iPhone 14 in various colors.

Image: Apple

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. 

More: iPhone 14 drops the sim card. Here’s what that means


iPhone 14

iPhone 13


6.1-inch OLED with 60Hz

6.1-inch OLED with 60Hz 


6.07 ounces (172 grams)

6.14 ounces (174 grams)


A15 Bionic 

A15 Bionic 

RAM/Storage 4GB RAM with 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB  4GB RAM with 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB 
Battery  Up to 20 hours video playback  Up to 19 hours video playback 
Camera Dual 12MP (Wide, ultrawide)  Dual 12MP (Wide, ultrawide) 
Connectivity 5G (mmWave and sub-6 GHz), Satellite 5G (mmWave and sub-6 GHz)


Purple, Blue, Black, White, Red 

Pink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight, Green, red

Price Starting at $799 Starting at $699

You should buy the iPhone 14 if…


Jason Hiner/ZDNET

1. You want the most advanced camera features

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. 

More: iPhone 14 drops the sim card. Here’s what that means

You should buy the iPhone 13 if…

Apple iPhone 13 mini

Sarah Tew/CNET

1. You want a lower price point 

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.

More: How the Apple iPhone 14 connects to satellites during emergencies

Alternatives to consider

Open to other iPhone prospects? Consider these ZDNET-recommended devices:

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