iPhone 14 Pro cameras vs. 13 Pro: Yes, there is a difference

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

The iPhone 14 Pro has several camera system improvements Starred reviews, including a 48-megapixel sensor and Apple’s new image processing technique called Photonic Engine. This immediately puts the iPhone 14 Pro at an advantage over last year iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro MaxAt least on paper.

But how big of a difference do these new hardware and software features make in the real world?

I compared the cameras on both phones in challenging conditions around San Francisco. All of these photos were taken using the default camera app on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro. The latest version of iOS 16.

Learn more about Specific improvements to the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera setup This deep dive from my colleague Stephen Shankland. CNET’s Patrick Holland and A Best analysis on iPhone 14 Pro photos and how the Photonic Engine helps improve photo quality in challenging lighting conditions.

iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro

Lexy Savvides/CNET

The iPhone 14 Pro’s 48-megapixel sensor captures more detail

On the hardware front, the biggest change between the two phones is the 14 Pro’s new 48-megapixel sensor, which is physically larger than the older iPhone. Megapixels. The 13 Pro uses a 12-megapixel sensor.

Using a technique called Pixel pinning, the iPhone 14 Pro combines four pixels in groups to take 12-megapixel photos with high detail. If you shoot in Apple’s Prora format, you can capture a full 48-megapixel image, and this gives photographers more flexibility to edit and restore shadows and highlight detail, among other benefits.

In good light, the 12-megapixel shots of both the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro look similar at reduced magnification, and it’s not easy to tell the difference. The benefits of the 14 Pro’s new sensor and image processing are evident.

In the images below, which I captured in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the tree trunks are more defined and sharper in the iPhone 14 Pro photo than in the 13 Pro. Finer areas like grass also retain high resolution. You can click the full resolution image from iPhone 14 Pro And this iPhone 13 Pro Very easy to compare.

The iPhone 14 Pro’s lens on the main rear camera has a wider field of view than the 13 Pro: 24mm versus 26mm. This means you can get a little more in your shot, which is especially helpful for landscape photography.

iPhone 14 Pro can take photos with 2x zoom

The iPhone 14 Pro also has another trick up its sleeve: the 48-megapixel sensor can also take 12-megapixel shots with 2x optical zoom. You will see a new 2x option in the camera interface. It crops the center of a high-resolution image to instantly provide greater 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 detail as this new technique.

The new 2x option on the iPhone 14 Pro helps with portrait mode. Instead of offering 1x and 3x options like the older phone, it can take portrait mode photos at 2x. This results in very natural looking footage to my eye. I find it more flattering on facial features than a wide view from 1x or a 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 that helps improve medium to low light scenes. Combined with the larger sensor, I can see the difference in all the photos I took at dusk compared to the iPhone 13 Pro. In the photos below, check out the details captured by the skyline in the tree branches.

The new phone has better noise reduction in low light without resorting to night mode. Dynamic range is also improved in low light, capturing more shadow and highlight detail than the old phone.

Especially for night mode shots, both phones use similar exposure times of 1 to 3 seconds depending on lighting conditions. The iPhone 14 Pro image below has a 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 is the same when shooting on the main rear camera. But the iPhone 14 Pro opens up additional video tools like Action Mode. It’s like having a gimbal attached to your phone, producing smooth results while moving, and you don’t need any additional hardware — it’s all done on the phone.

Action Mode changes your image slightly and lowers the resolution from 4K to 2.8K. But I think the results are incredibly impressive, especially compared to the same video shot on the iPhone 13 Pro.

I’ve chased my puppy, jogged along the beach, and taken a fast-moving tracking shot in action in front of a waterfall in the park, and the results were remarkable. Video footage from the iPhone 14 Pro looks like I shot it with a stabilizer, smoothing out even sudden movements. iPhone 13 Pro’s video is very shaky. You can see examples of that process in the video at the top of this page or in my colleague Patrick Holland’s video below.

The iPhone 14 Pro has big camera improvements, but the iPhone 13 Pro is even better

Apple’s latest iPhone has significant advantages over last year’s iPhone 13 Pro in 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 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 big changes like Dynamic Island, a new 48-megapixel camera setup, and Apple’s new A16 Bionic processor. All of these upgrades come together to create an experience that feels fresher and faster compared to older generations.

Read our Apple iPhone 14 Pro review.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

The iPhone 13 Pro is the best phone Apple makes, and it earned a one-star 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 smooth scrolling.

Read our iPhone 13 Pro review.

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