This story is part of Focal Point iPhone 2022, CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice around Apple’s most popular product.

Apple’s iPhone 14 Professional has a number of digicam programs and efficiency enhancements which have led to stellar reviews, together with a 48-megapixel sensor and the corporate’s new image-processing method known as the Photonic Engine. This instantly places the iPhone 14 Professional better off over final yr’s iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max, a minimum of on paper. 

However do these new {hardware} and software program options truly make a real-world distinction? 

To search out out, I in contrast the cameras on each telephones in a variety of difficult conditions round San Francisco. All these images have been taken within the default digicam app on the iPhone 14 Professional and iPhone 13 Professional, each working the latest version of iOS 16

You could find out extra in a deep dive in regards to the specific improvements to the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera system, by my colleague Stephen Shankland. CNET’s Patrick Holland additionally has a great analysis of the iPhone 14 Pro’s photos and the way the Photonic Engine helps enhance picture high quality in difficult lighting circumstances.

iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro

Lexy Savvides/CNET

The iPhone 14 Professional 48-megapixel sensor captures extra element

On the {hardware} entrance, the largest change between the 2 telephones is the 14 Professional’s new 48-megapixel sensor on the primary broad digicam that is additionally bodily bigger than the older iPhone, which makes simply as a lot of a distinction to picture high quality as the rise in megapixels. The 13 Professional makes use of a 12-megapixel sensor.

Utilizing a way known as pixel binning, the iPhone 14 Professional joins 4 pixels collectively into teams to seize 12-megapixel images with extra element. You can too take a full 48-megapixel picture if you happen to shoot in Apple’s ProRaw format, and that offers photographers extra flexibility on the subject of enhancing and recovering shadow and spotlight element amongst many different benefits.

In good lighting, the 12-megapixel photographs from each the iPhone 14 Professional and iPhone 13 Professional look related at decreased magnification, and it may not be that straightforward to identify the distinction. It is once you push in a bit that some great benefits of the 14 Professional’s new sensor and picture processing grow to be clear.

Within the photographs beneath that I captured in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the tree trunks are extra outlined and sharper on the iPhone 14 Professional’s picture than these on the 13 Professional. Areas of fantastic element, like grass, additionally retain way more decision. You possibly can click on by means of to the complete decision picture from the iPhone 14 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro to match extra simply.

The iPhone 14 Professional’s lens on the primary rear digicam additionally has a wider subject of view than the 13 Professional’s: 24mm versus 26mm. This implies you may get a bit of extra in your shot, which could be particularly useful for panorama images.

The iPhone 14 Professional can take images at 2x zoom

The iPhone 14 Professional additionally has one other trick up its sleeve: The 48-megapixel sensor also can take 12-megapixel photographs at an efficient 2x optical zoom. You will see a brand new 2x choice within the digicam interface. That crops the middle of the higher-resolution picture to instantly provide you with extra flexibility with focal size, with no need a fourth lens. The iPhone 13 Professional also can take images at 2x zoom, but it surely makes use of digital zoom and would not have the identical high quality or stage of element as this new method.

I discover the brand new 2x choice on the iPhone 14 Professional helps with portrait mode. As an alternative of simply providing 1x and 3x choices like on the older cellphone, it may additionally snap portrait mode images at 2x. This ends in extra natural-looking photographs to my eye. I discover it is extra flattering on facial options than the broad look from 1x, or the zoomed-in perspective at 3x.

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iPhone 14 Pro vs. 13 Pro: Low-light and night mode

The 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 shot at dusk. In the photos below, take a look at the detail captured on the tree branches by the skyline. 

The newer phone also has better noise reduction in low light, without night mode engaged. Dynamic range is improved in low light too, capturing more shadow and highlight detail than the older phone.

For night mode shots specifically, both the phones use similar exposure times ranging from 1 to 3 seconds depending on the lighting conditions. The iPhone 14 Pro’s picture below has more accurate white balance overall and slightly better detail when you zoom in.

Action mode is the star of the iPhone 14 Pro’s video recording

Both the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro shoot in 4K at up to 60fps. The video image looks similar when filming on the main rear camera. But the iPhone 14 Pro unlocks additional video tools like Action mode. This is like having a gimbal attached to your phone to give smooth results when moving, except you don’t need any additional hardware — it’s all done in-phone. 

Action mode crops in slightly to your image and drops the resolution from 4K to 2.8K. But I think the results are incredibly impressive, especially when compared to the same video shot on the iPhone 13 Pro.

I chased after my puppy, jogged along the beach and took a fast-moving tracking shot in front of a waterfall in the park with Action mode, and the results were remarkable. The iPhone 14 Pro’s video image looks like I was filming with a stabilizer, smoothing out even sudden jerky movements. The iPhone 13 Pro’s video looks much more shaky. You can see those action mode examples in the video below, or at the top of this page.

iPhone 14 Pro has big camera improvements, but the 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 both photo and video capture. Importantly, you don’t need to consider yourself a serious or professional photographer to take advantage of that 48-megapixel sensor. But the iPhone 13 Pro is still at the top of its game in most other areas, and still offers one of the best all-around phone cameras you can get.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max introduce sweeping changes like the Dynamic Island, a new 48-megapixel camera system and Apple’s new A16 Bionic processor. All of these upgrades come together to make for an experience that feels fresh and fast compared to older generations.

Read our Apple iPhone 14 Pro review.


Stephen Shankland/CNET

The iPhone 13 Pro is the best phone Apple produces and it received a stellar 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 body and a ProMotion screen with refresh rates up to 120Hz for smoother scrolling.

Read our iPhone 13 Pro review.


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