After a year of rumors and speculation, the iPhone 13 is finally here. It’s a much bigger upgrade than we expected, with crazy cool features like a new Cinematic camera mode, a smaller Face ID notch, brighter display technology, and a longer battery life in all models. These new features and refinements may convince you to upgrade, even if you’re a proud iPhone 12 owner.
If you’re looking for the new iPad, the jumbo iPad Mini, and the Apple Watch Series 7, check our full writeup on everything Apple announced at its California Streaming event.
A Refined Design
Apple is sticking with the same four-model lineup as it did last year, despite reports of disappointing iPhone 12 Mini sales. That means iPhone 13 buys have four devices to choose from—the iPhone 13 (6.1-inch) and iPhone 13 Mini (5.4-inch), which are practically identical aside from their display sizes, and the upgraded iPhone 13 Pro (6.1-inch) and Pro Max (6.7-inch).
These new iPhones refine the flat-edged design that Apple introduced last year, with ceramic shield glass and IP68 water resistance. The rear camera array is also slightly larger than previous models, rearranging each lens in a diagonal pattern to accommodate more hardware. In fact—the phone’s internals are fully rearranged for a bigger battery. (Apple says this battery lasts 1.5 hours longer in iPhone 13 Mini, 2.5 hours longer in iPhone 13, and 1.5 hours longer on the Pro and Pro Max.)
More importantly, Apple managed to shrink the Face ID notch by moving the iPhone 13’s earpiece to its frame’s bezel. There’s also a new Super Retina XDR display (LTPO display) that’s 28% brighter than previous models and extra power-efficient, a benefit that Pro and Pro Max buyers benefit from thanks to a new 120Hz refresh rate.
As always, the Pro and Pro Max models have fancy stainless frames. A new textured back glass makes the Pro and Pro Max models less slippery, and exclusive color options give Pro users something to show off.
Killer New Display Technology
Goodbye OLED, hello battery-friendly LTPO. All models of iPhone 13 sport Apple’s signature LTPO display technology, which first debuted in the Apple Watch a few years back. LTPO displays require less power than OLED panels without sacrificing the deep, rich contrast that iPhone users are now used to.
These new LTPO panels are incredibly power efficent, opening the door to 120Hz refresh rates in the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. Apple calls its adaptive refresh rate technology “ProMotion,” as it automatically adjusts itself to minimize battery usage as you scroll, play games, or watch videos.
And as I mentioned before, the new LTPO displays are 28% brighter than Apple’s old OLED screens. That means a peak brightness of 1,000 nits or 1,200 nits with HDR content—perfect for outdoor use.
Performance Goes Through the Roof
The new iPhone 13 sports an A15 Bionic chip with 6 CPU cores and a massive 16-core neural engine. While the performance benefits of this chip are still a bit unclear, Apple seems most interested in how it boosts the iPhone’s AI systems, particularly the computational AI used for photo processing and the new Live Caption feature in iOS 15.
An upgraded 5-core GPU provides 50% faster graphics performance than other smartphones, though only the most intense gaming or video editing apps may actually take advantage of this horsepower.
And finally, Apple is upgrading the iPhone 13’s base storage from 64GB to 128GB. Customers can still buy the iPhone 13 with 256GB, or go crazy with the new 512GB storage configuration. Or, you know, go even crazier with the new 1TB option on Pro and Pro Max models.
Apple’s engineers designed A15 Bionic with camera technology in mind, meaning that we should see improved camera and video performance in all settings. Of course, the iPhone 13 lineup is also gaining upgraded lens hardware and a handful of fancy new camera features.
What’s That? A Camera Upgrade?
While the iPhone 13 has the same camera selection as the iPhone 12, its camera hump is slightly larger to accommodate more powerful hardware. That means better overall photo quality, especially when using the wide or ultra-wide lens, which use larger sensors to capture more light in iPhone 13. A new OIS system is also making its way to the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini—this feature was previously a Pro exclusive.
Crazy enough, the new iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max get an upgraded 77mm telephoto lens for 3X zoom or … macro photography! We’re not sure how Apple managed to pull this off, but the company says that its telephoto lens doubles as a macro lens. And for the first time, all of the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max lenses support Night Mode.
The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max also gain ProRes video improvements, allowing you to shoot 4K HDR content at 30FPS.
Need more? All new models of iPhone support a new Cinematic Mode. This mode shoots video in HDR with rack focus effects—the thing in movies where the camera dynamically adjusts focus between foreground, mid-ground, and background subjects. You can control these settings manually by tapping on subjects while filming, or leave your iPhone 13 to handle everything on its own.
When Can I Buy It?
Pre-orders for the iPhone 13 lineup begin Friday, September 17th. Pricing starts at $699 for the iPhone 13 Mini, $799 for the standard iPhone13, $999 for the iPhone 13 Pro, and an eye-watering $1,099 for the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Units ship September 24th. Keep in mind that Apple accepts device trade-ins on its website (even Android devices), and some carriers will offer upgrade discounts for those who purchase an iPhone 13.