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From mini to Pro

This is a tablet!

This was my first thought holding my new phone. I thought I had the iPhone 14 Pro Max but realized the iPhone 12 mini was just that much smaller. The iPhone 12 mini as I wrote about before was my favorite iPhone ever. It was the perfect size to hold and had enough new features that it didn’t feel left behind.

But sadly Apple has decided that for now at least the mini is on hiatus. Even as I use my new iPhone I still hope the mini lives on to fight another day. But I did end up upgrading my phone this year. As Apple showed off the new Pro models unlike the 13 line there was a big difference in features and capabilities. With Apple saying goodbye to the mini line for now I knew it would be best to move on too. I didn’t want to keep using something that might not get updated for some time if ever.

So I ended up ordering the iPhone 14 Pro in deep purple with 256gigs of storage. Ive had this phone for 6 days now so while it’s not a lot of time I’m very happy with my choice. This phone feels like a really big upgrade which now a days is harder for iPhones to do since they’re so mature. There is more to that since I waited 2 years and I’m going from a tiny phone to a giant phone by comparison. But I really do feel like the iPhone 14 Pro gives me that different feeling that I most recently felt with the iPhone X when it debuted.

I used to upgrade every year but lately I’ve been waiting more and upgrading less frequently. It is really the way to go not only do you typically save more money that way. Tech just feels more exciting and newer when you get more than one year of new features.

The always on display is interesting, it’s not a feature I cared about or was excited for and I’ve thought about turning it off. I don’t really think it’s as bright as every review says it is but I guess comparing to android always on screens its crazy bright. I do wish the Lock Screen had more widgets available, with an always on display they are way more useful. On the display front though a bigger thing for me was getting the 120 hertz display bump. Scrolling lists and animations are just so much smoother. Every time I used an iPhone 13 however brief it was immediately noticeable and I wished my 12 mini had it. Having used it for a while now I would not want to go back.

The iPhone 14 on a desk with the always on display showing lock screen widgets and the now playing widget at the bottom.

The camera on this phone finally got a big bump in megapixels and it shows. I know that Pro Raw isn’t on by default and it seems Apple wants you to use it as a larger 12mp sensor. When it’s using the full resolution though it feels like a really big jump. The amount of detail the photos retain when zooming in is very noticeable. I think I’ll be taking photos with ProRaw often but not all the time. Im glad apps like Halide are adopting support for it so quickly. The iPhone really is for most people the most important camera because it’s always with you. And it’s definitely one of the two biggest reasons I upgraded. Again going from the 12 to the 14 the camera jump feels really nice.

Another thing I’m really happy about is having the 2x and 3x lens. So much of taking the perfect photo is timing and being able to move or get the shot. I wasn’t missing things often with just the main and ultra wide on the 12 mini but the 14 pro has already come in handy in this regard. Plus I’m excited for the Macro photography feature I missed out on with the 13 line.

A night shot with the ProRaw 48mp camera no edits. A photo of a restaruant outside the building called Burgers Never Say Die in Silverlake.

The dynamic island. This is the other feature besides the camera that made me really want to upgrade. As soon as Apple showed it I was equally impressed and excited. There is so much personality and whimsy behind it. I think it’s one of those things where after using it day to day now it feels like a key feature that will define iPhones.

The iPhone 14 showing the home screen while the dynamic island shows whats playing on my AppleTV in a minimized state.

The notch never felt like an iPhone feature upgrade. It felt like a way to get the display to look a certain way. I know it enabled FaceID and FaceID is a really nice feature but this is different to me. I remember when the FaceID glyph leaked on 9to5Mac I was disappointed, I didn’t want Apple to make a part of the display asymmetrical and get in the way. In practice the notch never got in the way but it was an eye sore. They played it smart by making the status bar of apps separate from it so most times you never felt like it was getting in the way of your content. It did for the most part disappear which was definitely a good thing.

But Dynamic island is different. Just like when we got the Retina display, or True Tone there are moments in the iPhone’s history that make a noticeable day to day improvement that you can’t go with ought. While the notch on the iPhone felt like an eye sore the dynamic island feels playful. There is still something in the top area where the notch was obscuring what would otherwise be a perfect sea of symmetrical pixels. But this time I am not bummed its there I’m actually kinda glad. That is a pretty big feat they pulled off.

So in day to day use whats the dynamic island like? It’s just like a little buddy keeping extra stuff you’re doing at a designated area to get back to quickly. Just like picture and picture can be nice to not let things get in the way and allow you to multitask the dynamic island is your second display.

When taking breaks at work the dynamic island has me covered with a timer animating live how much time I have left. Or when I’m home watching TV relaxing and on my phone. The dynamic island has the now playing view where I can have playback controls and I can easily rewind or fast forward. It comes into view when it’s needed then minimizes and gets out of your way. It’s like the notch was a hardware keyboard on your phone and the dynamic is your first software based keyboard that can be more than a keyboard.

When introducing the dynamic island Joz said that it would become a true iconic feature of the iPhone. Having used it now I kinda feel like this is how the iPhone will look for the foreseeable future. A thought came to mind while using it. How would I feel if the dynamic island goes away and it’s just endless screen? Before the notch I wanted an edge to edge screen with nothing covering my content. Now living with the dynamic island I think I feel like it might be a step backwards to ship a phone like that. Thats kinda a weird feeling, I know its part hardware/software and can be remade with ought the sensor. But the day to day utility the dynamic island provides is really nice. It lets me do more with my phone with ought things getting in the way. It’s such a smart way to keep the FaceID housing and camera and bring utility to a potential downside.

Id be curious to see how others felt but I do think 5 years down the road. If Apple can ship a phone with no cutouts on the display would people miss the utility of the dynamic island? If they would miss it and if Apple keeps increasing its utility does this mean this is the final form of the iPhone display as a glass slab? Im sure there will be something else to come but this idea has been stuck in my head.

So all in all from iPhone 12 mini to iPhone 14 Pro. This phone as surprised me in many ways. I definitely miss the weight and feel of my 12 mini it is just such a nice phone to use. But the 14 Pro while heavier and larger makes up for that with letting me do more with my phone. Giving me a better camera, dynamic island, and higher refresh rate display. All those features were enough for me to upgrade and I’m glad I did.

I said that the iPhone 12 mini was my favorite iPhone ever and I hoped Apple would make an iPhone that beat it. Apple should always be moving the ball forward and they definitely do. While the 12 mini will always be a special phone for me I’m loving the 14 Pro and for those out there holding onto the mini. If you’re okay with making a few compromises I think you’ll really like the advantages the 14 Pro gives you. I don’t think the regular 14 gives you a reason to upgrade since it’s missing a lot of key features but the Pro line is compelling.

Apple is one of the richest companies in the world and the iPhone is still a gigantic part of their business. Slow sales or not Apple should be offering multiple sizes of the iPhone. They can afford to add some more products to the lineup. A big point of advancements in technology is miniaturization and without it we wouldn’t even have gadgets like the iPhone. I think Apple needs to get to a point where they can make a device like the 14 Pro in a 12/13 mini form factor. That would be a technological marvel and one they should strive for. Because if they can offer more choices to customers I think they’re better off. And like many fans of the mini line that size took our hearts quickly and it should continue on.