iPhone 13 review

Apple iPhone 13 Review: Full Details

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Last Updated on January 1, 2022 by Daniel

From the outside, the iPhone 13 doesn’t really seem like a new product. Once you use the phone, you realize that the notch is just one of a lot of things you get from this flagship.

Displays on the new iPhone are brighter than those on its predecessors. It has longer battery life. The camera on the iPhone has been enhanced with new sensors and computational photography features that make you feel like you’re using a professional camera (even on a non-Pro phone).

Apple’s A15 Bionic is the fastest processor in the world, yet again – once again. However, the real power of this processor lies in its capabilities. With these features, you can add depth of field to your videos while automatically adjusting the focus, and you can change the photo’s appearance with Photographic Styles.

Here are our iPhone 13 reviews

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max review: One of the best iPhones ever
  • A stellar camera in a compact device: The iPhone 13 Pro
  • Small phone, big performance: iPhone 13 mini-review

There are some flaws in the regular iPhone 13. For example, charging is slower than on many Android smartphones. In addition, I’m not a fan of the 120Hz display and telephoto zoom only on the iPhone 13 Pro model. Nevertheless, based on my in-depth review of the iPhone 13, this is the best phone for the money.

If you want all the features of the iPhone 13 in a smaller form factor, check out our iPhone 13 mini-review. When it comes to the biggest screen, look no further than the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

iPhone 13 specs: A comparison of all models

  iPhone 13 mini iPhone 13 iPhone 13 Pro iPhone 13 Pro Max
Starting price $699 $799 $999 $1,099
Storage 128, 256, 512GB 128, 256, 512 GB 128, 256, 512, 1TB 128, 256, 512, 1TB
Screen size 5.4 inches 6.1 inches 6.1 inches 6.7 inches
Resolution/PPI 2340 x 1080/476 2532 x 1170/460 2532 x 1170/460 2778 x 1284/458
Adaptive refresh No No Up to 120Hz Up to 120Hz
Processor A15 Bionic A15 Bionic A15 Bionic A15 Bionic
Rear cameras Dual 12MP (Wide, ultrawide) Dual 12MP (Wide, ultrawide) Pro 12MP (Telephoto, Wide, Ultra Wide) Pro 12MP (Telephoto, Wide, Ultra Wide)
Zoom None / 5x digital None / 5x digital 3x optical / 15x digital 3x optical / 15x digital
Front camera 12MP TrueDepth 12MP TrueDepth 12MP TrueDepth 12MP TrueDepth
Colors Red, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Pink Red, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Pink Graphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra Blue Graphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra Blue
Size 5.2 x 2.5 x 0.3 inches 5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches 5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches 6.3 x 3.1 x 0.3 inches
Weight 4.97 ounces 6.14 ounces 7.2 ounces 8.5 ounces
Water resistance IP68 IP68 IP68 IP68
Battery life (video playback 8:41 10:33 11:42 12:16

iPhone 13 review: Design and colors

iPhone 13

  • An immersive display is made possible by a smaller notch
  • The placement of the buttons is slightly different
  • Blue and pink stand out in a crowd

Apple has made two design changes to the iPhone 13 that deserve special attention. As a first change, the rear cameras are now vertically arranged instead of diagonally.

Further, the notch is now 20% smaller and still offers the same great TrueDepth camera system and Face ID you’ve come to expect since the iPhone X introduced this feature four years ago.

It doesn’t really make a difference in how you use the iPhone 13 on a daily basis because the smaller notch isn’t large enough. I didn’t find either notch distracting when watching videos in landscape mode side by side at full-screen.

While using apps such as Gmail, the mini notch was particularly useful when the background was white. Despite being narrower, the notch on the iPhone 13 mini swoops down more.

iPhone 13’s button placement differs slightly from iPhone 12’s. On the right side, there is a power button, and on the left side, there is a ringer switch and volume controls.

As for the rest of the features, the iPhone 13 comes with the same Glass back and tough CeramicShield display. In addition, the iPhone 13 remains waterproof to IP68 standards. Sadly, the iPhone 13 doesn’t offer a Touch ID. This is a big disappointment as Face ID can’t be used with masks. There was no need for a sensor in the display like many Android phones now feature; an embedded Touch ID sensor in the power button would have been adequate.

Right now, the iPhone 13 appears to be having trouble unlocking with some Apple Watch models. According to Apple, a fix will be available soon.

In addition to the pink, blue, midnight, midnight starlight, and red (Product) colors, the iPhone 13 is available in five other colors. It’s a fun shade without being too loud, and I tested it in blue. With the entry-level iPhones, Apple continues to include a color-matched aluminum frame.

iPhone 13 review: Display

Iphone 13 review

  • Better visibility in direct sunlight
  • Brilliant colors and contrast

Although it lacks the adaptive 120Hz refresh rate of the iPhone 13 Pro, the iPhone 13 still features an impressive OLED display. Compared to last year’s phone, the super retina XDR display is now 28% brighter; it’s rated at 800 nits, instead of 600 nits.

Based on my testing, I wouldn’t call the contrast difference dramatic, but it can come in handy if your iPhone 13’s display is exposed to direct sunlight.

Overall, the display quality continues to be excellent. I was mesmerized by the neon code surrounding Neo as he walked down the street in the Matrix Resurrections trailer, and in another scene, I could see individual hairs on Neo’s beard as he stared into the sun.

In our benchmark tests, the iPhone 13 averaged 795 nits of brightness, while its predecessor averaged 569 nits and its closest competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S21, averaged 702 nits. A higher number is better, so the iPhone 13 also achieved 78.1% of the DCI-P3 color gamut and 110.2% of the RGG color gamut. Apple’s iPhone 12 ranked at 81.1 and 114.5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S21 at 77.4 and 109.2.

The iPhone 13’s panel’s color accuracy is also stellar, with a Delta-E score of 0.26 (lower is better.) The Galaxy S21 and iPhone 12 both achieved a Delta-E score of 0.29.

iPhone 13 review: Cameras

iPhone 13 review

  • Images with more color beat Samsung’s
  • Improved night mode and ultra-wide camera enables more scenes
  • It gives you creative control over your photos

The iPhone 13 cameras are much more than just a different diagonal arrangement of lenses. A new 1.7*m-pixel sensor increases the number of light gathering pixels by 47% compared to the iPhone 12.

Its newer sensor provides significantly better low-light performance and less noise, which is another advantage of this ultrawide camera.

You’ll love Photographic Styles if you’re not a fan of the iPhone’s normal color temperature – or just want more control over your photos. Several styles are available in the Camera app, including standard, vibrant, rich contrast, warm, and cool.

 The difference between the styles really stood out when I tried it out with a series of portraits. As an example, the vibrant setting made the coleus plants more noticeable and reduced haze in the shot. This effect is not so easy to switch on the fly, as you have to tap on a setting and then choose a style, but I appreciate that you can customize your own.

A comparison of the iPhone 13’s camera to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra’s camera taken at the Manasquan Reservoir in New Jersey can be seen below. The iPhone 13 renders the water’s blue hue more vividly, while the shadows on the wood are rendered more accurately.

Additionally, the iPhone 13 captured a better-looking photo of these Halloween decorations. In this version, the orange pumpkin sign as well as the surrounding pumpkins appear more vibrant and bright. Despite its sharpness, the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s picture seems flat.

I noticed a marked improvement in Night mode on the iPhone 13 when compared to the iPhone 12. In the iPhone 13 image, the bouquet is more vibrant and the leaves are brighter. However, the result is on the fuzzy side.

iPhone 13 review: Video performance

  • With the cinematic mode, the focus automatically changes on the subject while adding bokeh
  • HDR video quality is better than Dolby Vision

As you shoot videos with the iPhone 13, you will feel like you are a director. You can apply the Cinematic mode to your videos. As the subject changes in the frame, such as a person turning their head to talk to another person, this feature will change the focus from one subject to another automatically. The process works (almost) like magic without requiring you to lift a finger.

A new cinematic video mode on the iPhone 13 produces an impressive bokeh effect through automatic switching between subjects. We explain how it works.

My iPhone 13 placed the focus on the closest dog at first while the older golden retriever and daughter were automatically in focus as the dog left the frame while I shot my three dogs playing with my daughter. Although Samsung and others have tried to use the bokeh effect on their smartphones, the Galaxy S21 Ultra doesn’t offer the ability to switch from subject to subject in real-time.

Our golden retriever was taken a second by the iPhone 13 in the cinematic mode because she moved quickly. However, Cinematic mode only lets you record in 1080p, and you cannot record in 4K. Overall, it’s a pretty cool feature I think many people will want to use, especially on TikTok’s social video platform.

Despite the iPhone 13’s significant improvements in video quality, its general audio quality does not reflect what the iPhone 13 can deliver. The iPhone 13’s footage of the blowing leaves was very quiet compared to the iPhone 12’s footage as I walked around the Manasquan reservoir. Afterward, I lost myself in some waves lapping on the sand in a separate clip.

iPhone 13 review: Performance and A15 Bionic

iPhone 13 review

  • Another fastest chip is the A15 Bionic
  • Performance of machine learning is significantly better

As the fastest chip in any smartphone, the A15 Bionic doesn’t offer dramatic performance improvements over the A14 Bionic. But it didn’t have to for it to remain the fastest. There are six cores on the A15, just as on the A14 Bionic, but the Neural Engine is now 16 cores instead of 8 cores on the previous chipset.

Apple claims its iPhone 13’s CPU is up to 50% faster than other smartphones, while its GPU is 20% quicker. The first thing we should talk about before we get into benchmarks is how seamless the device feels when used every day.

As I climbed mountains, explored sweeping landscapes, and fought enemies in a game such as Genshin Impact – an open-world adventure combat title – I experienced animations and particle effects similar to those of a console game. When I pointed the camera around my backyard, the Seek app identified plants instantly.

The iPhone 13 achieved scores of 4,129 on Geekbench 5, which measures overall performance, and 1,684 on Geekbench 6. With a score of 3,302/1,048, it destroys the Galaxy S21’s 3,302/1,593 and the iPhone 12’s 3,859/1,593.

Graphics performance on the iPhone 13 is impressive as well. It reached 55.9 frames per second on the 3DMark Wild Life benchmark. The Galaxy S21 Ultra managed only 33 frames per second, which is slightly higher than the iPhone 12 (51 fps).

When we tested Adobe Premiere Rush for video editing, we didn’t notice much improvement. Compared with the iPhone 12, the iPhone 13 took 25.9 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p. This was done in 1 minute and 2 seconds by the Galaxy S21.

iPhone 13 review: Battery life and charging

iPhone 13

  • The battery life is better than the iPhone 12 by 2 hours and 33 minutes

Thanks to its bigger battery, more efficient display, an A15 Bionic chip, Apple says that the iPhone 13 lasts up to 15 minutes longer than the iPhone 12. Our tests also showed an increased battery life.

As part of our Battery test, we performed continuous web surfing over 5G while the screen was at 150 nits of brightness, over cellular service (AT&T’s network in this case). The iPhone 13 lasted for 10 hours and 33 minutes. It took more than 2 hours longer than 8:25 for the iPhone 12 to turn in. It took the Galaxy S21 more than 9 hours to turn in.

We have a brief summary of how all four iPhone 13 models fared with regard to battery life, including comparisons to more Android phones.

There is no change in the charging speeds of the iPhone 13. It took the 20W charger 30 minutes to get 51% of the new iPhone’s battery charged. OnePlus 9 Pro, which is on our fastest charging phones list, is much quicker at charging.

Although the 15W MagSafe charger for the iPhone is slower, it may be more convenient since it is magnetic and does not require the Lighting port.

iPhone 13 review: iOS 15

  • With SharePlay, you can watch videos and listen to music with your friends
  • Focus minimizes distractions

Many of the new features that Apple delivered with iOS 15 focus on sharing experiences. With a future update, you’ll be able to listen to music and watch movies or TV shows with friends and family via FaceTime. A new section called “Shared with You” in the Messages app lets you keep track of photos, articles, and more than friends text you.

In the new iOS 15, the Focus feature lets you filter notifications according to what you are doing. Notifications themselves have been refined, along with a new summary view that minimizes the number of constant notifications.

Additionally, iOS 15 features a redesigned Safari (I actually don’t like the address bar at the bottom, but Apple lets you change it), a full-featured Weather app, and enhanced Maps with better road views. In addition to recognizing text in real-time via a camera, Live Text performs translations and looks up things when using the camera.

Issues and problems with iPhone 13

There have been a few reported problems with the iPhone 13. Apparently, a fix is on the way for iPhone 13 users who are unable to unlock their devices with an Apple Watch. There are also reports of some iPhone 13 owners complaining that the touchscreen is not responsive enough, which could be caused by iOS 15.

Some iPhone 13 Pro owners have complained that the cameras automatically switch between lenses without warning. Apple will be releasing an update that will enable users to disable this feature. Additionally, Apple will be updating the iPhone 13 Pros with ProMotion displays that run at 120Hz in some cases.

For Against
Excellent battery life Charges more slowly than its rivals
Exceptional performance The cinematic mode is capped at 1080p
A captivating cinematic video mode The display isn’t 120Hz
Excellent cameras
An improved display

iPhone 13 review: Final verdict

 With the iPhone 13, Apple enhances what was already the best iPhone for most people with a number of welcome enhancements. In addition, I like the longer battery life of the iPhone 12, as even the iPhone 12’s endurance was disappointing. If you own a device older than the iPhone 11 or 12, I would recommend that you upgrade to the new phone.

A smaller notch won’t make that much of a difference to most people. Rather, it’s the camera that truly makes this phone stand out. In low-light conditions, the A15 Bionic performs even better, and computational photography features like Cinematic mode and Photographic styles extend the A15’s capabilities way beyond benchmarks.

I am also pleased with Apple’s decision to double the storage to 128GB, as this move has been long overdue and pushes the new iPhone closer to Android phones. In my opinion, Apple should offer faster charging – either through USB-C or MagSafe – and a 120Hz display next time around.

What a phone can do is groundbreaking, and the iPhone 13 goes beyond what you think you can do with a camera phone.