iPhone 14 Pro Hand-on Experiences

The new iPhone 14 could be one of the best iPhones ever released.

Like Apple’s other products, most of these new features and interactions are not the first of their kind, but they are the first of their kind in the smartphone market. Regardless of what you think of “Lingering Island,” and regardless of whether the iPhone 14 Pro series becomes a landmark generation of iPhones, the new interaction design that Apple says blurs the boundaries between hardware and software will leave a strong mark on iPhone history. And after spending two weeks with iPhone 14 Pro, I have some feelings about the Dynamic Island experience. The new iPhone 14 Pro also left me with surprises and regrets in terms of features and experience, which I will discuss with you through this article.

A “long-lost” black iPhone
With iPhone 14 Pro, the addition of Deep Sky Black certainly gives black iPhone lovers like me a little surprise. Compared to the previous Deep Sky Gray, the glass back and stainless steel frame of Deep Sky Black are more completely black and closer to true black. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the matte texture of the glass process, Deep Sky Black still feels slightly gray to me in most lighting conditions. It’s also important to note that there are some reports that the glass back is prone to scratches or other signs of use on the new Deep Sky Black and Dark Purple iPhones this year; in my nearly two weeks of daily use, I haven’t found this to be the case, so I shouldn’t worry too much about it.

With iPhone 14 Pro, the addition of Deep Sky Black certainly gives black iPhone lovers like me a little surprise. Compared to the previous Deep Sky Gray, the glass back and stainless steel frame of Deep Sky Black are more completely black and closer to true black. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the matte texture of the glass process, Deep Sky Black still feels slightly gray to me in most lighting conditions. It’s also important to note that there are some reports that the glass back is prone to scratches or other signs of use on the new Deep Sky Black and Dark Purple iPhones this year; in my nearly two weeks of daily use, I haven’t found this to be the case, so I shouldn’t worry too much about it.

Switching from the iPhone 13 Pro Max to the iPhone 14 Pro, it is difficult for me to objectively tell you whether this iPhone is heavy or not, but the latter does reduce the burden on my daily use a lot, whether it is the easier to grasp body size, or the smaller size for me to bring more refinement. However, after a long time of use, the iPhone 14 Pro still caused a lot of pressure on my palm, especially for the little finger, and I had to seek accessories like PopSockets to help me relieve the pressure during use. By the way, the MagSafe magnetic strength of the iPhone 14 Pro is much stronger than before, whether it is using third-party accessories like PopSockets or first-party accessories from Apple, you can feel the “click” of magnetic adsorption more obviously.

It can be seen that the iPhone 14 Pro is still not a lightweight mobile phone, and even the iPhone 14 Plus that is larger than it is lighter. Therefore, starting from the needs of daily use, I still recommend that users of the Pro series give preference to the smaller one, unless you have a strong enough demand for a large-size screen; Of course, the screen advantages of the iPhone 14 Pro Max are also very obvious, when I first started the iPhone 14 Pro, the smaller input keyboard and less content screen presentation made me feel a “experience degradation” feeling, and it took a little time to adapt to this change.

Dynamic Island: The soldiers and horses have not moved, and the grain and grass have gone first
The first iPhone a decade ago subverted the way mobile phones looked in people’s minds with innovative Multi-Touch technology. Today’s iPhone X marks a new era for the iPhone. The device blends with the experience, allowing you to be completely immersed and feel only what you are concerned about, as if you have forgotten that the device exists.

As Jony Ive, then Apple’s chief design officer, said in 2017 when the iPhone X was released, the launch of the full-screen iPhone is an important milestone, and the full-screen interaction gesture that makes “device and experience integrated” is of course also a human-computer interaction attempt to combine software and hardware: the screen is the home button, and under the screen is the iOS system.

The Dynamic Island with similar works has also been called by Apple as “another new and dramatic change since the iPhone achieved a full screen
“. So, is Dynamic Island really an innovation that belongs to the next era after the full screen, as introduced by Apple? I think this answer can only be given to us by the App Store’s huge application ecosystem in the future. Until then, let’s take a look at what Spirit Island has done and done.

According to Apple, Dynamic Island integrates notifications, reminders, and real-time activities in one place, which means that these three types of information will be presented around Dynamic Island.

Let’s start with ‘Live Events’. Perhaps Apple’s secrecy was so good that just when many people were ready to accept that iPhone 14 Pro would come with the rumored “exclamation point screen,” few thought that the Live Activity feature, released with iOS 16, would pave the way for the emergence of Dynamic Island early on. “Live Activity is not only the soul of Dynamic Island, it’s also the only way developers can interact with it.

As you can see from Apple’s development documentation for Dynamic Island, third-party apps use the ActivityKit framework to launch “real-time activity” and present real-time application updates on the Dynamic Island and lock screens. According to Apple’s Human Interface Interaction Guidelines for Live Activity, Live Activity should have the following characteristics.

– Present only the most important content.
– Show only when updates are available.
– Avoid displaying types of information: sensitive information, ads or promotions, etc.
– Behavior: The click should open the correct location in the application for the corresponding function.
– Presence of start and end states and support for user-controlled start and end states.

To summarize, I think “live events” should meet the following characteristics:

– Continuity
– Timeliness
– Openness
– Interactivity

That is, while Live Activity has the same characteristics as traditional push notifications, such as the correct location to open the app when tapped, it is a completely different type of information than the latter, which does not reside on the screen and is only executed under more stringent conditions. The reverse is also true. iOS notifications and reminders don’t appear in the Island, they still push notifications in the familiar way, in a banner below the Compact area of the Dynamic Island.

In a sense, Live Activity is more of a higher-level widget, as it also uses SwiftUI and WidgetKit to create the UI, only the former is different in terms of the update mechanism.

However, the different presentation of notifications, alerts and live events has led to a lot of complaints about Dynamic Island. Not only is the island slightly shifted down compared to the “bangs” leaving a small blank area above, but the banners of alerts and notifications are also shifted down as a result.

The hardware and software design adjustments are explained in this article, which is relatively reasonable and clear enough, on the one hand due to the adjustment of the Face ID structural components, and on the other hand, the need to consider the style of the Dynamic Island in 3 different forms: Compact, Minimal, and Expanded, to achieve The “optimal solution” for the current design stage.

From the result, the interaction design of Dynamic Island is definitely eye-catching. The rounded corners of the bezel, screen, and island are at the same angle, and the animation effects are detailed and fun.

However, as has been the case with important iOS features in previous years, it’s no surprise that Live Events will be delayed until iOS 16.1. For now, iPhone 14 Pro is more of a half-finished product, with only some system apps and features like timers and Face ID being adapted first by virtue of their “native” nature, and some voice and audio apps being the first to “hit the island” because of their type. The only way to bring out more of the capabilities of Dynamic Island is to rely on more and more adaptations of third-party apps.

I don’t want to tell you again what the current Dynamic Island can do, as you have probably tried it in many other contents, or by yourself. However, after using it for a while, I did find a few problems with it so far. For example, according to this introduction in the “Best Practices” section of Apple’s Human-Computer Interaction Guide.

As we know, Apple’s recommendation to developers is that when users click on a real-time activity, the app should directly open the details page of the corresponding function, not just the app, and in the few apps that have been adapted to Dynamic Island so far, the usual music app and timer functions are not perfectly implemented. For example, if you click on the music that is playing in the Dynamic Island, it will only jump to the page where the music app previously stayed, but not open the corresponding song’s playing page; and when you click on the timer, if you don’t wake up the clock app for the first time, you can’t directly reach the timer page

In addition, perhaps due to Apple’s current positioning of Dynamic Island as “light on interaction, heavy on display,” or to maintain consistency with the 3D touch shortcut menu interaction logic, tapping Dynamic Island will directly open the corresponding app, and long-pressing will expand the Expanded view shortcut. Considering that even the smaller iPhone 14 Pro is difficult to perform various operations with just one hand, it’s hard to avoid feeling overwhelmed if you want to quickly operate apps (instead of opening them) through the “island” at the top of the screen. The good news is that iOS 16.1, which is in beta, has a solution for this, so we can pull the island to the middle of the screen with the “Easy Access” feature.

A lot of people think the Dynamic Island is Apple’s way of “covering up” the new iPhone screen form factor – the dual-perforated screen – and it’s hard to deny that when you look at the results. However, I also think that Apple did not just design this hardware and software interaction from the idea of covering up the “exclamation point screen”, but also from the fact that, as a brand with such a high demand for details, the Dynamic Island must have been the product of constant trade-offs between hardware design and software experience. Of course, there must be a lot of compromises. Regardless of how you feel about the Dynamic Island and how the design will evolve in the future, it will be with iPhone for a long time to come.

Dynamic Island can also be called a wonderful innovation, whether it is the ultimate pursuit of details, or the clever combination of software and hardware experience, the history of iOS human-computer interaction design will definitely leave a strong mark belonging to the “Spirit Island”.

However, at present, it is not so much that “Spirit Island” is the solution to an objective problem, but that it can only be regarded as a means of realizing some less strong demand. From a personal point of view, I really don’t need to see how much time has passed in real time during the countdown, and I don’t need to see which song is currently playing anytime, anywhere… Like many of Apple’s features, Dynamic Island leaves a lot of imagination for developers and users; Whether this design will be an epoch-making creation in the history of iPhone software and hardware, or whether it may become a flash in the pan like the Touch Bar, only time will tell. Let’s wait and see what creative developers can do on this island.

All-weather display: another attempt to combine hardware and software
There have always been comments that Apple Watch is the “testing field” of the iPhone, although we may never get an answer from Apple, but a glimpse of the former’s product history, we can also know a thing or two. It all starts with the first generation of Apple Watch.

In 2015, Apple launched the first generation of Apple Watch, which is equipped with a stainless steel case, equipped with an OLED screen, Taptic Engine, and supports Force Touch and IPX7 waterproof rating. Let’s take a look at the iPhone, the iPhone 6s released in 2016 is equipped with Taptic Engine for the first time and supports 3D Touch function, and the iPhone 7 released in 2017 supports IP67 splash-proof, water-resistant, and dust-proof for the first time; On the iPhone X launched in 2017, we saw the return of stainless steel bezels and the long-awaited OLED screen, which is also a comprehensive screen similar to the Apple Watch.

By the way, Apple first supported the eSIM function on the Apple Watch Series 3 released in 2017, and eSIM support was also available on the iPhone XS a year later, although we can’t use this feature on the iPhone yet. On the iPhone 14 Pro, Apple even canceled the SIM physical card slot in models sold directly in the United States.

Eyes back on iPhone 14 Pro again, for the first time, Apple has introduced an all-day display that allows the Apple Watch to stay lit without raising your hand or lighting up the screen. And on the iPhone 14 Pro, the long-rumored all-weather display has finally arrived.

The all-weather display on the iPhone is also very similar to the Apple Watch in terms of implementation: through LTPO screen technology, the iPhone will display screen content at a new 1Hz refresh rate when the screen is locked, such as weather, astronomy and other information in the background of the lock screen, widgets, and various content of real-time activities; And when the iPhone is put in the bag (the sensor is obscured), the screen turns off completely to save power.

It can be seen that the iPhone’s all-weather display is different from the mainstream solutions on the market at present, not to display a separate time or date component after the screen is turned off, but a “always-on display” in the real sense: reduce the brightness of the screen and keep the lock screen content unchanged. Of course, when displayed at a lower refresh rate, most of the content on the iPhone 14 Pro will not be updated in real time, only the seconds in the timer, the number of minutes in the timer, and new notifications will continue to update in real time.

Switching to the iPhone 14 Pro, the most unaccustomed thing to me is this all-weather display screen, because even in the indoor environment, its brightness is relatively not dark, resulting in me often thinking that the iPhone does not have a lock screen, and it suddenly dawns on me after lighting up the screen. If you’re upgrading from an older device, you might need to take the time to get used to the change like I did. Of course, this also shows that the visibility of this all-weather display is really good, and it is relatively more convenient to see the time, weather or other information at a glance at the screen, which is relatively more convenient than looking up at the watch.

With an all-weather display, it is satisfying that the endurance of the iPhone 14 Pro does not seem to be greatly affected, whether it is continuous use of the iPhone indoors for a long time (all-weather display on), or continuous navigation through the iPhone outdoors, browsing social networks, etc. (the all-weather display is turned off after the device is placed in the bag), the battery life of the iPhone 14 Pro has not been significantly different, which is also the relevant test conclusion of FView Relatively close.

From my use, the iPhone 14 Pro is basically not a problem at the end of the day when it is light to medium out. For example, my daily life is mainly social media reading, listening to music, and light video consumption, and the battery will basically reach less than 20% from the morning to almost the evening. However, compared to the iPhone 13 Pro Max I am using, the battery life level of the iPhone 14 Pro is still far inferior to the former, and the Pro Max model can provide a more reliable experience on the long or differential journey, depending on how you choose between screen size, battery life and portability.

A big step for imaging, a small step for photography that belongs to the iPhone
The last time the iPhone upgraded its main camera pixels was 7 years ago, when the main camera pixels of the iPhone 6s series were upgraded from 8 million to 12 million in the previous generation of the iPhone 6 series. It can be said that a 48-megapixel main camera, many iPhone users have waited too long.

Of course, as with Apple’s conservative style in the past, the new 48 million camera capability is currently only available to professional users, or only supported in professional mode. If we want to switch to 48 million pixels mode to shoot, we need to open the Apple ProRAW format in the camera options in the iOS system settings, and also manually adjust to the 48 million pixels option. Of course, there is another important reason for such a logical design, that is, the new four-in-one pixel processor in the iPhone 14 Pro.

In the iPhone 14 Pro, the sensor size is 65% larger than the previous generation, and the four-in-one pixel sensor will merge four pixels by default to become a larger pixel to increase the amount of light. According to the information given by Apple, the four-in-one pixel sensor can increase the sensitivity by 4 times, and even if it is still in 12 million pixel shooting mode, the iPhone 14 Pro can shoot sharper and more brilliantly.

Unsurprisingly, the iPhone 14 Pro also continues to have the same strengths of iPhone photography: high shutter speeds, accurate color reproduction, stable white balance, and good enough control of highlights and shadows. Thanks to the 4-in-1 pixel and light engine, the iPhone 14 Pro also performs better in terms of color performance and light capture, even if its main aperture is slightly reduced.

Even if the 13mm, 24mm (26mm of the previous generation) and 77mm equivalent focal length are still used in the triple camera system, with the help of high-pixel cropping, the 48mm equivalent focal length 2x lens has finally returned to the iPhone 14 Pro under the love of many people.

Unfortunately, the “ghosting” and excessive sharpening that have plagued iPhone users for years continue to be seen on iPhone 14 Pro.

And when the 48-megapixel Apple ProRAW option is turned on, the iPhone 14 Pro’s strongest imaging capabilities have finally been fully released: the picture is richer than ever, and the later space is more free.

But it is also important to realize that such upgrades are not without cost. Due to the chip’s computing power, when shooting 48 million Apple ProRAW images, it takes 2-3 seconds to wait every time the shutter is pressed, because we are about to face an Apple ProRAW file that is 50MB or much larger. This can make you miss the best time to record in many scenarios that are suitable for mobile photography.

Therefore, I would recommend that you prioritize shooting in 12-megapixel mode more often, where excellent shutter speeds, accurate color performance, and reasonable file sizes are all the advantages of iPhone images that you are already familiar with. This will not waste the new hardware capabilities of the iPhone 14 Pro, because the new four-in-one pixel sensor, light and image engine, and the “long-lost” 2x focal length can help you take photos fast enough and good enough. And in the face of more complex and detailed scenes, the iPhone image under 48 million pixels will make you marvel at the completely different field of view at such a high resolution.

Fortunately, iOS also provides us with the ability to switch quickly, when we do not need to shoot in 48 million pixel mode, we can turn it off directly through the “RAW” button in the upper right corner of the camera interface, without frequently switching in the system settings. Unfortunately, switching quickly means forgoing Apple ProRAW’s advantages in image information retention and space for post-adjustment, because we can only choose between 48-megapixel Apple ProRAW and turning off Apple ProRAW. If you still want to be able to shoot a 12-megapixel Apple ProRAW image file while enjoying a high-speed shutter, you can only switch between different pixel modes through the system settings, or completely turn off the 48 million pixel option, and I hope that Apple can continue to optimize the software experience of switching between different photography modes in future software iterations.

The screen, the image, the Dynamic Island – these are the key answers Apple delivers with iPhone 14 Pro.

The changes to this generation of iPhone are either big or small. The big change is that the new Dynamic Island will undoubtedly become a must-have for Apple developers, and it will be one of the most important indicators of the development of the App Store’s application ecosystem before Apple’s AR/VR products arrive, which is also the most important factor in the success of the iPhone; the small change is that when the new generation of iPhone It is too early to say whether this generation of iPhone will be the next milestone product after iPhone X.

It is undeniable that the emergence of the Dynamic Island can be a wonderful creation in the history of human-computer interaction design, and may lead the smartphone industry into the next “trend”.2 Whether you like the “island” or not, it will accompany the iPhone for many years to come, just like the “bangs” on the MacBook Pro screen.