New iPhone 14, Apple Watch Ultra Are Here. Should You Upgrade?

This handout photo provided by Apple shows the new iPhone 14.
Photo courtesy of Apple

Apple’s September event announced the arrival of the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro. The tech giant also introduced new Apple Watches, including the rugged Apple Watch Ultra, and upgraded AirPods Pro wireless earbuds.

Apple makes every announcement look fantastical, but is it worth upgrading from your previous iPhone to the new iPhone 14? Do the latest Apple Watch and AirPod offerings also beg for an upgrade?

We’ll help you decide whether to upgrade your devices or if it’s best to save your money for a more worthy expense.

Should You Upgrade to the iPhone 14?

Release Date: Sept. 16, 2022

Starting Price: $799

Apple’s iPhone 14 sports a similar design to the previous generation iPhone 13, so if you’re looking for a radical redesign, you’ll be disappointed. Available colors are blue, purple, Midnight, Starlight and red.

This year, you can choose between the iPhone 14 with a 6.1-inch display and the iPhone 14 Plus with a 6.7-inch display. If you love watching movies on the go or playing games, the Plus model may be a worthy consideration.

Major upgrades from the iPhone 13 to iPhone 14 include a new emergency SOS via satellite service, crash detection, an updated front camera with autofocus, and a video action mode for capturing smooth video.

If you own an iPhone 13, there is little reason to upgrade to the iPhone 14 unless safety features are alluring.

The emergency SOS feature is great for adventurers who might need to contact emergency services outside cellular coverage areas. Crash detection is a welcome feature that automatically reaches emergency services in a severe vehicle crash.

The updated camera system with new front-facing autofocus is welcome, but we’re not sure that it necessitates an upgrade. The same sentiment goes for the latest action mode that helps capture smoother video if you find yourself running while recording.

We offer similar recommendations for those sporting an iPhone 12.

However, the upgrade could be a welcome change if you own an iPhone 11 or earlier model. You’d gain new features offered over previous generations, such as faster performance, 5G cellular connectivity, a more durable glass screen, a brighter, more vivid HDR display and improved night photography.

The Apple iPhone Pro Max is shown in this handout photo from apple.
Getty Images

Should You Upgrade to the iPhone 14 Pro?

Release Date: Sept. 16, 2022

Starting Price: $999

While the upgrades from iPhone 13 to iPhone 14 were relatively minimal this year, the iPhone 14 Pro model offers quite a bit more than the previous generation.

You’ll find the overall design of the iPhone 14 Pro relatively similar to the iPhone 13 Pro, aside from the new pill-shaped cutout on the front screen that replaces the familiar notch. This year’s color offerings are gold, silver, Space Black and Deep Purple.

Now back to that pill-shaped cutout that Apple refers to as the “Dynamic Island.” This new design feature replaces the previous notch that has become popular on iPhones in recent years. This aspect will be a matter of opinion, but we think it offers a solid aesthetics upgrade.

The screen on the iPhone 14 Pro has also received a substantial upgrade, now offering an always-on display. When you aren’t interacting with your phone and it’s placed on a table, you can now glance down to check notifications without needing to wake the screen.

If you find yourself squinting at your iPhone 13 Pro in bright sunlight, you’ll be happy to hear that the iPhone 14 Pro display can reach a peak outdoor brightness of 2000 nits. That’s nearly twice as bright as the iPhone 13 Pro.

The iPhone 14 Pro has a 48-megapixel primary camera, providing four times the resolution of the previous generation Pro device. This is a killer feature for those who love to shoot photos and crop in later to get the perfect shot.

The iPhone 14 Pro also shares new features with its smaller iPhone 14 sibling, including emergency SOS via satellite, crash detection, action video mode and an auto-focusing front-camera system.

Even if you own an iPhone 13 Pro, the upgrade could be worth it if you believe you’ll use the always-on display for glanceable information with improved brightness for outdoor viewing and the new 48-megapixel camera.

Otherwise, if you are coming from an iPhone 12 Pro or earlier model, you’ll likely welcome the upgrade thanks to additional features introduced in previous generations.

Such features include a ProMotion display for smoother motion, the camera system’s increased optical zoom range, increased performance and macro photography abilities.

The Apple Watch Ultra is shown in this handout photo by Apple
Photo courtesy of Apple

Should You Upgrade to the Apple Watch Ultra?

Release Date: Sept. 23, 2022

Starting Price: $799

Apple announced three new smartwatches: the Apple Watch Series 8, the Apple Watch SE (second generation) and the Apple Watch Ultra.

The Apple Watch Ultra is an entirely new direction for Apple Watch, offering a rugged smartwatch option that you can push to the limits. Designed for adventurers and those in extreme climates, the Apple Watch Ultra features a new design forged from titanium for increased durability and corrosion resistance.

The design of the Apple Watch Ultra helps protect the edges of the sapphire crystal screen from impact and provides a more oversized digital crown and button for use with gloves. The design is water resistant to 100 meters, offers military-grade protection and is IP6X dust resistant for the harshest environments.

Apple Watch Ultra also offers a new watch face with night mode to preserve your night vision with a vivid red display. That display is also the brightest and largest Apple has ever offered, operating at 2000 nits of brightness.

Additional features of the Apple Watch Ultra include:

  • A new action button that enables you to interact with fitness apps quickly
  • An improved dual-frequency GPS
  • Louder dual speakers with a three-microphone array
  • A siren safety feature that others can hear up to 600 feet away

Adventurers are also likely to be off grid for longer, so Apple has thrown in a larger battery that can operate for up to 60 hours without a charge in low power mode. New watch bands have also been introduced alongside the smartwatch, ideal for hikers, divers and runners.

The crash detection feature Apple introduced with the iPhone 14 is also available with the Apple Watch Ultra. The feature allows emergency services to automatically be contacted on your behalf in case of a severe car crash.

So, should you upgrade? Most readers won’t need the ultra ruggedness of the Apple Watch Ultra. However, if you find yourself diving into the ocean, running in the Sahara Desert or climbing mountainsides, it will likely be a welcome upgrade to the smartwatch currently on your wrist.

The Apple Watch SE 8 is shown in this handout photo provided by Apple
Photo Courtesy of Apple

Should You Upgrade to the Apple Watch Series 8 or SE?

Release Date: Sept. 16, 2022

Starting Price: $399 (Series 8), $249 (SE)

Apple Watch Series 8 is a minor update compared to the Apple Watch Series 7. Two features are the spotlights, including the addition of Apple’s new crash detection system and advanced cycle tracking for people with periods.

The advanced cycle tracking uses a new temperature sensor to provide insight into ovulation cycles. The Apple Watch Series 8 can use the sensor to track temperature changes during your sleep cycle, providing more accurate menstruation tracking.

The primary folks we recommend updating to the Apple Watch Series 8 are those who would find value in more accurate cycle tracking. People who may be trying to conceive could see benefits from the feature, receiving notifications about their ovulation cycle.

If you own an Apple Watch Series 6 or earlier, the decision comes down to preference. If you are already happy with your Apple Watch, stick with it.

The main benefits of upgrading from an older Apple Watch include a larger-sized, always-on display, so you can peek at the time without raising your wrist. The latest health features also can track your heart rate, heart rhythm and blood oxygen level.

As for Apple’s budget smartwatch, the Apple Watch SE (second generation), the only new addition is the crash detection system. If you have the original Apple Watch SE, you can likely hold off on an upgrade until the next generation.

A handout photo from Apple shows the new Apple Airpods Pro
Photo courtesy of Apple

Should You Upgrade to the New Apple AirPods Pro?

Release Date: Sept. 23, 2022

Starting Price: $249

Apple’s AirPods Pro have stood as the company’s premier wireless earbuds for the last few years, but we’ve finally received an update with the second generation.

The new AirPods Pro include improved noise cancellation that can cancel up to twice as much noise as the previous generation. In addition, the transparency mode, which allows you to hear the outside world, is now adaptive, automatically reducing loud noises.

One of our favorite new features, listeners can also now adjust the volume by swiping the stems of their AirPods Pro. You’ll also be able to listen longer with up to six hours on a single charge and a case that can add up to 30 additional hours.

Other features include:

  • Personalized sound-tuning for Apple’s surround-sound spatial audio technology
  • A carrying case that is easier to find using the Find My app
  • Improved audio quality thanks to new drivers and an amplifier

If you’re happy with your existing AirPods Pro, we recommend sticking with them. However, if you wish the noise cancellation was a bit better or if you find your battery life draining faster than you’d like, the new AirPods Pro could be a sweet upgrade.

How Do I Upgrade My iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods?

If you’ve got your eyes on the iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro, your best bet to obtain the new smartphone is by visiting Apple’s website. While the latest generation of iPhone is available on Sept. 16, 2022, pre-orders begin on Apple’s website on Sept. 9, 2022.

You can also order the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro through your cellular carrier — AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile. Get your orders in early, as new iPhones quickly become unavailable for immediate purchase and go on back order.

You can visit Apple’s website to order the Apple Watch Series 8, the Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch Ultra. You can also order select models through your cellular carrier if you intend to purchase your Apple Watch with cellular connectivity.

Those interested in AirPods Pro can also order the latest wireless earbuds through Apple’s website. You can also buy most Apple products on launch day at local electronics or big-box stores such as Best Buy, Target, Staples and Walmart.

Michael Archambault is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder specializing in technology.