Apple iPhones have always been the premium flagships that everyone secretly (or even otherwise) yearned for. But with the Pro-series, Apple sent across a clear message that its iPhones are made even for the masses. The non-Pro models in the iPhone series got so popular, they became hot-sellers, and for good reason. Keeping up with the popular demand, the iPhone 13 added value to the 2021-flagship-series, in more ways than one.
The iPhone 13 may get overshadowed by all the premium-ness and glamour of the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, but it has its own understated value that attracts the masses. On that thought, let's dive deeper into what makes or breaks the iPhone 13.
- 6.1-inch display, 2532x1170 pixel resolution
- A15 Bionic SoC
- Dual 12MP camera
- 12MP TrueDepth front camera
- IP68 certification
- Red, Starlight, Midnight, Blue and Pink colours
Design and display
iPhone 13 mirrors the premium flat-edged design as seen in the iPhone 13 Pro. The smaller notch and diagonally arranged cameras on the back are the biggest cosmetic changes, which set the iPhone 13 apart. More than the iPhone 13 Pro, the iPhone 13's one change in how the camera sensors are arranged proved to be a conversation starter. The benefit of the camera rearrangement wasn't clear, but the upgrade is definitely evident in terms of the sensors used.
iPhone 13's flat frame is made of aluminium and has been polished to match the back. In case of the pink model, the frame is matte pink. The same goes for the other colours in the offing. The glass back is prone to damage if manhandled, but silicone or hard case can add some durability. The front glass, however, is Apple's Ceramic Shield, which Apple claims to be more durable. It won't hurt to have a protective film. The design of the iPhone 13 is topped with IP68 certification for dust and water resistance, which means you won't have to be careful around the pool or on the beach. Apple has also silently lowered the positions of the physical buttons on the side. The power button, volume buttons and alert slider are easily reachable now than on the iPhone 12.
iPhone 13 shares its display size with the iPhone 13 Pro at 6.1 inches, but is a lot lighter than the latter, which many will find rewarding. The panel itself is the beautiful OLED Super Reina with 1200nits peak brightness with HDR content (800nits otherwise) and support for DCI-P3 color gamut and True Tone feature. But the biggest disappointment is the lack of a higher refresh rate as on the iPhone 13 Pro. It's almost funny Apple still considers 120Hz refresh rate a "Pro" worthy feature when there are Android phones cheaper than the iPhone 13 with just that.
Having used the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 side-by-side, the difference is evident. But Apple has done a fantastic job at keeping things smooth at 60Hz and you won't notice what you're missing out on unless you compare it against the iPhone 13 Pro. The display itself is crisp, bright and great for consuming content - both multimedia and games. The notch is still not prying for attention, and the fact that it is now smaller hardly made any difference. Apple could've used the extra screen real-estate to display some icons there, but alas.
Overall, iPhone 13 looks great and feels even better. The light weight of the device makes it easy to handle and does not cause fatigue while binge-watching content. If your use-case is more than communication, the iPhone 13 is an ideal choice. The iPhone 13's display is the best you'll get if you're shopping in the non-Pro arena of flagships (read iPhone 12, Samsung Galaxy S21).
There's more to the iPhone 13 camera than the rearrangement of lenses. The sensor has gotten larger, allowing more light and instantly improving low-light photography. The difference is night and day. Apple has gone with a flagship-grade camera sensor and even the ultra-wide sensor is new, which produces images with less noise in varying light conditions.
The iPhone 13 lacks a telephoto sensor and there's no macro mode, which works wonders on the iPhone 13 Pro. But the sensor-shift stabilisation is a boon. Interestingly, the iPhone 13 also retains the fun-tastic Cinematic mode, which despite being capped at 1080p, can sharpen your director skills. On a more practical note, the Photographic Styles will let you choose a preset filter based on your liking.
Coming to the quality of the images, the iPhone 13 shoots crisp and detailed images. The colours are naturally toned with a hint of warmness. The dynamic range was good, exposures were consistent and low-light areas of the picture even retained maximum details. iPhone 13 shoots excellent portraits, with distinct outlining of the subject in focus and the background. The ultra-wide shots are done right, with the right amount of dramatic effect that's needed for your pictures. Even around the edges, the sensor manages to restore details. In low light or mid light conditions, the quality surely takes a dip, but the main sensor is always there for the rescue.
iPhone 13 also shoots great selfies with natural skin tones and colours. The fact that we could use Photographic Styles for the front camera made the selfies better. Even the portraits are excellent, given how accurately the background is blurred.
iPhone 13 is no Pro when it comes to shooting videos, but you won't be disappointed with the results. The Cinematic Mode might be a fun feature, the Dolby Vision HDR quality is more practical. The iPhone 13 can reduce noise impressively while offering a better dynamic range and natural and crisp colours. Switch to 4K, the result can leave you mesmerised.
Shot on iPhone 13
Performance & software
Performance is the core of "Pro" iPhones, but if your use doesn't push the limits, you won't feel the need to upgrade. The iPhone 13's A15 Bionic has one less GPU core than the iPhone 13 Pro, but the difference is not visible in day-to-day tasks. The iPhone 13 is perfectly capable of handling your gaming needs in addition to the daily tasks that come with this age of smartphone use.
The stereo speakers on the iPhone 13 is both loud and clear. It can be useful in case you left your earphones behind and you wish to catch up on your TV show or join your squad for a quick match. You won't be disappointed.
On the connectivity front, the iPhone 13 worked perfectly with Vodafone Idea 4G, but we wished the Wi-Fi range was better. Traditionally, Android phones have offered better range than iPhones and it is still the case. But when within range of the router, the Wi-Fi browsing is at par with flagships. Call connectivity and audio over calls worked as intended. With extended use of GPS+mobile data, the phone got warm, but not beyond manageable levels. Heating was not really an issue unless you have to go on a gaming marathon.
FaceID on the iPhone 13 works well too. We did not have any rejects, except when we were wearing a face mask. But we did notice the iPhone 13 unlocked using Face ID at the same time as it did on the iPhone 13 Pro.
iOS 15 on the iPhone 13 is the icing on the cake. The software experience is naturally similar to the iPhone 13 Pro. For those unintended, the Live Text feature is a life-saver and we found it to be of great use in our day-to-day tasks. It even picks text from Google Lens in real-time. Safari went through a major change by putting the tabs at the bottom, which after getting used to, we found it to be intuitive. You can always go back to the original top tab view, but we got used to Tab Bar. Every time you get on a video call using WhatsApp or FaceTime, you get to choose portrait mode to give that bokeh effect.
The notifications have now been sorted and you also get a new summary view. Other changes include improved Maps (still prefer Google Maps, though), and a full-fledged Weather App. iOS 15 is not about making grand gestures, but it is the little things that make a whole lot of difference in your virtual world.
Apple didn't nearly brag as much about the iPhone 13's battery, in our opinion. The iPhone 13 surely outlasts the iPhone 12 - all thanks to a bigger battery, power-efficient display and A15 Bionic. The iPhone 13 lasted a whole day without breaking a sweat. On a busy day, involving a lot of camera use, gaming, etc, the battery drained sooner. With the power-saving mode, we could make it through the day.
But the area where iPhones really need to buckle up is charging speeds. The iPhone 13 can be charged to full in a little over an hour with a 20W Apple charger. There are phones capable of fully charging in less than 30 minutes you know. This can make a lot of difference in real-world use. But being the longer-lasting iPhone, we might be able to give this one a pass.
iPhone 13 is a great phone overall. It's both expensive and affordable by industry and Apple standards. But what you get for the price is a phone with superb cameras, great performance, crisp display, excellent battery and above all, premium design. Apple takes pride in the iOS ecosystem and if you're a part of it, the iPhone 13 fits perfectly. It makes perfect sense to go for the iPhone 13 from iPhone 11 or older. You will be better off with this one for a few more years if annual upgrade isn't your cup of tea. Having an adaptive 120Hz display would've made it future-proof.
- Great design
- Superb cameras
- Performance above par
- Lasting battery
- iOS refined
- Crisp display
- No high refresh rate
- Slow charging