Apple iPhone 13 review: iPhone for the masses
The smartphone marketplace has changed drastically over the span of the past few years. Over the years, it has become more competitive than ever before with a lot of smartphone makers launching their flagship devices every six months. Amid these challenging times Apple, like a bunch of other companies, has maintained a yearly update cycle for its iPhones. In this series, the company, as is customary, announced the iPhone 13 as its successor to last year's iPhone 12.
The newly launched iPhone 13 delivers minor upgrades over the iPhone 12, which includes a smarter camera, a brighter display, a bigger battery and of course, a more advanced processor to name a few. Then there are features like a smaller notch and a less pronounced rear camera module that might seem insignificant compared to the mentioned features but make a world of difference when it comes to usage. Sure, it's a tad bit heavier than the iPhone 12 but if you compare it with some of the older iPhone models, like the iPhone 11 or the iPhone XR that I have been using, for what seems like aeons now, you will be grateful for everything that the iPhone 13 offers.
Compared to last year's iPhone 12, the changes that the new iPhone 13 brings to the table might seem small and insignificant but, it is the small things that matter.
We will talk all about the iPhone 13 experience and answer your question on whether or not you should buy it in the detailed review below. So, keep reading...
Apple iPhone 13: Design
Let's start with the design. One of many things that a lot of people, including me, love about Apple's iPhones is the familiarity that they bring to the table year-on-year while being ingenious enough to make subtle changes in the design. Some might call it monotonous, others might call it staying true to your roots. The iPhone 13 features a design that is similar to the iPhone 12. It has the same aluminium chassis with rounded edges and a glass back flat screen design that we saw in the iPhone 12. It also has a dual rear camera setup in a squarish camera module that we saw in its predecessor. However, this time around, Apple has made the camera module slightly less pronounced compared to the iPhone 12. It's easy to miss at the first glance and it's only when you come a bit closer than you notice it.
Aside from the camera module, Apple has also moved the power button on the right slightly. While the design remains the same, this slight change ensures that you cannot use your old iPhone 12's cover for the iPhone 13 despite the two iPhones having similar dimensions.
Coming to the weight, the iPhone 13 does weigh slightly more than the iPhone 12. But, in practice, that difference isn't noticeable. Also, if you have been hooked to an older iPhone model as I have, the iPhone 13 will seem light as a feather and a welcoming change. Overall, the iPhone 13 is comfortable to hold, light in the pocket and definitely a sight for sore eyes.
Apple iPhone 13: Display
Next in line is the display. Now, the display is one of the strong suits of the iPhone 13. It features a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED True Tone display with a resolution of 2532x1170 pixels. These details are the same for the iPhone 12. What has changed is the brightness. The iPhone 13 offers a typical brightness of 800 nits, while the iPhone 12 like the iPhones that came before it, which includes the iPhone 11 and the iPhone XR offer a typical brightness of 625 nits.
Specifications aside, the iPhone 13 is visibly brighter than the older iPhone models, especially compared to my old iPhone XR. Now, you could blame me for sticking to my iPhone XR for far too long. But that's the thing with iPhone users -- we don't tend to change our phones quite that often. Back to the iPhone 13, the screen is well lit and colours are bright with just the right amount of contrast. The overall impact is that iPhone 13 manages to show images and videos that are closer to the object in reality.
This colour contrast and brightness are maintained while watching videos as well. I have watched dozens of shows and movies on this device in my time of use. From medical dramas like Grey's Anatomy and The Resident on Disney+ Hotstar to Netflix hits such as Money Heist and Dynasty on Netflix to Manifest and One Mic Stand on Amazon Prime, I binge-watch shows on a daily basis (almost) and the view hasn't been as comfortable to watch before.
The colour and the contrast aside, the iPhone 13 comes with a smaller notch than the older iPhone models. Now, I don't particularly hate the notch, but I wouldn't mind if Apple decided to chop it off a little, which the company has in the case of the iPhone 13. Aesthetically, the notch in the iPhone 13 looks a lot better than the iPhone 12 or my old iPhone XR.
Apple iPhone 13: Performance
Now comes the most important aspect of this review: performance.
I think one aspect (among others) where the iPhone never disappoints is in terms of performance. Apple brings generational updates to its iPhone models with its in-house chipsets. This year, Apple launched the iPhone 13 with the A15 Bionic in the core. The A15 Bionic is the successor to last year's A14 Bionic chipset. At the time of launch, Apple had said that the A15 Bionic is 50% faster than the competition in terms of CPU performance and 30% faster in terms of GPU performance. And while Apple didn't exactly focus on comparison with its A14 Bionic chipset, we do know that while A15 Bionic can perform 15.8 trillion operations per second and has 15 billion transactions, the A14 Bionic chipset can perform only 11 trillion transactions per second and has 11.8 billion transistors. Long story short, iPhone 13's A15 Bionic is way more efficient than the iPhone 12.
Technical gibberish aside, iPhone 13 comes through for you every time, no matter what you throw at it. Be it binge-watching shows and movies over the weekend or endless calls and messages on a workday or multi-tasking with work and with chores like ordering groceries and video calling relatives, well, every other day, the iPhone 13 handled everything with grace and poise. And iOS 15, with its well thought out features like an in-built PDF converter, only make the process easier and swifter.
Aside from the general performance, the iPhone 13 also performed well on the audio front. Covid-19 and the entire work-from-home trend has ensured that we have more time to meet people over a video call than we have to meet people in person. After a long day at work, it is nearly impossible to keep the headphones on and talk to friends and family. On moments like these and the ones where you are having group calls whilst cooking, the iPhone 13 proved a worthy companion. The sound was loud, balanced and clear with not a single note being out of place when listening to music.
All in all, the iPhone 13 is an ace performer.
Apple iPhone 13: Camera
Now, the camera.
The iPhone 13 features a 12MP wide-angle sensor and a 12MP ultra-wide-angle sensor at the back with night mode, 2x optical zoom out and up to 5x digital zoom along with a 12MP TrueDepth camera in the front. The front camera also supports night mode and there is a new Cinematic Mode for shooting videos.
Details aside, the iPhone 13 performs spectacularly well as far as the camera performance is concerned. During my time with the device, I have used it to click hundreds of pics (all thanks to the festive season!). From low light conditions to bright outdoor light to indoor lighting conditions during the day to indoor lighting conditions during the night, there isn't any combination that I haven't tried...or...almost tried. And I must say that I was astonished by its results every time.
First, let's talk about rear cameras. The rear cameras capture Insta-ready images no matter what the lighting conditions are. The images are crisp and clear with the right amount of brightness and contrast. And thanks to Apple's image processing algorithm, even the images clicked under slightly unstable conditions also come out looking balanced and in focus. I compared the images clicked by the iPhone 13 and my old yet not so old iPhone XR side-by-side and I noticed that the pics clicked by the iPhone 13 are visibly clearer with ample depth even when they are zoomed in. Here's a sample:
As you can see, the flower's red colour stands out across the blue colour of the sky and the buildings and it looks radiant as ever.
Interestingly, the iPhone 13 maintained this winning streak even amid the low-light conditions as well. The iPhone 13 automatically shifts to the Night Mode when it detects low-light conditions and it takes a fraction of seconds to snap a picture, which is a lot less than many flagship smartphones that I have used in recent time. The result is the clicked images have significantly less noise even when there is barely any light around. Here is a sample for your reference:
The selfie camera of the iPhone 13 is equally efficient if not more. I was genuinely astonished by the clarity and contrast in the images amid the low light conditions -- something that you don't get to see in smartphones quite that often. Not unless you are talking about Google's Pixel smartphones.
All in all, the iPhone 13 is definitely one of the best camera phones that you have within a decent (yet high) budget.
Apple iPhone 13: Battery
Coming to the battery, Apple says the battery of the iPhone 13 lasts up to 2.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12. During my time with the iPhone 13, it kept going for close to two days on the weekends, which is when I spend the maximum time apart from my iPhone. On workdays, which usually involves tons of messages and emails and a bunch of calls along with at least 45 minutes on social media and at least two hours streaming videos, it lasted for a little over a day, which in my opinion is incredible. It is also the same battery backup that my iPhone XR used to give me when I had bought it nearly three years back. And to date, it gives me around one day of battery life. So the real test for the iPhone 13's battery would be around a year and a half later, which is when you see a noticeable change in battery life.
As far as charging is concerned, the iPhone 13 goes from 0 to 50% in just 30 minutes thanks to fast charging support. But you will have to invest in a charger separately to be able to utilise this functionality completely, which in reality is a bummer, especially if you are switching from Android to iOS platform.
Apple iPhone 13: Conclusion
Now the question that you all have been waiting for: Should you buy the iPhone 13 or not?
Well, the answer to this isn't as simple as it seems. Don't get me wrong here. The iPhone 13 is definitely one of the best smartphones in the market right now. It is also the iPhone for the masses, especially for the ones who are not looking for Pro-level performance. With ace-level performance, gorgeous design and cameras that let you snap Insta-ready pics just about anywhere, iPhone 13 is the right phone for anyone.
The real question, however, is should you buy an iPhone 13, especially if you are already using an iPhone. Well, the answer to it depends on the iPhone model that you are using. If you are using the iPhone 12, you can skip this update and upgrade to iPhone 14 when the changes will be more noticeable. But, if you are using an older iPhone model, iPhone 13 is the right pick for you.
- Light in design
- Brighter display
- Smarter selfie camera
- Night mode
- No charger
- No USB Type-C port
Display6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display
BatteryUp to 19 hours of video playback time
Rear camera12MP wide angle lens + 12MP ultra wide angle lens
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB