Let me start by saying that the improved battery life is the best incentive to switch to the iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 mini.
It’s a significant deal, despite how dull it may sound.
I’m writing this evaluation after nearly a year of using the iPhone 12 Pro as my primary phone. The battery was by far the most frustrating aspect of this otherwise excellent phone. I’d power it up in the morning and it’d barely go me through the day.
Knowing that the iPhone 13 and 13 mini don’t offer anything groundbreaking, I was mostly interested in seeing if Apple’s boasts of “amazing” battery life improvements were true. They were, in fact, there.
Subtle design changes
Because this is the first iPhone, every detail matters. The new colors (Starlight, Midnight, blue, and pink, as well as good old red) and the back camera modules being positioned diagonally instead of one above the other are the visual highlights. My iPhone 13 came in a pink color, however, the iPhone 13 mini came in a new Starlight color. Both are quite delicate, and from afar, they may look to be the same. I love the new design of the rearranged rear camera modules, but let’s face it, most people won’t see the change.
There is one difference on the front: the notch on both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 small is noticeably narrower than on their predecessors. It’s a little change in terms of functionality — the phones don’t display the battery life percentage in the status bar — but it feels like progress.
Aside from that, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini are essentially identical to the iPhone 12 and 12 mini in terms of design. Their displays are identical in size and resolution (6.1 and 5.4 inches diagonally, respectively) (2532×1170 and 2340×1080 pixels, respectively). IP68 is the same grade for water and dust resistance. Apple’s Ceramic Shield protects the display. Glass is used for the back, and aluminum is used for the frame.
Some alterations are not obvious to the naked eye. The latest iPhones are a tad heavier than their predecessors. The iPhone 13 mini is 0.21 ounces heavier than its predecessor, the iPhone 12 mini. The iPhone 13 is also 0.36 ounces heavier than the iPhone 12. If you search for it, the change is visible, but I doubt many users will notice.
128GB for starters? Yes, sir!
There is no groundbreaking new technology on the inside, but there are improvements. The most significant change is that Apple increased the entry-level storage capacity to 128GB on both the iPhone 13 and 13 mini.
This move makes it difficult to promote several iPhone 12 models that Apple still offers on its website. The 128GB iPhone 12, for example, costs $50 cheaper than the 128GB iPhone 13. Given all of the numerous benefits the new model provides over the previous one, the iPhone 13 is a far better choice.
According to Geekbench 5 software, the A15 Bionic CPU is Apple’s latest and finest mobile chip, and it’s the fastest on the market. The new iPhone outperforms prior models by around 10%. On my old iPhone 12 Pro, I couldn’t notice the difference between the A15 and the A14 in everyday use, but that’s probably because the previous chip is also quite quick.
Even three or four years from now, with Apple’s latest chip, these phones will most likely be quick enough for most people. The iPhone 13 and 13 mini, in particular, have one fewer GPU core than the Pro models, though this may only be noticeable if you’re a heavy gamer.
Finally, while the display on these phones is still limited to 60Hz (the Pro models receive a 120Hz display), it has been upgraded with increased brightness. I compared it to the one on the iPhone 12 Pro, and it appears to be brighter, albeit only a little.
A leap in battery life
The battery on the iPhone 13 lasted a lot longer than the battery on my iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 12 Pro was about 10-20% charged at the end of the day, but the iPhone 13 was around 40% charged every night.
My old phone’s battery is in fine working order, and I cloned and utilized the exact identical apps on my new phone, so there should be no issues. Simply said, the iPhone 13’s battery lasts longer, and not by a tiny margin.
I spent a little less time with the iPhone small, but it performed admirably, lasting me all day with about 20% life left. So, I’m back to using my old phone, but it’s still better than having to charge it in the middle of the day.
While everyone’s smartphone preferences are slightly different, battery life is one element that everyone values. The iPhone 13 is an all-day phone, which means I can charge it overnight and have it for the following day.
The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini differ in this area as well. In comparison to the previous generation, the mini’s battery life has much increased, however it still falls short of that of its bigger brother. It’s a nice option if you like its size — I do after years of using gigantic phones — but keep in mind that it might not last a full day of heavy use.
All the small things in iOS 15
The iPhone 13 is similar to iOS 15, which was released a week ago: It’s not a huge improvement, but it does help to improve the overall experience.
Notifications, for example, have been enhanced with larger icons, a richer, more customizable notification summary, and the ability to temporarily silence notifications.
The camera app has been improved; you can now point it at text and copy and paste it. It can also recognize specific information in text; for example, if it recognizes a phone number, it will allow you to make a call right away.
Focus, a new feature that allows you to filter specific notifications to limit distractions at different times of the day, didn’t sit right with me. It looked overly difficult for something that was supposed to make your life easier.
There aren’t a lot of software features exclusive to iPhone 13 models. The most notable is the Cinematic mode on the camera, which is not available on the iPhone 12 models (more about that later).
Finally, there are several things that are lacking. SharePlay, for example, which allows you to watch videos while also sharing your screen with others in a video conversation, will be available “later this fall.” It’s a shame, but the functionality has already been incorporated into the iOS 15.1 beta, so it’ll be available shortly.
The camera on iPhone 13
Apple has mastered the art of improving its mid-tier phones just enough to make them worthwhile, but not enough to eclipse the Pro versions. This has never been more evident than with the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini.
Let’s get one thing straight: the iPhone 13 lacks a telephoto lens. You can still zoom in when taking a picture, but it’ll be digital rather than optical, and it won’t look as well most of the time. The macro option on the iPhone 13 Pro is also missing, as is the ProRes format (which really is a feature for professionals).
You do, however, get a decent main rear camera, a good ultra-wide camera, and the same selfie camera as the Pro models.
This phone takes amazing shots and selfies in the daylight, with brilliant colors and only a smidgeon of over-sharpening, as is usual with the iPhone.
I couldn’t tell the difference between the iPhone 13 and the 13 small, which is to be anticipated considering their identical camera specifications.
Even at night, the iPhone 13 works admirably. Although I was unable to compare it to the latest Pro versions, it performed remarkably identically to my iPhone 12 Pro.
Although the older phone appeared to be able to capture a little more light, the resulting photographs looked amazing on both phones thanks to Apple’s AI trickery. In reality, if I had to pick a winner, it would be the iPhone 13, which took slightly better photographs with more true colors on a constant basis.
The primary camera will produce the greatest results; the ultra-wide and selfie cameras can shoot images at night, but the quality will be poor.
Cinematic mode is probably the most intriguing new feature. It enables you to record a video with the background behind the subjects blurred automatically.
Even better, if the camera recognizes that the video’s attention has shifted to another topic, such as another person waving in the distance, it will sharpen that individual while blurring the others. The result is incredibly impressive, and it allows users to make clips that are practically Hollywood-quality. Influencers will be all over this, even if it’s not something you’ll use every day.
Photographic Style is a cool new tool that lets you choose from profiles like Rich Contrast, Warm, or Cool. I prefer the Standard profile because you can always adjust contrast and colors afterward, but if you prefer a certain photo style, you can now pick a matching style as your default.
Whether it’s day or night, the iPhone 13 captures excellent images. It lacks the bells and whistles of the Pro models, as well as, to be fair, the most recent Android flagships. The iPhone 13 is a terrific pick if you’re the type of user who likes to pull out their phone, point it at something, and take a photo without too much fiddling.
No shiny new things, but that doesn’t matter
I set out to answer three simple questions in this review. Are the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini good phones in and of themselves? Are they an improvement over the previous generation? Finally, how do they stack up against the Pro models from Apple?
On the first point, the answer is straightforward: the iPhone 13 and 13 mini are both excellent phones. They have Apple’s latest A15 Bionic chip, which means they are very fast now and will likely be fast enough in 3 to 4 years, and they start at 128GB, which is a big leap for Apple and plenty of space for most users. They’ll last you through the day (though the 13 mini might be cutting it close for some users), they have Apple’s latest A15 Bionic chip, which means they are very fast now and will likely be fast enough in 3 to 4 years, and they start at 1 You can purchase an Android with a lower price tag and better battery life, but Apple’s ecosystem plus the iPhone 13 and 13 mini’s endurance — thanks to their fast chips and continuous upgrades — make them a terrific choice.
If it weren’t for the enhanced battery life and beginning storage capacity, upgrading from the iPhone 12 or 12 mini would be pointless. For these reasons, and especially if your carrier offers a decent bargain, you should strongly consider upgrading to Apple’s newest.
Finally, after using the iPhone 13 and 13 mini for the better part of a week, I didn’t miss many of Apple’s Pro-line options. The camera took a step back, but it was so soft that I didn’t even notice. The improved display, lidar, and slightly more luxurious materials of the Pro don’t make a significant difference. When you add it all up, the Pro is a superior phone, but the iPhone 13 is a better value.
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