Apple's iPhone 13 Brings Next-Level Camera Hardware and More Power

A successor to the most popular iPhone 12 iteration, the iPhone 13 brings a multitude of hardware improvements while retaining the same agreeable price. The most exciting features include an even more powerful chip, a next-level camera and 5G setup, a display panel that’s brighter (yet easier on the battery), and bigger storage options. The newcomer also rocks subtle-but-distinctive design tweaks and new color options like pink and starlight, to name a few.

© Stefan Vazharov The new iPhone 13 brings significant hardware improvements, like a more powerful chip, a next-level camera setup, and a brighter display panel, while retaining the same price as the iPhone 12. Check out our full review.

I spent the better part of last week testing the iPhone 13 and found it to be an improvement from the iPhone 12, which was already a pretty great product. If camera quality and multitasking capabilities are important to you, then the product is worth the upgrade. Here’s everything you need to know about its design, hardware features, and everyday performance.

© apple.com Apple iPhone 13

$799.99

Key Specs

• 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display with 460 pixels per inch

• A15 Bionic chip with 6-core CPU, 4-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine

• Up to 512 GB of storage

• Dual 12 MP camera with sensor-shift optical image stabilization; 12 MP selfie camera with Face ID

• Built-in stereo speakers

• MagSafe-compatible, fast wired and wireless charging

• IP68 water-resistant

• 5G-, Wi-Fi 6-, Dual-SIM-capable

DESIGN

The iPhone 13 has the same flat-edge design as the iPhone 12, but a slightly smaller display notch and a camera layout with diagonally placed sensors. Combined with the new color options, the new camera setup makes the iPhone 13 look noticeably different than its predecessor.

© Stefan Vazharov iPhone 12 (left) vs. iPhone 13 (right)

Speaking of new color options, the iPhone 13 finishes include a shade of blue that’s a tad less saturated than the iPhone 12’s, a pink finish, a starlight option that’s essentially white with a soft gold tone, a deeper (PRODUCT)RED, and a midnight color finish. The latter has a blue tint, which is slightly different from the black iPhone 12 variant.

When it comes to craftsmanship, the iPhone 13 is in a league of its own compared to other smartphones in its price range. It’s made using aluminum, as well as Ceramic Shield and strengthened glass that are the industry’s toughest.

In case you are wondering how the above materials fare in real life, I have a story for you: While sifting through my work emails during a stroll in Manhattan, I accidentally dropped the iPhone 13, and after a few ominous bounces off the concrete, it landed facedown. Its ultra-thin silicone case had a few heavy marks, so I expected to see at least a tiny crack on the screen or the back of the device. To my surprise, the iPhone 13 had absolutely no signs of falling four feet.

The iPhone 13’s water resistance is just as remarkable as its ability to survive drops. It has an IP68 rating, which means the phone can survive dips in 6 meters (20 feet) of water — deeper than an olympic diving pool — for up to 30 minutes. It can handle exposure to hot and cold drinks, too.

DISPLAY

Sporting an almost 30% brighter panel than the iPhone 12, the iPhone 13’s Super Retina XDR display offers a dependable performance even under direct sunlight. The OLED display’s millions of individually backlit pixels also deliver a detail-rich viewing experience with vibrant colors and dramatic contrast — a duo of must-haves for viewing HDR-enhanced content. Thanks to Apple’s signature True Tone tech, the panel can also seamlessly adjust its color balance and temperature depending on the lighting around you.

© Stefan Vazharov iphone 13 display

So what does a brighter display panel mean for you and how you interact with it? Emails and messages will appear even clearer regardless where and when you view them, gaming will feel even more immersive, and if you’re one of the many who’s powering through Ted Lasso on Apple TV+, you’ll practically be able to see the minuscule blades of grass on the pitch. To top things off, the hardware is also impressively power-efficient.

CAMERA

The iPhone 13’s camera has a bigger main sensor with cutting-edge image stabilization, which is far more significant to me than its diagonal layout. The new component can capture almost 50% more light, allowing the phone to take amazing photos, including in scenes with poor lighting. The ultra wide camera packs an upgraded sensor as well.

© Stefan Vazharov Scenes in low light are captured more clearly with Apple’s iPhone 13.

I ‘m impressed that Apple brought sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS) to the wide camera of the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 mini. The groundbreaking tech is usually only available in expensive DSLR cameras with in-body image stabilization. OIS helps the camera to counter hand movements by repositioning its image sensor instead of relying on shifting lens elements.

Sensor-shift (OIS) sets the iPhone 12 Pro Max apart from all other iPhone 12 models, as well as its Android rivals, so it’s great to see it at a lower price point. Metaphorically speaking, the feature is a mobile photography cheat code, which will let you quickly capture better photos than most smartphones in practically any lighting. Night mode, Deep Fusion, and Smart HDR 4 — a trio of advanced image processing tricks — are also available by default.

The iPhone 13’s video recording capabilities have taken a massive leap forward, too, courtesy of the new A15 Bionic chip. A disruptive new feature, dubbed cinematic mode, will allow you to easily shift the focus in your videos with pro-grade results. And believe it or not, you can even adjust the focus and the depth-of-field effects in your clips even after you capture them.

All content you capture in cinematic mode will be in 4K with Dolby Vision HDR. Having access to such advanced tools for recording and editing video in a sub-$700 iPhone is incredible. Even though I expected the functionality to be great, it thoroughly exceeded my expectations.

Photographic styles is another hyped iPhone 13 camera feature, made possible by its image processing capabilities. In addition to snapping true-to-life photos, you can opt for capturing your memories with enhanced colors or contrast, as well as with warmer or cooler undertones.

© Stefan Vazharov The iPhone 13 Camera aced challenging sunset scenes that include bright lighting and shadows

The iPhone 13’s front-facing TrueDepth camera has cinematic mode and photographic styles for selfie photos and videos on a whole new level. As always, the elaborate camera tools are wrapped in an easy-to-use user interface with instant access to all of them.

PERFORMANCE

Powered by the A15 Bionic chip with an upgraded Neural Engine, the iPhone 13 is, yet again, the most powerful smartphone in its price range. The 5-nanometer new chip brings welcome increases in graphics and processing power, while remaining insanely power-efficient. The Neural Engine, on the other hand, unlocks superior machine learning capabilities that help make the above-mentioned camera sorcery possible, among many other cool things.

Every interaction I had with the iPhone 13 — from unlocking it with Face ID to switching between 10-plus open apps — happened in an instant. Gaming on the smartphone was unsurprisingly an immersive experience, too. Its chipset, screen, and stereo speakers complemented each other perfectly for the task.

Working in tandem with the A15 Bionic chip and the updated display panel, the bigger battery in the iPhone 13 ensured that it always made it through a full day of heavy use. By the time I was ready to park it on its charging stand before going to bed, it consistently had between 20% and 30% of battery left. Depending on your preferences, you can replenish the phone’s battery rapidly using a MagSafe or a standard wireless charger, as well as a Lightning cable (there’s one in the box).

USER EXPERIENCE

Apple iOS 15 has been designed to take full advantage of the iPhone 13’s hardware. The latest iteration of the platform has a sleeker interface and a ton of convenient features that’ll make your daily routine more convenient. A couple of bits that stood out while I tested the device were Live Text and Focus. The former will allow you to copy and interact with text from photos.

© Apple iphone 13 live text and focus feature

Focus will help you become more productive by delivering full control over your notifications. You can filter them, and even discreetly let friends know that you are not available for chatting, which is especially handy if you are chasing an important headline at work.

WRAP-UP

I’d recommend upgrading to the iPhone 13 for its camera setup alone. The power and battery life increases are also significant and well worth considering, even if you are an iPhone 12 user. The same goes for the new product’s more futureproof 5G network connectivity.

I applaud Apple for equipping the $799 entry-level iPhone 13 with 128GB of memory, which will be plenty sufficient for all but the most avid video enthusiasts. Those can double the storage to 256GB for another $100, or opt for a top-spec 512GB iPhone 13 version for $1,099.

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