iPhone 13 Review
The iPhone 13 in terms of design looks exactly like the iPhone 12 and one can’t differentiate between the two by just looking at it. This can be touted as the “S” upgrades that we have seen previously with iPhone and not a full-fledged generation upgrade that we see every year from Apple.
The new iPhone 13 features the same display as last year’s iPhone 12 with minor improvements in peak brightness. And the new A15 Bionic chipset is more powerful than ever, with better battery endurance and better performance. The camera system has also seen a significant upgrade with better sensors capturing more light in challenging light situations.
I have been using the iPhone 13 for quite a few days now and I loved my experience. Here is my iPhone 13 Review and I hope this can help you make your buying decision.
iPhone 13 Prices in India, Variants, Availability
The iPhone 13 is available to buy right now and pricing for iPhone 13 starts at Rs.79,900 for the 128 GB variant and goes up to Rs. 1,09,900 for the 512 GB variant. You can order the phone online from Apple’s official website as well as from Amazon, Flipkart and other online and offline sellers.
The iPhone 13 is available in Pink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight, and (PRODUCT) RED colour variants and here is the pricing of all the storage variants of iPhone 13:
- iPhone 13 128GB – Rs. 79,900
- iPhone 13 256GB – Rs. 89,900
- iPhone 13 512GB – Rs. 1,09,900
iPhone 13 Box Contents
Here’s what we have inside the box of iPhone 13:
- USB-C to the lightning port charging cable
- iPhone 13 device
This year Apple has even eliminated the plastic wraps around the iPhone 13 boxes to save plastics.
iPhone 13 Specs at a glance
Let’s talk about the on-paper specifications of the iPhone 13 Pro at first:
- Display: 15.49 cm (6.1 inch) Super Retina XDR OLED Display
- Camera: 12MP + 12MP | 12MP Front Camera
- Battery: Li-Ion 3240 mAh Battery with 20W fast-charging
- Chipset: A15 Bionic Processor
- RAM & ROM: 4 GB RAM | 128 GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB ROM
- Dimensions: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.7 mm
- Weight: 174 grams
iPhone 13 Design and Build
At first glance, it would be difficult to differentiate the iPhone 13 from the iPhone 12. The phone has the same flat design, similar bezels and the same camera setup at the rear with a slightly smaller notch at the front.
Unlike the Pro models that come with stainless steel bands and matte glass-back, the iPhone 13 comes with a glossy finish. This certainly gives the device a premium feel unlike many of the plasticky Android devices. The plus side of not having steel bands and using aluminium instead of stainless steel is that the phone is lighter than the Pro models. It weighs 173 grams while the iPhone 13 Pro weighs 203 grams and you certainly feel the difference of 30 grams. Similar to its predecessor the iPhone 13 is just easier to hold and move around in your hand than the Pro version.
This year’s iPhone 13 series comes in a choice of five colours Pink, Blue, Starlight, Midnight, and Product Red. The model I was playing around with had a Pink finish but rather than being flashy this light pastel shade looks grown-up and the sides could almost be mistaken for rose gold.
The diagonal mounting of dual cameras feels much more pleasing to the eye and balanced than the previous vertical alignment. The camera bump is significantly larger but is disguised by the fact that the bump is completely see-through.
On the front of the phone, the camera notch is clearly smaller at least in terms of horizontal width. Apple has achieved this by making the speaker grill longer and thinner and moving it to the very top of the sensors rather than dividing them. As an end result, you get the battery, Wi-Fi, and network signal fractionally larger and doesn’t seem as squished in. While it doesn’t seem to have any other advantages, it doesn’t really offend me either.
Many of the leaks for the iPhone 13 series predicted that the company would switch to USB C charging as the iPad Air, iPad Mini, and MacBook have it in the recent releases. However, this isn’t the case for this year and the iPhone 13 keeps the lighting connector which means that your old charges and accessories will still work.
I have been using iPhones over the years and have to say that the iPhone 13 is the perfect size for me. While I love the screen size of the Pro Max models and pocket-friendly iPhone Mini, the 6.1-inch display is big enough to enjoy video and web browsing. You can still hold the phone comfortably and reach anywhere with one hand.
iPhone 13 Display
The display on the iPhone 13 is 6.1 inches Super Retina XDR OLED display and has a resolution of 2532 x 1170. The brightness has been improved to 800 nits on the iPhone 13 and it can hold well direct sunlight and the content is quite readable outdoors.
The bezels are thin around the screen and some of the display is also taken up with the notch at the top. The notch is certainly smaller compared to previous years iPhone 12 and you can notice it easily.
Another important note is here that the iPhone 13 display doesn’t get the new 120 Hz refresh rate that Apple introduced on the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max. The displays on these phones have a refresh rate twice as fast as the standard 60 Hz screen that provides a smoother experience when scrolling through web pages or playing games. While most Android phones even in the budget price range have this feature you will notice the difference here. iPhone 13 Pro may not have a higher refresh rate but it certainly feels smooth during everyday use.
Overall the display is bright and vivid, with a better peak brightness. I enjoyed the overall experience while watching “Squid Game” on the iPhone 13 and the only complaint I have is that I would have loved having the 120Hz display on the cheaper option as well, but for that, we have the Pro variants.
iPhone 13 Performance
The A15 Bionic chip doesn’t offer a drastic change in performance over the A14 Bionic that powers the iPhone 12. But you don’t need that much-performing boost since it still remains one of the fastest chips present in any smartphone. Similar to the A14 the A15 offers a 6 core CPU and 4 core GPU but now there’s also a 16 core neural engine for machine learning and AI which is 6 cores more compared to the previous A14 chipset.
Apple has stated that the iPhone 13 CPU is 50% faster than the competition while the GPU can handle extreme graphics rendering 20% faster. The benchmark scores aside, I think it is important to talk here about how the phone feels in everyday use.
In games like Genshin Impact which is an open World adventure combat title, the animations and particle effects felt similar to the console as I climbed mountains, explored sweeping landscapes, and tried to combat enemies. I was equally impressed using the Seek app which was instantly able to identify the plants when I pointed my camera around my backyard.
On the GeekBench 5, the overall performance of the iPhone 13 was 4129 and 1684 points respectively. This is considerably better than the 3859 and 1593 scores turned in by the iPhone 12 and certainly destroys the Galaxy S21 that has scores of 3302 and 1048 points. I didn’t see much of an improvement on our video testing using the Adobe premiere rush. The iPhone took almost 25.9 seconds to transcode 4K video to 1080 p compared to 26.5 s on the iPhone 12.
Also Read: How To Use FaceTime on Android with iOS 15
iPhone 13 Software
iPhone 13 comes with iOS 15 out of the box which delivers some welcome improvements, many of which focus on shared experiences. An update is provided to facetime which now includes improved audio and a better interface. Now you can even listen to music or watch movies or TV shows with friends and family. The messages app delivers a new Shared with You section for photos articles that makes it easier to keep track of all the different links that your friends shared with you in text.
Other highlights of iOS 15 include redesigned Safari browser, a more fully-featured weather app, and an enhanced maps app that offers more detail and better road views. Last but not least you also get the live text feature that Android offered a long time ago in the Google Lens. It recognizes text in real-time via the camera when you want to look things up or get translations.
iPhone 13 Camera
The camera on the iPhone 13 is similar to the 13 Mini which includes a regular Wide angle camera and an ultra-wide camera. Both phones have been upgraded but the major improvement comes to the wide-angle camera.
Similar to the battery, the improvement to the wide-angle camera sensor is simple. Apple has made the camera sensor bigger so that it captures more light quickly and produces better results. Apple has also implemented the same sensor-shift technology that was introduced to the last year’s iPhone 12 Pro Max.
It is notable because the iPhone 12 Pro Max stood apart from all the other iPhones due to its larger sensor and now that sensor has been included in all the iPhone 13 lineup this year. And undoubtedly iPhone 12 Pro Max has been the best smartphone camera on the market for both photos and video since its launch.
I took the iPhone 13 for a quick photo walk session and the results in bright daylight are exceptionally great. Like most smartphones, the iPhone 13 delivered bright, vibrant images with great details on a sunny day. As the sun started to settle, the images in the evening with comparatively less light, I could easily spot the difference and see how the new larger sensor was able to capture more light and the images turned out to be great with absolutely no noise. And the area where the camera shines is in the dark, the camera samples turned out to be great with the night mode, and this year even the ultra-wide camera gets the night mode.
Another aspect that advanced photographers have been asking for is a manual mode for the camera app, and we don’t get that exactly but this year you will appreciate the Photographics Styles feature. In the camera app, Apple has now included the option to switch from multiple styles including standard vibrant warm rich contrast, and cool.
I tried out all the different modes with a series of portraits and I much appreciate the difference between styles. For example, the rich contrast mode made the image look less noisy while the vibrant setting made the images of plants pop up more along with the trees in the background giving it more Samsung like camera samples.
The video quality is also great. The main camera has sensor stabilization that helps you when you are walking around. It can do all the moves that matter in terms of 4K including slow motion and handles them super well.
Also Read: Top 10 iPhone Fast Charging Adaptors in 2021
iPhone 13 Battery
The battery performance of the iPhone 13 is great with a bigger battery this year compared to last year and Apple says that the iPhone 13 provides 1.5 hours longer battery life than the iPhone 12. The credit goes to the more efficient display and A15 Bionic chip apart from the bigger battery. During my testing I found the results to be even better.
In my use case that involved continuous web surfing over 4G LTE at 300 nits screen brightness and the iPhone 13 lasted for about 10 hours and 33 minutes. This is more than 2 hours longer compared to the 8 hours 25 minutes duration that the iPhone 12 turned in. Compared to the iPhones the Galaxy S21 provided the best 9 hours 53 minutes running time.
Unfortunately with the iPhone 13 Apple offers the same charging speeds as before. The new iPhone got 51% charge from 0% in 30 minutes with Apple’s 20-watt charger. Other phones such as the OnePlus 9 Pro provided much speedy results compared to the iPhone 13. The MagSafe charger that provides 15-watt fast charging seems a bit slower but some may find it more convenient as it is magnetic and doesn’t involve a lightning port.
iPhone 13 Audio, Connectivity, Biometrics
The iPhone 13 supports worldwide 5G coverage and domains capable of providing ridiculously fast download speeds where it is supported. Right now 5G is not available in India, but once it arrives we shall test it out and post the results to this review.
In terms of speaker performance, the iPhone 13 provides ample volume for a true movie experience in your hand. Putting the smartphone in landscape orientation will provide you with the true stereo effect with that slim new top speaker balancing the grills at the base of the phone. There is plenty of bass as well as detailed mids and high end while I was listening to Billie Ellish’s I didn’t change my number. The sound quality is so good that you can feel that bass drum pedal and almost picture the stick hitting the high node.
This time similar to the iPhone 12 series you get the option of face ID to unlock your phone. It would have been nice for Apple to provide a physical fingerprint scanner in the display or in the power button. During the current times when most people are still relying on face masks, a fingerprint scanner would have been a good alternative option to secure the iPhone.
iPhone 13 improves what already are the best features of an iPhone for most people. I especially liked the long battery life of the iPhone 12 and an improved ultra-wide camera. But I wouldn’t recommend you upgrade from your iPhone 12 but if you have an older phone like iPhone 11 then iPhone 13 is certainly worth looking at.
One feature that truly stands out on the iPhone 13 is its camera performance. The phone provides excellent low-light images and computational photography features like Cinematic Mode and Photographic Styles showcases how good the A15 Bionic chip is.
I am also glad that Apple now offers the starting storage at 128 GB as the 64GB variant option was not enough for most iPhone users. In case of improvements, I would like to see Apple offering faster charging in the next iPhones whether it is using USB Type-C or Magsafe. The bottom line is the iPhone 13 is a fantastic phone and certainly raises the bar for what a smartphone camera can do.