Apple iPhone 13 review: The complete buyer’s guide

We tested the iPhone 13. Read our full review for all the features and specs you need to know before buying an iPhone 13.

iphone 13 review
When did the iPhone 13 come out?

Apple released the iPhone 13 on September 15, 2021 as one of their flagship devices. The smartphone features cutting-edge technology and, like some of its immediate predecessors, relies on the innovative Apple A15 Bionic chip. Thanks to the A15, the iPhone 13 delivers solid performance and advanced video recording and playback capabilities.

What are the iPhone 13 models called?

The iPhone 13 series includes: 

Compared to its predecessor, the iPhone 12, the base model of the iPhone 13 is a bit more powerful. As always though, the question is whether most users will really notice a difference. Is the iPhone 13 price worth it?

iPhone 13 technical snapshot

The heart of the iPhone 13 is the new Apple A15 Bionic processor. This system-on-a-chip (SoC) is specially manufactured by Apple, following the iPhone 12’s A14 Bionic chip. The chip is based on the ARM v8 architecture and has two high-performance Firestorm cores.

These can accelerate up to 2.99 GHz. For better efficiency and longer battery life, there are also four additional Icestorm cores with a clock rate of 1.82 GHz.

This means there are a total of six cores in the iPhone 13 processor. According to Apple, the A15 Bionic outperforms the Qualcomm Snapdragons and the Samsung Exynos installed in Samsung devices. It’s worth noting that tests comparing the iPhone 13 with the latest Samsung products have concluded that the difference is marginal.

Compared to the iPhone 12, the difference may be a bit more noticeable. The iPhone 13’s new processor offers a 40% higher processing power and an 80% faster graphics chip than the iPhone 12.

A special feature of Apple's chip series are the up to 15 billion transistors on the A15 as well as the neural network hardware NPU. This enables advanced machine learning with 16 cores and up to 15.8 trillion operations per second. Apple is making progress in the field of artificial intelligence with this new technology. 

Unlike other chips, the GPU is also integrated. The iPhone 13 has four cores, whereas the iPhone 13 Pro and the new iPad mini have five. 

Here are the main tech takeaways from the iPhone 13 launch:

  • Apple A15 Bionic chip with six cores
  • Two Firestorm high-performance cores and four Icestorm efficiency cores
  • Clock speed up to 2.99 GHz
  • NPU with 16 cores and 15.8 trillion operations per second integrated
  • Integrated GPU accesses four cores on iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini
iPhone 13 screen size, design, and display

The iPhone 13 offers a large 6.1-inch display, yet it is designed to feel comfortable to hold. If you prefer a smaller device with equally advanced features, you can opt for the iPhone 13 Mini with a 5.4-inch display. 

The iPhone 13 comes standard with an OLED display and offers a resolution of 2532 x 1170 pixels at 460 ppi. When it comes to the screen size and specs, there are no changes from the previous iPhone 12. 

As for the infamous notch, it is noticeably smaller on the newer iPhone 13. As with the 12, the Ceramic Shield protects the surface from scratches and damage. The iPhone 13 colors offer plenty of choices, from dark Midnight to elegant Starlight and colorful pink, red, blue, and green hues.

The iPhone 13 screen is also significantly brighter than the 12. HDR content with a maximum brightness of 1200 nits is supported. However, the maximum standard brightness is significantly lower at 800 nits.

👀 New feature alert: the iPhone 13 Pro display offers something else

The iPhone 13 Pro is the first smartphone to feature a 120 Hz display called Pro Motion. Unfortunately, many apps only support displays up to 60 Hz, so users often don’t get to experience this feature.

For more information about the differences between the iPhone 13 base and Pro models, check out our iPhone 13 vs 13 Pro comparison.

iphone 13
iPhone 13 camera

The iPhone 13 has two 12MP rear cameras for wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle photos. A new sensor improves Night Mode for better pictures in low light, along with Smart HDR 4 and brighter colors. The 12MP front-facing or selfie camera is also used for facial recognition and Apple Face ID.

All recent iPhone cameras offer advanced features, and the 13 is no exception. The A15 Bionic chip helps you take better iPhone photos with optical stabilization and real-time calculations. Apple also introduced Photographic Styles, which allows users to personalize the tone of their photos.

📹 What is Cinematic Mode on the iPhone 13? 

Apple released Cinematic Mode for shooting videos on iPhone 13, a feature that essentially blurs the background of a shot while keeping a person in focus. With its new processor, the iPhone 13 is able to hold a defined focus point and fix the subject when panning. Take a look at this video, filmed with an iPhone 13, to see how the focus shifts from the foreground to the background.

iPhone 13 storage

The iPhone 13 storage options are 128GB, 256GB or 512GB. This is a bump up from the iPhone 12, which starts at 64GB. The iPhone 13 Pro models offer even more, with a 1TB storage option. 

As with other iPhones, you can’t insert a memory card for additional storage, so you’ll have to make do with the space available. Of course, there’s always iCloud if you do need more space.

iPhone 13 battery life and charging

The iPhone 13 battery capacity has increased to 3,227 mAh compared to the iPhone 12’s 2,815 mAh. There’s also a stronger focus on efficiency in the updated processor. This gives iPhone 13 a slight edge over its predecessor when it comes to performance and battery life.

According to Apple, the iPhone 13 battery will last for up to 19 hours of video playback, 15 hours of video streaming, or 75 hours of audio playback.

Overall, the iPhone 13 seems to show that Apple is focused more on efficiency than on pure performance. We see this in the iPhone 13’s improved battery life over the iPhone 12. For many users, battery life is a key factor when deciding which phone to buy. Ultimately, it depends on your individual needs and whether you’d prefer better performance or more efficiency from your device.

🔋 How long does it take to charge the iPhone 13 battery?

The iPhone 13 battery takes about two hours to fully charge. In a rush? The iPhone 13 is fast-charge capable, so you can get up to a 50% charge in 30 minutes with a 20W adapter or higher (sold separately, of course).

The Lightning connector port lets you charge the iPhone 13 via USB to a computer or wall adapter. iPhone 13 is also equipped with MagSafe for wireless charging up to 15W and Qi for wireless charging up to 7.5W.

iphone 13 test
iPhone 13 5G and connectivity

The iPhone 13 connects you to the world via the modern 5G standard and the improved Wifi 6E.

Other supported cellular and wireless connectivity options include:

  • LTE
  • UMTS
  • GSM
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • NFC with reader mode
  • Ultra wideband chip
What’s the difference between the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro?

The iPhone 13 Pro models offer some upgraded features compared to the base model. The Pro adds another enabled core in the GPU and an additional telephoto lens on the rear camera module. 

As mentioned above, the iPhone 13 Pro also features Pro Motion to improve user experience on some apps. You can get up to 1TB of storage space on the 13 Pro and Pro Max. 

The battery capacity is also larger on the Pro models. The iPhone 13 Pro offers up to 22 hours of video playback or 20 hours of streaming video, while the Pro Max lasts up to 28 hours of video playback or 25 hours of streaming.

👉 Check out our full comparison here: iPhone 13 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro Max

Is the iPhone 13 worth it?

While the iPhone 13 offers some appealing features, it comes with a high price tag compared to the iPhone 12 or the iPhone 11 and shares many of the same specs. In fact, only minor improvements stand out in tests comparing the iPhone 13 to the 12. 

Notably, the battery life is longer in the iPhone 13 thanks to the Apple A15 Bionic processor. The newer phone also has an updated camera. Still, much has remained exactly the same in terms of the performance and display.

👉 See how the iPhone 13 stacks up against the 12 here: iPhone 12 vs iPhone 13

Whether the iPhone 13 is worth it depends largely on which smartphone you currently own and how big your budget is. If you’re still rocking an iPhone 7 or 8, consider simply switching to a refurbished iPhone 11, which has tons of modern Apple features at a much cheaper price. 

A used iPhone 12 is also a great buy if you have a bit more to spend. If you have your heart set on the 13, you can also find plenty of refurbished phones at a much lower price than buying new.

Don’t forget to sell your old iPhone if you’re upgrading! 

Buying used iPhones

Buying a used iPhone helps protect the environment by reducing e-waste. Not to mention, you can score a top-drawer device at a reasonable price.

At Back Market, all smartphones are expertly repaired and tested by professional refurbishers. You’ll always know exactly what condition your device will come in with our transparent grading system. Every phone is guaranteed to be 100% functional, no matter what condition it’s in. Plus, your purchase comes with a minimum 12-month warranty and 30 days to change your mind.

We’re on a mission to make buying a used iPhone easy and accessible. Do your wallet and the planet a favor—join us!

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By Back Market, The leading marketplace for refurbished tech.

Our mission is to make renewed tech mainstream. Turning old into "new new", so to speak.

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