When the iPhone 14 was announced last week and Apple introduced the new feature that allows users to text emergency responders via satellite, the internet erupted with headlines claiming the iPhone won’t replace Garmin inReach. Just to be clear, we agree.
The new iPhone also won’t replace the reliable full-frame or DSLR, although the iPhone 14 Pro comes with a new sensor that is 65 percent larger than the previous version and can produce ultra-high-resolution 48-megapixel photos.
But Apple’s new upgrades are smart and useful and will undoubtedly help millions of people take better photos and save others from frightening or potentially life-threatening situations. Both are huge wins. Let’s take a closer look at the two upgrades that will be of great interest to outdoor enthusiasts.
SOS emergency via satellite
The Satellite SOS Emergency Service, which will arrive in the iPhone 14 lineup in November, will allow users to contact emergency services via satellite text messages when those users are out of cell range. Because not all emergency service providers are set up to receive emergency messages, Apple has created a series of “relay centers” with trained responders who can receive emergency messages and call the local emergency service on the user’s behalf.
Here’s how it works: First, if someone tries to call 911 but can’t establish a cellular signal, an emergency SOS over satellite will pop up. Users can also use Siri to start the emergency function. The built-in feature will guide the user to where to place the phone and direct it to find and maintain the best connection with the satellite.
Once the connection is established, Apple saysUsers will be provided with an initial list of pre-programmed messages. The user has to click on a reply to each of these messages, which are designed with the help of emergency responders to convey the most important information they may need. Apple says these preprogrammed messages are compressed so they can be sent in less than 15 seconds if the user has a clear connection to the satellite.
Meanwhile, the Emergency SOS via satellite will automatically share the user’s location and emergency contacts. It also reports the battery percentage status so emergency responders can know if the phone is running low.
Once the emergency service is contacted and the most important information is transmitted via pre-programmed messages, the service will then allow users to send and receive personalized messages so that they can provide details and so emergency responders can ask questions.
Satellite calling will also allow iPhone 14 users to show their off-network location in real time to their friends and family via the Find My feature. If you’re on a long walk, for example, your family will be able to check your location throughout the day the way they might check your location on a road trip when you’re in range of cells. Apple says the impact on the phone’s battery life is minimal.
How does the new Apple system? Compared to satellite communications such as Garmin? While it’s possible that some people will choose to rely on the iPhone rather than invest in another device, as loyal Garmin users from around the world pointed out aloud when the Apple feature was announced, inReach products aren’t going anywhere.
We agree, because Garmin’s inReach products – which are better compared to Apple’s new service – are still more powerful in several key respects. The battery will last longer than an iPhone battery, giving users peace of mind if they are outside for several days. Garmin also includes unrestricted two-way messaging, so, in addition to sending signals to emergency services, users can call anyone they want, such as family members. Also, if a user is really in trouble and doesn’t have the time or money to deal with Apple’s mandatory list of emergency messages, Garmin’s SOS button immediately alerts emergency responders. Finally, Garmin products are designed to take the absolute hit; The iPhone is powerful, but it will likely fail more quickly than inReach.
Even if you don’t make other satellite connections obsolete, the iPhone Emergency SOS satellite feature will be very useful. Thousands of people, many of whom will never buy a Garmin inReach device, will likely use the service to help them out of horrific and dangerous situations. Some have questioned whether the service will be overused or misused by people who technically do not need emergency services. But Emergency responders report They would rather have more information up front, even if they don’t respond, than there is not enough information, leaving them without the resources to perform the necessary rescue.
Apple says the service will be free for the first two years. When they start charging, I think they’ll offer one affordable plan (similar to their music or iCloud pricing) for everyone. In the future, they can offer more services in Emergency SOS and create tiered plans like Garmin based on usage and features.
The new iPhone 14 Pro camera
As always, Apple made its biggest camera update for the Pro (and Pro Max) models, so I’ll focus on that here. And as usual, Apple has found clever ways to improve the camera system by optimizing both the hardware and software the new iPhone 14 Pro uses to take photos.
The biggest upgrades have been made to the iPhone 14 Pro’s 24mm wide-angle camera, which is the default lens people use most often. Most importantly, the camera sensor has grown by a healthy 65 percent over the previous iteration. The larger the sensor, the more light it can drink, and more light equals better image quality. This new sensor now allows the iPhone 14 Pro to create 48MP photos that are four times larger than the 12MP photos you get from the iPhone 13 Pro. More megapixels means more detail, so photo buffs will be able to take photos where the best parts stand out even more.
These 48MP photos are also captured in Apple ProRAW, an uncompressed format that provides as much digital information as possible and allows photographers to edit the image so they can accentuate shadows, reduce highlights, and get colors exactly the way they want. .
In low-light situations, users can tell the iPhone 14 Pro’s main camera to take 12MP photos using the same sensor. To do this, the camera captures all four pixels on the sensor and turns them into a much larger “quadruple pixel” like a larger drinking dish in the light, allowing for less grainy images at night or when the light isn’t optimal.
The larger 24mm sensor behind the camera gets a new stabilization system that also helps deliver sharp images in low light. Finally, the lens in the 24mm camera also has a faster F/1.78 aperture, which opens the lens wider to let in more light – you guessed it -. There’s also 2X zoom, which Apple pioneered by cropping 12MP from the new, larger sensor, making the 24mm lens work like the 48mm.
On the software side, the big update is something Apple calls the Photonic Engine, which ties into something they call Deep Fusion. Deep Fusion is a way for the iPhone to take multiple photos in a row, almost instantly, then take the best parts on a pixel-by-pixel basis and combine them to increase dynamic range (the camera’s ability to take great photos, midtones and shadow details). In the new camera, the optical engine does this process earlier, picking the best parts of each image before compressing those images. With uncompressed images, there’s more information to choose from and you’ll get better results, especially in low light. Important Note: Phototonic Engine is also available on non-Professional iPhone 14 devices, but is not used when shooting in Apple ProRAW.
The best test of image quality for me and many of my photography professional friends is to take a picture and then take it into a photo editing program like Adobe Lightroom to see how much we can play with the image — dragging shadows and tone under the highlights, adjusting the color — before it breaks down and starts to show. undesirably. Low-resolution photos don’t allow for much of this, but photos from professional-caliber cameras like the Sony A7RIV do allow for a lot.
It’s immediately obvious that capturing a 48MP photo in Apple ProRAW allows for a greater degree of toning than the 12MP ProRAW photo coming from the iPhone 13 Pro. Each extra megapixel stores more information, so there’s more you can do for the image to get it right in a post-processing workflow. It’s also easy to crop on a photo (like a Land Rover cropped above) and seeing that a 48MP photo helps you retain detail that wouldn’t be there in a 12MP photo.
I was able to get out to take one quick night shot to test the low-light capabilities of the iPhone 14 Pro and I can clearly see the difference the new, larger sensor makes as it takes the smaller pixels and turns them into a quad-pixel. Images captured in this way have much less noise or grain than the same image taken with the 48MP sensor. These low-light 12MP photos didn’t hold up much in tone in Lightroom, and I’ve never tried to make prints of them, but they looked great for such horrible conditions and would play well on Instagram.
Storage and processing power will be a concern for some people because 48MP files take up a lot of space on iPhone. If photographers plan to shoot exclusively in this format, they will want to invest in a 1TB version of the iPhone 14 Pro and will have to figure out which iCloud plan can store all their photos. When it comes to processing a 48MP image, you’ll also need a fairly fast computer. In my testing, the new Macbook Pro didn’t blink, but anyone with an older computer might find the editing process a little tricky.
Even with all this upgraded capability, the new iPhone 14 Pro won’t replace professional mirrorless or DSLR cameras because their sensors aren’t as powerful and don’t match the impressive range of lenses that professional photographers rely on. However, as a photographer, I am still very excited to have this most powerful camera in my pocket for everyday adventures as well as for big days in the outback. It’s capable of capturing amazing photos that store lasting memories – and still fit in my pocket.