If you ever wanted to get an iPhone or already own one that isn’t from the iPhone 12 Series lineup, you will want to upgrade to the iPhone 13. The flagship iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are quite expensive which means I would only recommend getting those smartphones if you are a photography buff and have the extra cash to splurge. However, if you still want a taste of the best with a slightly lower price tag, the iPhone 13 or the iPhone 13 Mini might be perfect for you.
I switched from the 13 Pro to the base model offerings from Apple and have been using it for the past week and a half to determine if it’s worth your money. Here’s what I think about the iPhone 13 and 13 mini after switching from the flagships:Design and Display
The iPhone 13 and 13 Mini don’t look much different from their predecessors. The phones have the same flat edges, same size and material that you can also find on the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini.
While the iPhone 13 Pro exudes luxury by having stainless-steel trims, the 13 and 13 Mini have a matte glass back instead. It’s a very subtle way to distinguish between the two, however the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini still feel more premium than any other smartphone from 2020/2021. Since the phone has aluminium bands instead, it is fairly lighter than the Pro Models. This makes it easier to wield the phone than the pro models which might be something you might like if you’re not a fan of heavy smartphones.
Both models are available in five colours i.e. pink, blue, midnight (black), starlight (white) and (Product)Red. I got to test the pinkish iPhone 13 Mini and the blue iPhone 13. While the colours do look great on both phones, I preferred the colour palette of the iPhone 12 instead. Pastel colours take a while to get used to, however I tend to prefer the more muted colours. Having said that, there is a good chance you might use your brand new iPhone with a case/cover, so it doesn’t really matter what I feel anyway. Colour preference is a subjective decision and I suggest you go with your gut feeling over which colour you prefer.
At the back, you will find the new camera module that houses sensors diagonally. This is the only visual cue that differentiates the iPhone 13 from the iPhone 12 series. However, the camera bump is now larger and the phone is also slightly thicker which is why you are forced to purchase a different protective case for the iPhone 13. Apart from the subtle changes, the staple design features make a return as well. Both the iPhone 13 and 13 mini are IP68 rated, lack a headphone jack and support wireless charging.
When it comes to the display, the iPhone 13 uses a 6.1-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2532x1170. The iPhone 13 Mini uses a 5.4-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2340x1080. Virtually the display sizes remain the same from last year, however both phones do have reduced the size of the notch.
Both phone’s displays support features such as P3 wide colour gamut, True Tone, Dolby Vision and HDR 10 content. The display can reach a peak brightness level of 1,200 nits, especially when watching HDR content. The display’s overall brightness has also been increased, making it easier to use the phone under direct sunlight.
The quality of the display is again amongst the best I’ve seen on a smartphone. I do have to give a shout-out to the display calibration team for making the colours feel very vivid. The display is as good, if not better than the iPhone 12 Pro and if you like to watch a lot of content on your smartphone, you can’t go wrong with this one.
The screen offers rich colours and deep blacks that make watching content on Apple TV+ a dream. I highly recommend watching content that supports both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos sound formats to get the best experience with the iPhone 13 and 13 mini. Having said that, viewing video content may not be as much fun on the iPhone 13 mini due to its smaller size.
With all being said, the lack of a 120Hz refresh rate for the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini is a little disappointing. Having experienced the smoother animations and gaming on the iPhone 13 Pro, it’s a feature that should have also made its way to the iPhone 13.Cameras
The iPhone 13 and 13 mini come with a dual-camera setup at the rear which consists of 12MP wide and ultra-wide sensors. Both cameras have seen considerable improvements from their predecessors as both sensors now let in more light. This results in clearer images with sharper details and realistic colours.
However, much like the iPhone 13 Pro, you can now choose photographic styles that suit your liking. You can use the default profile or switch to another style such as rich contrast, warm, cool and vibrant. I prefer using the Vibrant setting as I did on the iPhone 13 Pro models as well.
Low-light camera performance has also improved drastically, thanks to the new sensor-shift image stabilisation feature. This enables the iPhone 13 to capture images with lower shutter speeds and not sacrifice the details when your hand moves around.
For normal daylight photography, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini handle highlights well and have better control over the exposure. Due to this very reason, most images don’t look like oversaturated versions of the subject.
If you like to capture a lot of videos, it doesn’t get better than the iPhone 13 series. Thanks to the new sensor-shift stabilisation, the overall video performance is fantastic on the iPhone 13 series. 4K videos look crisp and do not have foreseeable camera shake either. The audio captured in videos is also amongst the best and is even better than high-grade action or vlog cameras.
The iPhone 13 also supports the latest cinematic mode where the phone’s video capturing capabilities are closer to professional video cameras. In this mode, the camera can automatically change focus from subject to subject either in the foreground or the background. If you’re not happy with Apple’s solution, you can even manually shift focus between subjects from the gallery.
To get a better idea of the iPhone 13 and 13 mini’s camera, have a look at the camera samples below:Performance and Battery Life
The iPhone 13 and 13 Mini are both powered by Apple’s latest A15 Bionic chipset. It is the same chipset you can find on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, however the only difference here is the lesser RAM. The iPhone 13 and 13 Mini are outfitted with 4GB of RAM which is more than enough to handle iOS 15 and a slew of apps. The A15 chipset is currently the most powerful, fastest, and most efficient chipset in the market.
In benchmark tests, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini scored an average of 1,655 (single-core) and 4,460 (multi-core). The iPhone 13 could handle everything I threw at it with ease, even when using heavy-duty apps like iMovie. In terms of gaming, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini gives more or less the same performance as the iPhone 13 Pro. It handled games like Pokemon Unite, Dead Cells and Genshin Impact with flying colours. I didn’t notice any frame-rate drops, stuttering or app crashes because the A15 couldn’t handle it. However, I do have to point out that these heavy tasks drain the battery on the iPhone 13 mini faster.
Speaking of battery life, the iPhone 13 can last long — like really long. The iPhone 13 can last for 19 hours of video playback with a 60% brightness level. When streaming content, the battery life drops down to about 15 hours. On the iPhone 13 Mini, the battery life is far shorter as the size of the battery isn’t as large. Having said that, considering the size of the iPhone 13 mini, it can last an entire day with moderate use as it definitely lasts longer than the iPhone 12 mini.
The iPhone 13 and 13 mini might look almost identical to their predecessors but it doesn’t mean these phones aren’t amongst the best right now. Powered by the most efficient and powerful chipset right now and coupled with highly capable cameras, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini even beats the best of flagship Android smartphones. If you’ve been wanting to upgrade or start using an iPhone for the first time, the 13 or the 13 mini should be the only options you consider right now.