In what seems to have become an annual tradition, the spring season will begin with a new iPhone.
No, it’s not an all-new model, but it’s a fresh seasonal color — yellow — that’s sure to grab your attention.
Available across the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus lineup, this new yellow finish just hit shelves this week. Prior to the launch, I had the opportunity to spend some hands-on time with the iPhone 14 Plus in yellow.
Not only have I warmed up to the bold new color, but I’ve also been impressed with the phone itself.
It may not be as powerful as the higher-end iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Still, it packs a lot into a lightweight and more affordable package (starting at $799) that should make it a hit with travelers.
Best-ever battery life
If you’re anything like me, you might be (a tiny bit) obsessed with making sure you don’t run out of juice while on the road.
Personally, that means scouting out power outlets at the airport or toting around an external battery pack to make sure my phone is always charged. As a last resort, I’ll engage Apple’s “Low Power Mode” on the iPhone, but this feature comes with degraded performance to minimize battery usage.
Fortunately, travelers won’t need to worry about that with the larger iPhone 14 Plus. Apple says this model packs the longest-ever battery life of any iPhone, and this claim is very much substantiated in my experience.
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I’ve had no problem achieving nearly a day and a half of pretty consistent usage across productivity, social media, travel and camera apps without needing to recharge.
That’s pretty impressive and perhaps reason enough for some road warriors to opt for the iPhone 14 Plus over any other model.
If you opt for the entry-level iPhone 14, you can expect up to 20 hours of battery life which should still help most travelers get through their journey.
Bigger, better screens
“Plus” doesn’t just refer to a larger battery. It also means the device has a 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display, giving you even more room to enjoy content when you’re on the go.
Whether you use the extra screen real estate to immerse yourself in a game or peruse the inflight entertainment programming, it won’t take long to appreciate the larger display.
Better yet, I found the bigger phone doesn’t actually feel much bulkier. It weighs just 7.16 ounces, and it fits perfectly in my hand. I don’t mind sacrificing a bit of portability for a larger display and longer battery life, but that’s a personal decision every traveler will need to make.
The 6.1-inch iPhone 14 also features a crisp Super Retina XDR display.
One feature from Apple’s higher-end iPhones you won’t find on the standard 14 and 14 Plus models is a ProMotion display. This allows content to scroll more smoothly between pages. Another downside is that the display brightness on the entry-level models isn’t as high as on the more expensive Pro devices — a difference that’s immediately noticeable when the sun is shining outdoors.
For most casual travelers, however, these two features alone are not worth the $200 upgrade to a Pro model.
I recently attended a gaming showcase where some iOS developers showed off their latest games.
While I’m not a serious gamer myself, I left the showcase most impressed by how well Apple’s entry-level iPhone 14 models rendered the games. When playing around with “Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile,” the iPhone 14 had no problem keeping up with the millions of internal computations needed to display the game without lag or overheating.
This performance is powered by Apple’s proprietary A15 Bionic chip — the same pro-level silicon that powered last year’s iPhone 13 Pro.
For the average user, A15 is plenty powerful. It takes just seconds to make batch edits and render videos in iMovie — two advanced tasks that most casual travelers will have no trouble performing on these devices.
Knock on wood, Emergency SOS via satellite is a feature you’ll hopefully never need to use. However, the feature could save your life if you, unfortunately, need it.
This feature lets you connect with emergency services using satellites, even if you’re far off the grid without cellular or Wi-Fi service.
Every iPhone 14, including the entry-level models, has built-in satellite connectivity — a game-changer for those who are often trekking or adventuring off the beaten path.
Even if you purchase your iPhone in the U.S., you can engage Emergency SOS via satellite in 12 countries (and counting) — including Canada and many of the largest countries in Europe. This makes it a great insurance policy for your summer vacation.
Even if you don’t need emergency assistance, you can use satellite connectivity to send your location to loved ones back home through the Find My app.
Although you won’t be able to call or text them, being able to send your location should help reassure your family and friends that you’re doing well on your camping trip.
For more about using Emergency SOS via satellite, be sure to check out TPG’s dedicated guide.
No more physical SIM cards
For the past 15 years, every iPhone model has shipped with a physical SIM (short for subscriber identity module) card slot.
These tiny chips contain the information needed to connect to the cellular network. However, they’ve become a pain to manage — especially when you’re traveling abroad and fumbling around with multiple nano-size SIM cards during your journey.
Plus, physical SIMs are less secure. If your phone gets lost or stolen, someone could remove your SIM card to start making calls and texts (and receiving two-factor authentication codes) with your phone number.
This year, every iPhone 14 sold in the U.S. is dropping the physical SIM slot in favor of the new eSIM (or embedded SIM) standard.
With this innovation, you can store at least eight digital SIM cards directly on your phone. This means you won’t have to shuffle around with multiple 9-millimeter-by-12-millimeter chips.
You can switch between phone numbers directly in iOS, and you can even download cheap international plans through apps like Airalo, Truphone and GigSky.
In fact, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus both support dual SIM, meaning you can connect to two mobile networks simultaneously. This is a key feature to avoiding the pesky $10-a-day roaming charges with AT&T and Verizon.
In recent years, Apple’s been busy building health- and safety-focused features across its entire phone and watch lineup.
With the introduction of Crash Detection in the iPhone 14 family, you’ll be reassured that your smartphone can detect a severe car crash and automatically dial emergency services if necessary.
Just like Emergency SOS via satellite, this is a feature you hope never to use. Still, it can bring travelers extra peace of mind when hitting the road.
Apple’s iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are phenomenal smartphones for the everyday traveler — and they now come in a bold new yellow color.
They both pack many must-have features, including the introduction of eSIM-only cellular connectivity. The real star of the show is the Plus model, which is Apple’s first entry-level model to offer a 6.7-inch touchscreen.
It also packs the longest-ever battery life in an iPhone, making it a great option for travelers who are frequently on the go.
Emergency SOS via satellite and built-in crash detection are two critical safety-related features that can be particularly comforting to solo travelers or those heading to remote destinations.
Of course, some heavy smartphone users and creatives might want to splurge for the top-of-the-line Pro models. However, unless you need the camera and display improvements, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus should fit the bill quite well.