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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

New Apple Leak Reveals iPhone 14 Battery Surprise

06/28 Update below. This post was originally published on June 25

Apple’s iPhone 14 design changes leaked months ago, but speculation around their performance has proved much more controversial. And now a new leak has set tongues wagging about their battery life.

Shared by credible industry insider ShrimpApplePro, a new Baidu post has published what it claims are the battery capacities for all iPhone 14 models. This is the first time capacities have been reported for the new range and while three models have received minor battery increases, a drop for the iPhone 14 Pro may mean your money is better spent elsewhere. [06/25 update – Baidu post now removed, this is often seen as a sign of accuracy because accurate data is more sensitive and posters come under significant pressure but it is impossible to know for sure]

The leak breaks down the battery capacities as follows:

  • iPhone 14 – 3279 mAh (iPhone 13 – 3,227 mAh)
  • iPhone 14 Max – 4325 mAh (N/A)
  • iPhone 14 Pro – 3200 mAh (iPhone 13 Pro – 3,095 mAh)
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max – 4323 mAh (iPhone 3 Pro Max – 4,352 mAh)

The big news comes from the big phones and, if these numbers are correct, there is every chance that the new iPhone 14 Max will outlast the flagship iPhone 14 Pro Max.

06/27 Update: Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has published a deluge of information on Apple’s upcoming products, including the iPhone 14 line-up, in his latest Power On Newsletter.

In addition to leaks surrounding a slew of new M2-based devices — Mac Mini, Mac Pro and iPad Pro models coming “later this year” sporting a variety of M2, M2 Pro, M2 Max, M2 Ultra and M2 Extreme chips, a moderate Apple Watch 8 upgrade using the same chipset as the Watch 7, a second-generation HomePod and AirPods Pro and an A14-based Apple TV — Gurman also detailed multiple iPhone 14 upgrades.

“Like the Apple Watch, the iPhone 14 Pro will be able to show widgets displaying weather, calendars, stocks, activities and other data while the screen remains at a low brightness and frame rate,” wrote Gurman, adding his weight to revealing iOS 16 beta code which hinted at the feature earlier this month.

Gurman adds further detail as well, saying “there will be a setting—also like the Apple Watch—that keeps sensitive data from appearing on the lock screen for all to see.” This would combat one of the big concerns iPhone users have expressed about this feature.

Gurman also doubles down on previous industry leaks saying iPhone 14 Pro models will have “a much-improved front-facing camera, a new rear-camera system that includes a 48-megapixel sensor, thinner bezels, a faster A16 chip, and a redesigned notch with a pill-shaped cutout for Face ID and a hole punch for the camera.”

On the flip side, standard models will generate “less excitement” because “The lower-end phones will stick with the same A15 chip as the iPhone 13, though the 5.4-inch mini size will be replaced with a 6.7-inch model.” Meanwhile, despite the entry-level iPad switching to USB-C in the fall, Gurman says iPhone 14 models will stick with Lightning for another year with the transition coming in 2023. Whether the inclusion of a soon-to-be legacy connector puts off potential upgraders in 2022, only time will tell.

06/28 Update: What will be will be! A new report from tech site and supply chain specialist Digitimes claims that components have now been finalized for the iPhone 14 range and shipments have begun.

Citing supply chain sources in Taiwan, Digitimes says the components — which are sourced from numerous different suppliers — have been sent to Apple’s manufacturing partners, the biggest and longest running of which is Foxconn. These components will be stockpiled before mass production begins in the next 1-2 months ahead of the range’s traditional September/October release.

The big news from this development is twofold. First, specifications for the new phones are a lock. Apple has the capacity to switch suppliers mid-cycle but it would only be for like-for-like components (e.g. identical battery capacities, camera resolutions, etc). The company has never improved iPhone specifications for any model after sales have begun. That would undermine buyer confidence and risk the creation of a ‘wait and see’ upgrade approach.

This can be seen even when it has a detrimental effect, such as when it became clear that iPhone 12 Mini battery life was poor. Instead Apple waited until the iPhone 13 Mini to make improvements.

Second, leaks around the iPhone 14 series should now intensify. That may seem surprising given the large number of leaks, but the security Apple has enforced up to this point tends to go out the window when thousands of production lines and tens of thousands of labourers start mass production. Expect photos of components, and the phones themselves at various stages of the production process, to begin leaking over the coming weeks and months.

Where potential controversy for the iPhone 14 models lies is in the greater difference between the lines this year. iPhone 14 Pro models will sport a new i-shaped dual cutout display, which has polarized opinion, an even larger camera hump and a next generation chipset which could be a lot faster than its predecessor.

In contrast, it is going to be difficult to tell the iPhone 14 and iPhone 13 apart. Its successor is expected to have an identical external design, camera specifications and chipset. The new phones may have 50% more RAM but all signs are currently that the standard models will be the most incremental generational iPhone upgrade to date.

Moreover, if you’re disappointed by this and want to go Pro, it looks like you’ll be paying more as well. Apple has widened the gap between its iPad, Mac, MacBook and even AirPods ranges in recent years and iPhones are playing catchup here. It’s a strategy which may not be universally popular but there is no denying its success.

The reason for this is not the fractional difference in their battery capacities but what they will be asked to do. iPhone 14 Pro models will have 48-megapixel sensors meaning they will process file sizes 4x larger than the 12MP sensor retained by standard models. They are also expected to have more RAM which means greater performance but increased battery drain.

Whether new efficiencies from the Pro-exclusive A16 chipset and new DDR5 RAM can offset this remains to be seen, but with iPhone 14 Max expected to cost $300 less it could be a tempting downgrade for those concerned by reported iPhone 14 Pro price rises. The iPhone 14 Max is also a dramatic improvement on its predecessor, the iPhone 13 Mini (2,406 mAh) for which battery life was its biggest drawback.

Looking more widely, the minor battery increases to the rest of the range are also eye-opening. After being overshadowed by large Android phones for several generations, the iPhone 13 lineup was a big leap forward and there was hope Apple would look to extend its lead over the competition, having seen success from its M1-based MacBooks streaking ahead of the battery life delivered by Intel and AMD-based rivals.

It is worth noting that ShrimpApplePro has some doubts about the figures, writing “Hmmm” afterwards but the leaker also has a history of only sharing accurate information. So the reaction may be more towards Apple’s strategy than the leak itself.

That strategy would certainly be a gamble. Ever since the iPhone 6 Plus launched in 2014, Apple’s biggest and most expensive model has always had the best battery life. That now looks to be under serious threat and it makes the iPhone 14 Max a lot more attractive. Furthermore, with Pro models set to ditch Lightning for USB-C in 2023, skipping iPhone 14 Pro models altogether in 2022 might just be the smartest option.

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