Apple unveiled its new range of iPhone 13 lineup at the California September event. A redesigned model with new features for iPhone users upgrading from older models. The question here, is it worth buying iPhone 13 or you can still buy iPhone 12 at much lesser price? Here’s what we know about Apple’s iPhone 13 lineup, including its specs, features, price, design, and more that will help you in making a decision.
The lineup consists of the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro with a new A15 Bionic chip, a smaller notch, a larger battery, more storage and a new camera will be available when the new phones are released.
There are five color options for the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini: pink, blue, midnight (black), starlight (white), and Product Red. There will also be a giant camera upgrade as well as a new display with 120Hz high refresh rate for the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max.
Design of the iPhone 13 & Pro
Indeed, Apple didn’t skip or shy away from the lucky number. In spite of the shell’s similarities to the iPhone 12, they could have easily made this an S year and just punted the non-problem down the calendar a year.
The biggest difference between the Pros and non-Pros is the diagonal camera module, which is designed to fit the larger cameras. And the colors remain black, blue, and red. Despite the black being more indigo midnight, blue is more teal, and red is deeper. There is a slight yellow starlight replacing white, and a lighter pink replacing mint green. Additionally, Purple, which was a spring addition, is gone, so it will be interesting to see if Apple brings back orange or something else for next year.
There are no differences between the colors, they are just the same – silver, graphite, gold, and blue. The blue is less Pacific and more Sierra this year. So, next year we might be able to get an iPhone 14 with High Sierra?
The iPhone 13’s notch is also 20% smaller by surface area than the iPhone 12. If only slightly deeper, it is narrower. The needle-like pattern is still evident, but progress is being made! In addition, while the physical dimensions of the mini and Max did not change, the depth and weight did – 135 to 141 grams for the mini and 228 to 240 grams for the Max.
Display on the iPhone 13 & Pro
As of this year, Apple called their OLEDs custom. This is good since we’ve already had half a decade of lazy reporting and repetition, attributing the displays to Samsung when they’re actually chipsets. Apple Silicon designs the A-series, and TSMC fabricates them using their cutting-edge technology. Apple Display designs the screens; Samsung fabricates them using their equally cutting-edge process. In both cases, it complies with Apple’s specifications. Everything from their materials to their mitigations to their management.
For the iPhone 13, that OLED display will go from 625 to 800 nits in brightness. So, it will be easier to see, for example, outside in the sun. HDR has the same peak brightness of 1200 as last year. The iPhone 13 Pro has gone from 800 to 1000 nits brightness but still has a peak brightness of 1200 nits. The current iPad Pro’s mini-LED display has a peak brightness of 1600 nits, which is less than the current iPad Pro’s mini-LED display.
For Pros, however, the biggest news is ProMotion. As with the iPad Pro, it will let the iPhone 13 Pro ramp up to 120Hz for smooth scrolling or intense gaming, but to conserve power for static content like a photo or ebook, it will ramp down to 10Hz. Still not as fast as the Apple Watch, which provides an always-on display at 1Hz. So, this year there is no always-on lock screen.
Therefore, ProMotion is adaptive refresh, which was not possible with OLED at iPhone volumes until now. Samsung had a hard time fabing enough panels for an LTPO OLED iPhone Pro order until now.
Which is why, maybe, Apple also emphasized that they won’t destroy color and brightness management by dynamically altering refresh rates from 10Hz to 120Hz, which wasn’t the case in previous 120Hz refresh rate implementations.
Radios for iPhone 13 & Pro
In addition to the better 5G in the iPhone 13, it offers greater support and more efficiency across a wider range of carriers and regions. Given how power-hungry and dispersed 5G can be, it’s a lot more complicated than it seems.
Obviously, Apple did not confirm that they are using Qualcomm’s newer X60 modem, but they also did not mention anything about satellite-based emergency calling or disaster reporting features, as some rumors suggested. There is no N53 band either. No Wi-Fi 6E either, which adds 6GHz to the spec, and is what was being most-awaited for. We’ll add that to the maybe next year list!
A15 Bionic in iPhone 13 and Pro
For a change, Apple did not mention the silicon much this year. Are they savoring more for later in the fall, at the Mac event? Either way, Apple did unveil its next-generation A15 Bionic processor. The A14 Bionic feels very much like the A14, which probably explains why they named it Bionic. In addition, it has four efficiency cores, two performance cores, and 16 neural engine cores, with 4 graphics cores for the iPhone 13 and 5 graphics cores for the iPhone 13 Pro, which I’ll get to in a moment when we talk about ProRes video.
There’s no comparison of performance year-over-year, since Apple didn’t update its 5 nanometer process. Dunking on Qualcomm instead. To find out for sure, we will have to wait for early reviewers to once again forget Geekbench automatically uploads all tests to the web. According to Apple, the iPhone 13 Pro has a new display engine for adaptive refresh rate, as well as an always-on touch coprocessor, which is what allows it to adjust the refresh rate at the speed of your finger.
As a general rule, Apple seems to be focusing less on raw compute cores and more on silicon features to support hardware and software. In light of their compute lead, this makes a lot of sense. Double the system cache has been Apple’s focus for a while now, and it really makes everything feel instantaneous.
Storage has also been doubled, so all models now start at 128GB, but the Pro goes up to 1TB for a price. There will also be a new Image Signal Processor to handle the new computational photography and videography features we’ll get this year.
Cameras of iPhone 13 and Pro
Apple used that new diagonal camera layout on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini for a new f/1.6 wide-angle camera with a larger sensor and larger 1.7-micron pixels, which means it can capture 47% more photons for brighter, cleaner images. The 12 Pro Max is also sensor-shift now, like the 12 Pro Max was last year, which is Apple’s term for in-body image stabilization. That means crisper photos and more stable video.
In addition, the f/2.4 wide-angle gets a faster sensor and more detail in shadows and dark areas. It’s even better on the Pro. With almost twice as much light and Focus Pixels – what Apple calls phase adjust focus – and a redesigned lens, it can double as a macro camera up to 2 cm away. Using the ultra wide angle, it’s a Pro only because autofocusing is available only on the Pro. Also, the sensor shift on the Pro Max and Pro wide angles has been improved.
Furthermore, smart photographic Styles let you set a custom, personalized tone, as well as warmth – or coolness – to your photos. In addition to Apple’s defaults like Vibrant, Rich Contrast, Warm, and Cool, you can set them to your liking for every shot. In addition, unlike dumb filters, they let you add drama or change cast without affecting sky or skin tone.
Another innovation is Apple’s Smart HDR4, which offers intelligent exposure, color balance, texture, vignette, and much more across the different types of elements present in any given scene. In addition to distinguishing individual faces, it can also analyze lighting, contrast, and skin tone separately. You can also use deep fusion for indoor lighting and night mode, which is faster for extremely low lighting.
Video for the iPhone 13 & Pro
Video is getting a major update this year. At some point, ProRes will be available on the iPhone 13 Pro. Apple’s professional video codec for recording and editing high-quality video. This is ProRes 422, so it is not raw, but the file sizes are still substantial. If you purchase the 128GB model, you will only be able to record in 1080p/30, while the 256GB and up models can record in 4K because it’ll fill up fast. However, that won’t be available until later this year.
A lot more Smart HDR4-style features will be available for video for the first time this year, including better dynamic range, better highlights, better spatial details, and semantic rendering, which is a way to separate individual elements of scenes for specific processing. Additionally, Cinematic Video has a depth effect, or a Portrait Mode for video, with extra rack focus added for maximum cinematic flexibility. In addition to the new neural engine, it uses stereo disparity, which I believe is the difference between camera perspectives. If you want to control it manually, you can tap on it or let the iPhone neural engine act as your autopilot. If the closest set of eyes look away, or back, or enter or leave the frame, the eye tracker pulls focus.
Added to this, you can pull focus and adjust the depth of field in the app, but now you can edit it later in the Photos app, iMovie, or Final Cut Pro, though Mac version updates are yet to come. In the demo, it looks great, but so does Portrait Mode photography. So stay curious until we get to see how it holds up or falls apart in testing. Macro video, including slow-motion and time-lapse, is also available with the Pro. There will be so many flower tics and bug toks this season!
Battery for iPhone 13 & Pro
This year, figuratively and literally – battery life is big. The iPhones all have larger batteries, and the Pros look like they have even bigger l-shaped batteries now. Further, Apple is once again using more efficient chipsets, displays, and software optimizations to squeeze every amp out of every millimeter.
According to Apple, the 13 mini and 13 Pro models will last about 1.5 hours longer and the 13 and 13 Pro Max will last 2.5 hours longer than last year’s models. Based on average daily use across a wide range of tasks. Depending on the task, Apple lists more than two hours more on local video playback, streaming video playback, and audio playback for the mini model, all the way up to timers for the Pro Max model that are up to eight, thirteen, and fifteen more.
Pricing and availability for iPhone 13 and Pro
In some strange speculation, Apple was rumored to be raising the price of the iPhone 13, which is skeptical because Apple buys in such huge quantities, and locks in pricing so early, especially for things like chipset fabrication, that it just manages. For this year at least, the iPhone 13 costs the same as the iPhone 12. Pricing starts at $729 for the mini, $829 for the regular, $999 for the Pro, and $1099 for the Pro Max. It’s worth checking for trade-ins and other offers, since carriers are doing a lot more incentives this year. Starting Sept. 17, all four models will be available for purchase, and all are scheduled to ship from Sept. 24.
Is it worth upgrading?
These days, the average iPhone upgrade cycle is between three and five years. In summary, any iPhone 8 or 10 user, or even an iPhone XS user, who still has an iPhone 10 or even an iPhone 8 will find the iPhone 13 offering a compelling product.
Upgrades to the iPhone 11 or iPhone 12 are only worth considering if you really need 120Hz ProMotion or the cinematic camera and video system. Basically, if you don’t have an annual iPhone upgrade plan or a 2-year carrier plan, your decision will be pretty easy. Unless otherwise advised, wait as long as possible before upgrading, upgrade when necessary, and then enjoy the hell out of it with no regrets, since there will always be something new and something next!