Apple’s post-Fall 2022 event products: Reviews of iPhone 14, iOS 16, Apple Watch Ultra, AirPods Pro 2 and more

Every fall, Apple AAPL -3.00%

unveils many new devices, software and services. Some of the offerings are incremental updates to what came before, but others break new ground.

After the company’s marketing glitz settled, we tested the new products to see if they can really help you—and if they’re worth your money. Here’s how our columnists rated the iPhone 14 Pro, Apple Watch Ultra, iPhone and Apple Watch crash detection, and more.

iPhone 14 review: Go Pro or Go Home

Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max have a new multitasking feature called the “dynamic island”. WSJ’s Joanna Stern headed out to a real island to test the new always-on display and cameras, including the 48-megapixel main camera and action mode.
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: JACOB REYNOLDS/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

After testing the new iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, senior Personal Tech columnist Joanna Stern says the choice is clear: If you want a new iPhone, buy the new $999 and up Pro.

As she writes: “This year—more than ever—Apple’s top phones are doing more to justify their $200 price hike.” To find out why, check out her video and review.

Make your old iPhone feel new with iOS 16

iOS 16 gives your iPhone’s lock screen a makeover and brings new features such as editing and recalling sent messages. WSJ’s Joanna Stern helps you find all the cool new stuff.
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: JACOB REYNOLDS/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

If you’re not planning on buying a new device this year, there’s a way to make your old phone feel like new. You can (and frankly should) download iOS 16 to take advantage of Apple’s latest iPhone features and security updates, especially since it has fixed some early bugs. iOS 16 works on smartphones as old as 2017’s iPhone 8.

The new software comes with “a million ways to customize your lock screen,” writes Joanna, as well as several other updates to make your iPhone feel fresh. You can set up medication reminders, as described by Family & Tech columnist Julie Jargon, or even cancel sending an iMessage.

The best part? Apple’s software updates are free.

Apple Watch Series 8 and SE review: Life saving and baby making

The Apple Watch Series 8, pictured left in the 45mm size, has a larger always-on display and more advanced health features, including temperature sensing for fertility tracking, compared to the SE, pictured in the 44mm model.


Photo:

NICOLE NGUYEN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Apple’s latest mainstream smartwatches, the Series 8 and SE, look similar to their predecessors. But they pack hardware improvements under the hood that “could possibly save your life,” writes Personal Tech columnist Nicole Nguyen. And the more premium model, the Apple Watch Series 8, includes temperature tracking that can help you conceive.

However, the most notable improvements for most users will come with the latest Apple Watch software, Nicole says. WatchOS 9 – which adds a medication reminder, sleep stage information and more – is also available for newer Apple Watch models going back to Series 4.

Apple Watch Ultra review: Better battery life, but not quite extreme

The Apple Watch Ultra ($799) has a new data-packed watch face with a red-themed night mode to save your vision in the dark.


Photo:

F. Martin Ramin/ The Wall Street Journal

If regular fitness tracking isn’t enough for you, Apple has another option: the Apple Watch Ultra. The more robust – and more powerful – smartwatch was designed with extreme athletes in mind.

Nicole put it to the test during a two-day hike in the mountains. She found that it lives up to Apple’s multi-day battery life claim, but “leaves something to be desired for those used to premium athlete-focused GPS watches.”

Does Apple’s Crash Detection Work? We’ve rounded up some cars to find out.

The new iPhone 14 and Apple Watch models can detect serious car accidents and automatically call 911. But does it actually work? To find out, WSJ’s Joanna Stern and her video producer Kenny Wassus hired a demolition derby driver to crash cars at a junkyard.
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: ADELE MORGAN

With this year’s new iPhones and Apple Watches, Apple made an unusual pitch: buy these devices to be safe. It included car accident detection in all new models and a soon-to-arrive satellite-powered SOS connection in the new phones to get you emergency help when you’re out of range.

Joanna didn’t just take Apple’s word that it works: She tested the new collision detection feature at a junkyard with a demolition derby champion and a few cars headed for the scrapper. The results were worth the effort.

AirPods Pro 2nd-Gen review: Better noise cancellation, easier to find when lost

The case gets a big upgrade: an object-tracking U1 chip. The iPhone’s Find My app can point you in the direction of the case once you’ve misplaced it.


Photo:

Nicole Nguyen/The Wall Street Journal

You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that the new AirPods Pro are no different from the old AirPods Pro. After all, they both have the white bud-and-stem design. But the differences are clear as soon as you put the new AirPods in your ears, writes Nicole.

“They sound better than the originals—and they block better, too,” she says. If you lose your AirPods (a fairly common occurrence for many earphone owners), they’re also easier to find. Read the full review to find out if they’re worth the upgrade.

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Write to Shara Tibken at shara.tibken@wsj.com

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