iPhone 13 Review

By Yvonne

Although the iPhone 13 doesn't make Apple's smartphones any more powerful, it is a significant update that provides better battery life and a faster processor, as well as an improved camera system than previous iPhones. This is the best choice if you are looking for an efficient smartphone that can do all the things the Pro model does, but don't want the additional features.

The pros

  • +

    Battery life is strong

  • +

    Great design

  • +

    Powerful internals


  • -

    Minimal design changes

  • -

    No 120Hz screen

  • -

    Rear: No Ceramic Shield

Review in two minutes

Although the iPhone 13 may not be Apple's latest smartphone, it could still make a great purchase. The iPhone 14 series is out, and the main device in the series is pretty similar to the 13 with the same cameras, display, chipset and design. To see our complete notes about the iPhone 14, you can read our iPhone 14 review.

It's unfortunate, as our iPhone 13 initial review noted it had fewer features than the iPhone 12 but did offer some tweaks.

You'd find it hard to believe that Apple called the iPhone 13 the iPhone 12S. It's essentially the same design, it doesn't have many new specs, and the features are not particularly headline-grabbing.

You might be interested in a larger upgrade if you're willing to wait. We expect to see the iPhone 14 Max on September 7th, along with the iPhone 14 Pro Max and iPhone 14 Pro Max. So, bear this in mind when you buy.

The iPhone 13 has a lot of improvements, and certain elements have been made even better.

Battery life is the highlight of iPhone 13. Although iPhones weren't known for their battery life in the past, we were able to test it every day.

Apple finally has a solution for battery life. It's far more efficient than previous iPhone models.

The iPhone 13's A15 Bionic chipet is extremely powerful and can run multiple applications and tasks efficiently with its 4GB RAM.

The iPhone 13's new dual camera improves image clarity. Sensor Shift optical imaging stabilization technology (OIS), is now available for iPhone users.

The iPhone 13 laying on a table

The screen of the iPhone 13 looks a lot better than the iPhone XS and older models. This OLED technology allows for a more vibrant picture and the image quality is just amazing.

Apple's iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max don't have a refresh rate of 120Hz, so the experience isn't as smooth as the iPhone 13 Pro.

As ever, Apple's new iPhone will cost you, with the iPhone 13 price starting at $799 / £779 / AU$1,349 - although this year that gets you 128GB of storage, rather than the 64GB of the base-model iPhone 12.

Although the iPhone 13 might not appear like an important leap for Apple at first, its improved battery life and performance make it a worthy upgrade. It's actually good enough that it ranks near the top in our iPhone best-of guide.

At the annual company launch, September 14, Apple announced its iPhone 13 series. Pre-orders opened on September 17th. iPhone 13 was released on September 24th. Pre-orders opened in September 17th.

iPhone 13 specifications

Weight: 174g
Dimensions : 146.7 x 71.5x 7.7mm
Display Size: 6.8-Inches
Resolution: 2532 x 1170
Refresh Rate 60Hz
Pixel density: 460ppi
Chipset: A15 Bionic
Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB
Rear cameras: 12MP + 12MP
Front camera 12MP
Battery: 3,240mAh

The iPhone 13 starts at $799 / £779 / AU$1,349, which is the same price as the iPhone 12 in the US and Australia, and a touch cheaper in the UK. The iPhone 12 cost $799 / £799 / AU$1,349 at launch.

Apple dropped the 64GB model this year and you get 128GB storage. If you need more storage, the 256GB iPhone 13 costs $899 / £879 / AU$1,519, while the 512GB model costs $1,099 / £1,079 / AU$1,869.

If those prices are a bit of a stretch, the iPhone 13 mini has similar specs but is a not-insignificant amount cheaper, starting at $699 / £679 / AU$1,199, while going in the other direction you've got the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max if you're looking for higher specs and, in the case of the latter phone, a larger screen.

Related Reading: iPhone 13 Pro Review

iPhone 13 design

  • Most of the design is the same as the 12
  • The rear cameras of have undergone a slight redesign
  • Very small size for a smartphone

The iPhone 13 in a yard

You won't notice a significant difference in the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 if you have an iPhone 12. However, if you have an iPhone 12 or older, there will be some difference.

Flat-edge designs are a new feature on the iPhone 12. The design of the new iPhone is slightly more aggressive than previous versions, yet it is easy to hold one-handed.

Although the rear and front of the handsets are made from glass, only the front panel is protected by Apple's Ceramic Shield technology. This was introduced last year on the iPhone 12. Apple claims that this glass is four times more resistant to drops than the older iPhones' glass, however we wouldn’t advise putting it to the test.

Although we have yet to lose this phone, it is comforting to know the Ceramic Shield technology is available as a safety blanket - though it would be even more helpful if it were on the back of the handset.

The iPhone 13 series has IP68 water and dust resistance, so it can survive up to 6 meters in water for 30 minutes. Although it is not waterproof, the handset can withstand a few drops.

The volume and silence buttons, as well as the SIM tray are located on the left side of the phone. You will find the power button on the right side. It's easily found with your thumb and finger, making it easy to get the phone to sleep.

The speakers are located at the bottom, as well as the Lightning port connector that allows data transfer and charging.

The iPhone 13 is easy to use one handed - its dimensions are 146.7x71.5x 7.7mm. However, if you need a more compact device or have small hands the iPhone 13 mini might be the better option.

Although the iPhone 13 is slightly heavier than the iPhone 12, with 174g and 164g respectively, it won't be noticeable in daily use. It's about the average weight for this model.

Although the iPhone 13's rear is simple, it looks elegant with the Apple logo at its center and the camera module at the top left. The company made a minor adjustment this year by placing the main lenses of the array in the camera array horizontally instead of vertically like on the iPhones before.

The iPhone 13 comes in five colors: Blue (a light blue), Midnight, Starlight, Product Red, and Pink.

These colors are quite muted and you might want to wait and see if Apple adds other colors later. Apple introduced a purple iPhone six months after the original iPhone launched.

The cases that were designed for the iPhone 12 will not fit into the iPhone 12.

Related Reading: iPhone 12 Review: A Small Phone with Big Potential

Display for iPhone 13

  • A 6.1 inch screen with 2532x1170 resolution
  • Sun panel is a good choice for OLED panels
  • 60Hz only, not 120Hz as Pro

iPhone 13's display is 6.1 inches with 2532x1170 resolution. It's a Super Retina XDR OLED display made by Apple, and it makes for a clear and bright image - the brightness has been improved on the iPhone 13, and it can hold its own against other smartphones in direct sunlight.

The iPhone 13 in a hand

This resolution is 460 pixels/inch, not the highest we have seen, but it is perfect for daily use. We didn't need a higher resolution when playing video games or watching videos.

The handset has thin bezels surrounding its screen. Some of it is taken up by the notch at top. The iPhone 13's notch is still there, but 20% less than that of the iPhone 12. This gives you more screen space.

Although it isn't a significant change, the difference can be seen when you look at the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 6. You'll soon get used to it though.

Important note: The iPhone 13's display does not get the 120Hz refresh rate Apple introduced on its iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 13 Pro Max. These displays refresh twice as quickly as the standard 60Hz screens for smoother scrolling through web pages and playing video games.

This technology is common on many Android phones and you will notice the differences. However, it's not essential.

Related Reading: iPhone 12 Mini Review: This iPhone is a Dainty Delight

iPhone 13 camera

  • Main 12MP and Ultrawide 12MP cameras
  • Front-facing camera 12MP
  • Zoom up to 5x

The iPhone 13's camera configuration doesn't differ from the one on the model last year, but there are some significant upgrades, including tweaks to both the cameras and a range of software updates.

There are two rear cameras: one 12MP camera wide with an aperture at f/1.6 and the other 12MP ultrawide with a aperture of f/2.4 and a 120 degree field of view. This phone doesn't have a telephoto camera. You're dependent on digital zoom so it's not going to work well for long distance shots.

This is an amazing and flexible experience, even if you are not shooting from afar. The main camera uses 1.7µm pixels (up from 1.4µm on the iPhone 12) that give a noticeable difference to the picture quality here.

Apple's Sensor Shift OIS technology is also included. It was introduced in the iPhone 12 Pro Max last year and allows you to take sharp photos even when the iPhone can't be still.

Images taken with the iPhone 12 have less noise than images from similar devices. We found very few instances where the camera did not perform at the same level as we would expect.

We stayed with our main camera, despite the ultra-wide camera's 120 degree field of view.

Digital zoom is available up to 5x. However, the results won't be very impressive. You'll also find other phones that are better in this area.

You can also access the new Photographic Styles feature through your camera app. You can create custom effects on your photos, including Vibrant, Warm, Cool, Rich Contrast and Vibrant.

They are helpful if you shoot in a specific style. Unlike a filter, they allow your phone to adjust different parts of the image. Although we didn't notice a significant difference in our photography, it is an additional tool to your arsenal.

The front camera of the iPhone has a 12MP wide f/2.2 lens that works well for video calling and selfies. iPhones' front-facing cameras have proven to be impressive over time. You will not regret the quality of your results.

The iPhone 13 can capture video at 4K resolution at 24, 30, and 60 frames per seconds, and Full HD at 30, 60 and 120 frames per second.

Cinematic Mode is the big upgrade in video recording. It allows you to use a blurred background effect that creates a blurred effect. It will switch between subject faces if the effect is enabled.

This works well for us, however it can take some time to master the controls and get the perfect shot. If you enjoy playing with video modes, this is an enjoyable tool.

iPhone 13 specifications and performance

  • A15 Bionic Chipset is extremely powerful
  • This phone is perfect for gaming
  • Storage up to 512GB RAM

Apple's iPhone 13 Series features the latest A15 Bionic chipet from the company, which is the company's latest effort to make the best smartphone chipset. Apple claims it is 50% faster than its competition and has a 30% faster GPU.

Apple's latest handset, regardless of its accuracy, is undoubtedly powerful. While everyday performance will not be significantly different from what you get with the iPhone 12 and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra at the same time, it will offer a significant step-up for users who have an iPhone 8 or lower.

Our testing revealed that the iPhone 13 was capable of launching apps quickly and could easily switch between apps without waiting for them to load.

The handset also made gaming easy, loading titles as fast as on iPad Pros (the most powerful Apple device in 2018). The OLED screen was perfect for games, and the GPU performance improvements were especially noticeable.

The iPhone 13 in a yard

The Geekbench 5 score matches our testing, with an average multicore score of 4688. In the same test, the iPhone 12 was able to score 3859 while the Samsung Galaxy S21 scored 3367. The OnePlus 9 Pro scored 3630.

Apple made a significant improvement in this area, however it is most evident in benchmarking results. Although the everyday experience will remain the same, it is markedly different from older iPhone models.

It comes with 4GB RAM to run the A15 Bionic chipet at its full potential. This is less RAM than what you would see in most Android smartphones, but Apple does not seem to require a large amount of RAM to get the best out of its A15 bionic.

You have three storage choices: 128GB, 256GB and 512GB. If you plan to use your phone for a long time, we recommend the 256GB/512GB option. Even with iCloud support 128GB might prove to be easy to fill.

Apple has at the very least dropped its 64GB storage option, which was the base of its offering over the past few years.

The iPhone 13 Series is 5G ready, which makes it nice to be future-proofed.

Software for iPhone 13

  • Available on iOS 15
  • Will See Many Years of Updates
  • Focus Mode can be used to increase productivity

The lower half of the iPhone 13

iPhone 13 ships with iOS 15 as standard. This allows you to enjoy the most recent software features of Apple.

Although the 2021 updates are less than what we experienced with iOS 14's major overhaul, the additions to the app are still interesting. They include Focus mode which can be enabled through the dropdown menu.

You can tap the Focus label to access the Do Not Disturb Mode. You can block Twitter notifications from your desk. You can do this by using the following instructions.

Some other features may be minor but it is a refinement to what we have seen previously.

The major advantage of buying a new iPhone, is the fact that Apple will continue to provide software updates to it for years to come. Even the iPhone 6S can be used with iOS 15. If Apple keeps offering that level of support, you can expect that the iPhone 13 will receive updates up to 2027.

Battery life for iPhone 13

  • Reliable date of use
  • 51% Charged in 30 Minutes
  • No in-box charger

Apple handsets are not known for their battery life. The iPhone 13 is a significant improvement over previous iPhones.

Although we have yet to discover if Apple has increased cell size in the iPhone 13's, the battery life increase here seems to suggest so. Some rumors suggested that Apple was increasing the battery size in all models of its iPhone 13.

Apple estimates that the iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 13 Pro Max will offer better battery life. The battery life has been significantly better than the iPhone 12 or any other model.

The iPhone 13 survived our tests with sufficient charge to last for at least two more hours.

The iPhone 13 being charged up

One day we tested the limits of the phone by streaming videos from YouTube, YouTube, and other sites from 10:10am to 11pm. The phone remained at 20% capacity with no battery drain. This was when the screen was at its maximum brightness for 8 hours and 48 mins.

We've already said that this battery is not the longest you can find on a smartphone. However, there are many Android options which will last much longer. This is an important step for Apple and makes the iPhone more appealing to many buyers.

Compatible with 20-watt chargers: The iPhone 13 can be charged using these chargers. We found them to have good speed, but they are not the most efficient we've ever seen. The phone was charged from zero to 26 percent in just 15 minutes, and 51% in thirty minutes.

This is the return of wireless charging. If you have a compatible charger, you can reach 15W charging. Although it isn't the most efficient wireless charging available, this can still be useful if your phone doesn't need to be plugged in or you have low battery.

The iPhone 13 will not come with a charger, as you did with the iPhone 12 Series. This is because Apple wants to reduce e-waste.

If you don't, you can buy a charger from Apple for $19 / £19 / AU$29, while there are also third-party options that can cost less. To make use of the 20W charging that many iPhone chargers older than a year don't support, you may want to upgrade.

The iPhone 13 being held in a hand

It's a good deal if...

Do you have an older iPhone?

The iPhone 13 is not recommended for iPhone 12 owners. There's nothing new in the iPhone 13 - however, if your iPhone 8 or XR are older, you'll find plenty of reasons to get excited.

Good battery life

This iPhone 13's battery life is significantly better than the previous iPhone models. This iPhone is a better choice than older, cheaper smartphones if you want a phone that can last a whole day without needing to be charged.

Want lots of power

iPhone 13 is an extremely powerful smartphone. It's also one of our most favorite handsets. You can get lots of power here without needing to upgrade to the iPhone 13 Pro.

It's not worth the risk if....

Do you own an iPhone 12?

It's very unlikely you will need to upgrade to the new iPhone 12 if you have one already. You can get the most recent handset if you really want it. However, the improvements here are very few.

A small-screen smartphone

iPhone 13 mini is very similar to iPhone 13. It has the same specs as the iPhone 13 and will be better if your hands are smaller or you just want a smaller phone.

Looking for an affordable smartphone?

Although the iPhone 13 is the most inexpensive of all the iPhones this year, it's not that expensive in the big scheme of things. You can find many cheaper Android phones, or the iPhone SE if your goal is to remain in Apple's family.

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