Apple unveils the iPhone 14, Watch Ultra and a batch of safety features

8 Sep 2022

The iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max models. Image: Apple

With new iPhone models, smartwatches aimed at athletes and various safety updates, there’s a lot to unpack from Apple’s latest product event.

Apple has unveiled its new iPhone 14 line-up, along with new smartwatches, satellite connectivity and a host of software improvements.

The upcoming gadgets were unveiled at Apple’s Far Out event, which took place yesterday (7 September) in the Steve Jobs Theatre at the company’s headquarters in California.

The latest iPhones come in at a high price, with the cheapest offering starting at $799 on release. Apple has dropped the starting prices of the iPhone 12, iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini models, while the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 Mini models have been discontinued, MacRumors reports.

iPhone 14

Two iPhones being held by people's hands, in a white background.

The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus. Image: Apple.

As predicted, four new models of Apple’s flagship device were revealed at the event. The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus models have a similar look to the iPhone 13 and come in 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch display sizes.

A key upgrade in these iPhones is the camera, as both models feature a 12MP main camera with a larger sensor and larger pixels. There is also a new front TrueDepth camera, an ultra-wide camera and the Photonic Engine to get better images in low-light conditions.

The TrueDepth camera also comes with autofocus, allowing it to adjust quicker in low light and capture group shots from further away.

Apple said the iPhone 14 Plus features the best battery life to date for an iPhone model. Both devices are powered with the A15 chip and come with new safety features.

The iPhone 14’s Crash Detection feature can detect a severe car crash using its accelerometer and gyroscope, and automatically dial emergency services when a user is unable to reach their iPhone.

The satellite-based Emergency SOS feature is also included, enabling messaging with emergency services when outside of cellular or Wi-Fi coverage. This comes free for two years in the US and Canada with iPhone 14 models.

For the Emergency SOS feature, Apple partnered with satellite company Globalstar and agreed to pay 95pc of the approved capital expenditure to deploy the new Globalstar satellites needed for the service, Reuters reports.

One of Apple’s competitors managed to be first in this satellite communications race, however. One of Huawei’s latest smartphones is able to connect to the Chinese satellite system, providing data for emergencies when mobile networks are unavailable.

The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus start at $799 and $899, respectively. The iPhone 14 will be available from 16 September, while the 14 Plus will arrive on 7 October.

iPhone 14 Pro

Three iPhone 14 screens with apps on them, in a black background.

The iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max introduce the Dynamic Island feature, a new way to interact with activities, alerts, and notifications. Image: Apple

Apple also revealed the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models, which come in similar sizes to the cheaper base model but feature a more robust set of features.

These phones are powered by Apple’s newer A16 Bionic chip, featuring an accelerated five-core GPU with 50pc more memory bandwidth, which Apple said is perfect for graphically intensive apps and offers computational photography features.

These iPhones feature Dynamic Island, a new design that aims to give users different ways to interact with the device and blend the line between hardware and software.

Without impeding content on the screen, Dynamic Island is a pill-shaped notch that adapts in real time to show alerts and notifications. It maintains an active state to give users easier access to controls with a simple tap-and-hold. The TrueDepth camera has been redesigned to take up less of the display for this feature.

These models also feature the first 48MP main camera on an iPhone, along with a quad-pixel sensor and the Photonic Engine to dramatically improve low-light photos.

Ru Bhikha, mobile expert at comparison website Uswitch, said the tech giant has “stuck to its guns” by reserving its biggest innovation leaps for its premium handsets “despite the economic challenges facing many consumers”.

“The single pill-shaped Dynamic Island now gives Apple fans a smooth replacement to the notch and is a clever way to utilise screen real estate that was previously wasted,” Bhikha said. “We should eventually see this design trickle down to more basic Apple phones in the coming years.”

The iPhone 14 Pro starts at $999 while the 14 Pro Max starts at $1,099. Both models will be available from 16 September.

The high price of the latest smartphones does not appear to deter buyers, according to research by Uswitch. The comparison company said nearly 14m people in the UK are considering buying the new iPhone 14 models, despite the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

iOS 16

Apple plans to release iOS 16 on 12 September for iPhone 8 and later models, with a redesigned and customisable lockscreen, new ways to edit or recall recently sent messages and a more powerful Live Text feature.

iOS 16 was first revealed in June at Apple’s first in-person event in two years. The software features security updates, including a new Rapid Security Response feature designed to deploy security fixes more easily and quickly without needing a full iOS version update.

One of the security features of iOS 16 is Lockdown Mode, which restricts the activity allowed on an Apple device for protection. NordVPN CTO Marijus Briedis said it is a “heavy-duty” cybersecurity feature, giving users “the equivalent of Fort Knox on their iPhone”.

“The growth of powerful state-sponsored spyware like Pegasus has been one clear motivation for tougher measures, but Apple’s announcement last month of a security flaw affecting devices running a previous version of iOS shows why consumers could also be tempted by the new feature,” Briedis added.

“Yet using Lockdown Mode comes at a cost. Get behind the wheel of a tank and you’re unlikely to be setting any speed records and, in the same way, employing this security measure will limit your iPhone’s performance and what you can do with it.”


Three Apple Watch Ultra models in a white background.

Apple said the Watch Ultra is its most rugged and capable Apple Watch to date. Image: Apple

Apple debuted a new smartwatch aimed at athletes with the powerful Apple Watch Ultra, which features a 49mm titanium case and flat sapphire front crystal to enhance the display.

The Apple Watch Ultra has up to 36 hours of battery life during normal use, along with a new low-power setting that can extend this to 60 hours.

“Apple Watch Ultra is a versatile tool that empowers users to push their boundaries with adventure, endurance and exploration,” Apple COO Jeff Williams said.

The watch features three built-in microphones to improve the sound quality of voice calls in any condition. An adaptive beamforming algorithm works to capture the voice while reducing ambient sounds in the background.

To help explorers and athletes, this watch features a dual-frequency GPS that integrates both L1 and the latest L5 frequency, along with new positioning algorithms.

Two Apple smartwatches next to each other in a black background, with a time, wallpaper and apps visible on the watch displays.

The Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch SE. Image: Apple.

The Apple Watch Series 8 also has a health focus in mind, with a body temperature sensor that enables advanced features for women’s health, a new sleep app and the Crash Detection feature.

Apple said the new Apple Watch SE delivers a core experience with activity tracking, high and low heart rate notifications and a redesigned back case that complements the available midnight, starlight and silver colours of the watch.

The Apple Watch Ultra comes in at $799, the Series 8 starts at $399 and the SE model will be available from $249. These smartwatches are expected to be available from 16 September.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic