When a new model of your favourite phone is released, there’s always a considerable amount of mental gymnastics as you try to decide whether it’s worth getting the latest upgrade.
On the one hand, yay, new toy! On the other hand, mobile phones are expensive, and year-on-year the changes to the hardware and software in each handset might not be that significant.
Now that iPhone 14 has been announced in all its colourful glory, it’s crunch time – are the updates to Apple’s latest device worth spending a bit more on? How major do the changes have to be to make it worthwhile? Well, the answer is different for everyone, of course.
That’s why we thought we’d compare iPhone 14 to iPhone 13 to see what all the fuss is about – and hopefully, you’ll get an idea whether a shiny new phone is the right move for you, whether it’s worth sticking with what you’ve got, or going down the more wallet-friendly iPhone 13 route.
What does iPhone 14 have that iPhone 13 doesn’t?
We figured starting with Apple’s newest features was a good move, because the Apple Event on September 7th focused heavily on two new safety features that are honestly pretty cool – but hopefully, you’ll never have to use them.
If that sounds like an odd thing to say, it’s because it is. iPhone 14 now includes Crash Detection and Emergency SOS, which are incredibly handy bits of kit that you might never get to see in action.
Touted as a lifesaving piece of hardware, Crash Detection monitors the very specific changes in iPhone 14’s gyroscopic sensor and high-g accelerometer associated with – you’ve guessed it – a car crash. This data is gathered by your phone’s sensors and will check in with you to see if you’re okay. If you’re not, and you don’t respond within a certain timeframe, it’ll call 999 on your behalf to make sure you get help.
Since the sensors that collect this data aren’t included in older models such as iPhone 13, this is a feature that’s exclusive to iPhone 14 (for now) and could genuinely save your life. Whether you think it’s a feature that’s worth upgrading for is entirely up to you, though.
In a similar vein, iPhone 14 will include Emergency SOS as of November 2022. This nifty little feature is another way to ensure you get help when you’re in a sticky situation – however, this one works by contacting emergency responders via satellite when you’re too far from a network tower to have a signal.
Again, it uses hardware and software that are exclusive to iPhone 14, so you’re not likely to see this ported to your 13 or older handsets. But if you don’t find yourself hiking off the beaten track all that often, it’s not likely to be a feature you ever get to experience, either.
But onto a lighter topic, eh?
Is there a jump in camera quality between iPhone 13 and iPhone 14?
Yes and no. Yes, because on paper the change doesn’t look all that different. No, because there are a couple of things that are quite literally identical between the two Apple models.
In simple terms, the difference between iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 isn’t particularly dramatic, but if you use your mobile’s camera a lot, then you’ll probably notice the changes. The main camera is basically the same: 12MP, but with a ƒ/1.5 aperture and a larger sensor than iPhone 13 has. The front-facing camera also has a wider aperture, but there’s no change to the ultrawide cam.
However, according to Apple, the main changes are in the software, with the new Photonic Engine and the way it processes images – and the end result is noticeable. By applying Deep Fusion in the early stages of image processing (before the data is compressed), you’ll see an improvement in low-light performance in iPhone 14, and more detail in your pics.
Whether this is really related to the Photonic Engine or more about the physics of how a camera works is interesting but irrelevant – the fact is, your photos will look better and more professional, with more accurate colours, less noise, and more detail.
How about recording a video? What’s different?
Okay, so there’s one new feature here that I’m genuinely excited about – and if you’re into recording videos, vlogging or just making stories for the ‘gram, then you might be too.
Action mode is a software feature that improves video shooting by stabilizing your recordings and basically mimicking a gimbal (which if you’re unfamiliar, is a fancy phone/camera holder that, well, stabilises stuff).
It helps you to produce footage without the hand shakiness that can often be a problem, which in a world of TikTok and Reels is handier than you might think – and Apple knows it! Like a gimbal, it’ll likely take a bit of getting used to, but it’s not something you’ll get on iPhone 13, so it makes the 14 model worth the upgrade for vloggers.
Similarly, Cinematic mode on iPhone 14 lets you record at up to 4K resolution, whereas the 13 was capped at HD. Apple were quite keen to point out that the 24fps makes it the same kind of quality you’d find in Hollywood films, so you’ll probably see a marked improvement in video quality, as well as the usual slow motion and timelapse features you know and love. However, iPhone 13’s video features were already pretty good.
Does iPhone 14 have a better processor than iPhone 13?
Not to repeat ourselves, but yes and no. No, because iPhone 14 features Apple’s A15 chip, which is the exact same processor as iPhone 13. Yes, because iPhone 14 has a 5-core GPU rather than the 4-core one of the 13.
If that sounds a bit confusing, you’d be dead on. But other than this one slight change, most other areas of performance of unchanged between the 13 and the 14. Both phones still feature the same amounts of storage, starting at 128GB, and have the same 15W MagSafe charging and IP68 water resistance.
As for the battery, iPhone 14 apparently has a slight increase in performance, with up to 20 hours of video playback (the 13 has 19). Whether this is the same in reality as it was in Apple’s testing remains to be seen.
If the screen size is the same, does iPhone 14 have a better display?
Short answer, no.
Long answer, both have a 6.1-inch OLED display, with 1080p resolution – referred to by Apple as Super Retina XDR – and a 60Hz refresh rate. We were hoping the refresh rate might have improved between the models, but if you want 120Hz then you’ll have to cough up for the Pro or Pro Max model.
It’s a close one, for sure.
iPhone 14 is a great phone and will run smoothly doing just about everything from everyday tasks to streaming and gaming. The camera is excellent, and the video recording is better than ever before. But the iPhone 13 is still a strong contender, and if you want to save a bit of money, you can get almost as much from 2021’s model as you can from the latest handset.
The thing is, it’s down to what you need, what you want, and what you can afford. iPhone 14 has some fantastic new features, and if you’re regularly off the beaten track or driving alone over long distances, both Emergency SOS and Crash Detection could be a serious game changer. The same goes for the slight camera upgrades – if you know what you’re doing with a camera, then you’ll notice the improvement between the models.
If you want the latest features, updates and money is no issue, go for iPhone 14 and get yourself on board with Apple’s swanky new stuff.
If you’re working on a budget, iPhone 13 is great value for money and is available on some fantastic deals right now.
Ultimately, the decision is yours.