Apple iPhone 13 review: Everything you need to know
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Apple iPhone 13: Battery
Apple iPhone 13: Performance
Apple iPhone 13: Camera
Compelling Cinematic video mode
Very good battery life
Lacks 120Hz display
Slower charging than rivals
Cinematic mode capped at 1080p
Let’s start with the design. One of many things that a lot of people, including me, love about Apple’s iPhones is the familiarity that they bring to the table year-on-year while being ingenious enough to make subtle changes in the design. Some might call it monotonous, others might call it staying true to your roots.
The iPhone 13 features a design that is similar to the iPhone 12. It has the same aluminium chassis with rounded edges and a glass back flat screen design that we saw in the iPhone 12. It also has a dual rear camera setup in a squarish camera module that we saw in its predecessor.
However, this time around, Apple has made the camera module slightly less pronounced compared to the iPhone 12. It’s easy to miss at the first glance and it’s only when you come a bit closer than you notice it.
The iPhone 13 retains the flat-edge design with a flushed display of the iPhone 12 series. It has the same aerospace-grade aluminium railings around the edges and a strong glass cover on the back. But, the former is a bit thicker compared to the latter. This I believe, is to increase the battery capacity. The minor change has a truly major impact (more on battery life a little later).
The iPhone 12 brought new technologies and a fancy new design (and a new, Mini-sized version). The iPhone 13’s battery and camera updates aren’t so flashy, but they’re more important.
They also switched over to OLED screens, which offer a superior experience to the LCDs that came before in several ways: contrast ratio, brightness, and power efficiency. They added 5G. They added the MagSafe charging system.
There are some changes to that design, however. The newer iPhones are just a tiny bit thicker overall, with substantially bigger camera bumps. That means that cases designed for the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini are unlikely to fit the newer phones. The camera bump is not only thicker, but the lenses have been rearranged to accommodate the giant new sensor that’s in the main wide-angle camera.
Aside from the camera module, Apple has also moved the power button on the right slightly. While the design remains the same, this slight change ensures that you cannot use your old iPhone 12’s cover for the iPhone 13 despite the two iPhones having similar dimensions.
Another minor change is the notch at the top in the front display panel. Apple has reduced its size by around 20 per cent.
Apple iPhone 13: Battery
Coming to the battery, Apple says the battery of the iPhone 13 lasts up to 2.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12. During my time with the iPhone 13, it kept going for close to two days on the weekends, which is when I spend the maximum time apart from my iPhone. On workdays, which usually involves tons of messages and emails and a bunch of calls along with at least 45 minutes on social media and at least two hours streaming videos, it lasted for a little over a day, which in my opinion is incredible.
It is also the same battery backup that my iPhone XR used to give me when I had bought it nearly three years back. And to date, it gives me around one day of battery life. So the real test for the iPhone 13’s battery would be around a year and a half later, which is when you see a noticeable change in battery life.
Of course, if you don’t have an iPhone 12, then the 13 lasting more than two hours longer is kind of meaningless. My takeaway for the regular iPhone 13 doesn’t require relative comparisons, though: battery life is excellent.
It should be noted that the iPhone 13 Pro Max is even better in terms of battery life. It can easily last two full days under normal usage.
he iPhone 13 and 13 Mini are reliable phones that most people should be more than happy to use for the next few years.
As far as charging is concerned, the iPhone 13 goes from 0 to 50% in just 30 minutes thanks to fast charging support. But you will have to invest in a charger separately to be able to utilise this functionality completely, which in reality is a bummer, especially if you are switching from Android to iOS platform.
Apple iPhone 13: Performance
The A15 Bionic doesn’t offer dramatic performance gains over the A14 Bionic powering the iPhone 12, but it didn’t need to just to remain the fastest chip in any phone. As with the A14 Bionic, the A15 offers a 6-core CPU and 4-core GPU, but there’s now a 16-core Neural Engine for machine learning and AI, up from 8 cores on the previous chipset.
At the time of launch, Apple had said that the A15 Bionic is 50% faster than the competition in terms of CPU performance and 30% faster in terms of GPU performance.
And while Apple didn’t exactly focus on comparison with its A14 Bionic chipset, we do know that while A15 Bionic can perform 15.8 trillion operations per second and has 15 billion transactions, the A14 Bionic chipset can perform only 11 trillion transactions per second and has 11.8 billion transistors. Long story short, iPhone 13’s A15 Bionic is way more efficient than the iPhone 12.
Technical gibberish aside, iPhone 13 comes through for you every time, no matter what you throw at it. Be it binge-watching shows and movies over the weekend or endless calls and messages on a workday or multi-tasking with work and with chores like ordering groceries and video calling relatives, well, every other day, the iPhone 13 handled everything with grace and poise. And iOS 15, with its well thought out features like an in-built PDF converter, only make the process easier and swifter.
On Geekbench 5, which measures overall performance, the iPhone 13 scored 4,129 and 1,684 respectively. That’s considerably better than the 3,859/1,593 turned in by the iPhone 12, and it destroys the Galaxy S21’s scores of 3,302/1,048.
The iPhone 13’s graphics performance also impresses. On the 3DMark Wild Life benchmark, the new iPhone hit 55.9 frames per second. That’s just a bit higher than the iPhone 12 (51 fps), but the Galaxy S21 Ultra mustered only 33 fps.
Apple iPhone 13: Camera
As advertised, Apple's iPhone 13 performs really good in all light conditions. Particularly, the low-light and night mode shots come off brilliantly.
The iPhone 13 features a 12MP wide-angle sensor and a 12MP ultra-wide-angle sensor at the back with night mode, 2x optical zoom out and up to 5x digital zoom along with a 12MP TrueDepth camera in the front. The front camera also supports night mode and there is a new Cinematic Mode for shooting videos.
In use, these upgrades don't make drastic differences, but I definitely noticed the improvements. There's less image noise in photos I take in medium lighting. And the ultrawide is better at taking photos in dim lighting. On the front, the selfie camera is good but not great, especially compared to the rear cameras.
To give you some perspective, the main camera sensor on the iPhone 13 has the same sized pixels as the main camera on last year's iPhone 12 Pro Max, which at the time had the largest sensor on an iPhone. The ultrawide camera gets a new sensor that helps it gather more light.
Interestingly, the iPhone 13 maintained this winning streak even amid the low-light conditions as well.
The iPhone 13 automatically shifts to the Night Mode when it detects low-light conditions and it takes a fraction of seconds to snap a picture, which is a lot less than many flagship smartphones that I have used in recent time. The result is the clicked images have significantly less noise even when there is barely any light around.
All in all, the iPhone 13 is definitely one of the best camera phones that you have within a decent (yet high) budget.
The iPhone 13’s brighter display, longer battery life and powerful cameras make it the best iPhone for the money. But we wish it had faster charging and the iPhone 13 Pro’s adaptive 120Hz display.
The real question, however, is should you buy an iPhone 13, especially if you are already using an iPhone. Well, the answer to it depends on the iPhone model that you are using. If you are using the iPhone 12, you can skip this update and upgrade to iPhone 14 when the changes will be more noticeable. But, if you are using an older iPhone model, iPhone 13 is the right pick for you.
Also, for Android phone owners, who are in two minds whether to jump the ship, this is an opportune moment to enter the famed Apple's high-walled garden-- iOS ecosystem. You can even try with the less-expensive iPhone 12 too.