First off, I have to let you know that I’m a lifelong Android user. My first Android phone was a Galaxy Mini and I upgraded from that to a Galaxy S, then the S2 and then several other Androids up to the LG V50 currently in my pocket.
I used the iPhone 5 all the way back in 2013 for all of a month. 30 days and I was bored and I traded that iPhone for a Galaxy Note 3 and I never looked at the iPhone again. Until now.
The smartphone market has matured and as true innovations dried up, the two major mobile OSes started converging. These days with every single iOS update you see some features Android has had for years make an appearance. The same goes with Android updates, there is a lot of cross-influencing going on.
With this in mind, I decided to try the iPhone once again. So, here I will give you my long-term review of the small iPhone 14.
The days of the spec war are long gone. While we still see improvements to hardware every year, they are no longer leaps but rather hops, if even that. For years it has mattered little what hardware a phone packs, a 3-year-old chip may be inferior to a 2023 one but it’s not night and day.
This has been the case for the iPhone for even longer. We all know that they get better optimisation because of the control Apple has over both the hardware and software of their phones. So, while 4GB of RAM may sound anaemic in 2023, Apple can pull it off.
Here’s what the iPhone 14 packs:
- Processor – Apple A15 Bionic
- RAM – 6GB
- Storage – 128GB
- Battery – 3279mAh
- 6.1-inch display, at 460ppi
- Dual rear cameras – 12 MP Wide, 12MP Ultrawide
- 12MP Front camera
The weakest item on that list is the processor. Don’t get me wrong, it is a fast chip but it is pretty much the same processor that was in the preceding iPhone 13 series. Apple really came out here and reused a processor. I’m pretty sure it’s the first time it’s been done on a flagship.
How do those specs translate in the real world?
The iPhone 14 has tiny bezels around its 6.1-inch screen. As a result, this phone feels really tiny, especially for me coming from a 6.4-inch phone with larger bezels.
6.1 inches is enough to not feel cramped. The default font size is on the small side and so when I open Twitter for example and set this iPhone next to the 6.4-inch LG I find the same number of items fit on the screen.
What took time to adjust to is the notch up top. It is huge. When I compare it to the iPhone 13’s, they shrunk it a lot, the one on the 13 is ridiculously huge. However, coming from the V50, it feels humongous. If you’re used to hole punches then this will feel like 2015. That said, you know how notches are, once you’re used to it you don’t even notice it’s there.
The display itself is really good too. It’s sharp and vibrant enough to enjoy scrolling around the UI. Watching videos on this small screen is enjoyable. You won’t have any complaints using this display.
Here is where going for the small iPhone 14 worked against me. I’d been hearing that iPhones now have excellent battery life and so I came in with high expectations. I have been disappointed.
I know that larger phones more often than not have better battery life than smaller ones. The display may be the biggest power draw but having a small chassis and screen also means having a smaller battery. So, while 14 Plus and 14 Pro Max have excellent battery life, the small 14 has okay battery life.
I can make it through a whole day if I don’t overdo it. On most days I get around 3 hours and 15 minutes of screen time. Do note though that I don’t charge to 100% as that leads to the battery degrading a little faster. I usually unplug it when it gets to 80%, as suggested by Apple themselves.
That said, 3 and a quarter hours is not anything to write home about. My 4-year-old V50 gets me closer to 5 hours from an 80% charge. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison though as the V50 is a bigger phone with a bigger battery. But then again, the LG is older.
So, if you go for the pocketable 14, just know you may be looking for a socket before bed time.
That’s annoying but what’s infuriating is the inconsistency. This phone can get me 4 hours and 30 minutes of screen time on some days and there are days I get less than 3 hours. Now, I was not expecting this from an iPhone.
The other thing that’s disappointed me is standby time. Some days you can leave this phone on the ground for hours and come back to a 1% drop in battery percentage. Unfortunately, the aforementioned inconsistency strikes here too. I’ve gone to bed with this phone at 35% battery and woken up to find that it lost 30% all on its own.
If this had happened only once I would excuse it but it happens often. The iPhone 14 chugs through the battery overnight while not in use for some reason. My 4-year-old V50 does not have such a problem.
This is where the iPhone 14 shines. Opening apps, scrolling through the UI, playing games, opening the camera app and snapping away, this little phone does all this without breaking a sweat. The animations are so buttery smooth sometimes I just mess about opening and closing apps just to admire it.
I was so used to my V50 dropping frames here and there. Jitters are to be expected in the Android world, even on flagships. Not so with the iPhone.
That said, the actual app opening speeds are not that impressive. While the iPhone 14 is faster than my V50 in general, it’s not by much. Side by side, the V50 actually opens some apps faster than the 14. Which is crazy.
If you think about it though, it’s not crazy. We are seeing small improvements, year-on-year, in smartphones and that includes computing power. This means phones that are years apart are not that different in capability.
Besides, if we are talking about light apps like WhatsApp and Twitter, 5-year-old processors can open those pretty much instantly. So, the new processors can only shave milliseconds off app opening times and those can be hard to notice in real life.
As polished and smooth iOS is on the 14, that doesn’t mean it’s a bug-free experience. Most of the bugs I’ve dealt with have to do with screen rotation.
In WhatsApp especially, if you rotate from portrait to landscape, the app will misbehave and you will have to close it and start again. The keyboard sometimes won’t work in landscape for some reason.
Then there is the whole mobile internet problem. You know how sometimes your phone just won’t connect to the internet until you disable and enable mobile data, enable and then disable flight mode, or in the worst cases restart the device? It’s here on this iPhone 14 too. I’d actually go so far as to say I’ve had to do that more on this iPhone than on the V50.
There is no portrait camera on the 14 but you won’t miss it. The main and the wide on the back both produce good photos. You hardly ever have to retake a photo on this phone. One-click and you get a useable photo.
It’s especially impressive at night. The night mode shots on this iPhone are something to behold.
Video is even better. Much better than the competition. You really could shoot a wedding with this little phone.
That said, while the photos are really good, they are not miles ahead of the competition. I gave a few friends a blind test, pitting the 14 against the V50. I was surprised by the votes the V50 got. The iPhone won but it was not a landslide.
So, the theme is maintained. Phones have not improved by much in the past 5 or so years.
The iOS experience
This is what I was most afraid of. Apple has a ‘we know what’s best for you’ attitude that I hate. They really don’t want you customising the iPhone or using sketchy apps etc. I believe in ‘my phone, my choice.’
When it comes to customisation, ol’ Apple has softened over the years. Apart from changing the wallpaper, Apple now allows you to do a little more. The lock screen, which you probably look at more than any other screen can now be customised. You can mess about with widgets on there and you can get some cool visuals with portrait photos on there too.
If you are up to it, you can customise the home screen to look like the Android home screen. You know, with apps where you want them and not being forced to have a grid that populates from the top left corner.
In their quest to provide a smooth and simple experience, Apple have to restrict you in so many ways. To be honest, this obsession with being simple results in them making some baffling choices.
iOS now has a file manager but it will frustrate you. For one, you do not have access to most of the files on the phone from your PC. The only file you can access is the DCIM file which houses your pictures.
So you cannot manage your files from your PC. Need to send media files to the phone? You can’t simply plug it in and send. You have to use file sharing apps like ShareIt.
I have a huge library of old music that I ripped from my father’s old CD selection. Some of these albums are not available on streaming sites and so I had to send them to the iPhone.
For the best results, I had to download and sync the music through iTunes. That has to be worst piece of software in existence. That thing is heavy, not user friendly and is always downloading updates.
If you use apps like ShareIt, you can get the files onto the phone but Apple intentionally limited their files app meaning the experience of actually playing the music will be terrible. Know that the music won’t populate in the Music app and will have to be accessed via the Files app.
First off, there are no music controls in the Files app. You can’t tap next or previous, so you have to play the songs one at a time. When a song is done, you have to select the next one manually.
It’s a terrible way to listen to music and it’s by design on Apple’s part.
Trying to get video files on the iPhone is an exercise in frustration. You can get them on there but you will not be able to conveniently access them.
There are other restrictions that I can’t get into here otherwise we would be here all day.
The app situation
We all spend most of our time in the same apps, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter etc. When it comes to those apps the experience is the same as it is on Android. People love to talk about social media apps being better on iOS but that’s nonsense.
The only times the iOS apps are better is when you’re using the camera functionality in apps like Snapchat and Instagram. If you’re importing photos from your gallery taken by the main camera, this won’t be a problem on Android. Oh, and Samsung flagships now also allow those apps to fully utilise the cameras.
What this means is that most of the times the iOS experience is identical to the Android experience. Identical UIs mean it’s easy to forget you have switched OSes.
While not technically an app, I have to talk about notifications on iOS. They are are mess. For some reason they don’t combine notifications from the same app. On Android you can collapse all WhatsApp notifications into one for example, making for a cleaner notification shade.
On iOS, you can only collapse an individuals messages into one, not all WhatsApp messages. As a result, the notification shade is always full meaning you have to scroll quite a bit to see all your notifications.
The Settings situation remains ridiculous. You will find all apps listed in the Settings app and from there you can adjust some settings but for some app settings you have to go to the app itself. Why? Over in Androidland, you know that an app’s settings are accessed from the app. You don’t have to leave the app to adjust anything.
I cannot speak to the famed Apple ecosystem. I use a PC and I don’t see myself using a Mac so I’ll never enjoy whatever benefits there may be to using an iPhone and a Mac.
What I know is that my Android phone works well with my PC using the Your Phone app. The iPhone-PC pairing is a poor one. They don’t play well together.
There are some apps that try to force these devices to play nice and I’ve tried a few of them. None of the ones I’ve tried work well and I’ve given up on all that.
There are drawbacks to using an iPhone, especially when you are coming from Android. However, the two OSes have borrowed from each other so extensively that for the most part the experience is the same.
Where I had to get rid of the iPhone 5 after just a month, I could actually use the iPhone 14 as my main phone. I have been doing this for the last two months and I just might keep it that way.
It is a solid little phone, despite its flaws.. With the ZESA situation I would advise you to get the 14 Plus which has stellar battery life over the small 14 that I have. However, if yu are not staring at your phone’s screen for over 3 hours a day, you will be fine with the 14 even with ZESA doing its thing.
Do remember that the iPhone 14 will set you back around $1100 in Zimbabwe. The 14 Plus will cost about $200 more than that.
Have you played with the iPhone 14? Tell us what you think about this phone in the comments section below. Would