The iPhone 13 is here

PROS
Outstanding cameras
Much better battery
All of last year’s accomplishments
Base storage capacity increased
 
CONS 
The selfie camera sensor remains unchanged.
iPhone 12 cases that use the standard refresh rate on the display will not fit.
PROS
Outstanding cameras
Enhanced battery life
All of last year’s accomplishments
Base storage capacity increased

CONS
The selfie camera sensor remains unchanged.
iPhone 12 cases that use the standard refresh rate on the display will not fit.

What do you actually want from a new phone?

Assuming you have a solid base, I believe the list of features that make a significant difference in phone upgrades is very limited. The enhanced battery life is top on the list. The second improvement is a better camera.

Those are the two features that make a significant difference in your smartphone’s day-to-day experience (provided the basics aren’t abysmal). That is precisely what Apple attempted to improve in the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini.

These two enhancements come on top of the substantial modifications Apple made with the iPhone 12 last year. If you already own an iPhone 12, this year’s update appears to be iterative. If you have a previous iPhone, the list of things that the iPhone 13 does better is nearly too numerous to list.

The iPhone 12 introduced new technologies as well as a stylish new design (and a new, Mini-sized version). The battery and camera enhancements in the iPhone 13 aren’t as spectacular, but they’re more crucial.

DESIGN AND SPECIFICATIONS OF THE IPHONE 13 AND 13 MINI

It’s tough to notice the difference between the iPhone 13 and its predecessors unless you examine very closely. The iPhone 12 and 12 Mini offered a new flat-edged design that I still think is a huge upgrade over previous models. The iPhone 12 Mini, of course, was the first smartphone in a long time to deliver a truly amazing experience in a smaller form size.

They also moved to OLED displays, which are superior to LCD displays in various respects, including contrast ratio, brightness, and battery economy. They upgraded to 5G. The MagSafe charging system was incorporated.

Because people are holding on to their devices for longer — especially iPhones — it’s worth examining all those major developments. Because so many people who will buy the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini will be unfamiliar with what the iPhone 12 had to offer, I believe it’s fair to give them credit for the design they’re built on.

THE NEW DESIGN OF THE IPHONE 13 AND 13 MINI FROM LAST YEAR IS STILL BEAUTIFUL AND MODERN.

However, there are several alterations to that design. The latest iPhones are slightly thicker in general, with significantly larger camera bumps. As a result, iPhone 12 and 12 Mini cases are unlikely to suit the newest phones. The camera bump has been thickened, and the lenses have been adjusted to fit the main wide-angle camera’s massive new sensor.

Last but not least, the notch that houses FaceID and the selfie camera has been reduced by 20% – but don’t get too excited. The extra screen you receive isn’t much (and Apple isn’t using it to provide more information, such battery percentage).

The A15 Bionic is a new chipset found within the iPhone 13. It’s tough to notice substantial speed increases with iPhones, but that’s only because there’s so much headroom that iPhones seem fast for longer. The Pro models feature one additional GPU core than the standard devices, but I haven’t observed any difference.

The standard capacity on the least costly iPhone 13 and 13 Mini has been boosted to 128GB this year, which is a significant change. I’m honestly impressed that Apple managed to raise the base storage on its own – it’s usually done it far too late in the past.

Finally, there’s a new pink color option, which is my favorite design enhancement over the iPhone 12. It is the greatest of all the colors available on the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro models.

BATTERY FOR IPHONE 13

Last year’s iPhone 12‘s battery life fell short of my expectations. Last year’s iPhone 12 Mini battery life was, unfortunately, precisely what I had expected: poor. So, with the iPhone 13 this year, Apple did the obvious: it increased the battery capacity.

Apple’s battery claims this year are primarily driven by the larger batteries (9 percent on the iPhone 13 Mini and 15.1 percent on the iPhone 13). It claims that the normal iPhone 13 will last two and a half hours longer than the iPhone 12, while the Mini would last one and a half hours longer.

Of course, if you don’t have an iPhone 12, the fact that the 13 lasts over two hours longer is irrelevant. However, my conclusion about the ordinary iPhone 13 does not require any comparisons: battery life is outstanding.

The ordinary iPhone 13 lasted from 7 a.m. to midnight on one of the days of my testing. That included camera testing, video viewing, the typical doomscrolling, emails, work, and video games. That was an incredible amount of work for the five hours of screentime that day. I didn’t notice the battery warning till the next morning on another day with less usage. The iPhone 13’s battery, on the other hand, isn’t magical. I was hunting for a charger around 7 or 8 a.m. when we had a day of a lot more 4K video testing.

iPhone 13 and 13 Pro review: If you could have three wishes | Ars Technica

The battery life of the iPhone 13 Mini is significantly better than that of the iPhone 12 Mini from last year, but not nearly enough for me to suggest it to anyone looking for a smaller phone.

I had to drastically alter my phone behavior with last year’s 12 Mini in order for it to survive a complete day. This year, I only had to make minor adjustments to my habits. If you’re not addicted to your screen for long periods of time, I believe the 13 Mini crosses a battery usability line that the 12 Mini failed to even approach.

The iPhone 12 and 13 Minis are designed to be small and light, both in terms of size and usage. If you use your phone constantly throughout the day, the Mini’s battery will be insufficient.

My lesson from the Mini is that the enhancements alone will not be sufficient to overcome the underlying physics of smaller batteries. My conclusion on the ordinary iPhone 13 is also based on physics: a large battery equals high battery life.

CAMERAS FOR IPHONE 13

The iPhone 13 and 13 Mini both have the same camera system, which includes a conventional wide-angle and an ultrawide lens. Both have been updated, but the wide angle has received the most attention.

The update to the wide-angle camera sensor, like the battery, is simple: make it bigger. A larger camera sensor can capture more light faster and offer better results. Apple had precisely such a sensor on hand: the one from the iPhone 12 Pro Max from last year.

That’s significant since the 12 Pro Max stood out from the rest of the iPhones last year because to its larger sensor, which is now the standard this year. And it has been the greatest smartphone camera on the market for both images and video from the moment the 12 Pro Max was announced until now.

I’m pleased to announce that the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini achieve similar or better results. Details are clear and accurate, colors are vibrant without being oversaturated, focusing is quick and accurate, portrait mode is suitable for everyday use, and low light and night vision are also excellent.

The video quality is excellent. Sensor stabilization is available on the main camera, which is useful when wandering about. It can handle all of the 4K and slow motion modes that are important, and it does it flawlessly.

The only way to be dissatisfied with its camera is to compare it to an iPhone 13 Pro — and even then, I believe you’d need to do so on a large screen with shots taken in low light.

The ultrawide sensor has also been updated for improved low-light performance, but the change is small. When in night mode, I largely notice improved white balance and color. That’s something I’ve noticed all throughout the place. Colors are a little more true to life this year, especially in low light.

My biggest want is for an update to the selfie camera sensor. It has some software enhancements, just like the other cameras, and it’s now housed in a smaller notch, but Apple can’t keep the selfie camera the same for another year.

With the iPhone 13, Apple has included two new camera modes: Photographic Profiles and Cinematic Mode. Both of those capabilities are covered in depth in my iPhone 13 Pro review, so you can learn all about how they function there. But I’ll go over each one briefly here as well.

Photographic Profiles are a new camera feature that allows you to alter the default look of the image you’re taking. Instead of doing it in post-production, you can modify the tone and contrast of all the photos you capture.

You may be aware that Samsung phones take photographs that are quite vibrant, and that Google Pixel phones take photos that are more contrasty and blue. Apple is effectively conceding that folks may like those looks and is providing an option to get them automatically with Profiles. You can also personalize each one according to your tastes.

iPhone 13 Release Date, Price, Design & Specs News

In contrast to filters, profiles do not apply tone and warmth settings to the entire image. The iPhone recognizes grass, faces, and the sky, and adjusts its color preferences accordingly, so you don’t end up with weird-looking skin tones or purple skies.

After the fact, alterations made with a Profile can’t be deleted or changed (beyond standard editing), and you can’t use RAW with profiles. It’s occasionally helpful to think of them as presets, and I expect to utilize them on occasion. Apple states that the A15 Bionic is required for the entire Profiles experience to work, but I believe that this feature should be available on earlier iPhones as well.

Cinematic Mode is a brand-new function that works similarly to Portrait Mode except for video. It focuses on a face and blurs the rest of the scene, just like a lens with a large aperture might. However, it tries to modify the focus as it sees fit, shifting to a background face if a face in the foreground, for example, turns away. You may change the focus manually when shooting the video or afterward in the edit – but only within Apple’s own apps like Photos or Final Cut.

The results of Cinematic Mode are nothing near as impressive as Apple’s own adverts suggest. It doesn’t perform well (or at all) in low light, and it suffers from the same issues as early Portrait Mode shots, such as strange cutouts around hair and glasses. It also only works at 30 frames per second in 1080p.

But don’t let the fact that Cinematic Mode falls short of expectations deter you. The iPhone 13 and 13 Mini have outstanding camera systems. They’d be the best phone on the market right now if it weren’t for the iPhone 13 Pro.

It’s all too easy to look at the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini and dismiss the changes for the year. Every year, cameras improve, and every manufacturer claims long battery life. And, in comparison to the enormous improvements seen on the iPhone last year, the 13 appears iterative, looking more like an iPhone 12S than completely new models.

I’m not saying reading is completely incorrect, but I believe it misses the point. New features are exciting, but the basics of battery life and camera quality are more crucial. Because if you concentrate on the fundamentals, your entire game will improve. And the iPhone 13 is up to the task.

iPhone 13 specs: All models compared

iPhone 13 miniiPhone 13iPhone 13 ProiPhone 13 Pro Max
Starting price$699$799$999$1,099
Storage128, 256, 512GB128, 256, 512 GB128, 256, 512, 1TB128, 256, 512, 1TB
Screen size5.4 inches6.1 inches6.1 inches6.7 inches
Resolution/ppi2340 x 1080/4762532 x 1170/4602532 x 1170/4602778 x 1284/458
Adaptive refreshNoNoUp to 120HzUp to 120Hz
ProcessorA15 BionicA15 BionicA15 BionicA15 Bionic
Rear camerasDual 12MP (Wide, ultrawide)Dual 12MP (Wide, ultrawide)Pro 12MP (Telephoto, Wide, Ultra Wide)Pro 12MP (Telephoto, Wide, Ultra Wide)
ZoomNone / 5x digitalNone / 5x digital3x optical / 15x digital3x optical / 15x digital
Front camera12MP TrueDepth12MP TrueDepth12MP TrueDepth12MP TrueDepth
ColorsRed, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, PinkRed, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Pink, GreenGraphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra Blue, Alpine GreenGraphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra Blue, Alpine Green
Size5.2 x 2.5 x 0.3 inches5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches6.3 x 3.1 x 0.3 inches
Weight4.97 ounces6.14 ounces7.2 ounces8.5 ounces
Water resistanceIP68IP68IP68IP68
Battery life (video playback8:4110:3311:4212:16

PROS
Outstanding cameras
Much better battery
All of last year’s accomplishments
Base storage capacity increased
 
CONS 
The selfie camera sensor remains unchanged.
iPhone 12 cases that use the standard refresh rate on the display will not fit.
PROS
Outstanding cameras
Enhanced battery life
All of last year’s accomplishments
Base storage capacity increased

CONS
The selfie camera sensor remains unchanged.
iPhone 12 cases that use the standard refresh rate on the display will not fit.


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