iPhone 13

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini on the left and iPhone 13 Pro Max and Pro on the right.

iPhone is a smartphone from Apple. Since inception, it remains Apple’s best selling product. Just like any other smartphones, the iPhone has morph from a phone with smart features like music player, web browser to a multi functional hand-held computer that is basically an essential item for the modern human. And on September 14th 2021, Apple updated their iPhone lineup and introduced the iPhone 13 line up

New Features Highlights

Design - Apple’s design is always evolution instead of revolutionary and that is not necessarily a bad thing. As expected, there’s tweaks here and there, but for the most part, same design as the iPhone 12.

Sizing The height and the width of the iPhone 13 models are identical to their iPhone 12 counterpart. The only difference is that thickness of the phone which are slightly thicker at 7.65mm instead of 7.4mm in the iPhone 12. If your case is really snug, it might not fit.

Cinematic Mode

Cinema Mode Using the LIDAR and ML to recognize objects, it does two main things: recognize certain objects are people and put the focus on that subject and blurs the background artificially to give that cinematic look. You can automatically or manually adjust the focus based on the object detected. It would be very interesting to see what kind of external gadgets that will be build around this cinematic feature. Furthermore, you can adjust the depth of field / focus after you made the shot.

According to MacRumours which did some test, this is the best iPhone camera yet and that alone is worth the upgrade.

Colors - The standard model comes in 5 colors: Starlight (white), Midnight (black), Blue, Pink and (Product) RED.

New camera system

Camera Brand new camera system which necessitates a redesign of the camera housing. The aperture stays the same, but Apple claims the sensors are larger and therefore, more light sensitive.

Macro With the new camera system, you can now take pictures up to 2cm away from the subject. Works for video so you can get that close up shot too. When moving closer to the an object, the iPhone will switch the camera to ultra wide lens. Early release shows that you can’t change which lens it uses for macro via the zoom function. It is reported that a software update will / has fixed this.

Display - 6.1" OLED display and 5.4" for the Mini version. Carry over from the previous version but the typical brightness has been bumped up to 800 nits instead of 625 nits on the iPhone 12.

The Notch - The notch has been update the first time since the introduction in iPhone X. It is slightly thinner but at the same time slightly taller. Overall, the notch is still there although you still don’t notice it when you look at your phone screen. How they did this is by pushing the pushing the ear piece speaker to the edge and rearranging the FaceID and front camera components around.

A15 chip - Brand new chip from Apple. Apple claims that it is the fastest mobile chip ever. The Pro models has 5 graphic cores instead of 4 on the standard model. Manufacturer usually done this by binning the chips, so you have multiple-tiers of selling price and also increase your yields. One thing to note during the presentation is that they no longer compare to the A14 chip, so it’s only marginally faster than the A14, no longer has the 20% to 30% margin as before.

Photographic style. Filters with ML to help tweak that filter settings. Don't ask why the model looks uncomfortable.

Photographic Styles In the camera settings, you can adjust the color rendering to change the look of the picture that you are taking. Such modes are called VIVID, monochrome, shepia and others. Apple take it one step further by introducing Photography Styles by taking the adjustment on automatic. ML mostly.

Sensor Shift Optical Image Stabilization Previously, the sensor shift is only for the Pro Max model. Now all models has the sensor shift optical image stabilization. When taking pictures or video, it stabilize your image by moving the entire sensor image to counteract your natural hand movement.

Battery Life With new chip, more efficiency is gain. And the by product of that is extended battery life. I suspect they didn’t increase the battery density that much, but optimize the A14 design to be more power efficient.

Pro Features Highlights

Colors Comes in 4 colors: Sierra Blue, Silver, Gold and Graphite (greyish hue).

Faster chip The Pro models uses the A15 like the standard model but has 5-core GPU instead of the standard’s 4. So graphic performance is expected to be slightly faster than the standard model.

iPhone 13 Pro camera system.

Camera System Just like the iPhone 13, the iPhone 13 Pro has a new camera system which Apple claims an upgrade over the old one with bigger and more sensitive sensor suite.

ProRes video format ProRes is Apple propriety format to records RAW video footage. Usually used by professional because you retain more information which later can be use to tweak your video like your color, contrast and highlights. You can now record ProRes in your iPhone 13 Pro. It’s 1080p 30fps for the 128GB vesion and 4K 30fps for the higher storage version.

Larger Screen The Pro line up features the Max model where you’ll get a monster 6.7" screen.

ProMotion The phone can vary their display refresh rate from 10Hz for static content to 120Hz when you are moving your screen around or playing a video that need higher refresh rate. Slowing down the fresh rate when doing nothing much can improve your battery life and it shows.

With new camera system, you can get close up and take macro shots like this.

Telephoto lens The Pro models from with Telephoto lens. Telephoto is great for taking portrait picture or getting a macro shot of a subject. The zoom capabilities is increased from the previous 12 Pros from 5x to 6x on optical zoom and from 10x to 15x for digital zoom.

Other features

MagSafe MagSafe is a Qi compatible charging standard by Apple. improvements over the Qi charging standard is it uses magnets to align the induction coil so it will give a higher charge rate. The iPhone Mini MagSafe charging is limited to 12W instead of 15W on the other iPhones.

IP68 Up to 6 meters underwater for 30 minutes and don’t mind the dust. Sometime I take underwater pictures with the phone.

Dolby Atmos HDR Dolby Atmos is a standard about taking videos in HDR.

Portrait Mode Works in low light conditions too.

NFC reader Integration with Apple Pay and Apple Wallet. With NFC, you can put your credit card and transit card and use your phone to pay for the subway or food.

The environment Apple like to flex their green credentials and it is no different on the iPhone 13. The packaging does not come with plastic wrapping and the screen protector is made from paper, not plastic anymore. Gold contacts are recycled (keep your iPhones in the future), as are with other materials like tungsten or rare earth element. You can find more details by Apple on the iPhone 13 here.


Overall, the iPhone 13 is an evolutionary upgrade from the past iPhone 12. Apple has been making smart phones for more than 15 years (14 years from first launch) so the smartphone by large is a very mature product. The next step is of course foldable, but since the tech still have some issues (feel, debris ingress on the hinges, etc ..) we won’t see the foldable iPhone anytime soon.

As if you should upgrade your iPhone (or Android) to the new iPhone 13, it depends on where are you coming from. If you are coming from …

… iPhone 12 - The iPhone 12 was released when the globalized world stopped because of an unprecedented event: The Pandemic. Now, the world start to slowly turns again, we come to this question, should I upgrade to 13 from 12? Unless, you need features like ProRes, a better camera system because you mainly shoot in low light and a better battery life, the answer is no.

… iPhone 11 - The iPhone 11 is the last iPhone with the chamfered sides design that dates back to the iPhone 6. The A13 is so good, that this processor which was released in 2019 can actually keep up with SnapDragon 888, a processor for high-end phones in 2020. So, unless you really need that iPhone 13 features, you can definitely keep on using that iPhone 11.

… iPhone X/Xs - The iPhone X is truly a groundbreaking iPhone. First with FaceID. First with OLED screen. A big screen in a small package. The only downfall of the X is the battery life which Apple fixed in the Xs. The X was a technological marvel, but the A11 can barely keep up with the demands. Later iPhones provide much needed headroom for the iPhone to truly shine. So, best to upgrade if you can.

… iPhone 8 and below - You will definitely notice that OLED screen improvement on the iPhone 13. You’ll find out that the ultra-wide lens is very useful and can create more unique pictures than the telephoto lens. And everything is faster on the iPhone 13. Definitely a solid upgrade.

iPhone 13 vs Older iPhones

iPhone 13 Pro line might has all the highlights and latest tech, but one should not forgo the progress that the baseline iPhone 13 has made over the years. iPhone 13 compared to 12, 11, Xr, 8, 7 and 6s.

… other Android phones - Welcome to the iPhone world! The plus of going into the iPhone world is the ecosystem when you use other Apple product.


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Tech Spec and comparison

Feature iPhone 13 Mini iPhone 13 iPhone 13 Pro iPhone 13 Pro Max
Screen Size (inches) 5.4 6.1 6.7
Screen resolution (pixels) 2340 x 1080 2532 x 1170 2778 x 1284
Typical max brightness (nits) 800 1000
Typical HDR max brightness (nits) 1200
Rear Camera System
Ultra wide f/2.4 f/1.8
Wide f/1.6 f/1.5
Telephoto - f/2.8
LIDAR scanner - yes
Optical zoom range 2x 6x
Digital zoom range 5x 15x
Apple ProRAW No Yes
Apple ProRes No Yes
Night Mode Portrait No Yes
HDR Video recording (fps) Up to 4K 60 fps
Video Image stabilization Sensor shift optical
Dimensions and Weight
Height (mm) 131.5 146.7 146.7 160.8
Width (mm) 64.2 71.5 71.5 78.1
Depth (mm) 7.65
Weight (g) 141 174 204 240
Video playback (hours) 17 19 22 28
Video playback, streamed (hours) 13 15 20 25
Audio playback (hours) 55 75 95
Storage (GB) 128, 256 or 512 128, 256, 512 or 1024
Sidebar Aluminum Stainless steel
Feature iPhone 13 / 13 Mini iPhone 12 / 12 Mini iPhone 11 iPhone Xr
Launch Date September 2021 October 2020 September 2019 September 2018
Launch Price $799 / $699 $799 / $699 $699 $749
September 2021 Price - $695 / $689 $536 $339
Screen Size 6.1" / 5.4" OLED Display 6.1" LCD Display
Screen resolution (pixels) 2532 x 1170 / 2340 x 1080 1792 x 829
Typical max brightness (nits) 800 625
Typical HDR max brightness (nits) 1200 -
Rear Camera System
Ultra wide f/2.4 -
Wide f/1.6 f/1.8
Telephoto -
LIDAR scanner -
Optical zoom range 2x -
Digital zoom range 5x
Apple ProRAW -
Night Mode Portrait -
HDR Video recording (fps) 4K up to 60fps 4K up to 30 fps -
Video Image stabilization Sensor-shift Optical Optical
Dimensions and Weight
Height (mm) 146.7 / 131.5 150.9
Width (mm) 64.2 / 71.5 75.7
Depth (mm) 7.65 7.4 8.3
Weight (g) 174 / 141 164 / 135 194
Video playback (hours) 19 / 17 17 / 15 17 16
Video playback, streamed (hours) 15 / 13 11 / 10 10 -
Audio playback (hours) 75 / 55 65 / 50 65
Storage (GB) 128, 256 or 512 64, 128 or 256 64 or 128
Sidebar Aluminum
Feature iPhone 13 Pro / 13 Pro Max iPhone 12 Pro / 12 Pro Max iPhone 11 Pro / 11 Pro Max iPhone Xs / Xs Max
Launch Date September 2021 October 2020 September 2019 September 2018
Launch Price $999 / $1099
September 2021 Price - $940 / $1330 $669 / $669 $369 / $421
Screen Size 6.1" or 6.7" OLED Super Retina XDR Display 5.8" or 6.5" OLED Super Retina XDR Display 5.8" or 6.5" OLED Super Retina Display
Screen resolution (pixels) 2532 x 1170 / 2778 x 1284 2436 x 1125 / 2688 x 1242
Typical max brightness (nits) 1000 800 625
Typical HDR max brightness (nits) 1200 -
Rear Camera System
Ultra wide f/1.8 f/2.4 -
Wide f/1.5 f/1.6 f/1.8
Telephoto f/2.8 f/2.0 / f/2.2 f/2.0 f/2.4
LIDAR scanner Yes -
Optical zoom range 6x 4x / 5x 4x 2x
Digital zoom range 15x 10x / 12x 10x
Apple ProRAW Yes -
Apple ProRes Yes -
Night Mode Portrait Yes -
HDR Video recording (fps) 4K Upto 60 fps -
Video Image stablization Sensor Shift Optical Optical / Sensor Shift Optical Optical
Dimensions and Weight
Height (mm) 146.7 / 160.8 144.0 / 158.0 143.6 / 157.5
Width (mm) 71.5 / 78.1 71.4 / 77.8 70.9 / 77.4
Depth (mm) 7.65 7.4 8.1 7.7
Weight (g) 204 / 240 189 / 228 188 / 226 177 / 208
Video playback (hours) 22 / 28 17 / 20 18 / 20 14 / 15
Video playback, streamed (hours) 20 / 25 11 / 12 -
Audio playback (hours) 75 / 95 65 / 80 60 / 65
Storage (GB) 128, 256, 512 or 1024 128, 256 or 512
Sidebar Stainless Steel