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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Best iPhone 14 Deals—and Which Model Is Right for You

Yep, the brand-new iPhone 14 is finally here, and it … doesn’t add much over last year’s iPhone 13. Apple has instead reserved many of the cool upgrades for the pricier iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. You might be disappointed to hear there’s no new iPhone Mini—it’s been replaced by the iPhone 14 Plus, a big-screen version of the standard model, like the iPhone 8 Plus. 

It’s all a mishmash of different names, which can be confusing. But we’re here to help. Below, we break down the primary differences among the iPhone 14 range to help you decide on a model—and whether you should buy one in the first place. Be sure to check out our Best MagSafe Accessories guide for more.

Updated October 2022: We've added thoughts on the iPhone 14 Plus. 

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Is the Upgrade Necessary?

If your iPhone is working just fine, there’s no need to upgrade. If your device’s battery isn’t doing so well, you can spend a small amount to replace it through Apple, and that might add another year or two to the iPhone’s shelf life. We’ve also got tips on how you can fix your iPhone if you’re encountering strange problems. However, if your handset is absolutely on its last legs (or you just want the latest and greatest), then you win—you can upgrade. 

But before you do, read our guide on how to sell your iPhone. Yes, you can use Apple’s Trade-In program, but you might be able to get more money by selling it yourself, as used iPhones retain a lot of their value. (It's worth exploring!) Make sure to back up your iPhone first, and then factory reset it to wipe your data. Once you get your shiny new model, read our guide on how to set up your new iPhone for more tips and tricks. 

Choose Your iPhone

So you’re going to upgrade to the new iPhone 14 range. Great! The next step is to choose which model to buy: iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, or iPhone 14 Pro Max. The good news is that the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are exactly the same except for size (and thereby battery life). The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max also have the same guts and differ only in size. 

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All of the new iPhone 14 models support Apple’s new Emergency SOS via Satellite feature, which lets you access emergency services in the most remote locations, as well as Crash Detection if you (God forbid) are ever in an accident. There’s broad 5G support across the board, Face ID, ultrawideband chips to find the precise location of your AirTags, OLED screens, MagSafe connectivity, Apple’s Ceramic Shield glass to protect the screen, and IP68 water resistance. As for cameras, all the models use Apple’s new Photonic Engine for better low-light images and feature Apple’s new Action video-stabilization mode for smoother footage.

Here’s how they differ: 

iPhone 14 ($829): The 6.1-inch iPhone 14 (7/10, WIRED Recommends) is all the phone you need. It has a dual 12-MP primary camera and ultrawide with larger sensors to capture images that aren't too far off from the iPhone 14 Pro. It’s powered by the same A15 Bionic processor used in last year’s iPhone 13 Pro—the first time Apple has not used the latest processor in a brand-new iPhone—but it's still a speedy chip. In my testing, the iPhone 14 lasts around a full day with average to heavy use.iPhone 14 Plus ($929): The 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus can do all the same things as the standard iPhone 14 but for slightly longer. In my testing, it's the longest-lasting iPhone in the new range, easily hitting the afternoon of the second day on a single charge. It's also surprisingly not as unwieldy as you'd think, and that's because it's fairly lightweight—a tiny hair lighter than the iPhone 14 Pro despite the larger size.iPhone 14 Pro ($999): It’s almost unfair how many more features there are in the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro (7/10, WIRED Recommends). For starters, the infamous notch is gone. You still get Face ID, but Apple has slimmed down the selfie camera and sensors into a pill-shaped cutout called the Dynamic Island. Interestingly, this space expands to show passive information, like music that’s playing, a timer that’s running—and you can expand it to see some controls. The phone is powered by the new A16 Bionic chip, which delivers powerful performance, especially when running demanding games. The screen gets brighter and supports a 120-Hz refresh rate, too, so every interaction with the phone looks and feels more fluid. For the first time, there’s an always-on display, so you can see the time and notifications with just a glance. It generally lasts around a full day on a single charge.iPhone 14 Pro Max ($1,099): The Max is the same as the iPhone 14 Pro, except it has a bigger 6.7-inch screen. Both the Pro models have a new 48-MP primary camera, which is joined by the 12-MP ultrawide and a 12-MP telephoto, giving you more versatility when shooting photos, compared to the non-Pro models. In my testing, I struggled to see a marked difference between the new cameras in these phones and their predecessors, though you can generally expect slightly sharper and brighter images in mid to low light. These iPhones also feature Apple’s second-gen Sensor-Shift stabilization technology for fewer blurry images, support for Night Mode Portrait photos, macro photography mode, and the option to capture images and videos in Apple’s ProRAW and ProRes formats. If battery life is your biggest concern and you want all these extra features, then the Max is the way to go, as it lasted me through a day and a morning.Most PopularGearThe 15 Best Electric Bikes for Every Kind of Ride

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Apple is still selling the iPhone 13 ($699), iPhone 13 Mini ($599), and iPhone 12 ($599), and there’s the new iPhone SE 2022 as well for $429. Point is, you have options if the asking prices for the latest and greatest are too high. All of these are still great buys, though you can likely find them for less in “used, like new” condition on sites like Swappa and eBay

How to Get It Unlocked

There are no SIM card slots on the new iPhones in the US, but there is dual eSIM support. We have a guide on how you can use both for two numbers (and more details about eSIM in general). It's worth noting that while it's easy to transfer your physical SIM to an eSIM when setting up your new iPhone, this effectively kills your physical SIM card. If you switch to a phone without eSIM support (or even an Android phone with eSIM support), you might have to jump through a few hoops and talk to your carrier to get cellular connectivity again. 

We strongly recommend you buy your iPhone unlocked. It’s just easier and hassle-free to switch networks without having to interact with your carrier. You can buy them all unlocked at Apple’s website. If you do choose to activate your network through Apple, the company says its carrier models are all unlocked—except for AT&T when you purchase on an installment plan. 

The iPhone 14 starts at $829 at Apple for 128 GB.The iPhone 14 Plus starts at $929 at Apple for 128 GB.The iPhone 14 Pro starts at $999 at Apple for 128 GB.The iPhone 14 Pro Max starts at $1,099 at Apple for 128 GB.Deals on Network-Locked iPhones

If you buy the carrier version, you’ll automatically get a $30 discount off the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus, bringing the prices down to $799 and $899. Here are a few promotions that carriers are running on these iPhones.

AT&T says new and existing customers can get the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, and iPhone 14 Pro for free (or the iPhone 14 Pro Max for $99) when they trade in an eligible smartphone on a qualifying installment plan with an unlimited plan. You'll see the savings in 36 monthly bill credits.T-Mobile says you can get a free iPhone 14 Pro (or up to $1,000 off any iPhone 14) with a qualifying trade-in, and you need to be on its Magenta Max plan. You'll see the savings in 24 monthly bill credits. If you don't have that plan, you can get half off the iPhone 14 Pro (or up to $500 off any iPhone 14) in 24 monthly bill credits when you add a line on nearly all T-Mobile plans.Verizon's offer nets you up to $1,000 off the iPhone 14 Pro series and up to $800 off the iPhone 14 series when you trade in a select phone and activate a new line on a select unlimited plan. If you're switching to Verizon, you'll get a $200 online gift card.

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