iPhone 14 Plus review: It's bigger and better

iPhone 14 Plus review: It’s bigger and better

Two-minute review

Everything you read about Apple’s iPhone 14 is true of the iPhone 14 Plus. You’re getting the same processor, display technology, and dual camera array on the back. What sets this phone apart from its smaller sibling is, obviously, its screen size and battery life; and for some, that will be reason enough to choose it over the iPhone 14.

The 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus is a newcomer to the iPhone lineup, supplanting the adorably small iPhone 13 mini, which apparently failed to inspire buyers. With this more affordable plus-sized smartphone, Apple hopes to attract those who aspire to the big-screen excitement of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but don’t have the budget to afford it; or who perhaps just don’t need the power afforded by the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s 48MP sensor and leading-edge A16 Bionic CPU.

Coming with most of the same limitations as its non-Pro sibling, the iPhone 14 Plus might seem like just another good-enough handset; but don’t underestimate the benefits of a big screen and excellent battery life. These things matter, and getting them for $899 / £949 / AU$1,579 (for the base 128GB phone), as opposed to the $1,099 / £1,199 / AU$1,899 you’d pay for the iPhone 14 Pro Max, means this is a smartphone worth considering.

Taken by itself, the iPhone 14 Plus is a somewhat staid but attractive smartphone. The design is virtually unchanged from the iPhone 13 lineup, except for its Pro-level-without-being-Pro size. There’s no Dynamic Island upgrade for the iPhone 14 or 14 Plus, with the notch that Apple made 20% smaller with the iPhone 13 sticking around for another generation. It’s still an excellent, 458ppi display with 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio; just note that there’s no always on-display or adaptive refresh rate here, and you’ll be happy enough with the tasteful 60Hz OLED panel.

The best iPhone of this generation, sadly not, but it’s still a brilliant option and offers a nice middle ground between the standard 14 and the 14 Pro Max, without the 14 Pro’s price premium.

The iPhone 14 Plus looks just like the iPhone 14, but it’s bigger (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Apple iPhone 14 Plus at Croma [CPS] IN for ₹99,900 (opens in new tab)

Even though we don’t get a telephoto lens or a 48MP primary sensor on the iPhone 14 Plus, the two 12MP cameras on the back (the main and ultra-wide) are a step up from the iPhone 13’s array. Part of this is due to better sensors and lenses, but there’s also the new Photonic Engine, which applies Apple’s Deep Fusion image technology to uncompressed images. Even the front 12MP camera gets an upgrade, with a better sensor and autofocus.

These are characteristically above-average cameras that we think will satisfy most casual photographers and videographers.

Performance is excellent; in benchmarks the A15 Bionic (the same version of the chip as found in last year’s iPhone 13 Pro) is a tick below what you’d get from the iPhone 14 Pro series’ top-of-the-line A16 Bionic, but we challenge anyone to tell the difference in real-world use.

Battery life is, as you might expect with a phone of this size, exemplary. In one video rundown test we got a solid 25 hours, although your mileage, obviously, may vary.

While it can be difficult to avoid fixating on what the iPhone 14 Plus doesn’t have, we think many will look at what the iPhone 14 Plus brings to the table: big-screen iPhone fun, performance, and battery life at a more affordable price than the equivalent Pro. And where the iPhone 14 offers no compelling reason to upgrade from the iPhone 13, the appeal of the iPhone 14 Plus is visibly obvious.

iPhone 14 Plus price and availability

128GB: $899 / £949 / AU$1,579
256GB: $999 / £1,059 / AU$1,749
512GB: $1,199 / £1,279 / AU$2,099

Apple unveiled its entire iPhone 14 line – the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max – on September 7, 2022. 

The iPhone 14 Plus went on preorder on September 9 and is now available, as of October 7. It starts at $899 / £949 / AU$1,579 for the 128GB model, but you can get it with up to 512GB of storage (check out our best iPhone 14 deals if you’re already interested).

Apple iPhone 14 Plus back

The model we tested came in Apple’s new purple finish (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

iPhone 14 Plus design

Aging design, but one that retains its allure  
Solid aluminum construction
Glass and Ceramic Shield have premium looks
No SIM slot on US models

From its aluminum frame to its glass back, its edge-to-edge, ceramic-shield-covered and notched display, its pill-shaped volume and power buttons, alert slider, Lightning port and grille placement, the design of the iPhone 14 Plus is eminently familiar, and mostly – we emphasize mostly – unchanged from the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 before it.

Naturally, there’s an undeniable size difference. Whereas the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 is virtually indistinguishable from the iPhone 13, the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus is 6.33 inches (160.8mm) tall and 3.07 inches (78.1mm) wide. Compare this to the 5.78-inch (146.7mm) by 2.82-inch (71.5mm) iPhone 14. The two phones are, by the way, the exact same thickness, at 0.31-inches (7.8mm).

Apple iPhone 14 Plus edge without SIM slot

There’s no SIM slot on the US version of the iPhone 14 Plus (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Without question, the biggest design difference from the iPhone 13 generation to the iPhone 14 line of phones – although only on models sold in the US – is that there’s no SIM slot along the left edge. The switch to an all eSIM design in the US has made the physical SIM slot obsolete, and gives the phone a slightly cleaner look.

Apple iPhone 14 Plus base

The iPhone 14 Plus’s bottom edge still features a Lightning port (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

This larger iPhone does outweigh the iPhone 14, coming in at 203 grams to the iPhone 14’s 172 grams, although despite being essentially the same size as the iPhone 14 Pro Max, the iPhone 14 Plus is 37 grams lighter. This may be due to the Plus’ new thermal management system, which helps keep the phone operating cooler and – according to Apple – makes it easier to replace a broken back glass panel.

In general, the handset feels cool, smooth, and solid. We didn’t drop it to test durability, but we did run the phone under some cool water. It can handle that, and is rated for up to 1.5 meters of freshwater for 30 minutes – just don’t plug it back in until it’s fully dried out.

Design score: 4/5

iPhone 14 Plus display

Super Retina XDR OLED is still the best iPhone screen technology you can get 
You might miss adaptive refresh
Bigger is better in videos, photography, gaming, and more
Sorry, no always-on display
It’s time to retire the notch

Apple iPhone 14 Plus front screen

Apple iPhone 14 Plus Super Retina XDR display (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Apple gave the iPhone 14 Plus its best OLED display – the Super Retina XDR – but still with the limitation of the notch. This means Apple’s newest model remains saddled with a feature the company will surely phase out in a generation or two.

If we’d never seen the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max’s adaptable Dynamic Island, we probably wouldn’t mind, but the notch now feels excessive and overbearing by comparison. At least it appears smaller on the iPhone 14 Plus’s large 2278 x 1284 display – there are more pixels on this display than on the iPhone 14’s, but the pixels per inch is actually a hair lower (458ppi vs 460).

None of this is to say the HDR, wide-color, True Tone-supporting display isn’t gorgeous. It is. Everything from games to photos, videos and TikToks looks great on it. Its 2,000,000:1 contrast ensures that blacks look inky, and everything else pops.

Even without an adaptive refresh rate, and despite the fact that the panel on the 14 Plus is stuck at 60Hz, it still feels responsive. Gameplay in PUBG and Asphalt 9: Legends looked smooth enough to the naked eye. If, though, you like the sound of Apple’s new always-on display, think about the iPhone 14 Pro or 14 Pro Max instead.

Of course, the other big benefit of the iPhone 14 Plus is that the screen is noticeably bigger than that of the iPhone 14, which means, to our eyes, an even better video and gaming experience. Obviously, you’re not getting more pixels, but the extra millimeters of visual real estate make everything bigger. Plus, you have some nice little Plus-sized display benefits, like the ability to hold the device in landscape mode, open Mail and see your account’s assorted folders in the left-hand column. These folders aren’t persistent, but it’s still a nice perk that’s exclusive to the larger models in the iPhone 14 series.

As far as screen protection goes, the iPhone 14 Plus has the same Ceramic Shield as the rest of the iPhone 14 line – so might be worth watching this iPhone 14 Pro Max drop test to see what sort of punishment the material can take. 

iPhone 14 Plus cameras

A good set of iPhone 13 Pro transplants
Bigger sensor and Photonic Engine take image quality up a notch
One bigger sensor would’ve been nice
Action mode

Apple iPhone 14 Plus camera array

The 14 Plus’s main 12MP sensor (no longer called the ‘wide’ camera) is virtually the same as the one from the iPhone 13 Pro (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Apple has upgraded the camera system on the iPhone 14, and has put the exact same setup on the iPhone 14 Plus. It’s still two 12MP cameras on the back: a 26mm, f/1.5 lens and a 13mm, f/2.4 ultrawide with a 120-degree field of view.

Apple has not only upgraded the lenses, but is backing them with a larger sensor sporting larger pixels, for better low-light performance. All the cameras, including the new 12MP front-facing camera, are also supported by Apple’s new Photonic Engine, which, among other things, applies the company’s Deep Fusion image processing to uncompressed images, earlier in the image processing pipeline than before. This also results in better low-light performance, and more visual detail.

If your eyes glazed over during that description, then just know that photo quality is noticeably better when compared to iPhone 13’s cameras. It’s not a huge change, but we really could see it in every single image. Better color, clarity, and detail… there’s more truth in the images. The impact is especially noticeable in ultrawide photos, which offer more color information across the entire frame.

Portrait mode photography continues to improve on both the front and back, and is particularly impressive in low-light situations.

For video, the cameras are all still capable of shooting up to 4K 60fps video. The marquee feature is the new Action Mode that’s available for the rear cameras, which uses software and AI to smooth out the shaky video. It essentially acts like a digital gimbal, as you’d find on a GoPro. We took a run with an iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Plus, enabling Action Mode on the Plus (but leaving it off on the 14). As you’d hope, video turned out smoother, however, despite being a cool feature it’ll likely be of limited utility for most people.

iPhone 14 Plus three cameras

A 12MP main (26mm, f/1.5)
A 12MP ultrawide (120-degree field of view, 13mm, f/2.4)
Front-facing camera: 12MP f/1.9

Camera samples

iPhone 14 Plus audio

While it’s likely that you’ll use the iPhone 14 Plus with Bluetooth earbuds or headphones, the phone’s stereo speakers can get plenty loud on their own – at one point we measured 79 decibels. And it’s not just ear-piercing audio: Apple Music sounds excellent, as well. Having tested the speakers with a little Barbra Streisand, they sound just as good, if not better than, any decent Bluetooth speaker. 

iPhone 14 Plus performance

A15 Bionic (iPhone 13 Pro class) is still a winner
Still hard to find the performance limits
New internal design might be helping with performance

The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are powered by last year’s Apple silicon; however, while that might sound less than optimal, the reality is that the A15 Bionic is an excellent mobile chipset. Also, Apple didn’t try to saddle this phone with the same processor it put in the iPhone 13; instead, this is the chip it placed in the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max, which is notable for its extra GPU core.

Apple iPhone 14 Plus Benchmarks

Apple iPhone 14 Plus Benchmarks (Image credit: Future)

The phone’s Geekbench 5 benchmark numbers came in about where we expected: better than the iPhone 13, but somewhat lower than the A16 Bionic in the iPhone 14 Pro.

For all practical purposes, you probably won’t notice the difference, though. This is a fast phone, with enough headroom to play demanding high-fidelity games, shoot 4K video, and edit four 4K streams in Adobe Premiere Rush CC, all at once.

iPhone 14 Plus eSIM and Emergency SOS

In the US, Apple is doing away with SIM slots and making eSIM the standard. This may come as a shock for people who like the comfort of that tiny piece of communication hardware, but we’ve found that switching eSIMs to new phones like the iPhone 14 Plus is incredibly easy – so much so that we switched an existing phone number from, first, a physical-SIM-supported iPhone to an eSIM iPhone 14 Pro, and then did a separate switch of an eSIM number on the iPhone 14 to the iPhone 14 Plus. As long as you follow all the on-screen instructions, it’s absolutely painless.

Outside the US, you’ll still have your SIM slot and SIM cards (as well as eSIM support), though we think you should prepare for this inevitable change.

You’ll hopefully never have to make use of Apple’s new Emergency SOS satellite connectivity, but the ability to reach emergency services when all traditional communications fail could also save your life. While we didn’t test it on our review phone, Apple did show us how it worked shortly after the iPhone 14 line launched, in September.

They took us up a hill at Apple Park – a space where they could switch off Wi-Fi and cellular access. While there, the iPhone 14 displayed a cute little satellite icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen; an indication that emergency satellite services were available from our location. 

Dialing 911 in this situation, the iPhone 14 should – as it did in our demo – launch a new dialogue pop-up asking if you want to try emergency text via satellite. After that, an on-screen emergency assistant offers a visual cue for which way you should face to connect to the nearest satellite. It then asks you a series of questions that the system can deliver via compressed text to an Apple relay center, which then contacts emergency services.

If, during the communication, a satellite moves out of range, the system will prompt you to face in the right direction to reconnect.

As a further safety measure, the phone now includes Crash Detection, another feature we could not (really would not) test. The idea is simple, though. If you’re in a car crash and your iPhone 14 Plus is with you, it can detect the crash (yes, and tell the difference between a bump and something quite serious). In that event, the phone can automatically contact emergency services and even your emergency contact, provided you put it in your phone.

Along with the rest of the iPhone 14 lineup, this is a 5G phone that also supports WiFi 6. Its connectivity is good, and speeds can be great when you have a solid network connection.

The best 5G speeds, though, were only possible in some parts of our hometown and New York City. In other words, your speeds will be largely dependent on where you live, and how well built-out the 5G network is in your area.

iPhone 14 Plus battery

Breaks the full-day battery life barrier
Seems to sip power
Fast charging could be… faster

Aside from the bigger screen, the main reason you might choose an iPhone 14 Plus over the 14 is battery life. For those who prize that feature over others, you’ll really want to take a look at the iPhone 14 Plus.

We did a video rundown test with both the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus, playing a mostly steady stream of Netflix. The iPhone 14 lasted nearly 20 hours, and the iPhone 14 Plus served us approximately 25 hours of playback.

Different activities will alter those battery life numbers, but, at least in this scenario, the iPhone 14 Plus proves it can offer impressive longevity.

Apple’s version of middling fast charging is still there. We used a 20W Apple charger to charge the phone to 45% in 30 minutes. After one hour and 10 minutes, it was at 90%.

The iPhone 14 Plus supports MagSafe for iPhone and Qi wireless charging. It does ship with a USB-C-to-Lightning plug cable, but no power adapter.

iPhone 14 Plus software

iOS 16 experience is exemplary
Better experience in Messages, email and Maps
Lock screen will change how you use the iPhone

Apple iPhone 14 Plus next to iPhone 14 display

Apple iPhone 14 Plus next to iPhone 14 display (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

All iPhone 14 phones come with iOS 16 pre-installed. Key updates include the new lock screen, which includes image segmentation, so that, for example, the head of your subject can partially cover the redesigned clock.

There are editable and retrievable messages – a feature we’ve started to use with more frequency. There’s ‘schedule’ (send later) and ‘unsend email’, as well. 

In addition, you’ll find updated maps with multi-point directions, and image segmentation that allows you to select an image subject from virtually any photo and then drag and drop it into another app; it’s incredibly cool.

In some ways, we like the iPhone 14 Plus as much as we liked the iPhone 14. It’s an excellent handset with an above-average design and features. That said, it’s also not a lot different to the iPhone 13, and we can’t help but wish all iPhone 14 handsets, especially this big-screened newbie, had the Dynamic Island.

Where the iPhone 14 Plus sets itself apart, though, is it’s size, battery life, and value. Getting a bigger screen and all that battery life is worth another $100 / £100 in our eyes.

iPhone 14 Plus score card

Attributes
Notes
Rating

Design
Good-looking quality build and design
4/5

Display
Super Retina XDR OLED is still the best iPhone screen technology you can get but, oh, the notch
3.5/5

Performance
A15 Bionic (iPhone 13 Pro class) is still a winner
4/5

Camera
A good set of iPhone 13 Pro transplants
3.5/5

Battery
This phone breaks the full-day battery life barrier
4.5/5

Software
iOS 16 experience is exemplary
4.5/5

Value
A big iPhone with a non-Pro price
4/5

Should I buy the Apple iPhone 14 Plus?

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

Also consider 

First reviewed: October 2022

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Author: Brandon Torres