The iPhone — Hardware and Camera

Gabriel Peal
6 min readMar 9, 2023
This is part 6 of my detailed breakdown of Android and iOS in 2023. To return to the beginning, click here.


My experience with the iPhone 14 hardware has been a mixed bag

Battery life

Battery life on the iPhone 14 Pro (non-max) has been very good but it hasn’t blown me away either. On an average day, I didn’t have to think about battery life at all which is fantastic. However, I had a few days where I watched several hours of videos and needed to charge before the end of the day. I would estimate that if you were to extrapolate my battery life to 0, the iPhone 14 Pro would last for about seven hours of screen on time with my usage patterns.

Larger Android phones have had fantastic battery life for years thanks to their huge batteries. Seven hours of screen on time is not uncommon for these phones. However, smaller Android phones have lagged behind due to their smaller batteries (not unlike the iPhone mini).

However, that changed this year with the Snapdragon 8 gen 2 chip that is powering most Android phones in 2023 is 40% more efficient than last year’s phones. The result is that the Galaxy S23 (and other 2023 Android phones) will have fantastic battery life. This matches my experience because the battery life on my S23 has been as good, if not better, than my iPhone 14 Pro and is dramatically better than any Android phone I have ever owned.

Display Island

When I first heard about the Display Island, I thought it was a fantastic idea, and still think that it’s a genius way to make the most of the giant asymmetric holes in the screen. However, in practice, it has fallen short of my expectations.

  1. You can’t resume media from it. You can pause media but the activity disappears after 5 seconds so unless you want to resume it within 5 seconds, it’ll be gone by the time you are ready for it. You have to use Control Center or navigate back to the app itself to resume.
  2. Tapping it takes you to the app instead of opening it. A long press is required to expand the display island to reveal its metadata and controls. This feels backward to me.
  3. Third-party support is still lacking. However, that may change over time.

Shape and weight

I am not a fan of the squared-off shape and heft of the latest few iPhones. It looks beautiful and feels premium but isn’t as ergonomic. My S20 was far more comfortable to hold due to its lighter weight and rounded edges. The S23 is still lighter but has a squared edge somewhere in between the S20 and iPhone 14 Pro. Maybe Apple agrees because the iPhone 15 is rumored to have rounded edges again, too.

Always on display

This was one of the main features I was waiting for Apple to release before switching back to the iPhone. However, because notifications don’t have icons the always-on-display is far less useful on iOS. I had more qualms with the always-on-display but since Apple added the option to remove the wallpaper from it in iOS 16.2, several of my issues went away.

Android’s implementation looks like this:

  • The notification icons make it easy to glance and see what’s actually new and if you need to wake up your phone.
  • It’s actually always on. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I can check the time without waking up my phone. The iPhone’s always on display actually times out after sitting idle or being in your pocket for an extended period.

Face ID vs fingerprint sensor

Instead of Face ID, most modern Android phones use an in-display fingerprint sensor. It’s just like Touch ID except that it’s literally in the middle of your screen. You just pick up your phone, tap a dedicated section of your screen (even when the screen is off) and you’re in. Relative to Face ID:

  • You can easily unlock your phone on a table without picking it up. You can also unlock it easily at arm’s length to do things like make a payment with Google Pay.
  • It works while wearing a mask or sunglasses. Face ID has gotten better with masks over time but it still struggles with sunglasses. I’ve had some dangerous experiences trying to get into my phone while driving because of this.
  • It’s a tad faster for biometric unlock for things like 1Password and re-logging into some apps. This may be partially due to the fancy Display Island Face ID animation being slower than it needs to be.


When traveling with my Android phone, I bring exactly one charger and cable for my laptop, headphones, and phone. With my iPhone, I need to bring two. Not the end of the world but a bummer. This may change next year though.

Vibration motor

The iPhone’s vibration motor (sorry, Taptic Engine) is fantastic. It’s more like a knock than a vibration. It feels much more premium than any Android phone I’ve used and it doesn’t sound like a bee hive when on a table. It’s great.


The cameras on the iPhone 14 Pro and on modern Android phones are phenomenal. There are infinite comparisons online but the tl;dr are that the differences these days are mostly subjective or only relevant in outlier scenarios and if you had to pick a winner, it wouldn't be the iPhone.

Camera bump

The iPhone 14 Pro’s camera bump is, by far, the largest I’ve ever owned. I would accept this if the camera were proportionally better. The iPhone 14 Pro has a phenomenal camera. However, it is not objectively better than flagships such as the Pixel 7 or the upcoming Galaxy S23.

The downside of the size of the camera bump is that it doesn’t lie flat on a table and rocks when tapping the screen. In previous years, the bump was small enough to wind up flat with a case. However, Apple’s new cases have a further extrusion to protect the camera.

Google Photos vs Apple Photos

I’ve been using Google Photos since it came out. Most of my friends and family use it. Plus it works great on both Android and iOS. However, when using the system photo picker for iOS to do things like set a lock screen wallpaper or upload a photo to your Instagram story, you can only use the Apple Photos picker. In that picker, I am unable to pick photos curated in an album or from before I got an iPhone. This is hugely frustrating and often requires me to jump through hoops to get photos to show up in Apple Photos just so I can select them in another app.

Google Photos also doesn’t sync instantly unless I open the app. Often, on Android, I’ll take a photo or screenshot and then go straight to the Google Photos website and it’ll be there to download or share right away.


By default, the iPhone saves photos as HEIC. I switched it back to JPG. The file sizes are pretty similar in practice but JPGs are generally more compatible when used elsewhere (websites, other messaging platforms, editing, etc).

Apple Watch

I have never been a huge fan of smartwatches and have yet to figure out what value they can add to my life. If you love your Apple Watch, that’s a perfectly valid reason to stick with the iPhone but it’s not a compelling one for me, personally.

Google recently released the Pixel Watch which may be a viable alternative if you ever want to try Android.

If this piece resonated with you or you have any thoughts or questions, you can find me on Twitter @gpeal8.



Gabriel Peal

Open source maintainer of Lottie and Mavericks. Full stack at Watershed. Formerly Android at Tonal, Airbnb, and Android Auto at Google.