I’ve had the iPhone 14 Pro for 2 months — here’s what I love (and what I don’t) | CNN Underscored

When my iPhone 12 Pro started succumbing to mysterious crashes this past summer, I knew I’d be upgrading in the fall. No matter what. That’s why I was both excited and relieved by the reveal of the iPhone 14 Pro, which seemed to deliver just enough meaningful improvements over my 2020 phone to make dropping another $1,000-plus feel palatable.

Many weeks later, I can say the investment was worth it. While it may feel like just another iPhone that efficiently and conveniently fits into my daily life, I often catch myself appreciating the iPhone 14 Pro’s new features more and more — like when I’m out taking photos or showing it off to friends. At the same time, I’ve noticed that there’s plenty of room for improvement.

After two months of being an iPhone 14 Pro owner, here are three things I love about it — and two that I don’t.

The best high-end iPhone

If having the best cameras, a super-smooth display and the versatile Dynamic Island are important to you, the iPhone 14 Pro is well worth the investment.

Dynamic Island is a ton of fun

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Two months in, I continue to be delighted by the Dynamic Island, which is the new animated module that wraps around the now-sleeker selfie camera and can morph itself to provide useful, glanceable information. It can show off everything from whatever song is playing on your favorite music streaming service to the battery level of your AirPods as soon as you pop them in, and it’s something that I get real use out of every single day.

I love that the Dynamic Island lets me see how much time is left on my timers without opening an app (super handy on laundry day), and that it reminds me that my personal hotspot is in use on those dreaded days when the Wi-Fi goes out. I also appreciate that my incoming calls now show up as a small bubble within the Island, rather than taking over my entire phone screen when I’m in the middle of an important Marvel Snap game work activity.

The feature has gotten even better since launch with support for Live Activities, which let you view things like your real-time workout progress in the Steps app or live sports scores via Apple TV right at the top of the screen. Live Activities are enabled by default once you’ve updated to iOS 16.1, so you’ll likely start noticing these perks automatically as you use your go-to apps.

The Dynamic Island has plenty of room for improvement (as I’ll talk about below), but it does enough to make my daily life easier in small ways — and happens to be a super fun party trick I love showing off to friends.

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As someone who skipped last year’s iPhone 13 Pro series, it’s a real treat to finally own a phone with Apple’s ultra-smooth ProMotion display technology. This feature gives the iPhone up to a 120Hz refresh rate, which essentially means that things like swiping around the home screen and scrolling through Twitter feel twice as fluid as they would on an older or non-Pro iPhone. It’s the kind of benefit you’ll immediately notice when you go back to a slower 60Hz screen, because even new devices like the standard iPhone 14 or 10th-gen iPad will feel sluggish by comparison. I’ve long been jealous of the high refresh rate displays that Android owners have enjoyed for years, and I’ve become a real snob about them now that I have one on my iPhone.

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At this point, all iPhone cameras are pretty great, and the average person might not even notice the difference between the last few models. But the iPhone 14 Pro’s new triple camera array — led by a whopping new 48-megapixel main lens — brings some obvious benefits that even I can appreciate as the most casual kind of photographer.

The real star here has been the improved optical 3x zoom, which is similar to that of the iPhone 13 Pro but a decent bump from the 2x zoom I got on my iPhone 12 Pro. I go to lots of events, and I’m constantly impressed by the level of detail I’ve been able to capture even when zooming in from a distance — whether I’m capturing a band’s set from a packed festival ground or getting a closer look at a chiseled pro wrestler as they enter the arena.

And I’m just scratching the surface of what this thing can do. I’ve only briefly toyed with Cinematic Mode, which first debuted on the iPhone 13 and lets you create dramatic mixed-focus videos, and I’ve yet to take advantage of the higher-resolution ProRAW shots (which are ideal for editing in Photoshop after the fact) that the 14 Pro is capable of. But even before you dig into any of its advanced settings, the iPhone 14 Pro takes some of the best out-of-box photos I’ve ever seen on a phone — to the point where I’m happy to keep my DSLR stowed away whenever it’s time to shoot some products for work. In fact, all of the photos of the iPhone 14 Pro you see in this article were shot by… another iPhone 14 Pro.

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One of the iPhone 14 Pro’s big new perks is its Always On display, which is designed to keep pertinent information visible (such as the time and weather) even when your phone is asleep. It’s Apple’s take on a feature that Android phones have had since forever, and quite frankly, I wish the iPhone borrowed more liberally from team Google.

The always-on displays on Android phones are slick and minimalist, often presenting just the time and a few key widgets in white text against a black screen. By contrast, the iPhone 14 Pro’s Always On display is an exercise in excess, showing what’s basically a dimmer version of your entire lock screen — colored wallpaper and all. On top of causing confusion (much like my colleague Jason pointed out in our iPhone 14 Pro review, I kept thinking I forgot to put my phone to sleep when it was active), the iPhone 14 Pro’s Always On display can also drain the phone’s battery a decent amount. I turned the feature off just weeks into getting my 14 Pro after realizing I wasn’t using it much, and have since noticed that I have about 10% or so more battery left by the time I’m winding down at the end of the day.

I wish Dynamic Island did even more

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I’ve already gushed about the Dynamic Island, and while it’s gotten even better since the iPhone 14 Pro’s launch, I wish it would do more for some of my go-to apps. For example, when I’m waiting on an Uber or have set a route in Google Maps, all I get is a blank widget at the top of the screen that lets me know a map-based app is active — one that I have to click on (and open the full app in the process) to get any information. It would be great to know how far away my driver is at a quick glance, or be able to get live turn-by-turn directions via Google Maps like I already can on Apple’s own Maps app.

Uber is at least set to get Live Activities functionality somewhere down the line, though there’s no word about third-party map apps like Google Maps getting the same. Your mileage with the Dynamic Island will likely vary based on what apps you use (MacRumors has a comprehensive list), but it’s still one or two updates away from providing all of the at-a-glance information that I’d like to have.

For the most part, having an iPhone 14 Pro for a few months has felt like having any other iPhone — it just does the stuff I need it to do. It’s certainly not the same giant leap as I took in 2020, when I ditched the chunky bezels and physical home button of the iPhone 8 Plus and had to rewire my muscle memory on the all-screen iPhone 12 Pro. But whenever I see a handy battery alert pop up in the Dynamic Island or have to use a device that doesn’t have the 14 Pro’s smooth ProMotion display, I’m always pleased with my investment.

The iPhone 14 Pro has proved to be a fantastic upgrade from the 12 Pro, and one that I’d recommend for anyone making the jump from a 2020 iPhone or older. The base iPhone 14 is still the best phone for most people given its price, but you’ll be giving up the Dynamic Island, ProMotion and better cameras; all things I can’t imagine living without anymore.

The 14 Pro is a device I plan to cling to for at least the next few years — barring another untimely malfunction, of course — and one that will hopefully get even better over the next few months of updates.

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