: lightness. The 14 Plus is patently less destructive to my pockets than the 14 Pro Max is, because that aluminium makes it around 15pc lighter (despite being almost exactly the same size).

Some of the other would-be compromises (compared to the iphone 14 Pro Max) don’t really feel like much of a sacrifice at all. The iPhone 14 Plus comes with last year’s A15 bionic chip instead of this year’s flagship A16 Bionic in the Pro models. Honestly, though, I barely have any way of seeing the difference in performance between the two; the A15 Bionic is generally still ahead of almost all flagship Android phones from this year. There is also an extra bit added to the GPU for slightly better gaming performance. So this device does not lack power or agility.

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iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

iPhone 14 Plus (left) alongside iPhone 14 (right). Photo: Adrian Weckler

The iPhone 14 Plus does have one new feature, in common with the Pro models, that is new to this year’s entire iPhone range. It’s called ‘crash detection’

Basically, the phone uses its accelerometer, microphones and gyroscope to figure out whether you have come to an overly-abrupt halt for some reason. It then gives you a few seconds to tell it that you haven’t been in a crash, before notifying emergency services and close contacts. It’s comforting, although I (thankfully) haven’t had the opportunity to properly test it.

One sad point worth making about the iPhone 14 Plus is that, alongside every other Apple device released this year, the price has fallen prey to the eurozone’s rampant inflation. This device starts at $899 (plus local sales tax) in the US, but from €1,179 here. This isn’t exactly Apple’s fault, as it bases all of its pricing on the (uniquely strong) dollar. But it still feels like you’re paying a huge extra new premium on what was already a premium-priced device.

The iPhone 14 Plus is available in five different colours and three different storage sizes: 128GB (€1,179), 256GB (€1,309) and 512GB (€1,569).


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