iPhone 13 and 13 Professional within the check: In case you had three needs
Enlarge / The iPhone 13 Pro Max, photographed from the iPhone 13 Pro in low light.
Imagine being visited by a ghost who would grant you three wishes, but all of them had to revolve around what to expect from your next smartphone. As market research and surveys show, almost everyone would want the same three things: great battery life, excellent cameras, and big, beautiful screens.
This year, Apple is this technology genius, because that’s exactly what the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max deliver when they hit the shelves today.
Cupertino’s flagship phone lineup may seem like an “S” -style iterative update, as the phones look much the same as last year’s models and there aren’t any major new features other than higher refresh rate screens in the most expensive models. But since Apple has focused on most people’s top priorities, this seemingly iterative update is a notable update.
Apple iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro
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|Technical data at a glance: iPhone 13, 13 mini, 13 Pro, 13 Pro Max|
|screen||2532 × 1170 6.1-inch OLED (13 / Pro), 2778×1284 6.7-inch OLED (13 Pro Max), 2340×1080 5.4-inch OLED (13 Mini)|
|Central processor||Apple A15 Bionic|
|R.A.M.||4 GB (13 / mini); 6 GB (13 Pro / Max)|
|GPU||Apple A15 Bionic|
|storage||128, 256 or 512 GB for 13 / mini; 128, 256, 512 GB or 1 TB for 13 Pro / Max|
|Networking||WLAN 6, Bluetooth 5, 5G|
|camera||Two 12 MP rear cameras (wide angle, ultra wide angle) for 13 / Mini; three 12 MP rear cameras (wide-angle, ultra-wide-angle, telephoto) for 13 Pro / Max; 7MP front camera; Dolby Vision HDR 4K video recording|
|size||146.7 × 71.5 × 7.65 mm (13/13 Pro), 160.8 × 78.1 × 7.65 mm (Max), 131.5 × 64.2 × 7.65 mm (Mini)|
|weight||173 g (13), 204 g (Pro), 240 g (Max), 140 g (Mini)|
|Starting price||$ 699 (Mini), $ 799 (13), $ 999 (Pro), $ 1,099 (Max)|
|Other perks||MagSafe, face recognition|
Last year I stopped recommending the iPhone 12 Pro because the iPhone 12 offered enough. The two phones weren’t that different, except for nicer materials and the inclusion of a zoom lens and lidar sensor in the more expensive phone. This time, the Pro model has a little more to offer: a better camera system, faster graphics and a significantly improved battery life compared to the iPhone 13.
Now it’s the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max that aren’t all that different from each other. As a reference, the Max got the better camera system last year. Now they’re the same so it’s all about screen size and battery life.
Apple claims that the iPhone 13 mini can last for 13 hours while playing a streaming video, and the iPhone 13 is rated for 15 hours. It’s a big leap to the iPhone 13 Pro, which supposedly offers 20 hours – and the iPhone 13 Pro Max promises a remarkable 25 hours.
This is thanks to a number of things, like a more efficient processor, the ProMotion display in the Pro phones (we’ll get to that in a moment) and, above all, larger batteries. Apple has redesigned the internals of all phones to make room for more battery capacity. When it comes to lithium-ion batteries, you can’t change the laws of physics – but you can brutally enforce them.
That more efficient processor is the A15. Apple hasn’t given a lot of specific performance information about how the A15 compares to last year’s A14, but we do know that the new SoC has a 6-core CPU with two performance and four efficiency cores, a 5-core (in the Pro Models) or 4-core GPU (in the regular iPhone 13 models) and a 16-core NPU (which is a “neural processing unit” for hardware-accelerated machine learning).
Performance doesn’t seem to be the main focus of Apple’s latest iPhone refresh – which is fine because last year’s phones were already by far the fastest on the market and no one has matched them. But we’ll share our benchmark results later in the test.
The iPhone 13 measures 5.78 × 2.82 × 0.3 inches or 146.7 × 71.5 × 7.65 millimeters. The iPhone 13 mini measures 5.18 x 2.53 x 0.3 inches or 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.65 millimeters.
Enlarge / The back of the iPhone 13.
That makes them a little thicker than their predecessors. The iPhone 13 mini is still delightfully small, and it’s great to see a one-handed phone with so many features in Apple’s lineup again. If only we could be confident that it will be like that next year.
Both weigh more than their 2020 counterparts, at 6.1 ounces or 173 grams for the iPhone 13 and 4.94 ounces or 140 grams for the iPhone 13 mini. That’s an increase of 5.78 ounces / 164 grams and 4.76 ounces / 135 grams, respectively.
Enlarge / The back of the iPhone 13 mini.
The iPhone 13 Pro now weighs 7.19 ounces, or 204 grams, and the iPhone 13 Max weighs a whopping 8.46 ounces, or 240 grams. Last year: 6.6 ounces / 189 grams for the 13 Pro and 7.96 ounces / 226 grams on the Max. You’ll feel the difference when you hold them side by side with the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
The iPhone 13 Pro is 5.78 × 2.82 × 0.3 inches or 146.7 × 71.5 × 7.65 millimeters in size. The iPhone 13 Pro Max: 6.33 × 3.07 × 0.3 inches or 160.8 × 78.1 × 7.65 millimeters. They’re also a bit thicker than last year’s comparable devices.
Enlarge / The back of the iPhone 13 Pro, photographed in low light using the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s night mode.
For the first time, the Pro models can be configured with 1 TB of storage when purchased. To be honest, I don’t think most people need that much storage space on their phones. I’ve installed 200+ apps and games on mine – way more than the average iPhone user – and some 4K videos to boot, and I’m bumping into the 256GB mark. I still have a long way to go before 512 GB is insufficient.
You could hit that 1TB mark relatively easily if you were shooting a lot of ProRes video (once that capability was added), but that won’t be a common use case.
What’s more exciting is the fact that the cheaper iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini now start at 128 GB instead of a puny 64 GB, but at the same price that the 64 GB models cost last year. In addition, they can now be configured with up to 512GB of storage, which is enough for almost anyone.
All in all, the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini come in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB configurations, and the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max all offer the same thing, plus the 1TB option.
Apple has again differentiated the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max from their lower siblings by means of the materials; The former have stainless steel edges with a nice treatment, as well as rougher backs that are nice to the touch. The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini have aluminum edges and a simpler back, but still feel good.
Last year, I described the design of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro as echoing the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 that many people (myself included) consider the most beautiful-looking iPhones. The same design returns today. It’s exactly the same look and feel as before, with two notable exceptions.
The most talked about design change involves something that never bothered me too much, but that seemed to be driving a lot of other people astray: the notch, the opaque black segment on the phone’s screen that houses the front-facing sensor array.
For the first time since the notch was introduced, it has become smaller – horizontally by around 20 percent. It’s a bit bigger (you wouldn’t know this part without looking at it side by side with an earlier iPhone) but overall you get some screen real estate back.
Enlarge / The notch of the iPhone 12 Pro Max (left) next to the notch of the iPhone 13 Pro Max (right).
This is especially important for some full-screen games or other apps with custom interfaces whose designers simply pretend the notch doesn’t exist when laying out the interface. Apple made no changes to its own software to take advantage of this reclaimed space.
But the slightly shrunk notch isn’t the most noticeable design change compared to the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. The rearview camera system is huge. The lenses are bigger. The camera hump protrudes further. It is impossible not to notice.
It doesn’t look any better or worse than last year’s camera bump. But something else about this change really bothers me: It makes the phone wobble wildly when laid flat on a table or desk.
I know, I know – the last few iPhones have already done this to some extent. It also bothered me a little back then, but that’s another level. Sometimes typing in this position or otherwise using the phone can be awkward. This applies to both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, but it’s even worse with the iPhone 13 Pro.
Enlarge / Left: the camera system of the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Right: the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
That said, cameras are key, and that’s how we get better cameras, I suppose.
As with other newer phones, the Apple-made cases for the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro make the back flush again, suggesting that Apple would likely prefer such a design as well. That said, I’m sure Apple will be happy to resell these cases to you to keep your phone nice and flush!