Apple’s September event is looking more like a tradition as the all-new iPhone 13 lineup has taken the spotlight once more. The familiar design got refined with smaller notches and a different arrangement for the cameras on the non-Pro models. As usual, the iPhone 13 lineup includes iPhone 13, 13 mini, 13 Pro, and Pro Max.
iPhone 13 and 13 mini
The new iPhone 13 duo is official, with a familiar design, but several important upgrades. The overall shape of the iPhone 13 and 13 mini hasn’t changed much – flat edges and rounded corners are married once more in an IP68-rated metal body. This time around, the distinctive notch has gotten smaller by 20%.
The diagonals of the Super Retina XDR panels remain unchanged – 5.4 inches for the iPhone 13 mini and 6.1 inches for the iPhone 13. The panels themselves are 28% brighter, reaching up to 800 nits of max outdoor brightness and a whopping 1200 nits of peak HDR brightness. Speaking of HDR, the new panels support Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG standards.
One thing you will be missing out on with the vanilla iPhone 13 and the mini is the 120Hz display refresh rate, as they are stuck as 60Hz just like every iPhone so far.
An all-new Apple A15 bionic sits at the heart of the new iPhone 13 and 13 mini. According to Apple, the A15 is the fastest chipset in any current smartphone. Quite a bold claim, but likely true given Apple’s track record.
The A15 has two high-performance CPU cores and four additional high-efficiency ones and is built on an efficient 5nm manufacturing node. The GPU uses a custom design, as well and while that is shared between all iPhone 13 models, including the Pro ones, it is worth noting that the A15 inside the vanilla iPhone 13 and the 13 mini get four GPU cores, instead of the five in their more premium siblings.
The new A15 has a new 16 core Neural Engine too, powering features such as on-device voice and image recognition and other advanced machine learning tasks. On top of that, there is a new ISP on board, twice the amount of cache, as well as a new display engine and new video encoders and decoders.
It almost feels like “new” has been grossly overused already, yet we haven’t even talked about the camera setup. The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini have two cameras on the back with the main one having a 12MP sensor with 1.7µm pixels and 26mm f/1.6 lens. That’s seemingly the same imager found in the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s main camera, complete with the sensor-shift stabilization.
The 12MP ultrawide f/2.4 camera gets a new sensor as well, but it doesn’t get autofocus like on the iPhone 13 Pro models.
On the front, the 12MP TrueDepth selfie camera supports the increasingly popular Centre Stage feature to follow you around in the frame automatically, as well as accommodate more people.
Finally, both the regular iPhone 13 and the mini get bigger batteries than their predecessors. Apple didn’t share any particular figures, but promised up to 2.5 hours and 1.5 hours of extra time on a charge for the two models, respectively, compared to the iPhone 12 generation.
This has resulted in a weight increase though, with the iPhone 13 tipping the scale at 174 grams and the mini – 141 grams. The new models are also 0.25mm thicker than their predecessors, but their other dimensions remain unchanged.
iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max
The new Pro models in the iPhone family pull even further ahead of their vanilla counterparts with a faster GPU, improved camera hardware and, most importantly, the first ProMotion display on an iPhone.
“ProMotion” is Apple speak for a high refresh rate display. On the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max it can go as low as 10Hz and as high as 120Hz. iOS has been reworked to make the best use of the new display.
The choice of display sizes is the same – a 6.1” iPhone 13 Pro or a 6.7” Pro Max. The notch that hosts the TrueDepth camera is now 20% smaller, while the new panels are up to 25% brighter outdoors.
Next, let’s talk about the camera. Apple stuck with 12MP resolution but improved the lenses, sensors and image processing.
The main camera sensor has an impressive pixel size of 1.9µm and a brighter aperture of f/1.5. For comparison, the 12 Pro Max had 1.7µm pixels and an f/1.6 lens. This means that in low light the new model can capture up to 2.2x more light.
The telephoto camera has a new 77mm f/2.8 lens, so it offers 3x optical magnification over the main cam. This is up from a 65 mm/2.5x lens, though with an f/2.4 aperture.
Next is the ultrawide camera, which also has a better lens – a 6-element f/1.8 one with autofocus to be precise. This is compared to the f/2.4 lens on last year’s Pros, which results in up to 92% more light hitting the sensor. And a new trick – the autofocus allows the ultrawide module to double as a macro camera. All cameras on the Pro models support Night mode, even the telephoto one.
Also, the new chipset (we’re getting to it) has hardware support for ProRes video, Apple’s professional video codec. The Pros can record at 4K at 30 fps and you can edit the ProRes videos right on the phone. Dolby Vision HDR is also supported at up to 4K 60 fps.
Interestingly, the iPhone 13 Pros record a depth map alongside the video, which allows you to change the depth of field even after you have finished recording a video. Another new feature is Photographic Styles which automatically edits a photo, one element at a time (applying different corrections to the subject and background, for example). This will be enabled on the vanilla 13 models later on.
Now, let’s talk about the Apple A15 Bionic chipset. It is made up of a whopping 15 billion transistors (the A14 had 11.8 billion). It is fabbed on a 5nm process, but Apple didn’t offer any more specifics. The chipset maintains the 2+4 CPU structure with two big cores and Apple advertises it as “50% faster than the leading competition”, although it’s hard to say what constitutes leading competition for the Cupertino company.
The GPU now has 5 cores, giving it an edge over the vanilla phones, which use a version of the chip with 4 cores. The Neural Engine has been beefed up too and now deliver 15.8 TOPS, up from 11 TOPS on the A14 (we’ll only point out that a Snapdragon 888+ advertises 32 TOPS).
The battery life has been improved, thanks to a combination of a more efficient screen, a more efficient chipset and a bigger battery and iOS optimizations. On average, an iPhone 13 Pro will last 1.5 hours on a single charge compared to a 12 Pro, the 13 Pro Max can last 2.5 hours longer than the 12 Pro Max. Apple didn’t mention a faster charging system, so that means 20W wired over Lightning and 15W over MagSafe.
The two Pro phones will be available in Graphite, Gold, Silver and the all-new Sierra Blue colour, which required a new process to create several durable layers of coating. The chassis is made out of stainless steel, the front is Ceramic Shield, the back is matte glass. The camera lenses are covered with sapphire crystal.