Apple launches the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8

Always-on display lets notification addicts stay connected but only ‘pro’ models get the latest A16 Bionic chip

If you feel like you never look away from your phone, Apple’s newest iPhones are for you, with an always-on display letting notification addicts stay connected all day, every day.

Exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro, the display preserves power by dropping down to an ultra-low refresh rate of just 1Hz, dimming the screen, and handing updates over to a dedicated low-power coprocessor to keep the time, widgets and notifications up to date even with the phone in sleep mode.

The new phones also feature the company’s replacement to the once-mocked “notch” that contains the front-facing cameras on all its handsets since the iPhone X. Now, a pill-shaped “Dynamic Island” will contain the cameras, while the proximity sensor that turns off inputs when held to your ear has been moved under the screen. The black blob will also be incorporated into a new notification style, allowing background apps such as ride-hailing services or voice recorders to keep some info onscreen.

But those updates won’t be coming to the company’s baseline iPhone 14. That phone, which gets a larger sibling in the rebirth of the iPhone Plus, is a much milder update to the previous year’s devices, looking largely the same, albeit with new colours, and even running on the A15 Bionic chip that was first introduced with the iPhone 13. The 14 Pro, by contrast, features Apple’s latest silicon, the A16 Bionic chip.

All models of the iPhone 14 will have one major new hardware feature, however: emergency notifications via SOS. A specially constructed directional antenna allows users (initially only in the US and Canada) to send alerts to emergency services when they’re in difficulty, guiding them to point the phone in the exact direction of the satellite. To overcome the ultra-low bandwidth of the connection, which takes 15 seconds to upload a single message, the software pre-emptively asks the most important questions, avoiding a back and forth conversation.

That safety feature is paired with a new crash detection feature, also available in the company’s new Apple Watch Series 8, which uses the accelerometers, microphones and other sensors in the phones and watches to detect dangerous car crashes and automatically call emergency services if not actively cancelled.

The new Apple Watch also features a temperature sensor for the first time, enabling the company to offer ovulation detecting as part of its period tracking feature. The company emphasised that data from the sensors, which are carefully marketed as a fertility aid but not a contraceptive or a fever detection tool, is end-to-end encrypted, meaning that Apple itself cannot access the data, an apparent nod to fears that women’s health apps have become a new battleground after the revocation of abortion protections in the US.

Launching alongside the Series 8 is the Apple Watch Ultra, the company’s newest hardware line. A chunky, expensive and powerful watch aimed at hikers, marathon runners and scuba divers, the Ultra features larger buttons for gloved use, a battery life that the company says will peak at 60 hours after optimisations are released this autumn, and a titanium case that rises up to protect “the biggest brightest screen ever on an Apple Watch”.

But British consumers wanting to pick up the latest technology from the world’s largest company have an uncomfortable surprise waiting for them. With the pound at its lowest exchange rate with the US dollar since 1985, UK prices for the new devices have risen well past parity between the two currencies – itself news when it happened for the first time with the iPhone X in 2017. The Apple Watch Ultra, starting at $799 in the US, will be £849 in the UK and AU$1,299 in Australia. The iPhone 14 Pro will start at $999 and £1,099 and AU$1,749, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max will start at $1,099 and £1,199 and AU$1,899.

With the death of the iPhone mini, the new cheapest iPhone is the base iPhone 14, starting at £849 or AU$1,399, and the iPhone 14 Plus will start at £949 and AU$1,579.

The company also announced the AirPods Pro 2, featuring a longer battery life, “adaptive transparency” for blocking out harsh noise like construction while still allowing ambient sound through the noise cancellation, and new technology for scanning a user’s ears to personalise the 3D audio. The headphones will cost £249 or $399 in Australia.
Tags: UK