Apple’s iPhone 13 series, which includes the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, has been available for two months. And the deals for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday shopping season have never looked better. Which iPhone, though, should you purchase?
Both the 13 and 13 Pro are fantastic flagship phones, but how do they differ and which is the better buy? Has Apple learned from its mistakes from the previous year and differentiated its Pro model appropriately this time?
The iPhone 13 had a slightly higher score than the iPhone 13 Pro, but that doesn’t mean it’s the superior device. It’ll take some time to unpack this one.
iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: price and availability
Both the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 Pro hit shops on September 24, 2021.
Pricing for the iPhone 13 starts at $799 / £799 / AU$1,349 for the entry 128GB model, moving up to $899 / £879 / AU$1,519 for 256GB and $1099 / £1079 / AU$1,869 for 512GB.
The iPhone 13 Pro’s 128GB model will set you back $999 / £949 / AU$1,699, while the 256GB model will cost $1,099 / £1,049 / AU$1,869, and the 512GB model will cost $1,299 / £1,249 / AU$2,219. But there are plenty of iPhone 13 deals to be had on both models.
Unsurprisingly, then, the iPhone 13 Pro is the more expensive phone of the two by some way. But it gains its own advantage with the introduction of an additional 1TB model for $1,499 / £1,449 / AU$2,569.
iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: design
Apple’s iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro have fairly identical designs, as we’ve come to expect from the company. Furthermore, they bear little resemblance to the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro that preceded them, with the same startling flat-edged design.
These two phones are also the same size, measuring 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm. The iPhone 13 Pro, on the other hand, is a touch heavier at 204g, compared to the 174g iPhone 13.
One explanation for this is the way materials are used. The iPhone 13 Pro boasts a gleaming stainless steel rim, but the iPhone 13 has a lighter and less durable aluminium body.
Pink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight, and Product Red are available for the iPhone 13, while Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Sierra Blue are available for the iPhone 13 Pro. To be honest, they’re all a little muted, albeit the Sierra Blue on the iPhone 13 Pro and the pink on the iPhone 13 are the standouts in their respective ranges.
Both phones have larger camera modules than their iPhone 12-series counterparts, with the iPhone 12 Pro’s being the larger of the two. It’s a beast in every way, as we’ll go over later.
Around the front of both phones is Apple’s nano-crystalline Ceramic Shield screen technology, which makes them extremely durable. Both have an IP68 rating, which means they can be submerged for up to 30 minutes in six metres of water.
Both phones have a 20 percent reduction in the size of their notches, albeit it’s hardly the most significant design change we’ve seen.
iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: display
Both phones have 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED screens with the same resolution of 1170 x 2532. But, unlike their immediate predecessors, this time there is a significant distinction between them.
In normal situations, the iPhone 13 Pro can reach 1,000 nits of brightness, compared to the iPhone 13’s 800 nits, and both can reach 1,200 nits when viewing HDR material.
But it isn’t the major distinction we were discussing: That would be the iPhone 13 Pro’s debut of a 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate, whereas the iPhone 13 continues to use the 60Hz refresh rate.
When scrolling through menus or system apps, the difference is most evident, and switching back to the iPhone 13 from the iPhone 13 Pro might seem abrupt. However, the vast majority of consumers will not make the switch backwards, and will find the iPhone 13 display to be perfectly smooth.
The smaller notches give you a little more screen real estate than before, but neither is a game changer.
Overall, the iPhone 13 Pro’s faster response rate and brighter display make it the superior panel to its non-Pro sibling. However, you’ll have to compare the two phones side by side at an Apple Store to judge whether or not the price difference is justified.
iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: cameras
In terms of camera quality, both of these phones are significant upgrades. For its dual 12MP system, the iPhone 13 borrows several essential components from last year’s iPhone 12 Pro Max, while the iPhone 13 Pro’s triple 12MP system advances farther.
The mains sensor of the iPhone 13 can capture 47 percent more light than the iPhone 12’s and creates big 1.7m pixels rather than the iPhone 12’s 1.4m. The iPhone 13 Pro’s broad sensor, on the other hand, is considerably larger, delivering 1.9 million pixels instead of the iPhone 12 Pro’s 1.4 million.
Both cameras have the sensor shift stabilisation technique that made the iPhone 12 Pro Max so impressive in low-light situations last year. Night mode on both phones is stunning, yet the iPhone 13 Pro reigns supreme in this department.
Although both ultra-wide sensors have been enhanced, the iPhone 13 Pro also boasts a 12MP 3X telephoto lens for zoomed-in images. For such close-ups, the iPhone 13 must crop in on the primary sensor, which is a significant disadvantage.
Of course, Apple’s software advancements benefit each new iPhone camera just as much as any hardware enhancements. As a result, the new Photographic Styles function is available on both phones, allowing you to radically alter the tone of your photos, whether you want them to be warmer, colder, more colourful, or more contrasty.
Both phones also have a new rack focusing feature called ‘Cinematic mode,’ which essentially gives your films the same effect that Portrait mode gives stills. It lets you modify the focus on a scene even after it’s been finished, and it can predict when a subject will enter the frame and even track a subject’s gaze.
In our tests, the feature functioned well, and it’s likely to be most useful to aspiring vloggers and filmmakers, even if it’s not quite the pro tool Apple is pitching it as.
While we’re on the subject of video, ProRes is a capability that’s exclusive to the iPhone 13 Pro – or will be once it’s released. This is a professional video codec that contains extra information for better editing. We’ll have to update this once we’ve had an opportunity to test it, but one thing to keep in mind is that the 128GB iPhone 13 Pro will be limited to 1080p.
iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: specs and performance
Apple hasn’t differentiated much in terms of performance in the past, with its pro models receiving the same A-series CPU as the non-Pro series. This is mostly true again this year, with one notable exception.
Both phones are powered by the 5nm A15 Bionic chipset, which has a six-core CPU that’s 50% faster than the competition. The iPhone 13 Pro, on the other hand, has an extra GPU core (5 vs. 4), making it the speedier overall performance.
We challenge you to tell the difference in practise. Both phones are so quick that making comparisons is pointless, and there are no apps on the App Store that even come close to approaching their performance limits.
However, as compared to earlier models, the iPhone 13 Pro has unquestionably greater headroom this year. It’ll probably feel quick for a little longer, especially if you’re doing more intensive work.
The iPhone 13 scored 4688 in our Geekbench 5 multi-core tests, compared to 4718 for the iPhone 13 Pro. That gives the Pro a slight advantage, but the major takeaway is that no other phone comes close to either in terms of raw performance.
Both phones support more 5G bands than before, allowing them to connect to 5G networks in more countries. Only the US models get mmWave capabilities, and only a small percentage of Americans will be able to use such speeds anyhow.
Both phones come with 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage, as previously stated. The iPhone 13 Pro, on the other hand, takes one step further by offering a 1TB storage option.
iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: battery
The battery life is the one substantial enhancement that applies to both of these phones.
Both cells are larger than the ones that came before them. This, combined with the A15 Bionic’s efficiency enhancements, implies that both batteries will last significantly longer than before.
The iPhone 13 comes with a 3240mAh battery, whereas the iPhone 13 Pro has a 3095mAh cell. You could believe that giving the Pro handset the smaller battery is a little counter-intuitive. However, while the Pro’s 120Hz display appears to be a more power-hungry component, this isn’t always the case.
When the use case calls for it, Apple’s clever variable refresh rate technology allows the iPhone 13 Pro’s display to drop down to 10Hz. Only in certain situations, such as scrolling across home screens, menus, or web pages, does it run at full 120Hz.
As a result, both phones have exceptional battery life. Apple promises that the iPhone 13 would last 2.5 hours longer on a single charge than the iPhone 12, and the iPhone 13 Pro will last 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12 Pro.
After a full day of use, both phones tended to leave us with roughly 20% of the battery remaining. The iPhone 13 lasts a little longer, though, because we were able to stretch the screen-on time a little further.
MagSafe is back for another year, this time with 15W magnetised wireless charging. However, like with the ordinary 20W wired charger that both phones allow, you’ll have to purchase this separately.
Both phones will be slightly over half full after 30 minutes on one of these chargers. Not spectacular, but not horrible either.