Admittedly, iPhone 13 isn't as exciting as iPhone 12 with its new design, 5G and MagSafe. But with
the usual upgrades in performance, camera and most importantly battery life, we can easily
recommend iPhone 13 to anyone looking to buy a new iPhone.
Sure, 'upgrades as usual' is the minimum requirement for any new device, but that's perfectly fine.
The iPhone 13 is the perfect upgrade for current owners of older iPhones, because it's a refined
version of the iPhone 12, which was responsible for starting the larger upgrade.
Apple's latest iPhone design is rarely discussed because all the attention was focused on last year's
iPhone 12, and the design of the iPhone 13 is rarely discussed. Apart from the new colour options,
the smaller notch and the new camera positioned diagonally on the back, it's almost identical to the
In short, iPhone 13 has the same flat edges and display glass as iPhone 12, with matte metal on the
edges and glass on the back.
Owners of iPhones with rounded edges will notice the biggest difference, but iPhone 12 owners may
notice a 10g increase in weight with iPhone 13, which now weighs 174g. That's about the same
weight as iPhone X or XS, but noticeably lighter than the 194g of iPhone 11.
In short, iPhone 13 is beautifully weighted and easy to handle. It's the ideal 'one size fits all' weight
and size that many people will appreciate. iPhone 13 Pro has the same footprint, but is noticeably
heavier. This is the trade-off for premium features such as an extra zoom camera and stainless steel
As for the new notch, Apple has made it smaller, which is a good thing, but it doesn't have a huge
impact. For example, you won't be able to see the battery level in the top right corner of the screen.
In other respects, it's hard to ignore.
Minor upgrades from iPhone 12
Major upgrade from: iPhone 11 and earlier
Not an upgrade from: iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro
Apple has upgraded the screen on the standard (not Pro) iPhone 13 to be 28% brighter than the
previous standard iPhone, making the screen easier to see in bright sunlight. iPhone 13 has the same
brightness as the iPhone 12 series and iPhone 11 Pro, with a brightness of It goes up to 1200 nits for
HDR photos and videos.
Brightness is only a small upgrade over iPhone 12, and users of iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro
won't notice a big difference, as both feature Apple's Super Retina XDR OLED display. Current users
of iPhone 11 and earlier models will see the most difference.
The ceramic shield glass panel that protects the screen has not been upgraded compared to the
iPhone 12. I've only had my iPhone 13 for a little over a week and so far it hasn't been scratched. The
ceramic shield glass has proven to be very resistant to scratches. After almost a year of use without a
screen protector, my iPhone 12 Pro Max shows no signs of scratches, so I expect the same for my
Unfortunately, only the iPhone 13 Pro series uses a variable refresh rate of 120Hz, which means that
swiping in iOS, apps and games is smooth on the screen. It's a bit of a shame, but not an absolute no-
no – after switching between iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro so many times, we hardly miss having a
120Hz refresh rate.
Minor upgrades from: iPhone 12, iPhone 11
Major upgrade from: iPhone XS and earlier
Powered by the A15 Bionic processor, iPhone 13 performs almost as well as any other new iPhone.
You can open and run apps and games quickly and smoothly. And if you have an older iPhone,
especially one before iPhone XS, it'll breathe new life into your iPhone experience.
That said, the new processor doesn't just provide a simple performance boost, it also enables new
features and other enhancements, including new camera modes, photo quality upgrades, and even
longer battery life, which we'll discuss below.
Apple claims that the A15 Bionic processor in the iPhone 13 is 50% faster than the competition, but
at least when comparing benchmark scores between the iPhone 13 and its direct competitor, the
Samsung Galaxy S21, the company is almost certainly correct. But at least when you compare
benchmark scores between the iPhone 13 and its direct competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S21, the
company's claims are almost certainly correct.
In the Geekbench 5 benchmarking tool, the iPhone 13 received an average score of 1,730 for single-
core processor performance and an average score of 4,700 for multi-core performance. This is 57%
higher than the Galaxy S21's single-core score in the same benchmark, and 44% higher than its multi-
core score. On average, the A15 Bionic fared better by 50.5%. In practice, however, we didn't notice
any significant difference.
A big improvement on previous iPhones
Battery life is much improved on the iPhone 13. On our test unit, we were able to stream video over
WiFi at full screen brightness for 14 hours and 28 minutes. This is a dramatic improvement on the
iPhone 12, which lasted just 11 hours and 54 minutes in the same test. It also compares favourably
with Samsung's Galaxy S21, which lasted 12 hours and 46 minutes.
This improvement in battery life is due to the larger battery, more power-efficient screen and
improved power efficiency of the new A15 Bionic processor compared to the A14 Bionic in the
The iPhone 13 does not come with a charger, but it does have a
-to-Lightning cable is included. The lack of a charger is unfortunate for those who don't have a USB-C
charger, but you can still use your existing iPhone cable and charger.
For users of USB-C MacBooks and USB-C iPad Air/Pro, it's a shame that Apple is clinging to the
Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, as it would be great to be able to charge the iPhone with the
same charger and cable. At this stage, most of my devices – wireless earphones, wireless
headphones, tablets and laptops – use USB-C for charging, so I can use one charger and cable for all
my devices in the living room, bedroom and office. However, in the case of the iPhone, you need a
separate Lightning cable, which can get in the way and is inconvenient if you don't have a Lightning
Conversely, with the Lightning connector, you can use your existing iPhone cable to charge your
iPhone and not have to buy a new USB-C to USB-C charging cable. What's more, the billions of
Lightning cables and supporting accessories in the world will soon become unusable and discarded,
creating large amounts of e-waste. But that shouldn't stand in the way of progress.
Apple switched from MagSafe to USB-C on Mac laptops, some iPads followed suit, and people
responded. And now Apple is leading people back to MagSafe.
It should be either USB-C, MagSafe or an upgrade to Lightning technology.
Minor upgrades from iPhone 12 and iPhone 11
Major upgrade from iPhone XS and earlier
The new dual-camera on iPhone 13 has a number of upgrades, including a larger sensor that captures
more light for sharper photos and more detail in low-light conditions. It's also great to see that
Apple's Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), which compensates for camera shake, is now available on
the standard iPhone 13, whereas last year it was only available on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
As you might expect, the iPhone 13 takes reliably beautiful photos.
In low light, iPhone 13 takes surprisingly clear photos that look grainy and blurry with traditional
camera technology. Depending on how dark it is, you may still need to hold your iPhone still for a few
seconds to take a photo.
But with the LiDar sensor in the iPhone 13 Pro model, this can be improved.
Apple has also added a number of new camera modes exclusive to the iPhone 13 series, including a
new Cinematic mode and Photographic style.
Cinematic mode shifts the focus from one subject to another in video, and it works surprisingly well.
However, it's unlikely that cinematic mode will become a commonly used feature.
Photographic Tiles are presets that allow you to customize tones and temperatures – warm, cool,
bright, high-contrast – to radically change the way your photos look. If you like the contrast of
Google's Pixel photos but don't feel like changing the ecosystem, you can simulate the look of the
Pixel in your iPhone photos. The Camera app remembers your Photographic Style settings, so you
don't have to redo them every time you open the camera.
As always, Apple's latest iPhones are excellent, if not quite as big a leap forward as the iPhone 12.
The company continues to improve the camera, screen, battery life and performance, making the
iPhone 13 a worthy successor to the iPhone 12 and one that we can easily recommend.