May 28, 2024

As a conscientious spender, I’m always on the lookout for ways to make my money go further. This thriftiness extends to my smartphone choices, where I tend to lean towards discounted models. After all, why shell out more for the latest hardware when a cheaper option might deliver a similar experience? So, when Apple introduced the iPhone 14 at a reduced price, it seemed like a no-brainer, especially since it was a flagship device boasting smooth performance with iOS 17 and promised four more years of software and security updates. The iPhone 14 appeared to be a dream come true for budget-conscious shoppers.

However, today, I’m here to offer a different perspective. In the iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 14 dilemma, I urge you to resist the temptation to save that $100 and invest in Apple’s newest iPhone 15.

Here’s how the iPhone 15 compares specs-wise to the rest of the iPhone 15 lineup:

iPhone 15iPhone 15 PlusiPhone 15 ProiPhone 15 Pro Max
Dimensions:147.6 x 71.6 x 7.80mm160.9 x 77.8 x 7.80mm146.6 x 70.6 x 8.25mm159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25mm
Weight:171g201g187g221g
Display:6.1-inch OLED6.7-inch OLED6.1-inch OLED6.7-inch OLED
Resolution:2556 x 1179 pixels2796 x 1290 pixels2556 x 1179 pixels2796 x 1290 pixels
Refresh rate:60Hz60HzAdaptive 1-120HzAdaptive 1-120Hz
Chipset:A16 BionicA16 BionicA17 ProA17 Pro
Rear cameras:48MP main, 12MP ultrawide48MP main, 12MP ultrawide48MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom48MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP telephoto with 5x optical zoom
Front camera:12MP12MP12MP12MP
Storage:128GB, 256GB, 512GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB256GB, 512GB, 1TB

Why the iPhone 15 Trumps the iPhone 14

Upon delving into John Velasco’s in-depth iPhone 15 review, I was struck by the substantial changes Apple has introduced to its entry-level iPhone this year. From the processor to the cameras and even the phone’s aesthetics, the differences between the iPhone 15 and iPhone 14 are not to be underestimated.

To clarify, these iPhone 15 improvements are not about Apple catching up with its previous devices; many of the new features were introduced in the iPhone 14 Pro models the year prior. However, if you are currently using an iPhone 12 or an even older model and are contemplating an upgrade, you likely won’t be concerned about the iPhone 15 arriving late to the party on certain features. What will matter is that the iPhone 15 offers superior features that are absent in the more affordable iPhone 14.

Let’s begin with the phone’s appearance. The iPhone 15 embraces Apple’s Dynamic Island design, housing the front camera and Face ID sensors within a sleek cutout on the display. In contrast, the iPhone 14 retains the notch that has been a fixture on Apple’s flagship phones since the iPhone X.

While you may not initially notice a significant difference between the notch and a cutout, the Dynamic Island design provides more screen real estate, offering a less obstructed and more immersive viewing experience. Functionality-wise, the Dynamic Island hosts alerts and Live Activities in a more engaging and user-friendly manner. Once you’ve experienced it in action, you’ll appreciate the absence of the notch.

The iPhone 15 also benefits from the customary processor upgrade that accompanies a new model—the A16 Bionic chip, previously exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro lineup. While I may not be fond of Apple’s strategy of assigning different chipsets to phones released in the same year, there’s no denying that the A16 outperforms the A15 Bionic inside the iPhone 14, as evidenced by benchmark tests. While a faster chip alone might not be enough to sway my decision, it’s a significant advantage in favor of the iPhone 15.

However, it’s the camera enhancements that truly elevate the iPhone 15 above the iPhone 14. While the iPhone 14 features the same 12MP main camera that Apple has employed since 2015 (beginning with the iPhone 6s), the iPhone 15 introduces an upgrade to the 48MP main sensor, which debuted in the iPhone 14 Pro models.

This change isn’t merely about higher resolution; by default, the iPhone 15 captures 24MP photos. It also supports a 2x zoom, with the 48MP lens cropping in on the zoomed area to deliver a 12MP shot. This versatility in the camera hardware is only part of the story; the iPhone 15 also benefits from improvements in features like Smart HDR and Portrait mode. In simple terms, the iPhone 14’s camera was competent, but the iPhone 15 represents a substantial leap forward. The improvements are so noteworthy that they make the lower price of the iPhone 14 difficult to justify.

Choosing the More Affordable Model: Trade-offs

There are instances where opting for the more affordable iPhone model makes sense, even if it means sacrificing some features. A year ago, with the iPhone 14’s release, I might have suggested going for the discounted iPhone 13. Sure, the iPhone 14 brought performance improvements and introduced new software features like Emergency SOS via satellite and Crash Detection. However, these additions hardly seemed worth an extra $100.

The situation has shifted this year when comparing the iPhone 15 to the iPhone 14. In addition to the usual performance enhancements, the iPhone 15 offers a significantly better main camera and a phone that’s more comfortable to hold, thanks to its contoured edges. Even the inclusion of a USB-C port opens up more versatile charging options.

While I’m all for saving money when possible, opting for the $699 iPhone 14 over the $799 iPhone 15 may not be the most practical choice given all the remarkable changes Apple has made to its latest offering.