Apple iPhone 14 Plus review: Better battery, but is that enough?
- Battery Score
- Camera Score
- Design Score
- Performance Score
- Battery Score
- Great battery life
- Large display
- Nice colour range
- Big screen, but it’s a basic display
- Only dual cameras at this price feels cheap
- Runs last year’s A15 processor at this year’s prices
|Launch price (RRP)||$1,579|
Apple has for some time had a size problem.
Way back in the day, when Steve Jobs was in charge, he openly mocked large-screen phones as being too big to be practical, which led to Apple holding onto smaller screens way longer than it should have.
More recently, Apple tried its hand at a deliberately small iPhone in the form of the iPhone Mini range, but consumers weren't too keen there either.
The iPhone 14 Plus continues that tradition, flipped on its head. It's an iPhone 14, with the Plus suffix earned through the inclusion of a larger screen and a bigger battery.
I was notably not a big fan of the vanilla iPhone 14 because of its compromises and high price, combined with the fact that the iPhone 13 runs nearly identically for a lower cost made it a bad deal in my opinion.
The iPhone 14 Plus has most of those pitfalls, but it might just redeem itself thanks to that larger battery, offering up power endurance matched only by that of the far more expensive iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Buy iPhone 14 Plus products
Design: Is it a big iPhone 14 or a cut-down iPhone 14 Pro Max?
The iPhone 14 Plus is built around a 6.7-inch OLED display, giving it something of the look of the similarly-sized iPhone 14 Pro Max.
However, these are not the same phones, and the differences are quite stark. While both use an OLED panel, the Pro Max variant has a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz. The iPhone 14 Plus has a more regular 60Hz-capable display. Apple dresses it up as a "Super Retina XDR" display, but once again, this is more an Apple marketing term than it is any kind of particular technical specification.
Not that this makes it a bad screen. Apple's phones have generally tended to have pleasing colour balance and presentation, and the iPhone 14 Plus certainly doesn't buck that trend.
The other way that you'd tell the iPhone 14 Plus from the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the presence of the notch. Where this year's Pro phones feature the new "Dynamic Island" pill-shaped FaceID camera, the regular models (including the Plus) make do with a chunkier cut-out notch, like previous iPhone models.
Because the iPhone 14 Plus is a super-sized iPhone 14, you get the same fun range of colours to pick from. The iPhone 14 Plus can be yours in Midnight, Purple, Starlight, PRODUCT (RED) or Blue finishes, depending on your taste.
Apple sent me the Midnight colour, which is a glossy black finish that just loves fingerprints. Given the cost of the iPhone 14 Plus, I'd be throwing a case around it nice and quickly if I were you.
So to answer the question I just posed, it's a big iPhone 14.
Camera: Shoots well, but dual lens is poor value for this price
Apple's "Pro" phones are primarily pitched at camera fiends who want the latest and greatest that Apple can provide in photography terms, leaving rather more moderate pickings for the vanilla models.
That's absolutely the case for the iPhone 14 Plus, which shares the same dual-lens camera set-up as the smaller iPhone 14. This comprises diagonally arranged dual 12MP sensors at the rear and a 12MP TrueDepth camera for selfies and FaceID at the front.
It's a mostly familiar recipe that Apple's only slightly tweaked from the iPhone 13/Mini devices, with some shifts in aperture for the primary wide sensor to f/1.5 and improvements to the front selfie camera with faster speed and autofocus in play.
None of this is a bad recipe, and for many, the iPhone 14 Plus will take quite decent photos in most situations.
The big omission here is any kind of zoom functionality, and that will depend on how you choose to use the phone.
To provide a quick example, here's an ultra-wide shot taken with the iPhone 14 Plus:
Clearly, I'd like more of my birdy friend in the shot, and I can switch to the standard wide lens and still get a decent result:
But if you zoom in, you're limited to 5x digital only, and the results are not great:
The size of the iPhone 14 Plus also presents a challenge when using it as a camera phone. Given it's rocking the same cameras as the iPhone 14, if I only had the two to pick from for a photo shoot, I'd pick the smaller and easier to hold and frame iPhone 14 most of the time, unless I was planning a very lengthy photo shoot session.
The bigger issue is the one of price. The lowest cost iPhone 14 Plus will sting your wallet to the tune of $1,579, and that's not inexpensive by any stretch of the imagination.
Comparatively, there are a lot of phones out there that manage a triple-lens camera with inbuilt telephoto for that kind of money. I mean, the Pixel 7 Pro is a way better camera phone than the iPhone 14 Plus, and it's available for $280 less than the iPhone 14 Plus.
Apple iPhone 14 Plus sample photos
Performance: It's fast… by last year's standards
Apple made the strategic decision to keep its best processor, the A16 Bionic purely for its Pro brand phones this year.
That means that, like the iPhone 14, the iPhone 14 Plus features the A15 Bionic found in last year's phones. It's the slightly souped-up version found in the iPhone 13 Pro Max with additional cores, but the practical effect is one of not improving performance that much relative to last year's iPhone crop.
You can see that quite clearly in benchmark terms. Here's how the iPhone 14 Plus compares against other iPhones you could opt to buy right now:
And here's how it compares against those same phones using 3DMark's Wild Life tests:
Apple's own silicon has been outpacing Android phones for some years now, and that's still very much the case for the iPhone 14 Plus. So it's a fast phone, and in fact, one that you'd find tricky to push heavily across what's available in apps for iOS right now.
However, it's still a premium-priced phone in the flagship category, and it's hard to overlook the pesky little detail that the iPhone 14 Pro at its entry level doesn't cost that much more than the iPhone 14 Plus. You're still paying premium money, but that wins you a better processor, better display and better cameras.
There's also the future-proofing aspect to consider. Apple historically cuts off iOS upgrades on a processor basis, so when future versions prove too much for a given year's iPhones, they're out in the cold.
In this case, because it's A15 Bionic based, the iPhone 14 Plus will presumably get the chop at the same time as 2021's iPhones, while the simultaneously released A16 models from this year won't.
The iPhone 14 Plus doesn't quite have the same performance challenge as the iPhone 14. Yes, you can score an iPhone 13 through Apple still with the A15 Bionic on board, but there's no equivalent "big" iPhone from 2021 to compare it to.
Last year's alternate was, after all, the iPhone 13 Mini. The equivalent phone would be the iPhone 13 Pro Max, and if you can still find one of those, especially for iPhone 14 Plus money, snap it up without delay. You'll get the same performance but all the Pro trimmings on top.
Like Apple's other iPhone 14 lines, the iPhone 14 Plus also has a few new-to-iOS features that I can't actually assess at this time. Crash prevention will automatically dial emergency services if it detects too much sudden and specific force at play, but I'm not about to crash my car into a tree to see if it works.
Similarly, the Satellite SOS function could be a genuine and literal lifesaver in remote Australia, as it will allow you to send emergency SOS messages using satellite phone technology. I say "will", however, because it hasn't launched in the USA and Canada yet – that's coming November 2022 – and there's no specified time frame for when it'll hit Australian shores as yet.
Battery: Long lasting, and then some
The iPhone 14 Plus benefits in battery terms in the same way as the iPhone 14 Pro Max, in that there's a lot more space behind the screen for Apple to stuff batteries into. Apple never talks precise battery numbers – it prefers time usage figures with "up to" qualifiers – but external sources suggest it's packing in a 4,325mAh battery. That's not as big as on some Android competitors, but then Apple has some form in making the most out of meagre batteries.
That's absolutely the case with the iPhone 14 Plus. In our battery tests, it ran neck and neck with the iPhone 14 Pro Max, our current front runner for battery life and endurance:
That's an impressive achievement for the Pro phone, given it's got a faster refresh rate screen and meatier processor, but also good for the 14 Plus. There are few scenarios where you're likely to run out of power on a regular day, and even heavy-duty users should be able to get a long period of phone usage without reaching for a charger.
It now seems all but inevitable that Apple will switch to some kind of USB-C solution for its 2023 iPhone families, and that could leave the iPhone 14 Plus as one of the very last Lightning-connected iPhones Apple sells. As with other current generation iPhone models, there's no charger in the box, just a lightning cable. If you favour wireless charging, it supports both standard Qi charging and Apple's own fancy MagSafe variant for power delivery.
Should you buy the Apple iPhone 14 Plus?
- Buy it if you want a long-lasting iPhone with a big screen.
- Don't buy it if you want a good value iPhone.
The battery life of the iPhone 14 Plus is undeniably its saving grace relative to the regular iPhone 14. That was a phone I couldn't recommend because the differences between it and the cheaper iPhone 13, which is still available to buy, were marginal at best.
There's no comparison quite like that for the iPhone 14 Plus because there's no iPhone 13 Plus of any description.
Does that make it a good value iPhone, however? I'm not so sure that it does. You do get that improved battery life and a larger display, but you're also stuck in serious premium phone price territory, not that far from the true iPhone 14 Pro/Max pricing. That jump would score you even better performance, better cameras and a better screen. You're still spending a lot of money on a phone, but you're getting a lot of phone for your money.
Comparatively, the iPhone 14 Plus is just big. Is that enough for you?
Pricing and availability
The iPhone 14 Plus retails in Australia with pricing starting at $1,579. It's also available on contract terms through a variety of telcos.
Compare Apple iPhone 14 Plus plans
You can also purchase the Apple iPhone 14 Plus on a handset repayment plan from Telstra or Optus. This will split the cost of your new phone over 12, 24 or 36 months, and you'll get a mobile plan with it too.
Power, storage and battery
How we tested
The iPhone 14 Plus used for testing was loaned to me by Apple. I tested it over a week, running the battery down on multiple days, with repeated benchmark and application testing as well as in-depth camera testing to evaluate its capabilities.
I have extensive testing experience with iPhones, having reviewed every single iPhone model ever released in Australia. I also have more than 2 decades of product reviewing across countless smartphones, mobile phones and other gadgets. I'm a multi-time Australian IT Journo award winner, including winner of the 2022 Best Reviewer award.
You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:
- Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
- finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
- We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
- Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked