First it was a hole punch. Then it was a pill… punch. Now… it’s an exclamation punch? Can iPhone 14 leaks get their acts together, already. Kidding, that’s what you have me for. So hit that subscribe button and bell and grab a beverage, because I’m about to break down the 10 biggest new features rumored for the iPhone 14. Let’s do this!
Ok, so, the regular iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 non-Pro Max — more on that in a minute — are still supposed to be getting their notches on this year. Same narrower notch as last year. But the iPhone Pro and iPhone Pro Max… well, rumor has it Apple’s going to be replacing those notches with cutouts. Not a hole punch, that’s so last month. Not even a pill punch, so last week. But a double punch, like a left jab and right cross. Yeah. An exclamation punch.
It’s not that Apple is changing their minds about the shape, but more so the early human leaks probably never described the whole entire actual shape, while now we’re starting to see potential parts leaks that show it off in all it’s glory. Or gory, depending on how you feel about it.
Why a dot and a dash instead of just one or tother? Probably because the iPhone houses so many cameras and sensors up top of the display. And they just won’t work well enough if they’re paved over with OLED sub pixels, with only Machine Learning left for the cleanup. At least not yet. So, the RGB selfie camera is still exposed, for sure, and then whichever parts of the Face ID system, flood illuminator, dot projector, or camera also need to stay out in the open… are just still all out in the open.
Why not just leave the notch at that point? Probably to freshen things up. Because we hate boredom and we hate change, so like the Simpsons, they just have to keep feeding us the perception of change. But, hey, if we nerds get our battery percentage indicator back, we’ll take it, right?
48 Megapixel camera
From the exclamation mark up front to the surprise face on back! But all emoji aside, this I’m really excited about.
Because, for the last few years, Apple’s stuck with a 12 megapixel sensor and focused… no pun intended… ok… a little intended… on making those individual pixels as large and sensitive as possible. Quality over quantity. But now reports are saying Apple is finally getting ready to add some quantity. But… still in the name of quality.
If you want a deeper dive on this, I’ll drop a link to my video in the description below the like button, but basically it takes those 12 megapixels and divides each one by four, resulting in 48. Then it makes each of those smaller pixels just a tiny bit bigger, and merges them them, like Devaastor — or more accurately, bins them or downsamples them — back into groups of 4… to give us… wait for it!.. 12 megapixels again. But a better 12 megapixels! For still photography.
Why not leave it at 48 megapixels? Because those pixels are so small they don’t pull in a good enough image under anything less than ideal conditions. Why not leave it at 12 then and just make those bigger pixels even bigger? Because 48 gives some extra flexibility for zoom and they can stack and bracket frames from both the 48 and the 12 to try and get as much detail with as little noise as possible. But, also for 8K video…
First we had 4K. Then 4K with interleaved extended dynamic range. Then 4K with non-interleaved EDR. Then 4K HDR and Dolby Vision. Then 4K ProRes 422 HQ. In other words, 4K with better and better data, year after year. But now it sounds like Apple is ready to give the people more…. 8K more, which is actually 4 times the data, because it’s double the size horizontally as well as vertically.
Which is why they need a sensor that’s 4 times the size in order to capture that data. Both for 8K and — more applicable to my own current personal needs — downsampled 4K.
Why go to 8K? Because we climbed the 1080p mountain and crossed the 4K ocean and 8K is just what’s next. It’s what we do. It’s where our TVs and pro-workflows are headed, and sure, most people won’t need it on a phone camera, but most people don’t need ProRes on a phone camera either. These are high-end features that Apple is using to target high-end pros.
And all I personally ask is this: Please, in the name of all that is holy and compassionate in this universe and… all the Spider-Verses to follow, give us something faster than USB2 Lightning to pull it off with. I don’t care if it’s Lightning 2, Thunderbolt 4, AirDrop Extreme, whatever. You built the imaging pipeline, you built the storage system, now give us the I/O to go with it. You know, for the high-end Pros.
8 GB RAM
Ok, so, I’m super happy about this as well. The current iPhone Pros have 6 GB of RAM, in part to help handle those 4K Dolby Vision Pro Res 422 HQ files. But, since iOS has no concept of swap or paging out to disk, it also means more apps and browser tabs can be left live at the same time, without being jetsamed to free up memory for newer, thirstier apps and tabs. Looking at you Camera and Pokemon Go…
So why go to 8GB? Well, with the potential for 8K video on the iPhone 14, rumors around 8 GB of RAM, would help handle those even bigger frames.
And since iOS apps are native, not interpreted like Android, and because they use auto release instead of garbage collection like Android, virtually none of that extra RAM should be needed to reduce overhead. Which means, even if you don’t care about 8K, getting the twice the memory we had just a few years ago won’t make the iPhone Pro just barely livable — should make it downright wonderful.
2 TB SSD
Likewise a 2 TB storage option. Why 2 TB if we only just got 1 TB last year on the iPhone 13? Well, those 4K ProRes 422 HQ files are already 6GB per minute. Per minute. So, going to 8K ProRes 422 HQ is going to be… a lot. Maybe even a linear 24GB a minute. So 2TB is going to be a necessary option for anyone intent on using the iPhone 14 as a primary ProRes camera. At least, that’s the best explanation I can come up with for this particular rumor.
And as to the price — yeah, it’s going to be ridiculous. Maybe even downright offensive. But people buying multiple 8K iPhone cameras for ProRes work, the same type of people that’s spend thousands, if not tens of thousands on camera bodies and storage media already, they’re not even going to blink. They’re just going to charge it all off to the studio or a client or two.
Ok, this is where my inner silicon nerd final forms. The A15 Bionic added faster efficiency cores, more efficient performance cores, way faster graphics cores, as well as a 5th GPU core and ProRes accelerators for the Pro. All on Taiwan Semiconductor’s second-generation 5 nanometer process. And it was really pushing the thermal limit of the iPhone enclosure. But the A16 — maybe still Bionic — is reportedly going on TSMC’s next-generation 4 or 3 nanometer process. Those are all just marketing names. But what it means is: either the same amount of performance at even less power draw, even more performance at the same power draw, or more likely — a good balance of both.
Some of that will go to driving new and heavier computational imaging, some will be overhead for the next 5 or so iOS updates, and some might even be used to reduce the weight of the battery again… or just provide for even longer battery life at the same capacity. Sign me up for any of that.
Same with Qualcomm’s X65 modem, which is next in line after the X60 modem in the iPhone 13. Sure, in a couple of years Apple might do what they did with their ARM license and switch from licensing chips to just licensing the IP for their own custom chips. But for now, the X65 is faster, offering up to 10 Gigabit… if you can find it… but also more efficient. So, like A16, it could either let Apple reduce size and weight while maintaining battery life, or provide even longer battery life at the same size and weight, even when using power-hungry features like 5G.
All of that without a SIM-card slot, a physical SIM, at least on some models and in some regions. In other words, eSIM only, or more specifically, dual eSIM only. Because we all know how Apple loves deleting physical hardware features like 3.5mm headphone jacks, and Home buttons, and if they can’t take out the charging and data port yet, they may just take that out on the SIM card slot. All in the name of reducing complexity, potential failure points, and one day, improving water resistance.
For now though, it might let Apple include some limited form of satellite connectivity. That was rumored last year, before the iPhone 13 came out, but that seems to have been the result of premature… speculation. Why satellite? For emergencies. Specifically, SOS, maybe even limited texting if you’re in trouble but off the cellular network, as well as disaster reporting if there’s a whole lot of trouble and no functioning network.
Apple’s been ladling the life saving features on the Watch for years, but now they’re starting to add them to the iPhone as well and I’m so very much here for it.
Something that has me Miles Finch level psyched about the iPhone 14 is that the it may be more… iPhone 4-like than the current iPhone 5-like design, meaning less slab and more sandwich. Still aluminum for the regular models, but with the Pro models switching from steel to titanium. Regardless of what Apple does with battery efficiency vs. capacity, that could at least save some weight on what have become, by far, the heaviest iPhones ever. Especially if the other big design rumor is true — the ones about Apple flattening out the back. Which would be great for stopping the current teeter totter effects of the camera bump when you put it down on the table… but depending on what exactly Apple fills all that extra thiiiiiic space with, may be not so good for that already hefty Max.
Especially since Apple is reportedly doubling down on the Max this year. By discontinuing, deleting, end-of-lifing, murder-death-killing the mini to do it. Because despite it getting so much big nerd love, most people just seem to want more big phones to love. So, the new lineup is supposed to be iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. In other words, two 6.1-inch, two 6.7-inch.
Blame it on the last couple years keeping people out of stores, so they couldn’t actually try the mini out in hand, on Apple splitting the original cheap and small iPhone SE market into a cheap SE 2 and small mini market, on people conflating size with value, or on phones increasingly becoming primary computing devices where bigger display means better productivity.