iPhone 14 series launch was an important event for Apple given the impact of iPhone sales on its profits, but it will probably have far-reaching effects on others in the industry as these devices could change the dynamics of how we see and use our smartphones. The iPhone has always dictated trends in smartphone design, and some noteworthy features that Apple has introduced over the years in iPhones have been difficult for OEMs to match. We still remember how Apple introduced the notch and Face ID, which several companies such as Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo, among others started to mimic with their handsets. While they did not have the sophisticated Face ID technology, they managed to offer a face recognition feature that is still prevalent, even as big notches have now all but disappeared.
The iPhone 14 Pro and the iPhone 14 Pro Max received a redesign which is the first major change for Apple since the iPhone X. Although late to the party, Apple has now switched to a hole-punch display but rather than being seen as a copy, the new “Dynamic Island” goes far beyond what Android phonemakers have managed to do and introduces an all-new user experience. There are a few more features that Apple has brought with its newest iPhone 14 Pro models which OEMs might be forced to replicate in their future smartphones. Here are five things that solidify Apple’s position as a trend-setter and game changer in the smartphone market, and two that the company still needs to do some work on.
Five things that Apple did right with iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max
1.) eSIM-only iPhone
Apple announced at the ‘Far Out’ event that the iPhone 14 models sold in the US will not have a SIM tray and will only support eSIMs. This is probably one of the most underrated features which started with Google Pixel 2, and was later popularised by Apple. As per a report by Counterpoint Research, companies like Samsung, Huawei, and Motorola are among 14 OEMs that followed Apple and launched smartphones with eSIM functionality. With the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max debuting as the first eSIM-only smartphones, it shouldn’t be long before competitors jump on the bandwagon.
“We believe the launch of [the iPhone 14 series] with eSIM support is an inflection point for the industry, to help transition from the physical SIM card to eSIMs. An eSIM-only iPhone will not only embed eSIM to the mind of many consumers around the world, but it will also push other OEMs to switch to eSIM in the future,” said Ankit Malhotra, Research Analyst at Counterpoint.
2. Hole-punch Cutout: Dynamic Island
As already stated, Apple is probably the last company to introduce a hole-punch display., but it deserves credit for making the “dead zone” useful. We’ve discussed this in detail on our weekly podcast, Orbital especially Apple’s efforts to implement software features around the pill-shaped cutout into something that is fresh and interesting.
Apple calls it Dynamic Island, probably because it gives the impression of an island centred in a vast water body. The pill-shaped cutout seamlessly expands to consolidate notifications, alerts, and background activity updates in one interactive place. It can work with all types of apps and use machine learning algorithms to surface appropriate information. You can also touch and hold to control your music, keep an eye on a timer, and see an incoming call — all without having to switch between apps or even swipe down to see the notifications.
We discussed this feature with Navkendar Singh, Analyst at IDC. He says that no Apple user minds the big notch but the company was ridiculed for it. “Apple was like, ‘You wanted a pill [pill-shaped cut-out], we give you more.’ They did brilliant, nobody saw it coming, and I would say only Apple can do this,” he added. When asked whether we can expect other OEMs to follow Apple’s lead in this regard, Singh said, ‘yes’ because Android is easy to customise. “We may not see it in Android 13, maybe in Android 14,” he told Gadgets 360.
Apple puts it best,: “Welcome to a shapeshifting, multitasking, head-turning, game-changing iPhone experience.”
Oranges will try to become an Apple, but can they?
3. The New 48-Megapixel Camera
Apple has always painted itself as the flag-bearer of smartphone videography and despite a lot of effort, no other smartphone has come close to the video production capabilties that an iPhone can deliver. Although late to the party, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max managed to raise the bar once again. Its Cinematic Mode now shoots video in 4K HDR at 24 fps — the film industry standard — making it deliver the highest- quality video in a smartphone, Apple says. There is an Action Mode for smooth handheld videos, which uses the phone’s motion sensors and larger sensor to crop video, resulting in improved stabilisation.
The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are the only phones in the world that let you shoot, view, edit, and share video in ProRes or Dolby Vision HDR. Period.
4. SOS Satellite Communication
Apple has added a limited form of satellite connectivity to all the handsets in the iPhone 14 series. This will allow users to send an SOS message when they do not have cellular connectivity. For example, if you are a hiker lost in the woods or if you sustain an injury that renders you unable to move, you can, in theory, use your iPhone 14 to send an SOS message and it could help in your rescue. This feature is free for the first two years and will be available starting in Canada and the US.
5. Crash Detection
iPhone 14 models can detect car crashes thanks to a new accelerometer that Apple says can sense extreme acceleration or deceleration up to 256 Gs. A new barometer can detect cabin pressure changes potentially caused by deploying airbags and abrupt changes in direction, and even the loud sounds of an impact can be used to recognise accidents. In such cases, the new iPhone will automatically call emergency services and notify your emergency contacts.
While this feature may seem a unlikely to be necessary for some, Tarun Pathak from Counterpoint Research explains it better. “These are the features (Crash detection, SOS) that companies don’t look at [from a] scale perspective. In fact, even a single life saved with the use of technology is an achievement in itself. So I guess, the idea is to apply the technology with a larger global impact than looking at the regional landscape,” Pathak told Gadgets 360.
We can draw a parallel between the Apple Watch and iPhone 14 series’ crash detection and SOS features. Millions of people use Apple Watch but there have only been a handful of reported cases that highlight the use of technology in saving a life.
“This [the feature], I am sure, if used in India will bring in meaningful developments, though operational challenges need to be addressed. What [happens] after SOS communication is done, what after a crash is detected? Do we have a response team as fast as we have in other countries? So things like those,” Pathak said, while explaining the feasibility of the feature in India.
Asked whether this gives Apple an edge over other OEMs, Pathak noted that users might buy an iPhone 14 specifically for this. “It will be a good thing to have from a user’s point of view. Other brands like Huawei, and Bullitt Group (a Britain-based manufacturer of rugged phones) have already announced satellite-based connectivity services as well,” he added.
Two things that Apple needs to get right
1. USB Type-C Port and Faster Charging
One of the pain points of owning an iPhone for a few years now has been the non-availability of a USB Type-C port. We may see this in the future, as Apple is reportedly testing this for the iPhone 15. Apple might soon have to change the connector on its iPhones sold in Europe anyway, as EU lawmakers have agreed to a single charging port for mobile phones, tablets and cameras. With the introduction, we could see an increase in data transfer and charging speeds as well.
The prices of the Pro models have been rising in India, confining them to a niche market. In our first impressions of the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro Max, we mentioned how Apple’s new Pro phones cost significantly more in India than in the US.
On one hand, this might not be an issue for the typical iPhone Pro model buyer,; according to Navkendar Singh. “Price doesn’t matter for Apple and the masses will not buy an iPhone. Apple has been doing well in terms of sales. Apple will still sell the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 mini. As always, the volumes will be driven by n-1 (previous-gen models), the iPhone 13 series. Specifically the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 Pro,” he said.
On the other hand, potential iPhone buyers might be frustrated that the most compelling features and benefits, such as the Dynamic Island, new always-on display, and camera capabilities, are limited to the most expensive models. As prices keep rising, it will be harder for many Indian buyers to justify buying an iPhone 14 Pro even if they were willing to pay for the latest and greatest in the past.
“As far as the iPhone 14 series is concerned, the iPhone 14 Plus looks a bit expensive for a non-Pro model. The Dynamic Island feature will not push people to purchase an iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max,” Singh highlighted. When asked which of the newest iPhone models will have the lion’s share of sales, Singh said he expects the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro to do well during the festive season.