This story is part ofCNET’s collection of news, tips, and advice on Apple’s most popular products.
iPhone 14 Pro has many improvements in the camera system that led to this Excellent reviewincluding a 48-megapixel sensor and Apple’s new image-processing technology called the Optical Engine. This immediately puts the iPhone 14 Pro at an advantage over last year at least on paper.
But how different do these new hardware and software features make in the real world?
I’ve compared the cameras on both phones in a bunch of tricky situations around San Francisco to find out. All of these photos were taken in the default camera app on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro, both running Android The latest version of iOS 16.
You can learn more about Specific improvements to the iPhone 14 Pro camera system In this deep dive by my colleague Stephen Shankland. CNET’s Patrick Holland also has a file Fantastic analysis of iPhone 14 Pro photos And how the optical engine helps enhance image quality in difficult lighting conditions.
iPhone 14 Pro 48MP sensor captures more details
In terms of hardware, the biggest change between the two phones is the new 14 Pro’s 48-megapixel sensor on the main wide camera which is also physically larger than the older iPhone, making as much of a difference in image quality as the increase in megapixels. The 13 Pro uses a 12MP sensor.
using a technique called pixel binningiPhone 14 Pro joins four pixels together in groups to capture 12MP photos with more detail. You can also take a full 48MP photo if you shoot in Apple’s ProRaw format, and this gives photographers more flexibility when it comes to editing, restoring shadow and highlighting detail among many other benefits.
In good lighting, 12MP shots from both the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro look similar at low magnification, and the difference may not be easy to spot. When you push a little further, the advantages of the new sensor and image processing on the 14 Pro become clear.
In the photos below that I took at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the tree trunks are more defined and sharper in the iPhone 14 Pro image than those on the 13 Pro. Areas of finer detail, such as grass, also retain greater precision. You can click to access the full-resolution image from a file iPhone 14 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro To compare more easily.
The iPhone 14 Pro lens on the main rear camera also has a wider field of view than the 13 Pro: 24mm versus 26mm. This means you can get more into your shot, which can be especially useful for landscape photography.
The iPhone 14 Pro can take photos with 2x zoom
The iPhone 14 Pro also has another trick up its sleeve: the 48MP sensor can also capture 12MP photos with an effective 2x optical zoom. You will see a new 2x option in the camera interface. This crops the center of the high-resolution image to instantly give you more flexibility with focal length, without the need for a fourth lens. The iPhone 13 Pro can also take photos at 2x zoom, but it uses digital zoom and doesn’t have the same quality or level of detail as this new technology.
I find the new 2x option on the iPhone 14 Pro helps with portrait mode. Instead of just offering 1x and 3x options like the old phone, it can also take photos in portrait mode at a rate of 2x. This results in more natural shots of my eyes. I find it more satisfying in facial features than the wide look from 1x, or the zoom perspective at 3x.
iPhone 14 Pro vs. 13 Pro: Low Light and Night Mode
iPhone 14 Pro has a new image processing pipeline to help improve medium to low-light shots. Combined with the larger sensor, I can see the difference compared to the iPhone 13 Pro in all the photos I took at dusk. In the photos below, take a look at the details captured on the tree branches through the horizon.
The newer phone also has better noise reduction in low light, without turning on the night mode. Dynamic range in low light is also improved, capturing more shadow and highlight details compared to the old phone.
For night mode shots specifically, both phones use similar exposure times of 1 to 3 seconds depending on lighting conditions. The iPhone 14 Pro image below has a finer white balance overall and slightly better detail when zoomed in.
Work Mode is the star of iPhone 14 Pro video recording
The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro both capture 4K resolution at up to 60 frames per second. The video image looks the same when shooting with the main rear camera. But the iPhone 14 Pro unlocks additional video tools like Motion Mode. This is similar to having a stand attached to your phone to give smooth results when on the move, except you don’t need any additional hardware – it’s all done inside the phone.
Action mode crop your photo a bit and drop the resolution from 4K to 2.8K. But I think the results are incredibly amazing, especially when compared to the same video shot on the iPhone 13 Pro.
I chased after a puppy, ran along the beach and took a fast-moving tracking shot in front of a waterfall in the park with motion mode, and the results were great. The iPhone 14 Pro’s video image looks like I was shooting with a stabilizer, smoothing out even sudden jerky movements. The iPhone 13 Pro video looks more shaky. You can see these action mode examples in the video at the top of this page, or in my colleague Patrick Holland’s video below.
iPhone 14 Pro has big camera improvements, but iPhone 13 Pro is still impressive
Apple’s latest iPhone has some significant advantages over last year’s iPhone 13 Pro when it comes to taking photos and videos. Most importantly, you don’t need to consider yourself a serious or professional photographer to take advantage of this 48MP sensor. But the iPhone 13 Pro is still ahead of its game in most other areas, and it still offers one of the best all-round phone cameras you can get.
Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max introduce sweeping changes like Dynamic Island, a new 48-megapixel camera system and the new Apple A16 Bionic processor. All these upgrades come together to deliver an experience that feels fresh and fast compared to older generations.
The iPhone 13 Pro is Apple’s best phone and it earned an excellent score in our review. The new smartphone adds a third rear camera with 3x optical zoom (up from 2x on the iPhone 12), a stainless steel chassis and a ProMotion display with refresh rates of up to 120Hz for smoother scrolling.
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