the new iphones are here!

There’s a scene in the 1979 movie “The Jerk” staring Steve Martin, where his character grabs a phone book and starts yelling “The new phone book’s here!” The whole scene is so classic and so funny. This, of course, is right before the serial killer with the rifle picks him at random out of said phone book and then tries to shoot him…

Which reminds me of the early years when long lines of iPhone customers would camp out for days if necessary in front of then-new Apple stores waiting for the doors to open on the exact day that new models would go on sale. Although I haven’t seen that happen for some time, when I went to pick up a new iPhone in September 2019 there were long lines of people waiting outside the Apple store in the mall to pick up the then-new iPhone 11 in its various configurations. I know, I was there trying to get in to make my appointment time. I spent an insane amount of money to purchase an iPhone 11 Pro Max because that was the only model with the largest battery you could get in an iPhone.

Since that time my iPhone has worked without issue. The battery health shows that after three years it’s maximum capacity is at 90%. Loosing 10% over three years continuous use is excellent. In addition my iPhone 11 Pro Max should be good for iOS updates for at least another three years, after which, who knows… In three years I’ll be 71, pushing 72. I’m so far out of Apple’s target demographic now as to be invisible to Apple and its marketing minions. By the time I hit my early 70s (assuming I’m still alive) I’ll be all but dead to them anyway.

The experience of age allows me to take an unvarnished look at what Apple wants to sell/upsell with its latest iPhone. Here are the features that tend to catch my eye, ignoring everything else.

  • Battery. The iPhone 11 Pro Max has a 3,969 mAh battery. The iPhone 14 Plus appears to have a 4,325 mAh battery. Looks promising until you do the math; the iPhone 14 Plus is only 8% greater. However, I have only 90% maximum battery health, so the difference bumps to 17% greater battery life with a new iPhone 14 Plus. Is that enough to convince me to purchase the 14 Plus? Not really. I lost 10% capacity over three years. If I assume (a big assumption, actually) that battery loss is linear, that means I’d use another 10% after another three years. At that point the difference is now 26% in favor of the 14 Plus, which in three years would be superseded by the iPhone 17, with who knows what new and fabulous goodies and battery life.
  • Emergency services. All the new iPhone 14s appear to offer emergency satellite communications and accident detection. That’s an interesting safety feature, something far more interesting than marginal increases in camera capabilities. That new satellite service is supposed to be free the first two years, with who knows how much it might cost afterwards. If I were traveling with my wife by car I might be persuaded to purchase the phone so that it would provide those additional services in case of an automobile accident. But then I have to consider that my 2020 Acura MDX came with lane keeping and collision avoidance driver safety packages to help me drive with greater safely. That, and the fact I drive like a little old man meaning I stay at the speed limit and drive in the slow right lane as much as possible on the highways. So I’m ambivalent if that iPhone 14 feature and service would provide any real advantage.
  • Camera. The breathless descriptions of the new cameras, especially on the 14 Pro models, reminds me of the breathless descriptions of all the new cameras that are continually be churned out by the major camera manufacturers. I am as unmoved by the iPhone descriptions as I am of the major manufacturers. For the longest period I had only two cameras on the 6 Plus, 7 Plus, and 8 Plus. I only stepped up to three with the 11 Pro. And the sensors and lenses have continually improved, but only marginally over each iteration. If I were to choose my best iPhone camera photos, they came from my 7 Plus, followed by my 6 Plus. Perhaps it was the subject matter or the novelty of those cameras, but as time went along I’ve felt that the Apple engineers didn’t know when to leave well enough alone with regards to the camera systems in the iPhones. Since I stopped at the 11 Pro, I’ve not had any personal experience with the iPhone 12 or 13. I have read some glowing reviews of the iPhone 13 Pro camera system, but I’m immune to reviews like that because of the immunity I’ve built up over the years to glowing digital camera reviews. So no. I would not step up to get the “better” camera.

And that’s about it. When I do the comparison between the iPhone 14 variants and my iPhone 11 Pro Max, there’s a lot more that is still the same than is different. To address the elephant in the room, which is the processor, the iPhone 11 Pro Max has the Apple A13, vs the A15+ in the iPhone 14 and the A16 in the iPhone 14 Pro. It’s not worth stepping up to either of those processors (for me) because there is nothing I do on my iPhone that I find too slow, or a feature that I can’t use because of the older processor. Even my wife’s iPhone 8 Plus, which used to be my iPhone 8 Plus, is still fast and fluid. Apple has done such a remarkable job with its processor architecture that we reached peak processor sufficiency five years ago, when the iPhone 8 Plus was released.

There’s one other issue to consider when purchasing an iPhone 14, and that’s features. There are fewer features on the regular iPhone 14s, such as the lack of Pro Motion screen on the iPhone 14. But that means there’s less power to burn up in an iPhone 14 than an iPhone 14 Pro. Frankly, I can’t see the difference between high refresh rates and other tweaks to high-end displays. The iPhone 11 Pro display is still bright and gorgeous. And when I put my phone next to the latest in an Apple store, I’m hard pressed to see a real difference.

I’m curious to see how well the iPhone 14 sells over the coming months.

One thought on “the new iphones are here!

  1. In my experience when they put a larger capacity battery in a new version it’s because it uses more power than the old one so … no longer usage. Powering a satellite connection comes at a cost. (I’ve used sat phones before, and unless the technology has miraculously improved beyond the limits of physics … it’s going to not work right where you need it to.) As for the camera(s) … who cares? The people who do snapshot images won’t notice the improvements, and the pros are rarely fooled by gimmickry. It all looks like the ‘improvements’ are design to sell new phones, not to actually make them better.
    Gee we’re a couple of grumpy old men, aren’t we? *LOL*

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