It’s that time of the year again; Apple is back with a whole new lineup of iPhones. Let’s go through the latest flagships from Apple to see what’s different from last year and how they stack up to the competition.
The iPhone 13/Mini
The “base” iPhone had stopped being the star of the show since they introduced the “Pro” designation 3 years ago. This killed some of the excitement behind these mid-range and budget options. However, this year’s iPhone 13 looks to be a solid, reasonably priced option to those who cannot drop a cool 1000$ for the Pro models. The iPhone 13 follows Apple’s usual pattern of incremental design updates, so the external changes from the iPhone 12 are mostly too subtle to notice unless you specifically go looking for them. The internals are a whole different story though.
Looking at what’s been upgraded, the infamous notch is now 20% smaller. This isn’t immediately noticeable and is still pretty big, but more display space is always welcome. Speaking of display updates, the brightness has been increased from 600 nits to 800 nits, a welcome change as more nits mean better visibility. That’s the end of the good news for the screen, as the iPhone 13 is still stuck with a 60Hz refresh rate (the Pro models come with 120Hz). This is pretty disappointing as most phones at this price range have 90Hz to 120Hz refresh rates.
The previous generation of iPhones had a common complaint, and that was sub-par battery life. Apple has addressed this issue in this year’s models with both the iPhone 13 and mini getting bigger batteries, giving the phones 1.5 hours and 2.5 hours of extra screen time, respectively.
The dual cameras are the most distinctive visual change from last year’s model. The iPhone 13 now sports a diagonally oriented dual-camera system instead of the usual vertical. This is due to the upgraded cameras needing more space for their mechanical systems.
The new cameras come with an upgraded ultra-wide sensor with a wider f/1.8 aperture that promises better low-light performance.
The software behind the cameras has also seen new upgrades with a unique Cinematic mode that enables “Rack focusing” by using both cameras to pick the ideal focal points for the most “Cinematic” shot.
Performance and Pricing
The iPhone 13 might not be much different from the 12 on the outside, but it’s a whole different beast inside.
The A15 Bionic chip contains a 6 core CPU that’s supposed to be 50% faster than the competition and a 4 core GPU that’s 30% faster than other mobile GPUs.
This year’s iPhone starts off at 128GB for RM 3,899, 256GB for RM 4,399, and a new max tier of 512GB for RM 5,299 (the mini is RM 400 off for each tier). The phones also come with a new pink color option replacing the rose gold from previous generations.
The iPhone 13 Pro/Max
Apple’s flagships iPhone 13 Pro/Max might be the best argument for going for the pro over the regular model so far (that is, if you can stomach spending 1000$+ on a smartphone). But if you can budget for it, the Pro/Max certainly does not disappoint!
The pro/max comes with a new Super Retina XDR display (fancy Apple jargon for OLED) with an adaptive 120hz refresh rate using ProMotion, which was previously only available on iPad Pro. This differs from a static refresh as the refresh rate changes according to the graphical use case to save battery life.
The screen is also brighter with a peak brightness of 1000 nits (1200 nits for HDR content); this is 200 nits more than its predecessor.
This year’s Pro/Max models have bigger batteries than their predecessors, with an additional 5 and 8 hours of additional video playback, respectively. This makes for an impressive 22 hours for the pro and an insane 28 hours for the Pro/Max.
The phones also come with fast-charge capability when using a 20w charger with 50% capacity being charged in around 30mins. (35mins for the Max)
The real star of this years iPhone lineup, the Pro/Max triple cameras are something special (and it’s chunkier than ever)
The Pro/Max has impressive tech crammed into its bump with winder aperture and an impressive 77mm telephoto camera capable of 3x optical zoom for a total of 6x optical zoom when using all 3 cameras. (the Max has 2x additional zoom)
The wider apertures also mean that low light performance has seen a massive improvement over last year’s Camera (92% better for the ultra-wide and 2.2x for the wide, according to Apple). The new “Rack focusing” functionality and cinematic mode bring the Pro/Max closer than ever before to true cinema quality with videos shot in Dolby Vision HDR. The phones will also support ProRes in the future for even higher quality video performance.
Performance and Pricing
The iPhone 13 Pro comes with the same A15 Bionic chip as the regular model but with an extra GPU core for added graphical performance.
This chip contains a 6 core CPU that’s supposed to be 50% faster than the competition and a 4 core GPU that’s 50% faster than other mobile GPUs and is currently supposed to be the fasted on the market.
This year’s iPhone 13 Pro starts off at 128GB for RM 4,899, 256GB for RM 5,399, 512GB for RM 6,299 and an insane 1TB for 7,199 (the Max is RM 400 extra for each tier).
The Perfect Time To Upgrade To A New iPhone?
With some great new internals and camera tech, this year’s iPhone roaster certainly looks formidable on paper. But is it worth upgrading from the previous year’s iPhone 12? The answer to this question is a very obvious no (unless you a rich apple die-hard, then just stop reading because you already probably pre-ordered each model), the iPhone 13 simply does not have enough to justify upgrading from the iPhone 12. However, if you are coming from Gen 11 or before then upgrading is a no-brainer as it’s cheaper, faster, and lasts way longer.
The iPhone 13 has some great upgrades coming from the previous models but this still feels like a transitional smartphone that is building up to an even better iPhone during the next major generational shift.