IPhone 13 Pro review: An obvious update, but not a minor one. iPhone 13 pro features

iPhone 13 Pro review: An obvious update, but not a minor one

The iPhone 13 Pro is absurdly fast, has a killer camera system, the display is fantastic, and the battery life is longer than ever. We have a few nits to pick, but Apple has made it easy to love its latest “Pro” iPhone.

Best Today: iPhone 13 Pro

Early in the 2021 iPhone rumor lifecycle, it was reported that Apple might call this year’s offering the iPhone 12s. Previous “S” model iPhones —such as the iPhone 6s or iPhone XS—would generally keep the same design and features of the previous year’s model, with a faster processor, better camera, and a single standout new feature.

Though Apple didn’t go with the iPhone 12s name, it may have been a fitting monicker, at least where the Pro models are concerned. The iPhone 13 Pro is essentially the iPhone 12 Pro with a faster processor, better camera, and one big standout feature (ProMotion).

But to treat it so reductively is to do it a disservice. The scale of improvements here is noteworthy, and the gap between Pro and non-Pro models is significant. This is essentially the iPhone 12 Pro with ProMotion, a better camera system, faster performance, and better battery life. That’s not a surprising or particularly innovative set of improvements, but it still adds up to one hell of a nice iPhone.

Refined design

While the iPhone 13 Pro looks a lot like the iPhone 12 Pro at a glance and indeed is a sort of fraternal twin, there are differences. Some are subtle, others jump right out at you.

The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are nearly the exact same physical dimensions as the iPhone 12 Pro models they replace. These are heavy phones, just as their predecessors were; a natural side-effect of the stainless steel frame.

Not much has changed when it comes to durability, not that we’re complaining. The iPhone 13 Pro still carries IP68 water and dust resistance rating and is rated for up to 30 minutes at a depth of six meters. It’s got the same Ceramic Shield front glass, too.

The silver, graphite, and gold colors from last year return, but Pacific Blue has been replaced with Sierra Blue, a much lighter shade that looks nice enough, though I prefer last year’s darker hue.

iphone, review, obvious, update

While USB-C is creeping its way through all of Apple’s other products—it’s now the only port on MacBooks, the M1 iMac, iPad Pros, the iPad Air, and iPad mini—the company still refuses to move the iPhone line to this more universal plug. If you have a bunch of Apple gear, you have Lightning and USB-C charging cables. And for no good reason, really. Come on, Apple. It’s time.

Speaking of charging, there’s not much new there. You still get a USB-C to Lightning cable in the box but no power adapter or headphones. Charging performance is unchanged: you get up to 50 percent charge in 30 minutes with a 20W USB-C adapter. You’ll need a USB-C charger so check out our recommendations for the best iPhone charger and also the best MagSafe charger.

Storage options still start at 128GB, with options for 256GB, 512GB, and now a new 1TB option. That’s an obscene amount of storage for a phone and really only worthwhile if you think you’re going to shoot a lot of videos (especially in ProRes format).

The design changes you will notice right away are the smaller notch and much bigger camera module. The rear camera area is dramatically larger and sticks out further, to the point where you might not actually be able to put your phone on some stands or car mounts without a case that makes the camera bump sit flush. Note that most of Apple’s first-party cases do not!

The notch on the front where the speaker and TrueDepth sensors reside is now 20 percent narrower, which is nice, but the extra screen space is going entirely to waste. You don’t get any additional icons or information in the status bar. Surely Apple must know that everyone wants the battery percentage back, right?

This year, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max have the exact same camera system and software features, so you don’t have to buy the bigger one to get the better camera. This is the right approach, and we hope Apple continues it in the future.

ProMotion finally comes to iPhone

The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up an iPhone 13 Pro is just how smooth everything feels. Swipes, scrolls, interface animations…Apple was always good at this stuff, but the responsiveness and smoothness of the iPhone 13 Pro is on another level.

That’s thanks to a new OLED display that is more power-efficient and includes ProMotion technology similar to that found on the iPad Pro. Rather than always refreshing at 60Hz, the display can go as low as 10Hz and as high as 120Hz.

There are no settings for this; the phone continually adjusts the display refresh based on the content on screen. Play back a 24fps movie and the display will lock to 24Hz. Read static text and it’ll drop to 10Hz. Start scrolling and swiping around and it’ll ramp up to 120Hz.

Many apps that use standard iOS frameworks for scrolling and full-screen transitions will automatically take advantage of this, looking and feeling smoother as a result. Apps like games will require an update to take advantage of ProMotion, and there are currently some limitations there that don’t exist for iPad developers and will hopefully be lifted in future software updates.

The upshot of all this is that the display is smoother and faster when it matters most and more power efficient the rest of the time. This has an overall positive impact on battery life, which we’ll get to later.

The display is brighter, too: it goes up to 1,000 nits in standard use, up from 800 on the iPhone 12 Pro (the max is still 1,200 nits for HDR content). We’ve had some very bright and hot days here in Sacramento lately and you can clearly see the difference out in direct sunlight. In other circumstances, the screen looks just like the excellent iPhone 12 Pro display.

Enthusiasts have been begging for ProMotion on the iPhone ever since it landed on the iPad Pro four years ago. It’s just as good as we’ve always expected, and a clear differentiator between the Pro and standard iPhone 13. Now it just needs to come to the MacBook Pro and iMac!

The fastest smartphone money can buy

The A14 found in last year’s iPhone 12 is faster than any processor found today in any Android smartphone. No Qualcomm Snapdragon or Samsung Exynos can come close to last year’s best chip from Apple.

And now the A15 is faster. In some ways, much faster.

Like the A14, the A15 is made with a 5nm manufacturing process from TSMC, and still sports two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. Nonetheless, in our benchmark tests, we found the A15 delivers about 8-10 percent faster single-core CPU performance, and 15-20 percent better multi-core CPU performance.

The GPU is where things get really interesting. In the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini, the A15 still has a four-core GPU. In the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, however, it’s got a fifth core. That 25 percent increase in GPU cores makes it around 20-30 percent faster than the iPhone 13, and 40-50 percent faster than the iPhone 12 when it comes to 3D graphics and GPU compute tasks.

Put another way: The A15 with a four-core GPU delivers performance around 10-15 percent higher than the four-core GPU in the A14, and the A15 with a fifth core is 20-30 percent faster than that. It really separates the iPhone 13 from the iPhone 13 Pro.

Apple has made other improvements, too. There are power efficiency tweaks across the board, including in stuff like wireless radios. The image signal processor is upgraded, as is the video encoder and decoder (we hope it supports AV1). The Neural Engine has 16 cores, just like that in the A14, but it can do almost 16 trillion operations per second, up from 11 trillion.

Will you even notice all this speed? For most of the things you use your iPhone for, no. When last year’s processor is faster than the competition and this year’s processor is even faster, what do you even do with that? Most people use their phones for things like web browsing, email, texting, and apps that essentially scroll lists of images and text (, Instagram, ). A ProMotion display helps with all that, but a faster processor doesn’t necessarily make much difference.

It will probably be a few years before the applications and iOS features that really push the A15 are commonplace. All this performance is as much about longevity as it is about making your life better today.

Crazy-good battery life

The case for more smartphone performance can sometimes be hard to make. Millions of people use phones that are two or three years old and think they’re plenty fast for everything they do. If they need a new phone, they’re more concerned with it being affordable than it being a lot faster.

But ask anyone, anywhere, with any smartphone, if they want longer battery life, and the answer is yes. Yes, of course, yes, always yes.

Consider, then, that the iPhone 13 Pro gives you both. It’s fast enough to embarrass every other smartphone, and it lasts way longer than previous iPhones.

To start with, Apple simply put higher-capacity batteries in the entire iPhone 13 line. While the company doesn’t disclose specifics, regulatory filings show that the iPhone 13 Pro has a battery with about 11-percent more capacity than the iPhone 12 Pro, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s battery holds around 18-percent more charge.

The non-Pro iPhone 13 models have larger batteries as well, but they don’t have the more efficient LPTO OLED display nor ProMotion, which is a battery saver. Just as running the display at 120Hz eats through your battery faster, running it below 60Hz will conserve it.

The results are phenomenal. We run our battery test with the display set to a constant 200 nits while looping the Geekbench 4 battery rundown test, which puts significant strain on the CPU and GPU. The iPhone 13 Pro lasted 9 hours 15 minutes, an impressive 35 percent longer than the iPhone 12 Pro. It’s even longer than the iPhone 12 Pro Max (8 hours 41 minutes)!

My regular daily use has me just as impressed and the benchmarks. At the point where my iPhone 12 Pro would hit 20 percent and flash the low battery warning, the iPhone 13 Pro often shows 40 percent or more remaining. It’s extremely difficult to do an accurate comparison of real-world use, but I estimate that I’m getting about two hours more screen-on time.

If you’re coming from an older iPhone, you’re going to be shocked at how long the battery lasts. The iPhone 13 Pro is a big step up from the iPhone 12, but Apple has been steadily marching forward with battery life for years. The iPhone 13 Pro lasts about 50 percent longer than the iPhone 11, and twice as long as the iPhone XS introduced just three years ago.

A significantly better camera

The iPhone 13 Pro has an improved camera system, because of course it does. Every new iPhone does. The iPhone 13 Pro brings significant improvements to both camera hardware and software processing.

No one buys the best iPhone

On the hardware side, there are all new sensors. You’ll notice the huge camera bump on the back, far larger than that on the iPhone 12 Pro. That’s your first clue that things have changed a lot.

The telephoto camera has been increased from 2x to 3x, or an equivalent focal length of 77mm. That means the aperture narrows from f/2.0 to f/2.8 and you lose a bit of low light performance, but it’s a great change overall. It means better portraits with a nicer natural bokeh, rather than the fake bokeh of Portrait Mode on the iPhone 13. It gets you closer to distant subjects more naturally, without grainy digital zoom. And that slightly worse low light performance is partially negated by the fact that you can now shoot Night Mode shots with the telephoto camera.

The “sweet spot” for professional portrait photography is generally in the 85-105mm focal length range, so this new 77mm 3x telephoto lens gets us much closer to that flattering perspective.

iphone, review, obvious, update

The standard wide camera, where most people do most of their shooting, now has a much larger sensor. The resolution is still 12 megapixels, but the pixels are bigger at 1.9 microns and the aperture is a wider f/1.5. Apple says it captures 2.2x more light, and while I can’t attest to that, I’ve noticed it does a better job with detail and color in low light and seems to sometimes take Night Mode shots more quickly.

The Ultra-Wide camera has a wider f/1.8 aperture and performs better in low light, but the real trick is how well it focuses up close for macro shots. Move any other iPhone closer than about 4 inches from your subject and it becomes a blurry mess, but the iPhone 13 Pro takes macro shots with ease. The minimum focal distance for the Ultra-Wide camera is only two centimeters, so you can push the camera right up close to that flower, bug, jewelry, or miniature.

In Photo mode, the camera automatically shifts to Ultra-Wide when you get up close, while trying to maintain relative framing. Macro shots work in video too, even slo-mo, but you have to switch to the Ultra-Wide manually.

Macro shots aren’t a specific mode, just a natural capability of the Ultra-Wide camera, so there’s nothing to set or enable (though Apple says it will add an option to manually switch it out in a future iOS 15 update). Just push your iPhone way up close and get detailed shots like never before. This is one of those things that tons of people will make use of, all the time. It was a big limitation of smartphones in general, and it requires no special knowledge or settings to use. It’s also only on the iPhone 13 Pro models—the ultra-wide camera on the regular iPhone 13 doesn’t have the super-tight focal distance.

For a few years now, the “Pro” model iPhones have been the only place to get a telephoto camera and the main differentiator. But with the tighter 77mm zoom, the larger Wide sensor, and the Ultra-Wide’s wider aperture and macro capability, the camera system on the iPhone 13 Pro even further separates it from the iPhone 13.

Once again, the Pro models come with LiDAR and the non-Pro models don’t. This helps AR apps perform better and provides quicker and more accurate autofocus in poor lighting conditions, plus enabled Portrait Mode and Night Mode at the same time. It’s disappointing that Apple still hasn’t done anything really impressive or groundbreaking with LiDAR yet.

The front camera has not changed. It’s the same 12MP, f/2.2 selfie camera you’ll find on the iPhone 12. You get the better image processing, can use Photographic Styles, and can shoot in Cinematic mode, but the hardware hasn’t changed at all.

New photo and video tricks

Photographic Styles? Cinematic mode? Yes, the improved image processor in the A15 enables better image processing (Apple calls it Smart HDR 4) but the iPhone 13 has picked up a couple of new software tricks as well.

Tap the little down arrow in the Camera app to show adjustment controls, and you’ll find a new one: Photographic Styles. Swipe to change the style between Standard, Rich Contrast, Vibrant, Warm, and Cool styles. You can further customize the warmth and tone within each style.

Apple is careful to note that this isn’t simply a filter. Instead of a constant change applied evenly to an entire image, the style is part of the complex computational photography steps that produce your final image from multiple exposures. It’s applied differently to different parts of the scene, so a more vibrant style might make the sky bluer, but it won’t create an unnatural cartoon skin tone.

Just choose the one you like, tweak it you suit you, and it will be applied to all your images even after you close and reopen the Camera app. I think this is a feature everyone can appreciate. If you find the iPhone’s camera produces cold and sterile whites, you can warm them up. If you like the punchier colors of Samsung’s cameras, you can imitate that. You can create a “default” camera experience that suits you, with results that are more natural than a standard filter.

Cinematic mode is maybe less useful for your average iPhone user. It’s a whole new video mode that shoots at 1080p and 30 frames per second in Dolby Vision HDR, and requires a decent amount of light to work (you’ll get a warning if you try to shoot where it’s too dark). In this mode, the iPhone 13 will use AI to identify the subject in your video in order to automatically perform “FOCUS pulling.”

That’s a cinematic term for changing the FOCUS throughout a shot to keep a subject in FOCUS, or two switch FOCUS between the foreground and background. It’s such a common technique in film and TV that you probably don’t even really recognize it’s happening. Cinematic mode does this automatically and works surprisingly well, and the metadata for the focal distance is saved with the video so you can go back in later to adjust FOCUS targets as you edit.

Currently, Cinematic mode videos have to be edited on an iPhone, but support is coming to iMovie and Final Cut Pro later this year. And if you AirDrop the video or send it in an iMessage or whatever, your FOCUS options will be baked into a standard video file format.

It’s a fun mode to play around with, but the lack of support in third-party video editing software and the limited resolution and frame rate make it more of a toy than a serious tool. It’s going to be a big hit for TikTok stars and others who create smartphone-centric video designed for social media, but your average user is probably better off shooting regular video in 4K for now.

Both Photographic Styles and Cinematic mode are also found in the regular iPhone 13, but the iPhone 13 Pro does get one exclusive new video feature: the ability to shoot directly in the ProRes video format, after a software update later this year. ProRes is what they call an “intermediate format” meant for video editing, intended to preserve the best quality through the editing pipeline at the expense of huge file sizes. It’s not meant as a way to actually consume or distribute video, so if you’re not a video editor who already works in ProRes you shouldn’t concern yourself with it. ProRes will be limited to 4K at 30fps, except on the 128GB iPhone 13 Pro where it will be limited to 1080p.

Shooting photos in the ProRAW format is still limited to the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, just as it was limited to the iPhone 12 Pro models.

Wireless is more or less the same

If you live in the U.S., you’ll not notice a significant change in wireless features or performance over the iPhone 12. The iPhone 13 line now supports additional 5G bands that are mostly of concern to those in other countries, and Apple says its wireless hardware is more power-efficient.

But here in the U.S., you should get similar 5G support (sub-6 GHz and mmWave), Wi-Fi 6 throughput (not Wi-Fi 6E as was previously rumored), Bluetooth 5, Ultra-Wideband, and NFC with reader mode.

What does “Pro” even mean anymore?

I can’t really tell what Apple means by “Pro” these days. The Mac Pro, iMac Pro, Pro Display XDR, and MacBook Pro seem aimed at actual professionals—those who use the device for the work they do and have specific performance and feature requirements. The Airpods Pro, on the other hand, are just the better Airpods. I don’t think even Apple would claim they deliver the fidelity needed for professional audio work.

The iPhone “Pro” models lie somewhere in-between. A 1TB storage option is definitely a Pro feature, as is the ability to shoot ProRAW photos and ProRes video. Most consumers shouldn’t care about that stuff. On the other hand, features like the ProMotion display would be appreciated by everyone, especially since it improves battery life. Pros aren’t the only ones who want a telephoto camera, and they definitely aren’t the only ones who want to take macro photos.

Whatever meaning of “Pro” you ascribe to this particular Apple product, it’s unsurprisingly the best iPhone yet and one of the best smartphones money can buy. We have nits to pick: It’s time for the selfie camera to get an upgrade, Apple needs to embrace USB-C on iPhone, we still want an always-on display mode, and that enormous camera bump might cause minor issues with a few stands and mounts. But a product doesn’t have to be flawless to be the best, and that’s exactly what this is.

iPhone 13 Pro Review: Here’s Why You Would Pick the Pro Model

New iPhones bring a lot of questions each year, mainly around whether an upgrade from a previous iPhone is warranted. pressing this time is the decision between a regular iPhone 13 or a 13 Pro model. The consideration brings some logical questions such as, Am I a professional? Do I need the extra features? Will I know how to utilize them?

There are now four new iPhone 13 models to choose from. The good news for anyone indifferent to a Pro model is that the standard iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini are terrific options. If you know you want the smallest size phone, for example, the iPhone 13 mini is a great choice. Similarly, if you want the biggest screen available, and are OK with the cost, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the default choice.

For everyone else, the choice comes down to scouring the specs page, trying to discern whether they should order the iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 Pro. There are definitely reasons to go with the 13 Pro, but it largely boils down to whether you want all the camera capabilities, a nicer screen and are willing to pay extra for those features.


The crux of whether you should pick a pro model or a regular one revolves around photography. In short, the pro models have an extra telephoto camera and can also capture subjects really close with the macro capability on its wide-angle lens.

Apple iPhone 13 Review

While the entire camera system on the higher-end models is better all around, the majority of those differences are probably not a factor for every picture you snap. If you’re not regularly zooming in from a distance or putting your phone really close to a subject, like 2 centimeters close, you might not miss the differences the Pro offers.

During my initial time with the iPhone 13 Pro, the macro feature was the one that stuck out as the most useful to me. It’s neat to take close-up pictures of fabrics or eyeballs, but personally speaking, it’s also really helpful to capture product shots for Newsweek review stories. There are lots of gadget ports or product shots that can benefit from being up close.

The listed 3x optical zoom is also useful. The optical reach was only available in the iPhone 12 Pro Max last year, so having the feature in the regular size 13 Pro is a huge benefit for people unwilling to carry the biggest phone.

The optical zoom in the 13 Pro feels like it’s finally useful. I can’t imagine ever not wanting more optical zoom, but the reach this phone provides is helpful in capturing moments from farther away. The zoom helped me take a few pictures of my son playing Little League baseball from the fence, where the standard view was just too far. All of the cameras can be used with Night Mode this year. The zoom lens, in particular, still benefits from as much light as you can give it, compared with the default lens.

ProMotion Display

Another very noticeable feature of the iPhone 13 is its ProMotion display. Not only will the screen refresh at up to 120 Hz (120 times per second), but the iPhone 13 Pro also employs a variable refresh rate, meaning it can also slow itself down if what is being displayed would not benefit from the high frame rate.

If you watch a movie, at 30 or 24 frames per second, then the iPhone 13 Pro will slow its screen refresh rate to match that content. This is dynamic, too, so it can change as different elements come onto the screen. This also helps with battery life. The iPhone 12 Pro, for example, has a 60 Hz display and refreshes its screen 60 times a second, no matter what it’s showing.

At the full 120 Hz, content on the iPhone 13 screen is incredibly smooth and glides effortlessly. It makes reading and viewing content even more enjoyable.

So, is ProMotion worth it? I was immediately able to notice that scrolling I tend to do with web pages, lists and other types of reading was smoother. Moving throughout the phone, including Apple’s animations, feels more like floating than it did on the iPhone 12 Pro I upgraded from. ProMotion makes me feel like my mind is processing faster what I am seeing on-screen, and as though I’m manipulating everything on screen a little more precisely. And once you experience the feature, it’s hard not to have it, even though it is a cherry-on-top type of experience rather than a fundamental difference-maker.

The first few days with ProMotion on an iPhone 13 Pro can be incredible. You’ll want to show everyone how smoothly everything can glide around the screen. Despite how great that is, it doesn’t take long before you take the technology for granted. The phone screen slowly begins to look normal again. Nearly everyone will benefit from ProMotion, because of its variable refresh rate. And most people will notice its visual superiority over a 60 Hz display. But you’ll have to decide if it’s enough to upgrade for.

Additional Pro Considerations

There are a few items gated within the pro models that are only available at the higher price point. For example, you can only get 1TB storage on an iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 13 is limited to 512GB—still a lot of space.

Possibly the most controversial difference are the color choices. I have been thoroughly informed by my wife that the color options for the iPhone 13 Pro models are much better than those on the standard 13, which she chose. She said the colors for the Pro line are more classic and desirable. In a reference to past Apple lore, she even asked if by getting the iPhone 13 she got an iPhone 5c-class of phone because there were no traditional colors offered. The 5c was Apple’s first attempt at a low-cost iPhone, and was decorated with a bright colored plastic exterior. Performance-wise, the iPhone 13 is not an iPhone 5c–type of device. It does seem strange that only the Pro models offer the classic silver and black-and-gray colors.

All four iPhone 13 models got battery upgrades. Apple called out physically bigger batteries as the main reason for this. I did notice a bump in battery life throughout daily use. Tom’s Guide ran battery tests across a wide range of phones to compare the results, and the iPhone 13 Pro got more than 2.5 hours additional usage over the 12 Pro. Battery results will vary depending on lots of circumstances, but I did notice a longer run time. If you want the most battery life you’ll need to get the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Should You Buy the iPhone 13 Pro?

The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro were a little more closely aligned in the camera area. This year, there’s a bigger delta in that department between the standard and pro models. If you want the furthest reach with optical zoom on your phone’s camera then you do need the iPhone 13 Pro. If you think you’ll benefit from being able to take really close-up pictures, too, the Pro model is, again, needed.

Additionally, everyone should enjoy the visual benefits of a ProMotion display, but as is, it’s more of a nicety than a feature to upgrade for itself alone. It doesn’t enable a more noticeable always-on lock screen feature, for example.

The screen and the camera are the primary reasons to pick the iPhone 13 Pro over the regular iPhone 13. The 13 Pro can be easily justified by those things alone. Just remember it will cost you at least 200 more to get those features and the ability to pick different colors.

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The iPhone 13 Pro has been called back up to the majors

Laptop Mag Verdict

The iPhone 13 Pro is no longer a Pro Jr. with specs to match the best that the iPhone 13 Pro Max or any Android flagship on the market has to offer.


  • Bright 120Hz display
  • Excellent camera performance
  • Unmatched software support
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Untouchable performance


Why you can trust Laptop Mag

Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Price: 999 (starting), 1,499 (as reviewed) OS: iOS 15 Display: 6.1-inch (2,532 x 1,170 pixels) 120Hz Super Retina XDR OLED CPU: A15 Bionic RAM: 6GB Rear cameras: 12MP wide (ƒ/1.5); 12MP ultra-wide (f/1.8); 12MP 3x telephoto (f/2.8) Front cameras: 12MP (f/2.2) Storage: 128, 256, 512GB or 1TB Battery: 12 hours Size: 5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches Weight: 7.2 ounces

iPhone 13 Pro, like the other iPhone 13 models, looks almost identical to its predecessor. But still waters run deep and there is a powerful upgrade current underneath that seemingly placid exterior.

This is truer for the iPhone 13 Pro than any of the other iPhone 13 models. It not only gets the A15 Bionic processor and improved battery life we saw across the entire lineup this year, but with the exception of the battery and screen size, it matches the iPhone 13 Pro Max spec-for-spec.

You are no longer choosing a lesser Pro iPhone, but a smaller Pro iPhone which makes it the best iPhone for most people this year and one of the best phones on the market.

iPhone 13 Pro price and configurations

The iPhone 13 Pro is available in four storage configurations starting at 999 for 128GB and topping out with a new 1TB option for 1,499. 256GB is the Goldilocks model for many people at 1,099, while 512GB for 1,299 should prove plenty for all but the most aggressive of digital hoarders.

All four models share otherwise identical specs including the new A15 Bionic processor, 6GB of RAM, and an upgraded triple camera array. There are four color options available with the new pale Sierra Blue joining the familiar Silver, Gold, and Graphite.

Apple continues to hold the line with its pricing, although that may change next year. While the iPhone 13 Pro at 999 may not feel like a bargain, it feels like a better value than last year’s iPhone 12 Pro considering the updates you are getting this year.

As per usual, you aren’t going to find outright discounts on the iPhone, but the carriers and Apple itself have some potentially enticing iPhone 13 deals with trade-in offers that will take some of the sting out of the 1,000 and up pricing.

iPhone 13 Pro design

As I mentioned at the outset, the iPhone 13 Pro is almost completely unchanged from the iPhone 12 Pro from a design standpoint. This is no surprise after last year’s massive redesign and I’m still enamored with the distinctive squared-off look of the iPhone, but if you like your phone to stand out as the new iPhone, that isn’t happening with the iPhone 13 Pro.

However, upon closer inspection, you will notice some slight changes to the iPhone 13 Pro. The most welcome of these is the smaller display notch. Apple claims that it is 20% smaller, which isn’t the notch eliminating update that some were hoping for, but it is a perceptible difference.

On the flip side, the rear camera array of the iPhone 13 Pro is larger than on the iPhone 12 Pro. The lenses are wider and extend even further from the back of the phone, enough to prevent iPhone 12 Pro cases from fitting the iPhone 13 Pro. I’ve been using an Apple leather case throughout my time with the phone and I can’t imagine setting it down on its back while going caseless. There’s definitely a payoff for the larger array as you’ll see in the camera section, but from a purely aesthetic and usability standpoint, it’s a step backward.

The iPhone 13 Pro is also slightly thicker heavier than last year’s model; its 5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3-inch frame and 7.2-ounce weight is a perceptible bump up from the iPhone 12 Pro (5.8 x 2.8 x 0.29, 6.7 ounces), but it’s for a good cause as you’ll see when I get to the battery life. It does make the iPhone 13 Pro heavier than its much larger-screened competitors like the OnePlus 9 Pro (6.4 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches, 7 ounces) and the Galaxy S21 Plus (6.4 x 3 x 0.31 inches, 7.1 ounces).

While the AllState durability test showed that the iPhone 13 Pro remains breakable in a drop, it is still one of the tougher phones on the market. Apple’s Ceramic Shield display covering is more about protection from scratches than shattering. The IP68 dust and water resistance on the iPhone 13 Pro is also among the best with Apple boasting it can survive up to 30 minutes at 6 meters (~20 feet), which is double the depth competitors like Samsung claim for the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Otherwise everything on the iPhone 13 Pro remains the same. The Lightning port is still stubbornly in place and for wireless charging fans, Apple’s MagSafe is invisibly present on the back of the phone. The left-side features the mute switch and volume up and down buttons, while the right adds just the multi-function side button for summoning Siri and waking the phone.

My review unit is the gold model, which matches the iPhone 12 Pro Max I reviewed last year. I said last year that this color option made me “feel a bit like a villain in a Bond movie” and I’m sticking to that analysis. If anything Apple upped the ante with a purple leather case to go with it, giving my iPhone 13 Pro review unit the look of smartphone royalty.

However you felt about the iPhone 12 Pro design last year, the iPhone 13 isn’t going to move the needle up or down — for that, you’ll need to wait until the iPhone 14 next year.

iPhone 13 Pro displays

A quick glance at a specs sheet will show you that the iPhone 13 Pro features a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display with a 2532 x 1170 pixel resolution, just like last year. Other than those precious extra pixels you are gaining at the top of the display from the smaller notch, it would seem like not much has changed.

However, you’ll notice a difference the moment you start scrolling through content or opening and closing apps on the phone. The iPhone 13 Pro has finally brought a fast refresh rate display to the iPhone with ProMotion, Apple’s name for its 120Hz adaptive refresh rate displays. It’s similar to what we’ve seen from Samsung and other Android manufacturers for the last couple of years. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the best comparison as it can also scale from 10Hz up to 120Hz based on what’s on-screen and how you are interacting with it.

This update was overdue and is one of the best features exclusive to the Pro models this year. While Apple is in the process of getting 3rd-party developers up to speed on how to deliver the full 120Hz in their animations, buttery-smooth scrolling and the power efficiency benefits are already in place system-wide.

Yes, 120Hz is the highlight new feature of the display this year, but it wouldn’t of course matter if the display itself underperformed. Fortunately, that’s not the case.

I turned to my frequent HDR testing companion “Our Planet” on Netflix to see how Apple’s HDR support and reportedly brighter display handled the breathtaking cinematography. I was not disappointed. Watching the episode on jungles had an absolutely surreal look to it with the depth of color and lighting shift from the dead leaves on the forest floor to the glint of light through the green canopy at the top all rendered flawlessly. A subsequent scene with an ant showed the color reproduction with the semi-translucent amber body of the ant in crisp detail down to the tiny hairs on its legs and body.

Looking at our lab testing, the iPhone 13 Pro color reproduction is quite good at 82.5% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. The OnePlus 9 Pro (84.9%) edged it out slightly, but it was good enough to top the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus (73.5%) and the iPhone 12 Pro (81.9%). It’s worth noting that these comparisons are with the Android phones using their “Natural” setting, both feature a vivid display mode which lets them boost much higher: 147.4% for the OnePlus 9 Pro and 150.4% for the Galaxy S21 Plus.

The Delta-E color accuracy test results (lower is better) were solid, but not outstanding for the iPhone 13 Pro, with a 0.27. That is behind the OnePlus 9 Pro (0.20) and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus (0.18), but a slight improvement over last year’s iPhone 12 Pro (0.28).

The iPhone 13 Pro does enjoy one decisive display victory: peak brightness at 1,024 nits. That’s the brightest smartphone display we’ve tested by a significant margin. The OnePlus 9 Pro (722 nits), Galaxy S21 Plus (747 nits), and iPhone 12 Pro (743 nits) were all among the best last year yet are distantly behind.

iPhone 13 Pro performance

Is there such a thing as having your phone or laptop be too fast? It feels like Apple is trying to find that limit. The A14 Bionic held on to the top spot as the fastest mobile processor on the planet through the release of the Snapdragon 888 and may still top the Snapdragon 898 whenever it arrives, but Apple is already rocketing further into the upper atmosphere with the A15 Bionic.

When it comes to raw performance the iPhone 13 Pro, just like the iPhone 12 models last year, cannot be challenged by any existing real-world tasks. Load dozens of Google Chrome tabs, run a YouTube video in the background, render a 4K video, and the iPhone 13 Pro will not bat an eye or drop a frame. While support for the 120Hz refresh rate isn’t available in almost any apps or games at the moment, there’s no question the A15 Bionic will handle that readily when developers update for the new display.

The iPhone 13 Pro hit an almost comical Geekbench 5 multi-core score of 4,718. That’s a shockingly significant jump from the iPhone 12 Pro (3,669) and obliterates the Galaxy S21 Plus (3,300) and the fastest Android phone we tested previously, the OnePlus 9 Pro (3,685).

Graphics benchmarks were similarly stratospheric with 70 frames per second in the Wild Life Unlimited 3DMark test. That’s double the OnePlus 9 Pro (35 fps) and Galaxy S21 Plus (33 fps), and impressively ahead of the already incredible iPhone 12 Pro (51 fps).

So while I go out of my way to assert that there is just nothing you can do to slow down the A15 Bionic at present, the reason all of that performance headroom is still relevant is the potential longevity of an iPhone. While many replace their phone after 2 to 3 years, Apple will likely be providing software updates to the iPhone 13 Pro into 2027. It’s plausible that, by then, this currently superfluous performance will be taxed to its limits.

iPhone 13 Pro audio

The iPhone 13 Pro has stereo speakers located at the top and bottom of the phone and Dolby Atmos support and 3D spatial audio support.

I listened to Kane Brown and H.E.R.’s “Blessed and Free,” and the iPhone 13 Pro speakers delivered crisp and clean audio at a max volume that was more than enough to fill my 12 x 18-foot listening space. The blended harmonies and soft percussive backing sound can’t match the output from a good pair of wireless headphones, but they are more than enough to make you forget about picking up a small Bluetooth speaker to share a song or a quick video with someone.

iPhone 13 Pro battery life and charging

Battery life was the Achilles heel of the iPhone 12 lineup, but unlike the ill-fated Greek warrior, Apple’s phone gets to fight another day. Now armed with an extra 280mAh of battery, the more efficient A15 Bionic processor, and its adaptive refresh rate display, the iPhone 13 Pro is ready to once again challenge the phones with the best battery life.

In our Laptop Mag battery test, which involves the phone continuously web surfing at 150 nits on cellular, the iPhone 13 Pro lasted an impressive 12 hours. That’s almost a full 3 hours longer than the iPhone 12 Pro (9:06) and easily tops the Galaxy S21 Plus (9:42) and narrowly outlasts the OnePlus 9 Pro (11:44). That’s with the phone in its adaptive 120Hz setting; drop it to its adaptive 60Hz setting and you would stretch that lead even farther.

While last year’s iPhones were the outliers in terms of battery life, this is more than just a return to normal for the iPhone as the iPhone 13 Pro also outlasts the iPhone 11 Pro (10:24) by over an hour and a half despite the addition of 5G and the faster 120Hz display.

You would be hard-pressed to kill the iPhone 13 Pro in a day of usage; I never managed it during the week I’ve spent with the phone. My typical day with a review device starts at 7:30 a.m. and goes until 10:30 p.m. with Netflix and/or YouTube streaming on Wi-Fi for roughly two hours, light web browsing, using social media, gaming for about 30-45 minutes and capturing photos and videos. I never got below 30% battery remaining on the iPhone 13 Pro, even on the days when I was capturing a considerable amount of photos and 4K video.

While the iPhone 13 Pro battery life is worthy of a place on Mount Olympus, the charging reveals it to be a mere mortal. The 20W fast charging for the iPhone 13 Pro pales in comparison to the 65W Warp Charger for the OnePlus 9 Pro that can charge the phone to 99% in just 30 minutes. Using the 20W Apple charger (that you need to purchase separately) the iPhone 13 Pro hit 25% in 15 minutes and 53% after 30 minutes. Wireless Qi charging either via a stand or Apple’s MagSafe is still available and we are starting to see more 3rd-party support for the latter.

iPhone 13 Pro cameras

While the faster performance and 120Hz display are great, the cameras are the biggest reason to upgrade to the iPhone 13 Pro. Last year, the iPhone 12 Pro was a Pro Jr. to the iPhone 12 Pro Max when it came to the cameras with the lack of sensor-shift and a weaker telephoto lens. This year, you get all of the camera prowess in a smaller package.

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That includes an upgraded 12MP wide-angle primary sensor that now offers an astounding f/1.5 aperture and larger 1.9um pixels for better low-light performance than ever before. The 12MP ultra-wide gets an even more dramatic boost up to an f/1.8 aperture (from f/2.4). Finally, the 12MP telephoto extends to a 3x optical zoom from 2x, but it drops to an f/2.8 aperture from f/2.0.

Apple’s A15 Bionic also unlocks improvements to the overall camera performance on the iPhone 13 Pro with its new ISP (image signal processor) along with machine learning and AI enhancements aimed at enhancing computational photography and videography.

That’s just looking at the hardware; Apple has a number of new software features as well. While the Cinematic Mode which lets you capture shifting depth of field in video, is garnering considerable attention from reviewers, it feels at present like a gimmick that will go unused by most people. With that said, TikTok may have a field day with it.

The Photographic Styles, on the other hand, is a potential game-changer that I’ll be surprised if others don’t knock off in short order. Photographic Styles lets you fine-tune the iPhone camera output to your liking with tone and warmth settings. By default, you have Standard, Rich Contrast, Vibrant, Warm and Cool, but you can tweak any of these styles and the camera will then default to whatever you last chose with a new look just a swipe away. For those iPhone fans who prefer the Pixel or Samsung look, you can at least come close. As someone who has never been a huge fan of Apple’s default look, this may be the biggest innovation of the iPhone 13 camera.

The other new feature Apple introduced with iPhone 13 is a macro mode using the ultra-wide lens. While this largely feels like a gimmick too, you can capture some fun images with it and it is vastly superior to the output you’ll get from the dedicated macro lenses seen on some Android phones. Apple has a little bit of tinkering to do with this feature as, at present, you have no control over it. Macro mode simply turns on when the iPhone detects that you are close enough to something, but it’s a jarring transition and can lead to some odd results.

Wide-angle camera

The wide-angle camera on the iPhone 13 Pro is superb in virtually any lighting condition thanks to that new f/1.5 aperture. Here’s a sampling of images that I’ve captured with it over the last week including some in extremely low lighting. The first shot is of my chickens which makes for a great example given the shaded area with less than optimal lighting. The iPhone 13 Pro still delivers the crisp white of our Brahma chicken with every individual feather down to her tufted feet in sharp detail. You also can see the nice natural bokeh from this lens despite my being a few feet back from her.

The witch gives you a great look at the low-light and night mode performance of the lens. I included a photo of the scene without night mode to give perspective on just how dark it was. Critically, the night mode was able to do its thing 3 seconds, short enough that your subject doesn’t have to be still life.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: which is for you?

We compare iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro to help you find the best one for you.

Welcome to our guide, which puts the iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro. These two models make up the latest iPhone line-up, alongside the iPhone 13 mini and the iPhone Pro Max. The iPhone 13 and the Pro differ slightly from the previous iPhone iteration, with a smaller notch, an upgraded A15 Bionic chip, better cameras, boosted battery life and new colour options.

When it first came out last year, the iPhone 13’s price started from 799 / £779 and the iPhone 13 Pro from the slightly higher price of 999 / £949. Of course, they’ll hve dropped a bit now they’re not the newest model (see our iPhone 14 review if you want the latest release). If you’re wondering whether to purchase the iPhone 13 or whether to spend the extra and have access to a larger number of new features with the iPhone 13 Pro, then this guide is for you.

If you want to look at each of these phones in more detail, see our iPhone 13 review and our iPhone 13 Pro review.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: Design

The overall design of the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro are very similar, but they have slight differences. The main difference is the material that they are made of. the iPhone 13 has ionised aluminium edges with a polished glass back while the Pro model has polished stainless steel edges with a matte frosted back.

Both of these are also the same size, at 5.78-inches x 2.82-inches, but the iPhone 13 weighs slightly less than the Pro model (6.14 ounces compared to 7.19 ounces, respectively).

One key difference when it comes to the design is that they both offer different colour options. The iPhone 13 is available in product red, starlight, midnight, blue, pink and green; the iPhone 13 Pro is available in graphite, gold, silver, sierra blue and alpine green.

Overall when it comes to design, the two models are very similar and the main differences only come down to the colour options, materials and the rear camera configuration, so this would be all down to personal preference.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: camera

The main difference between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro is their rear camera setups. The iPhone 13 has a dual 12MP camera system with Ultra Wide and Wide lenses, whereas the iPhone 13 Pro has a triple camera setup that adds a Telephoto lens into the mix. The iPhone 13 Pro is also able to optically zoom in ten times further than the standard iPhone 13.

The iPhone 13 Pro is also able to take photos in Apple ProRaw, allowing you to take higher quality photos and record video in 4K at 30 fps.

In addition to this, the iPhone 13 Pro has a LiDAR Scanner in the rear camera array to accurately map the environment and depth, allowing you to take Night mode portrait photos and use the camera for augmented reality.

If the camera is important to you, then you’re probably better off opting for the iPhone 13 Pro or the iPhone 13 Pro Max models, rather than just the iPhone 13.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: display and performance

Both the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 Pro models use Apple’s latest A15 Bionic chip, which offers moderate performance improvements compared to the iPhone 12.

Although the chips in both iPhones are the same, the GPU in the iPhone 13 Pro is better, which means that users can expect a slightly improved performance from the Pro model, especially with more demanding apps and video editing.

The A15 in the iPhone 13 Pro also has 2GB more memory than the standard iPhone 13, meaning that you should be able to have more browser tabs and apps open at one time without performance being hindered.

When it comes to display, the iPhone 13 Pro uses ProMotion technology that offers a refresh rate ranging from 10Hz to 120Hz, changing based on what is on the screen at the time. When viewing a standard website, the phone will use a lower refresh rate, but while playing a game or using other high-intensive apps, the refresh rate will increase to provide a smoother and more responsive experience.

The iPhone 13 Pro is the first iPhone to feature this technology but this isn’t necessarily an essential feature for most iPhone users.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: battery life

When playing back video, the iPhone 13 Pro allows three extra hours of battery life compared to the iPhone 13, which offers 19 hours total (still a fair amount). The Pro model can also offer five hours longer battery life when streaming video too.

Overall in regards to battery life, the iPhone 13 Pro has a strong advantage over the iPhone 13. For those who tend to stream video a lot or want to use their iPhone to record and edit video, the higher-end Pro model would be the better option of the two models.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: storage

The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro are both available with 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB of storage, but the iPhone 13 Pro is also available with a 1TB storage option, which is ideal for users who are going to be taking full advantage of the camera.

The 1TB capacity is likely more aimed at professionals who intend to store large ProRes files but could be useful to anyone with large enough libraries of podcasts, photos or games.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: which one is right for me?

Overall, when it comes to deciding between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro models, it’s down to what you plan to use your phone for.

The iPhone 13 Pro offers a clear upgrade on the iPhone 13, particularly in terms of its materials, battery life, display and cameras. Although the Pro also has these improvements, these do not significantly change the day-to-day use of the device and most people cannot justify the additional cost for such details.

If you feel that the Pro model is slightly out of your budget, then you can opt for the standard iPhone 13, without losing out on too many features. If you don’t need the most advanced camera or largest storage, then you would hardly notice the difference.

Those most likely to opt for buying the iPhone 13 Pro over the iPhone 13 will be seeking the most premium and fully-featured iPhone that has high capabilities in all aspects or they would be interested in using the phone for photographs and high-resolution video recording. Though it’s worth considering that the iPhone 14 is rumoured to be coming soon, and it may be worth waiting for that to be released before either getting the 14 model or a hopefully discounted iPhone 13.

Since both models actually share a large majority of their features, including design, the OLED Super Retina XDR display, 5G connectivity, the A15 Bionic chip, and MagSafe charging, we would recommend the iPhone 13 over the Pro model, unless you are in need of a more advanced camera or increased storage.

If both iPhone 13 models are out of your budget, then you could consider one of the older iPhone ranges, see our best iPhone for photography guide or our general best camera phone guides for more options.

You can also check out the latest iPhone 11 deals or the latest iPhone 12 deals here.