Should I buy an iPhone 13 and if so, which one?

iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max – with the new iPhone generation, you’re again spoilt for choice. But which of the models is worthwhile for whom?

Sales of the new iPhone 13 models start on September 24. Apple advertises a number of improvements and new features. What are the differences between the standard and Pro variants, and which iPhone is worthwhile for whom, atechbook has summarized for you.

iPhone 13 and 13 mini a rather mediocre upgrade

The presentation of the new standard iPhone did not quite meet our expectations. It is great that Apple finally equips the basic version with 128 GB instead of just 64 GB of storage and that the new A15 Bionic is even faster. Still, the better features are only coming for the more expensive Pro models.

New camera features

The cameras in the iPhone 13 are marginally better than in the predecessor and Sensor Shift promises sharp pictures even in low-light conditions. But the difference should be minor in reality – especially since there is also a night mode and OIS on the 12 and even the 11. New in the iPhone 13 are intelligent autofocus functions. With this, the focus changes automatically in videos, for example, when another person enters the frame or a person’s line of sight changes. This is certainly interesting for someone who films a lot with the iPhone. But those should rather buy an iPhone 13 Pro (Max) right away to also get additional features like the video portrait mode, the telephoto lens and Apple ProRes.

iPhone 13 comes in new bright colors
The iPhone 13 now has diagonally placed cameras Photo: screenshot atechbook via Apple.com

Slight changes to the display

The screen in the iPhone 13 is brighter than in the predecessor with 800 nits and has a minimally smaller notch. While this does not change much compared to the iPhone 12, iPhone -11 owners in particular might now have additional reasons to upgrade. The iPhone 11 still has an LCD panel, while iPhone 13 (and iPhone 12) come with an OLED display. The screen technology allows for richer colors and deeper blacks. So for those coming from an iPhone 11, the iPhone 13 gives you a better screen with a smaller notch, higher brightness and TrueTone.

More battery life

However, one reason to upgrade to the iPhone 13 mini might be of particular interest to owners of the iPhone 12 mini. This is because the battery life on the first mini iPhone in years is subterranean due to the small battery and 5G support. The iPhone 13 mini is supposed to provide one and a half hours more runtime. With the standard iPhone 13, there are even two and a half hours more, but the runtime was already sufficient for a full day before that.

Who should buy an iPhone 13 or 13 mini?

Upgrade from iPhone 12 or 12 mini

Those who own an iPhone 12 have little reason to switch to the iPhone 13. The cameras are marginally better, the notch smaller, and the battery life longer. At least the price remains the same at 899 Euros despite twice as much storage in the basic version. Nevertheless, the iPhone 13 Pro attracts with additional features. You can read whether the Pro is an alternative for iPhone 12 owners in the next section.

A special case is the iPhone 12 mini, which will have disappointed many buyers with its poor battery life. With the iPhone 13 mini, Apple corrects this mistake to a certain extent. Thus, those who are dissatisfied with the 12 mini but would like to stick with the small form factor should reach for the 13 mini. Here, too, the entry-level price has remained the same at 799 Euros, although there is twice as much storage.

Upgrade from iPhone 11 or older

Even for owners of an iPhone 11, we can count the reasons to buy the iPhone 13 on one hand. The most important reason is certainly the much better screen and, to a certain extent, the new camera. All in all, it can be worth switching to the iPhone 13, especially if you are a fan of the angular case design.

For those who still have an iPhone Xr, Xs, Xs Max or older, the iPhone 13 is a clear recommendation. A lot has happened since then, and even the small improvements over the years add up to a major upgrade.

Apple conceals an important point at the iPhone presentation

iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max entice with better display and new video features

The Pro models have only differed slightly from the “normal” iPhone in the past two generations. In the 12-series, all models have an OLED screen, the same Apple chip and largely the same features. The Pro models can really only stand out with the additional camera lens, a TOF sensor and HDR video with 60 instead of 30 frames per second (FPS). This changes with the 13-series, because the new Pro models offer significant advantages over the standard models.

Screen with ProMotion technology

Apple again widens the gap to the standard models for the Pro variants of the iPhone 13. If you want the new ProMotion display, you have to buy an iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max. The ProMotion technology allows a variable refresh rate of up to 120 hertz. Thus, the iPhone finally catches up with Android smartphones. Thanks to ProMotion, displayed content and movements appear even smoother on the screen. The technology can automatically throttle the rate, for example when only a still image is displayed. This reduces battery consumption.

Buy iPhone 13
The iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max now has a ProMotion display. Photo: screenshot atechbook via Apple.com

New cinematic video features

Besides ProMotion, however, the iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max has other advantages. For the first time, it has one more graphics core than the standard model – although both have the new Apple A15 Bionic. With five instead of four graphics cores, the Pro models now support Apple’s ProRes codec and have a Cinematic mode.

ProRes is Apple’s lossless compression format and is best suited for editing video in Final Cut Pro. The advantage is that the previous codec formats H.264 (AVC) and H.265 (HEVC) do not have to be converted to ProRes first. This makes the iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max even more integrated into video production with Final Cut Pro.

Cinematic mode enables depth-of-field filming in an iPhone for the first time. Similar to portrait mode for photos, this blurs the background to highlight the subject or object in focus. This effect, also known as “bokeh”, has so far practically only been found in high-priced film cameras that have a correspondingly large sensor. In the iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max, Apple uses a combination of TOF sensor and software to simulate this effect.

Who should buy an iPhone 13 Pro or 13 Pro Max?

Whether you’re coming from the iPhone 12 or 12 Pro or older iPhones, upgrading to the iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max is definitely worth it. Apple has treated the Pro models rather stepmotherly so far and hardly offered any added value compared to the standard models. However, the new Pro models finally bring the 120 hertz ProMotion technology to the iPhone – that alone justifies the purchase. In addition, there are new video features that have always been one of the main arguments, especially for buyers of the Pro models. The integration of ProRes and the new Cinematic mode with depth of field make the iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max an absolute movie machine. Also, the Pro models are finally available with up to 1 TB of storage, so filmmakers have enough space for their files.

Whether you should buy an iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max depends entirely on your preferences. The only difference between the two models is their size. The 13 Pro comes with a 6.1-inch display, the 13 Pro Max with 6.7 inches. The cameras, which were still different in both models in the 12 series, are now exactly the same.

It is pleasing that Apple has not increased the price of the already expensive Pro models. The iPhone 13 Pro with 128 GB is still available for 1149 Euros. The iPhone 13 Pro Max with 128 GB costs 1249 Euros. The new 1 TB version costs 1729 euros for the 13 Pro and 1829 euros for the 13 Pro Max.