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11 travel must-haves with Apple’s new iPhone 14, AirPods Pro, Series 8 Watch

September 7 2022
11 min read
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Apple is wasting no time this year in showing off its latest devices.

The tech giant on Wednesday took the wraps off the newest iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods models at a special event held on the company’s Cupertino, California, campus.

While Apple has historically unveiled new models of its most popular mobile devices on an annual basis, this release marks one of the earliest in recent years.

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APPLE

Most of the new iPhone 14 models launch Sept. 16, with iPhone preorders available beginning this Friday, Sept. 9. (The new iPhone 14 Plus launches Oct. 7, while the next-generation AirPods Pro will be available beginning Sept. 23.) The Apple Watch Series 8 also launches officially Sept. 16.

Regardless of when the new models actually launch, the most popular question I usually get is, “Should I upgrade this year?”

Well, if you’re a traveler, especially one toting an older-generation iPhone or Apple Watch, this could be the year to upgrade.

Here’s why.

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IPhone 14 Pro: Dynamic Island

Apple is bringing a big upgrade to its top-of-the-line iPhones that begins with a new front-face design.

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While some people may still call it a "pill," Apple's branding the smaller earpiece cutout as the Dynamic Island. That's because this new cutout is designed to be interactive with the software itself.

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The cutout essentially fades away and adapts in real time to the various notifications you receive throughout the day.

This will be especially helpful for travelers, as apps such as Lyft will display real-time status for your ride directly in the Dynamic Island.

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Your turn-by-turn directions will also be available in the Dynamic Island, and you'll even be able to see more than one notification type directly in the new cutout.

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IPhone 14 Pro: Improved display

The long-rumored always-on display is officially coming to Apple's pro-level iPhone 14 models.

This feature has been available for some time on the Apple Watch, and it's now making its way to the iPhone, where it'll be even more powerful.

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You won't need to tap or unlock your home screen to get live updates for the latest activities, whether you're tracking a sports game or waiting for a ride.

For travelers, popular flight-tracking app Flighty recently unveiled some new widgets coming in its latest update that'll deliver real-time notifications about your trip, without tapping or unlocking your phone.

For those using their iPhone outdoors, the Pro models feature an impressive 2,000 nits of brightness, making it even easier to see all your content under direct sunlight.

All iPhone 14 models: Emergency SOS via Satellite

This one is big for adventurous travelers.

Until now, the iPhone has exclusively communicated via cellular or Wi-Fi networks. That's great when you're near a cell tower or Wi-Fi router, but not so helpful if you're exploring the great outdoors — like hiking in a national park or going off-road biking.

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If something were to happen and you needed to reach emergency services, you'd likely be out of luck until you perhaps found a stray cell signal.

But with the four new iPhone 14 models, you'll no longer be completely off the grid, regardless of where you're exploring. Thanks to the new Emergency SOS via Satellite feature, the latest iPhones can connect to satellites to help you reach emergency services.

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Apple has fine-tuned this feature to minimize the amount of bandwidth required, and you'll even see a handy interface to help point your iPhone in the correct orientation for maximum satellite signal.

Though this feature is primarily designed for communicating with emergency services, Apple touted that you can use this connection to manually share your Find My location via satellite. This could be especially helpful if your loved one is tracking you while you are on a long hike or camping trip without cell service.

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Satellite communication has historically been expensive, and the gear has been quite bulky. Apple will include two years of satellite connectivity for free with iPhone 14 purchases when the service launches in November. There's no word yet on pricing after the two-year period.

At launch, the feature will cover the U.S. and Canada, and I'd expect a broader rollout in the coming months and years.

All iPhone 14 models: Camera boosts

I've long been a fan of Apple's pro-model iPhones for capturing the best possible photos while I'm on the road.

This year, the tech giant is bringing impressive improvements to the "standard" iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus models — so much so that even those who aren't always capturing content might consider picking up one of these devices.

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Apple touts big improvements in low-light capture thanks to what it calls Photonic Engine. This should help speed up Night Mode shots and make them even more detailed. The front camera on the iPhone 14 models is also getting a big upgrade with the addition of autofocus.

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In addition to the new Photonic Engine for low-light shots, the iPhone 14 Pro family is getting a big camera boost with the introduction of a 48-megapixel main camera with a quad-pixel sensor that enables a new 2x telephoto zoom option.

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The ultra-wide camera is also getting a larger sensor, which should further help improve low-light capture.

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I'll reserve judgment until I put these devices to the test, but it appears that the cameras on the iPhone 14 Pro are poised to be good enough to warrant an upgrade from last year's model.

All iPhone 14 models: Video stabilization

Here at TPG, I'm always posting videos across our social channels. From new aircraft cabins to renovated resorts, capturing video is an integral part of the job.

While I've historically shot most of my videos handheld, I sometimes use a gimbal for shoots that require lots of movement. But, with the new Action Mode coming to every iPhone 14 model, I may no longer need to carry a gimbal on these trips.

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The tech giant showed off some impressive videos that were stabilized using Action Mode on the latest iPhones, and if my real-world experience is as good as the marketing videos, you should expect some silky-smooth videos coming soon to TPG social channels.

IPhone 14 Plus: 6.7-inch screen

Out with the mini and in with the plus.

This year, Apple is ditching the mini-version iPhone for a much larger, 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus model that matches the screen size of the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

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For travelers, the larger screen will, of course, be able to display more timely information. But this version of the iPhone will also feature an impressive all-day battery, bringing the battery life previously found in the top-of-the-line Pro Max model to a more entry-level Plus version.

Starting at $899 for the Plus compared to $1,099 for the Pro Max, some travelers may want to opt for the Plus version, especially those who aren't always capturing content while on the go.

IPhone 14, Apple Watch Series 8 and SE: Crash Detection

If you drive a car (or manage to find one to rent while traveling), then Crash Detection, as Apple calls it, is a feature that you'll hope to never use, but could one day be a lifesaver.

Thanks to improved sensors (including a gyroscope, barometer and accelerometer) built into the iPhone 14 family and both the Apple Watch Series 8 and SE, these devices can detect extreme impacts from a car crash.

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If you are in a crash, your iPhone or Apple Watch will notify you that it appears you've been involved in a crash, and it'll quickly offer to connect you with emergency services in just a few taps. If you don't respond within 10 seconds, the device will automatically dial 911 and notify your emergency contacts.

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This feature works in sedans, SUVs and pickup trucks, according to Apple.

Apple Watch Series 8 and all iPhone 14 models: International roaming changes

While Apple has long offered a cellular version of the Apple Watch, this is the first year it's enabling international roaming for the device on your wrist.

The travel implications for this are quite simple — you'll be able to stay connected abroad without needing to be within Bluetooth range of your iPhone.

Though this feature was announced in conjunction with the latest Apple Watch Series 8, it'll be available on a Series 5 device or later that's running watchOS 9 when it's released Sept. 12.

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At launch, Apple touts support with over 30 cellular carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, so most U.S. subscribers should be set.

At the same time, the tech giant is removing the physical SIM card slot from all iPhones sold in the U.S., as it goes all-in on the new-ish eSIM, or embedded SIM, technology.

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While setting up service with an eSIM has gotten easier in recent years, some countries still largely use physical SIM cards, so getting connected abroad using a local cellular provider may get harder with the iPhone 14.

New AirPods Pro: Find My

Along with the new iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8, Apple is updating its fan-favorite AirPods Pro.

These headphones quickly became my travel go-to when they were first released, and the next generation packs some impressive new features that'll likely appeal to many travelers.

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For one, the new charging case supports Find My, meaning that you'll be able to locate the case (and play a sound) should you lose it. (Previously, support for Find My was limited to the earbuds themselves.)

New AirPods Pro: Improved noise cancellation

Another big upgrade coming to AirPods Pro is improved noise cancellation thanks to a next-generation chip, better computational algorithms and a redesigned acoustic vent and microphone.

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Apple says that the new AirPods Pro offer twice as much noise cancellation as the first generation. Assuming that claim turns out to be true on airplanes and on mass transit, then many travelers who are in the market for a new pair of headphones should consider the $249 splurge.

New AirPods Pro: New controls and improved battery life

The second-generation AirPods Pro features a new touch control that allows you to control your music and adjust the volume directly from the stem.

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Another travel-friendly upgrade is the battery life boost, giving you up to six hours of listening time for each charge. The battery case offers a whopping 30 hours of total listening time.

You can even charge the upgraded battery case with the wireless charger that comes with your Apple Watch.

Bottom line

Apple just unveiled its newest iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods Pro models, bringing some hotly anticipated new features to its entire lineup.

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From satellite connectivity to Crash Detection to Find My support for the AirPods Pro charging case, these are the company's best models yet — and could be worth an upgrade, especially if you're still using an older device.

And if you are planning to upgrade, be sure to check out our detailed guide to maximizing your iPhone purchase for ordering tips, credit card coverage and scoring the biggest return.

Featured photo by COURTESY APPLE
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

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  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees