What you need to know before upgrading to the iPhone 14 if you fly drones

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Apple just released its newest iPhones, the 14 and 14 Pro and, boy oh boy, is it tempting to throw in the $1,099 for the latest and greatest from the company. But will it be the best phone to use for flying drones?

Trust me, I know the itch to upgrade to the newest iPhone each year when Apple’s executives tout those (well-worded) statements of it being the best iPhone they ever made. However, there are some rumors that the iPhone 15 could bring changes that will make the lives of those who fly drones much easier – and that’s all about USB-C.

What could be coming in future iPhones

With a new ruling in the European Union that all smartphones must use the standard USB-C port for charging, Apple could be forced to ditch Lightning next year. Meaning because of the EU, Apple users everywhere could be getting USB-C iPhones, simplifying what cords we need to bring for flying.

We all have that one pocket or compartment in the gear case filled with cables, making sure you have at least one or more for each device you might be using to fly that day. With Apple’s switch to USB-C iPhones, say goodbye to those Lighting cords you need to plug into your controller or for charging.

So if the iPhone 15 will have USB-C, should you wait to make that upgrade for one more year? That was my thinking going into last week’s Apple event, but this year’s changes to the iPhone Pro models have me waiting to receive my iPhone 14 Pro tomorrow. Let me explain my thinking.

Is the iPhone 14 Pro right for you?

The reason why I got the iPhone 14 Pro might not be the same for you. I’m upgrading from an iPhone 12 with 64 GB of storage. This setup was my go-to for years, including the iPhone X I upgraded from before after three and a half years, but it didn’t hold up when I began flying more and more drones when I came here to DroneDJ. Most apps require a set amount of free space to use the app, and I constantly need to find stuff to delete or offload to use Autel and Skydio’s apps since I need their apps to fly.

So this is why I decided to upgrade this year; more need for on-phone storage, the 2,000 nits screen during peak daylight, and the Apple fanboy deep down inside made me pull the plug to pre-order the iPhone 14 Pro 256 GB in Space Black. However, if Apple didn’t reel me in to try what they call the “Dynamic Island,” I would not have chosen that phone.

The iPhone 13 and 14 are basically the same with just a few additions, the only significant changes we saw this year were from the 14 Pro lineup. So if you’re content with your iPhone 13, you’re not going to see any upgrades from getting the newest standard iPhone this year. However, a new addition, the iPhone 14 Plus, has the same internals as the 14 except for a larger screen and bigger battery.

The biggest limitation to using smartphones for drone flying is the battery life, it never seems to last as long as you want it to. That’s why I think if you wish to upgrade this year, the iPhone 14 Plus is the best option. It’s cheaper than the Pro and leaves you maybe open to upgrading in another year to a 15 Pro with the brighter display and USB-C connector.

That’s not to say the iPhone 14 screen isn’t bright enough for use. It averages about 800 nits of brightness. That is the same as DJI’s RC controller, which I’ve never had an issue seeing outside unless in direct sunlight. DJI’s RC Pro‘s screen comes in at 1,000 nits, which lines up with what you will probably see on the 14 Pro. However, I will always enjoy my built-in screen controllers over those that require smartphones every day.

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