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A new generation of iPhones has arrived. On the surface, iPhone 14 and last year's iPhone 13 are more or less the same. The internal features, however, tell a different story. If you're a photography buff, safety conscious, or prepared to join the eSIM revolution, then the iPhone 14 is a prime upgrade candidate. Otherwise, the iPhone 13 is still a formidable smartphone, comes in just as many playful colors, and runs the same iOS software as the 14. To help you better decide which iPhone is right for you, I've listed the key reasons to choose one over the other below.
This biggest upgrade with this year's iPhone model is the larger main camera sensor. In a practical sense, you can expect significantly better low-light performance and greater details in general. Apple says that the 14 sees a 38% improvement with nightography compared to the 13.
Contributing to better low-light photos is the iPhone 14's new Photonic Engine, an enhanced image pipeline that better renders photos. This process, which essentially speeds up the deep fusion process that previous iPhones have already employed, should lead to more reliable and consistent photo capture.
The iPhone 14 also makes strides in the video department. A new Action Mode enhances the stabilization of videos so you can run, jump, and flip around without worrying about shaky footage.
And finally, the front-facing camera now has auto-focus, keeping you front and center.
2. You want the latest safety features
Like the new Apple Watch Series 8, the iPhone 14 comes with Crash Detection. In the unfortunate event of a car crash or accident, the iPhone 14 will automatically give you a prompt to notify emergency contacts and services even in the absence of a Wi-Fi or cell service connection. This life-saving feature is absent on the iPhone 13.
Apple has also launched the Emergency SOS via satellite feature which allows users to point their phone towards the nearest satellite -- enabling the user to receive service and send an emergency signal. Using a compressed algorithm and "question and answer" communication method, the SOS satellite feature helps ensure users that they can rely on their iPhone even when emergency strikes in remote areas.
3. You don't mind switching to eSIM
Rather than using a physical SIM card, the iPhone 14 supports eSIM and eSIM only -- if you're in the US. eSIM is a virtual SIM card that can store multiple cellular plans on one device and work even without a wifi connection. Providers like T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon have helped to develop eSIM support, making the switch more seamless than you would think. Still, it's a factor that's worth considering if you're deciding between the 14 and 13. Should you prefer the old ways of physical SIM cards, then read on.
The iPhone 13 now starts at $100 less than the iPhone 14, making the old guard an even greater value. If you're looking for a solid phone that has similar software and hardware design as the iPhone 14, the iPhone 13 is a great, ZDNET-tested option. Apple is still selling the device -- along with the mini version -- in stores and online.
2. You were expecting more significant design changes
While the camera and safety features on the iPhone 14 are decent upgrades, the overall design approach, software experience, and hardware of the two iPhones are very similar. If taking better selfies and low-light photos, or satellite SOS features, are less of a priority for you, then the iPhone 13 may be the better option of the two.