Getty Images/iStockphoto

Apple chases growing premium market with iPhone 14

Apple shifted its attention to premium smartphones in the latest iPhone 14 lineup with features such as Lockdown Mode that IT organizations can use to protect sensitive data.

Apple's latest line of iPhones provides safety features and significant enhancements to the camera and interface at the same price as the previous model, despite high inflation that had many analysts predicting a higher price tag.

On Wednesday, Apple unveiled four iPhone 14 models ranging from $799 to $1,099. Gone is the iPhone mini available in the iPhone 13 lineup. Instead, Apple chose to focus on the smartphone market's premium side, which starts at $800.

"Honestly, everyone was expecting a price increase," IDC Research Director Nabila Popal said. "This was a fantastic move [to hold market share]."

The inflation rate in the United States was 8.5% as of July.

Apple iPhones account for the largest share of U.S. smartphones used by consumers and businesses, according to IDC. In the second quarter, shipments rose by 2.8% year to year to capture 42.8% of the market.

Apple's focus on premium phones in the latest release is in line with what shoppers want, Popal said. "The mini did not do so well."

Driving premium smartphone sales in the United States and globally are zero interest finance options and generous trade-in values for old phones, according to Popal. Carriers AT&T and T-Mobile offer maximum trade-in credits ranging from $800 to $1,000 to people buying an iPhone 14 model.

Apple releases Dynamic Island
The Dynamic Island in the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max is a new interface for interacting with smartphone activities, alerts and notifications.

iPhone display updated with Dynamic Island

Apple brought its most advanced features to the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, including a 48-megapixel camera and the new always-on display and Dynamic Island. The latter replaces the notch at the top of the iPhone 13 screen that holds the front-facing camera and microphone.

The always-on display shows widgets like calendar, email and the camera for immediate use. Dynamic Island is a new top-of-screen space that lets people use an iPhone app while tracking other tasks.

"They are utilizing the notch in a very creative way," Popal said.

The animation feature changes in shape depending on the task, such as following a baseball game, waiting on the arrival of a Lyft ride, or tracking the next direction in Apple Maps, Apple executives said.

Tapping and holding the space will expose more options. Tapping again will take the user back to the app.

The 48-pixel wide-angle camera system in the back of the phone offers sharper video recording and better low-light photography and zoom capabilities than previous models. The camera's higher-quality image provides professional photographers more control in the editing process when shooting in Apple's ProRAW format introduced with the iPhone 12.

The Pro and Pro Max differ only in screen size, battery life and price. The Pro costs $999 with a 6.1-inch screen and 23 hours of video playback, while the Pro Max sells for $1,099 with a 6.7-inch display and 29 hours of video playback, according to Apple. Apple plans to start shipping the phones on Sept. 16.

The better battery life and higher performance of the Pro models are due to Apple's A16 Bionic chip, an upgrade from the A15 in the iPhone 13.

What's new in the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, Apple Watch

The new iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus have a more advanced A15 Bionic chip for better overall performance than the previous model. The iPhone 14 has a 6.1-inch screen and sells for $799, while the iPhone 14 Plus sports a 6.7-inch display and sells for $899. Apple plans to make them available on Sept. 16 and Oct. 7, respectively.

All the iPhone 14 models will ship with Apple's latest mobile operating system, iOS 16. The software has a new security feature called Lockdown Mode that IT organizations can use to protect sensitive data.

The feature hardens the device's defenses by limiting the number of functions to reduce the attack surface targeted by private companies developing state-sponsored spyware. For example, Lockdown Mode blocks message attachments, disables complex web technologies and blocks the installation of configuration profiles.

The iPhone 14 line also has two new safety features, crash detection and emergency messaging via satellite. When two cars collide, for example, the phones' sensors can detect the crash and automatically call 911.

Apple delivers the ability to send an emergency SOS message from a remote location through a partnership with GlobalStar, a maker of low-earth orbit satellites. Apple dedicated $450 million toward satellite infrastructure to support the feature, the Reuters news agency reported.

Apple plans to make the feature available through a software update in November, starting in the United States and Canada. Apple will make the service available at no charge for two years.

The emergency features are also available in the Apple Watch Series 8, SE and Ultra, introduced with the iPhone 14 lineup. Apple usually updates the devices simultaneously because the Watch is an accessory to the smartphone.

The Apple Watches have new health and sports apps. The Series 8 and Ultra have sensors to track body temperature related to women's health. For example, they can alert a woman when ovulating, so she can use the information for family planning.

The Ultra is a rugged version of the Watch for use in extreme sports, such as diving and mountain climbing and biking. With the Ultra, Apple will compete with the ruggedized smartwatches from Garmin.

The Ultra costs $799 while the Series 8 and SE cost $399 and $249, respectively. Apple plans to make the Ultra available on Sept. 23 and the other two watches on Sept. 16.

Apple rounded out the latest iPhone accessories with a new AirPods Pro, which has the earbuds' first volume control and improved sound quality. It costs $249, with availability set for Sept. 23.

Antone Gonsalves is a news director for TechTarget Editorial. He has deep and wide experience in tech journalism. Since the mid-1990s, he has worked for UBM's InformationWeek, TechWeb and Computer Reseller News. He has also written for Ziff Davis' PC Week, IDG's CSOonline and IBTMedia's CruxialCIO, and rounded all of that out by covering startups for Bloomberg News. He started his journalism career at United Press International, working as a reporter and editor in California, Texas, Kansas and Florida.

Dig Deeper on Mobile operating systems and devices

Unified Communications