iPhone 14 Pro brand new camera system: Finally, the first iPhone that deserves the “Pro” name?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
iPhone 14 Pro brand new camera system: Finally, the first iPhone that deserves the “Pro” name?
It was nearly three years ago when Apple introduced the first “Pro” iPhones, the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max... Now, Apple never really shared where the “Pro” name comes from, but given that the biggest and most obvious difference between the vanilla iPhone 11 and the Pro models was the cameras, one could assume it was the camera system on the $1,000 iPhone that Apple defined as… professional.

Sure, the iPhone 11 Pro delivered Apple’s first triple camera setup with Night Mode (a first for iPhone) and unmatched video quality (as per usual), all powered by the fastest smartphone chip on the planet (at the time), the beastly A13 Bionic.

That being said, though, the iPhones 11 Pro series lacked many features that tech enthusiasts would consider “pro” or simply fitting for a $1,000 flagship phone. Rightfully, many people struggled to grasp Apple’s naming scheme...

  • The iPhone 11 Pro didn’t have a high-refresh-rate screen
  • The telephoto zoom camera was only capable of 2x optical zoom
  • The ultra-wide camera lacked autofocus, and even Night Mode
  • The selfie camera also lacked autofocus (although this was never a big problem)

To cut a long story short, the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro added some of those missing features, but as the industry kept moving forward (at a fast pace), we’re at a point where Apple’s finding itself behind the Android flagship competition once again, and possibly further behind than ever before.

But that’s where the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max come…

iPhone 14 Semi-Pro: 8K video recording is more than a gimmick, but only if you’re a “semi-pro”

Leaks and rumors about an upgraded 48MP camera on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max started popping up nearly a year ago, and now, just days before the launch of the 2022 flagship iPhones, it’s pretty much surefire that Apple’s ready to move on from the good old 12MP camera sensors that the company’s been using for eight years now!

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As I’ve highlighted many times before, megapixels don’t really matter. However, in this case, they sort of... do, and that’s because they are needed to make possible some of the new camera features coming to iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Of course, 8K video recording (at up to 60fps, according to rumors), is one of them and despite the fact that 8K videos are still very uncommon for users like me and you (whether it’s taking or watching them), they will certainly put Apple’s iPhone into a niche but certainly “professional” camera category amongst the Android competition and even amongst virtually any other dedicated compact camera out there.

iPhone 14 Pro with 8K video recording will almost certainly be used to shoot your next favorite music video

Some of the bigger and nerdier movie buffs out there might know that 8K video recording is almost exclusively used in Hollywood-level productions. Really, the purpose of recording in 8K (over 4K) isn’t simply to get a sharper picture (like increasing the quality on a YouTube video) but rather to allow filmmakers to crop, stabilize and reframe footage after it’s been recorded. Generally, higher resolution allows for more flexibility in post-production, which is a highly-valued feature in TV and film.

Anyway, of course, the iPhone 14 Pro isn’t and will never be preferred by directors as far as “serious projects” are concerned. That’s due to a ton of limitations, most of which boil down to camera sensor size and the fact that iPhone footage will always have a “computational” look to it that won’t hold up particularly well when going through heavy, pro-level editing. However, that doesn’t mean semi-pro videographers and enthusiasts won’t benefit from a great quality 8K video on iPhone.

As you might know, many YouTube creators use an iPhone as their primary or at least secondary camera for videos. For example, tech reviewer MKBHD once shot an entire EV review (with nearly 5 million views) entirely and only on an iPhone 13. Moreover, Apple famously sponsored a bunch of music videos with hundreds of millions of views, which, again, were shot entirely on iPhone.

Cinematic Mode’s next version should be in 4K

I’ve mentioned this before, but in my opinion, Cinematic Mode is a feature with loads of untapped potential, which has barely been unlocked by Tim Cook & Co. In case you're wondering, the Cinematic Mode feature sits way higher on my upgrade ranking list than 8K video recording.

Still, it remains to be seen whether iPhone 14 series will introduce any new Cinematic Mode features, but it does look very plausible that the first step Apple would have to take towards perfecting Cinematic Mode will be to make it available in 4K instead of just 1080p.

As it stands, Cinematic Mode videos are of great utility for social media use but hardly hold up when viewed on a bigger screen like a TV or even an iPad. Cinematic Mode’s edge detection is also rather spotty when observed closely and needs an upgrade that, hopefully, iPhone 14 will bring...

iPhone 14 Pro new 48MP primary camera, and new ultra-wide-angle camera: Apple’s photo game finally moving with the times?

Now, onto the more popular topic of photos...

If you ask a pro photographer what he/she needs from an iPhone camera, they’ll surely wish for better/bigger camera sensors and tighter manual control before and/or after taking a photo.

The much higher resolution of the new 48MP sensor should allow the iPhone 14 Pro to deliver more detailed photos, and the bigger sensor should help it perform better in poor lighting conditions. What remains to be seen is whether Apple will follow in Google’s or Samsung’s footsteps regarding manual controls and flexibility.

For instance, the Google Pixel 6 Pro doesn’t allow you to shoot photos in full 50MP, despite having a 50MP camera. Instead, the photos are binned down to 12.5MP, which is also the approach that Apple is expected to take. Samsung, lets you use the full 108MP resolution of the Galaxy S22 Ultra's primary camera sensor.

Anyway, pixel binning is a trick utilized by literally every single phone-maker out there but the choice to let users use the full resolution of a sensor and whether to have access to manual controls is completely up to the manufacturer.

That being said, it looks like a perfect opportunity for Apple to introduce a proper “pro” mode within the iPhone camera, allowing you to adjust photo and video properties similar to Sony phones (although it's very unlikely Apple will go that far).

In case you aren’t up to speed, the latest news around the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera system is that we’ll indeed be getting two brand-new camera sensors instead of just one, like we thought. The new primary 48MP camera sensor, the new selfie shooter, which we’ll discuss below, and the already upgraded (in 2021) 3x zoom snapper shall be joined by a brand new ultra-wide-angle camera. Hurray!

If, for whatever twisted reason, you’ve been following my camera rants, you’ll know that I’ve complained about the poor ultra-wide-angle cameras on the Pixel 6 and iPhone 13 not once or twice. But it's for a reason, as photos from my iPhone 13’s UWA shooter come out noticeably softer compared to the main camera, even in ideal lighting, let alone in dim conditions.

According to reliable analyst and leakster Ming-Chi Kuo, the new ultra-wide-angle camera on iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max should bring almost 2x more light than the existing tiny sensor of the iPhone 13 Pro. Based on the way sensors are measured, and according to the info provided by Kuo, the sensor surface area on the UWA camera of the iPhone 14 Pro should be twice larger than the one on the iPhone 13 Pro.

Of course, all of this should result in more detailed photos and videos, but it should also be of great use for the Macro Mode feature that Apple introduced with iPhone 13 Pro. Actually, the iPhone 13 Pro already takes some of the best Macro Mode photos in the business, so the ability to shoot good-quality Macro Mode videos should make the iPhone 14 Pro a bit more… “pro”.

iPhone 14 gets a new front-facing camera with autofocus: Your Instagram and TikTok game is going to the next level, influencers!

And last but not least, for the selfie photo and video lovers and influencers, who quite literally are pro-level selfie-takers, iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max are all destined to get a brand new selfie shooter with the presence of autofocus.

Is this a big deal? It depends on how serious of a selfie-taker you are. If you take a selfie only on occasion, then a better, autofocus-enabled front-facing camera won’t make a huge difference to your experience of using an iPhone 14, and you certainly shouldn’t spend $800-1,200 to get the new iPhone for that feature alone.

However, as we’ve seen with Samsung’s latest flagships, autofocus on the primary camera can go a long way for those who want their selfies and selfie videos to look somewhat “professional”...

As opposed to fixed focus shooters, the iPhone 14’s selfie camera will be able to continuously track your face in the frame and will make you stand out from the background by adding a slight blur/bokeh to it, which is one of the easiest ways to make photos and videos appear more “professional” or cinematic look. And that’s without Apple’s Portrait Mode-enabled bokeh for photos or Cinematic Mode blur for videos, which will only further enhance the feel or cinematic 4K selfie videos on iPhone 14.

iPhone 14 Pro might bring the first iPhone camera that deserves to be called “pro” but I'm not buying one...

Now, sure the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max aren’t getting long-range zoom cameras, 1-inch sensors, or variable apertures, which is the latest and greatest fashion in the world of various Android flagships. That’s not how Apple rolls and such upgrades are likely to arrive with the iPhone 15, 16, and 17 series.

The iPhone 14 Pro is the phone that’s supposed to kick off Apple’s future camera revolution, and that’s mainly thanks to the new 48MP primary camera. However, the main shooter will certainly be joined by a very impressive set of snappers that make the iPhone 14 Pro camera system feel more complete than ever, and that should be enough to attract millions of buyers.

Am I getting an iPhone 14 Pro? I don’t think so... That’s because the iPhone 15 Pro is rumored to get a 6x periscope zoom camera, and if you know me, I love my long-range zoom cameras, so I’ll wait. For anyone else, though... the iPhone 14 Pro might be the "pro" iPhone you've been waiting for!

Yes? No? Maybe?

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