Even if the iPhone Pro models sell more, plenty of people still buy the vanilla iPhone models. The upgrade cycle for iPhones is longer than that of Android phones, and it’s a testament to how well these devices are made from hardware to software and back.
If you are still holding on to an older iPhone, you might be wondering whether to upgrade to iPhone 14 or 15 (both are still officially on sale from Apple). Well, look no further; we’ve got a full comparison lined up.
The jump from the iPhone 14 to the iPhone 15 is one of the bigger ones we’ve seen in a while. The iPhone 15 has a new, much brighter display, a new, much better main 48MP camera, and it has switched to using a USB Type-C port, just to name a few things.
For starters, you can compare the complete specs sheets here or directly continue with our editor’s assessment below.
The iPhone 15 and the iPhone 14 have an almost identical overall footprint. You would honestly be hard-pressed to tell the two apart just going on shape alone.
The new colors are more of a giveaway, but a quick look at the shape of the display notch makes the newer device instantly recognizable. The Dynamic Island, which was introduced in the Pro models last year, has finally trickled down to the vanilla iPhone 15, and we like the more modern look.
Both phones have a 6.1-inch panel, but the new iPhone 15 has a slightly higher resolution and a better screen-to-body ratio of around 86.4%. The difference in person is hardly perceivable, though.
Another aspect of the new iPhone 15 design that could be noticed if you look into details is the new rounded chamfer on the aluminum middle frame going all around the phone’s body. Thanks to it, handling is now nicer and more comfortable.
The two phones are expectedly very similar in terms of build and materials. Their frames are made of aluminum. The back and front sides are covered with Corning’s protective glass – Gorilla Glass on the back and a more durable variety on the front. Apple calls it a Ceramic Shield. It’s the same on both models.
Both the iPhone 15 and iPhone 14 have the same IP68 ingress protection rating. Apple rates both devices as fit to survive submerged for up to 30 minutes in up to 6 meters of fresh water.
While both phones have a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display, the display panels are significantly different, unfortunately, not in terms of refresh rate. Apple refuses to offer anything higher than 60Hz on its vanilla iPhone models.
Both iPhones are certified for HDR10 and Dolby Vision and have the brightness, colors and contrast to back that rating up.
Speaking of brightness, however, it is one of the major upgrades on the iPhone 15’s screen as it gets notably brighter than the iPhone 14. We measured 806 nits of brightness on the slider and a whopping 1643 nits of maximum brightness when exposed to strong external light. We got a similar 804 nits from the iPhone 14 by maxing out the brightness slider, but it didn’t offer any brightness boost beyond that in bright ambient light.
The display on the iPhone 15 is also just slightly higher in resolution at 1179 x 2556 pixels, compared to 1170 x 2532 pixels on the iPhone 14. That’s hardly a noticeable difference.
The more significant change is the shift from the notch design of the 14 to the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 15. This brings the vanilla iPhone design in line with the Pro models. It may be subjective, but we like it better than the notch.
Apple has crammed a slightly larger battery into the iPhone 15, compared to the 14, without affecting the device’s proportions or weight. The increase is not huge, going from 3279 mAh to 3349 mAh, but it is still there.
And battery capacity is not the only thing that gets incremental upgrades year over year. Apple’s A16 Bionic chip inside the iPhone 15 is based on a more efficient 4nm development process compared to the 5nm A15 Bionic inside the iPhone 14. There have been plenty of architectural advancements as well. We are sure the new display panel is probably more efficient this year as well. So it all adds up to a small but still noticeable bump in battery endurance.
In our testing, the iPhone 15 managed a better overall battery endurance of 98 hours compared to the 90 hours of the iPhone 14. Perhaps more importantly, the iPhone 15 has longer runtimes in on-screen tasks like web browsing and video watching, which are arguably the most important aspects of battery endurance.
Apple claims that both the iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 should be able to get from zero to 50% in 30 minutes if you get a 20W charger. In our testing, both iPhone models managed to exceed that marketed expectation, with the iPhone 14 doing 60% and the iPhone 15 – around 58% in half an hour.
While neither iPhone is particularly speedy in terms of charging, the iPhone 15 has its charging taper off a lot more aggressively towards the end of the charging cycle than the iPhone 14. That basically allows the iPhone 14 to squeeze out a small victory over the iPhone 15 in total charging time with 1:31 minutes on the clock, compared to 1:50 for the iPhone 15. However, this charging curve behavior could be subject to change with a future iOS update.
The iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 both have hybrid stereo speaker setups with a dedicated bottom-firing speaker for one channel and an amplified earpiece for the other. In keeping with tradition, both iPhone models also offer excellent sound quality with clean mids and highs and even some lows in the mix.
Loudness is an interesting aspect. Like with charging, the older iPhone 14 manages to squeeze out a small, noticeable lead in the speaker loudness department over the iPhone 15. The older notch screen design may have more room for the top speaker, but that’s speculation on our end. In any case, the iPhone 15 managed a “GOOD” score in our testing, while its iPhone 14 sibling managed to cross the threshold over into “VERY GOOD” territory.
You can compare how the two iPhones sound in controlled acoustic conditions with the samples below. Just make sure you have your headphones on and the volume is at max level.
The Apple A15 Bionic found inside the iPhone 14 is still a performant chip. The iPhone 15 has the newer Apple A16 Bionic chip based on a 4nm process instead of the 5nm one of the A15.
The CPU performance improvements offered by the A16 over the A15 chip are rather small, but the overall performance and responsiveness of the chip still got a major boost thanks to the move to LPDDR5 RAM.
In the GPU department, the A16 Bionic still has a total of five GPU cores, just like the A15. These mostly benefit from the higher memory bandwidth available on the new chipset.
Apple’s Neural Engine, which runs on-board machine learning tasks, is also very similar across the iPhone 15 and iPhone 14 and has the same 16 cores, though these come with increased performance on the A16 chip (17 TOPS vs. 15.8 TOPS in the A15).
Neither the A15 Bionic nor the A16 Bionic are strapped for power. As for the actual difference in performance between the two, if we had to try and quantify it, the A16 tends to be around 15% more powerful.
In the camera department, one of the major new additions to the iPhone 15 mix is an all-new 48MP main camera. Apple is doing some computational and stacking magic to end up with 24MP stills, which are more detailed than any of the 12MP cameras on previous iPhones thanks to a more feature-rich version of Apple’s Photonic Engine, which is in charge of the computational photography in both phones.
The iPhone 15 does not have a dedicated optical zoom camera. What it does have this year, however, is plenty of resolution on its main camera to pull off high-quality digital crops and zooms, arguably with better results than the iPhone 14.
The other camera on the back of both the iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 is a 12MP ultrawide. On both models, it lacks any fancy features like autofocus. That is only present on the Pro models, allowing the ultrawide to double as a macro shooter there.
The iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 seem to be rocking very similar ultrawide cameras with a 120-degree field of view.
The same goes for the selfie cameras, which could potentially even be identical at 12MP with autofocus.
iPhone 15 camera samples: 0.5x • 1x • 2x
The new 24MP default photos from the main camera look extra sharp and tend to offer better and more fine detail than the 12MP stills of the iPhone 14.
iPhone 14 camera samples: 0.5x • 1x • 2x
As already mentioned, the 2x digital zoomed photos from the iPhone 15 also look markedly better because the iPhone 15 has a lot more main camera resolution to work with.
Other than that, the overall processing and color science Apple has developed over the years remains consistent and can be observed on both phones. You tend to get slightly more muted colors than most modern Android phones. Whether or not that looks better to you is, of course, a matter of preference.
And speaking of similarities, the two phones capture the same excellent video. That means up to 4K across all cameras with optional EIS expanded dynamic range thanks to the Smart HDR and HDR video capture. ProRes does remain an iPhone Pro feature, though.
Both phones shine in low-light capture too. Though, the iPhone 15 has a slight edge overall.
iPhone 15 camera samples: Low-light • Night mode
iPhone 14 camera samples: Low-light • Night mode
One criticism we do have regarding Apple’s night mode is that there is no way to force it manually ON, just to toggle it OFF. In this default Auto mode, the Night mode doesn’t trigger as often as we think it should. Though, that criticism applies to both the iPhone 15 and iPhone 14.
Here’s a glimpse of how the iPhone 15’s main camera compares in image quality to the iPhone 14’s in our Image compare tool.
And here’s how the iPhone 15’s main camera compares in video quality to the iPhone 14’s in our Video compare tool.
It feels like the vanilla iPhone has become more of a “commodity” product than any other device in Apple’s lineup. It is sort of a ubiquitous device that tends to get picked up by default by people who just want “an iPhone” rather than the more tech-savvy crowd, which goes for the Pro models. There is nothing wrong with wanting things simple.
The iPhone 14 is cheaper, and its hardware still holds up great in 2023. It even charges slightly faster to 100% than the iPhone 15. Its speakers are also slightly louder. And some things are even the same across the two phones.
The iPhone 15 has a new 48MP main camera, which is notably better than the 12MP shooter on the iPhone 14. Then there is the move to the more universal USB Type-C port, which marks a watershed moment in the history of iPhones, and you may want to be on the newer side of this divide. The display is now much brighter, and it comes with the new Dynamic Island, which looks more up-to-date. Battery life seems to be better too. And finally, there is the faster chipset. Less importantly, the new iPhone 15 comes in a new set of colors and will have longer software support, which might be important if you tend to keep your iPhones for longer or pass them down to family members.
All in all, the iPhone 15 and iPhone 14 are excellent devices in their own right, and we appreciate Apple’s decision to keep officially selling both. The more choice, the better.
Get the Apple iPhone 15 for:
The brighter display with Dynamic Island design.
The better battery life.
The faster and more efficient chipset.
The new 48MP main camera with better overall quality.
The more universal USB-C port.
The longer software support.
Get the Apple iPhone 14 for:
The lower price.
The faster charging.
The louder speakers.
The Lighting port, in case you are still attached.
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