iPhone 14 launch: Apple unveils new iPhone and Apple Watch Series 8

·4-min read
iPhone 14 launch: Apple unveils new iPhone and Apple Watch Series 8

Apple has remodelled the consumer tech landscape by releasing four iPhones, three Apple Watches and a new set of AirPod Pro earbuds at its annual launch event, held within its Cupertino headquarters.

Star of the show was the new iPhone 14 range, which features a host of genuinely innovative features.

Chief among these are automated crash-detection for accidents and a satellite data-connection that enables the handset owner to contact the emergency services, even in remote locations, provided that there is a clear line-of-sight to the sky. While limited in nature, this feels like a glimpse of the future.

This new satellite SOS service is initially only available within the US and Canada and will only be free for the first two years before presumably becoming a paid-for service. No price details were mentioned.

The iPhone 14 will be available in four variants and Apple has focussed on keeping these comparatively affordable, with prices starting from £849. While not exactly cheap, these new handsets do represent credible value, especially given the upward pressure on costs due to inflation and many other factors.

The new iPhone 14 is displayed alongside the new Apple Watch 8 Series and new AirPod Pros (AFP via Getty Images)
The new iPhone 14 is displayed alongside the new Apple Watch 8 Series and new AirPod Pros (AFP via Getty Images)

Each of the standard models rely on the A15 Bionic processor found in last year’s premium handsets, with a choice of a 6.1in screen or, if that’s not enough, the iPhone 14 Plus brings 6.7 inches of pixel power into play, without forcing you to pay for one of the two new Pro models.

That said, even the two entry-level handsets deliver exotic features, previously exclusive to the iPhone 13 Pro. The camera promises souped-up video stabilisation, which Apple now calls Action Mode, and a boost to its computer-aided image capture, for stronger results even in seriously low-light scenarios.

Even the selfie-cams now have autofocus, which bodes well for those who make regular video calls on their iPhone. Indeed, this could prove to be one of the more game-changing updates for some people.

The most noticeable leaps forward were, unsurprisingly, reserved for the iPhone14 Pro handset, which starts from £1,099, and its larger sibling, the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

These mange to cleverly camouflage the notorious black notch, which eats into the top of most iPhone screens, with a pill-shaped cutout that provides numerous new ways to control the handset via a series of funky-looking widgets that are dubbed the Dynamic Island. It sounds strange but works brilliantly.

Seeing this in the flesh is a marvel of modern engineering because the software somehow manages to hide the notch in plain sight. Equally impressive is the advanced power-management of the newer A16 chipset, which enables the iPhone 14 Pro handsets to offer an elegant always-on display. Despite the overall attractiveness of the standard handsets, the Pro models are likely to tweak your gadget gland.

Apple has ditched the Mini handsets from this year’s line-up, which is no surprise given that sales of those handsets were modest for the iPhone 12 and 13. These smaller phones only accounted for around 7% of total iPhone sales by volume in 2021 according to Francisco Jeronimo, Associate Vice President of IDC Europe. With the iPhone SE now offering a credible compact option, their days were numbered.

A new Apple Watch 8, Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch SE (Getty Images)
A new Apple Watch 8, Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch SE (Getty Images)

Fans of smartwatches will be thrilled to learn that Apple Watch Series 8, from £419, now offers a temperature sensor which, among other things, promises detailed biological insights on everything from anxiety to ovulation cycles. Narcissists, in particular, will revel in knowing even more about themselves.

There is also an updated version of the affordable Apple Watch SE, from £259, plus an entirely new Apple Watch Ultra, from £849, which is firmly pitched at adventurous folks.

The latter feels like a wonderful piece of engineering for those with robust ambitions and healthy budgets. Its titanium chassis is surprisingly light in the hand, despite the reassuring chunkiness and the new Action button is a welcome addition, too, as it makes the watch easier to operate if wearing gloves. One concern is whether the prominent crown will get accidentally jarred during more active pursuits.

Finally, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 are said to deliver newly enhanced adaptive noise-cancelling and customised spatial audio features for £249, along with a redesigned case that now offers a lanyard loop and a free engraving of your own personalised emoji. The new buds look physically much the same as their predecessors, albeit initial demos of the improved noise-cancelling indicate this is a sonic boon.

With the exception of the Ultra, which seems like a proper leap forward for outdoorsy types, the majority of these non-phone related updates feel incremental rather than evolutionary at first glance.

“Apple doesn’t need to make radical changes to these products”, says Jeronimo, who explains that once people have bought an iPhone, the Apple Watch is their only credible option – and they are also far more likely to invest in set of AirPods than to consider rival options. “The strength of its ecosystem is a winning formula, so Apple is focussed on expanding this rather than converting Android fans”, he adds. Put simply, it’s a little like scooping fish from a barrel.