Apple iPhone 13 iPhone reviews are for everyone
The Apple iPhone 13 series has four devices to choose from: the small-scale iPhone 13 mini; this very model on review, the iPhone 13; the more advanced iPhone 13 Pro; and the big-screen device of the bunch, the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
So is this ‘standard’ iPhone the best suited for most people? Well, the gap between the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 Pro is smaller for 2021 than in previous iterations. Although it lacks the faster refresh-rate screen of the Pro, the iPhone 13 otherwise still brings many of the features you’d want and, more importantly, actually use.
Our quick take
Although the iPhone 13 isn’t drastically different from its iPhone 12 predecessor, it does boost the battery life to deliver what will be an ideal choice for those who want a big screen device – something you won’t get in the mini, obviously – with plenty of power and features.
Sure, you do miss out on a handful of nice-to-have features compared to the iPhone 13 Pro – including the telephoto zoom lens, macro mode, 120Hz fast-refresh display, and 1TB storage option – but the iPhone 13 is still an excellent all-round device that, importantly, doesn’t cost quite as much.
The iPhone 13 is the balanced choice to make – without really having to feel like you’re settling for second best – thanks to that combination of power, big screen and value for money.
Is the iPhone 13 still worth buying six months on?
The Apple iPhone 13 came out in September 2021 but it is still an excellent handset and still a great option, despite no longer being mere weeks old as it was when we initially wrote this review. It’s faced with some more competiton, like the Samsung Galaxy S22 series, but the iPhone 13 continues to hold its own and it continues to deliver in every aspect.
Its camera capabilities are great and while it doesn’t offer a telephoto lens like the iPhone 13 Pro model and the Samsung Galaxy S22 models, it’s been something we’ve been happy to live without. The iPhone 13’s build quality remains strong and its battery life still far exceeds the iPhone 13 mini, making it the better choice between the two latest standard models. The only hestiation we would have in buying the iPhone 13 now is that its successor is due in September 2022, which might mean you’re better to wait if you can.
Finishes: Midnight, Pink, Blue, Starlight, Product (RED)
Dimensions: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm / Weight: 174g
IP68 water-resistant rating
Ceramic Shield front
The Apple iPhone 13 shares a very similar design to the iPhone 12, though the eagle-eyed will notice a couple of slight changes that differentiate the two. The flat edge design remains – and it’s still lovely – like a flashback back to the iPhone 5 from 2012 (remember that?), while aluminium is retained as the material of choice for the frame (the antenna bars that sit within it are made from upcycled plastic), with a matte finish. It’s not as premium as the Pro models, but it’s still a lovely finish.
On the whole, the iPhone 13 isn’t drastically different to the iPhone 12. It’s almost identical in size – we’re talking a mere 0.15mm thicker – but it’s worth noting, however, that old cases won’t fit due to that new camera arrangement. So something else to add to the shopping list. While the iPhone 13 isn’t as compact and lightweight as the iPhone 13 mini, it’s still light and comfortable to hold, whilst offering the benefits of a larger screen and battery capacity.
6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display
2532 x 1170 resolution (460ppi)
1200 nits max brightness
True Tone, Haptic Touch
The Apple iPhone 13 comes with a 6.1-inch display, which is the same scale as the iPhone 13 Pro, although the technology is slightly different. The standard iPhone 13 comes with a standard 60Hz refresh rate, while the iPhone 13 Pro model moves to an adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz – what Apple calls ProMotion – much like other flagship smartphones.
The iPhone 13’s resolution is the same as the iPhone 13 Pro (and the same as the older iPhone 12 and Pro models too), so you get the same sharpness and detail. The newer device does see a boost in brightness potential over its predecessor though (from 1000nits to 1200nits for HDR) – again, perhaps something you wouldn’t notice unless you were directly comparing the two models side-by-side, though extra brightness is always welcomed to help counter outdoor brightness on sunny days, for example.
Dual rear cameras:
Main (26mm): 12-megapixel, f/1.6 aperture, 1.7µm pixel size, sensor-shift stabilisation
Wide (13mm): 12MP, f/2.4, 120-degree FOV
TrueDepth front camera:
12-megapixel, f/2.2 aperture
No LiDAR sensor, no optical zoom lens
Night Mode, Cinematic Video, Photographic Styles
The Apple iPhone 13 features a dual rear camera, comprised of a 12-megapixel wide and 12-megapixel ultra wide-angle. It’s the same camera as you’ll find on the iPhone 13 mini but it’s an upgrade from the iPhone 12, with larger pixels on the main sensor, allowing for better processing potential and higher quality results.
Extra features aside, the iPhone 13 delivers great results – and this goes for the rear and front camera setups. Images are full of detail, with good colour accuracy and definition. In low-light conditions, we did find there was some lag after pressing the shutter button before Night Mode kicked in, but the results are still good.
The Photographic Styles feature is another one that runs across the whole of the iPhone 13 series, applying a subtle filter to the image. Although be warned: you can only apply the filter ahead of taking a picture and once taken you can’t remove it. Thankfully the results are subtle, so you’re not going to end up with a ruinous bleach bypass effect or anything like that. There are four presets – Vibrant, Rich Contrast, Warm, Cool – that can be accessed with a swipe up from the bottom in the camera app that you can opt to use before you press the shutter button.
Performance and battery
Up to 19 hours battery life (3240mAh)
128GB/256GB/512GB storage sizes
A15 Bionic processor
5G and Wi-Fi 6
The Apple iPhone 13 runs on the A15 Bionic chipset with Neural Engine and it delivers a great performance. Everything loads quickly, the device switches between tasks without any issues, while games and apps run smoothly. The iPhone 13 Pro is slightly more powerful, despite also using the A15, as it has an additional GPU core (five versus four) for its setup.
The Apple iPhone 13 runs on iOS 15, which is available for all iPhone devices (from the iPhone 6S and later). There are a few extra features on the iPhone 13 that you won’t find on older models, however, like the Cinematic video mode and the Photographic Styles in the camera app, but otherwise the experience is a familiar one.
There are some great features on iOS 15 worth checking out, like Portrait Mode on FaceTime and the Focus modes – both of which we love – while Live Text and the Shared with You features are certainly useful. There are also some elements that take a little time to get used to, like the new Safari design.
You can read about all the changes that the software build brings in our separate feature, but the one thing we would say is that we’re pleasantly surprised by how much we like the slimmer and more timely delivered notifications on the lock screen, plus how quickly we’ve got used to the Safari browser’s URL bar moving. Give it a chance – sometimes change is good.
Although not drastically different from its predecessor, the boost to battery life for this generation makes it an ideal choice for those seeking a big-screen device. Sure, you do miss out on a handful of nice-to-have features compared to the Pro model – including the telephoto zoom lens and 120Hz fast-refresh display – but the iPhone 13 is still an excellent all-round device that, importantly, doesn’t cost quite as much.
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