Learn all about the key features, specs, pricing, availability and other details about Apple's 2021 release of iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max and the iPhone 13 mini.
Apple announced the iPhone 13, the update to its flagship iPhone, at a digital-only event on Tuesday, Sept, 14, 2021. The trend continues with the iPhone being segmented into different model configurations: the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, with each model containing slightly different spec variations.
The iPhone 13 family changes are primarily focused on performance, battery life and cameras, which is typically seen during the years of iPhone refreshes that do not feature significant design changes.
Let's walk through the changes to the iPhone 13 and what it means for users, the competition and existing device owners. We'll also take a look at how the specs and prices compare between the iPhone 13 models.
What are the key features of the iPhone 13?
The cameras on the iPhone 13 family of devices received one of the largest updates with this cycle, adding a myriad of device changes and software enhancements to increase the quality and production value of photos and videos shot on the iPhone.
The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini introduce a new dual camera system that features a new wide camera that lets in 47% more light for noise reduction and low light performance. It features a 12MP wide camera and a 12MP ultra-wide camera (f2.4 aperture). Apple also detailed that the capture times have been improved, leading to more detail captured and less blurring overall in low light environments.
As for video, a new feature of the iPhone 13 is Cinematic Mode, which allows you to shift focus automatically whenever a person enters the frame of the camera or changes direction to look. This is done through software changes and machine learning. You can also manually shift focus at any time by tapping on a subject on screen. With this mode, your camera will automatically shoot using Dolby Vision HDR.
In keeping with the iPhone 12, the iPhone Pro features a three-camera design on the back of the device. The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max feature a new 77mm telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom, an ultra-wide camera, and a wide camera with a f1.5 aperture that increases low light performance by 2.2 times; it also enables macro photography right on the device for the first time. All cameras on the iPhone 13 Pro have increase night mode performance (which previously was exclusive to the iPhone 13 Pro Max).
The iPhone 13 Pro models also introduce a new system called Photographic Styles, which allow a photographer to apply live photo edits while shooting. This is different from filters, which are applied after.
The iPhone 13 Pro also gains the ability to shoot and edit ProRes video, which is an industry standard for professional video.
All of the camera improvements across the board on the iPhone 13 will lead to improved augmented reality performance using the LIDR sensor and the cameras.
SEE: Apple's Sept. 2021 event: What business pros need to know (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Apple has created an all-new processor for the iPhone 13 family of devices dubbed the A15 Bionic. This chip boasts more performance all the while increasing power efficiency. The new chip is based on Apple's 5 nanometer technology that packs 15 billion transistors on a single chip. The chip features 6-cores that are composed of 2 high-performance cores for intense processing tasks and four high-efficiency cores for normal computing tasks. Because of the increased performance on these chips, Apple has been able to create iOS 15 in a way that can perform more tasks on device, like the ability to do on-device processing of directions using Apple Maps, or perform Siri tasks and processing on device.
While Apple doesn't release the technical specifications of its chips, it did note that the A15 Bionic chip has 50% faster processing power compared to similar devices on the market from other smartphone manufacturers.
The "Bionic" part of the A15 relates to Apple's machine learning coprocessor included on the chip. This "Neural Engine" features 16-cores that can process 15.8 trillion operations per second for Machine Learning tasks. This is great for apps that rely on CoreML to perform image, text, or camera machine learning tasks, such as Live Text in iOS 15.
The graphics power on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini boast 30% faster performance with the new GPU chip design. These models of iPhone feature a 4-core GPU. On the iPhone 13 Pro models, the GPU design changes slightly with a 5-core GPU and 50% faster graphics performance. Apple notes that the GPU chip on the iPhone 13 Pro models is the fastest graphics performance on any smartphone to date.
All iPhone 13 models feature OLED displays that are brighter and include HDR 10 and Dolby Vision support for cinematic quality video playback. The iPhone 13 and 13 mini have a 28% brighter display that can sustain 800nits of brightness, with HDR content and peak brightness topping out at around 1200nits.
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max feature a new Super Retina XDR Display that is an OLED display similar to the one found on the 2021 iPad Pro 12.9" that can output 1000nits of peak outdoor brightness.
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max also feature ProMotion display technology that can allow the screen to refresh from as low as 10hz to as high as 120hz. This ability to refresh the screen at up to 120fps means that you can get super-fluid animations and scrolling performance. This technology has been around on the iPad for a few years, but Apple has finally brought it over to its smallest iOS devices now.
Apple is dropping the 64GB storage option for all devices starting with the iPhone 13. The iPhone 13 Pro includes the ability to purchase a 1TB model for the first time on an iPhone as well.
The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini come in the following storage configurations: 128GB, 256GB and 512GB.
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max come in the following storage configurations: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB.
With the changes to the A15 Bionic chip, Apple notes that battery life is much improved across the board on all devices. In addition, the physical battery size has increased on all iPhone models, giving you additional battery life and performance.
The iPhone 13 mini features 1.5 hours longer battery life compared to the iPhone 12 mini. The iPhone 13 features 2.5 hours longer battery life compared to the iPhone 12; and, the iPhone 13 Pro features 2.5 hours longer battery life compared to its predecessor. The iPhone 13 Pro features the largest battery ever put into an iPhone and subsequently lasts the longest.
More features of the iPhone 13
iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini come in new colors: (Product) RED, Starlight, Midnight, Blue and Pink. They feature Ceramic Shield front and back glass with aluminum sides.
The iPhone 13 Pro comes in new colors: Graphite, Gold, Silver and Sierra Blue. They also feature Ceramic Shield front glass with a textured matte glass on the back with a stainless steel edge design.
All iPhone 13 models feature IP68 water resistance ratings (maximum depth of 6 meters for up to 30 minutes).
All models of iPhone 13 support the Deep Fusion technology that was previously only available on Pro models. This feature takes up to nine separate photo exposures and fuses them together into a single image.
iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 also support cinema standard wide color gamut for displaying colors precisely on the screen.
The TrueDepth camera system at the top of iPhones with Face ID (dubbed "The Notch" by many) is now 20% smaller thanks to the technology being shrunk in the latest iPhone 13 models.
The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini feature recycled plastics for the antenna bands, and all models of iPhone 13 feature recycled metals.
What's the difference between the iPhone 13 models?
iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini share the same features, but different screen sizes. The screen resolution on the iPhone 13 mini is 2340‑by‑1080-pixel resolution at 476 ppi with a physical screen size of 5.4". The iPhone 13 on the other hand features a resolution of 2532‑by‑1170-pixel resolution at 460 ppi packed into a physical screen size of 6.1".
iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max also share the same features between devices, with the main difference being the display. The iPhone 13 Pro features a resolution of 2532‑by‑1170-pixel resolution at 460 ppi in a physical space of 6.1", while the iPhone 13 Pro Max features a resolution of 2778‑by‑1284-pixel resolution at 458 ppi in a 6.7" display size.
Below is a chart that outlines the specs between models where features differ.
iPhone 13 mini
iPhone 13 Pro
iPhone 13 Pro Max
4.97 ounces (141 grams)
6.14 ounces (174 grams)
7.19 ounces (204 grams)
8.46 ounces (240 grams)
2340‑by‑1080-pixel resolution at 476 ppi
2532‑by‑1170-pixel resolution at 460 ppi
2778‑by‑1284-pixel resolution at 458 ppi
Wide and Ultra Wide cameras
Wide and Ultra Wide cameras
Telephoto, Wide, and Ultra Wide cameras
Telephoto, Wide, and Ultra Wide cameras
Up to 17 hours
Up to 13 hours
Up to 55 hours
Up to 19 hours
Up to 15 hours
Up to 75 hours
Up to 22 hours
Up to 20 hours
Up to 75 hours
Up to 28 hours
Up to 25 hours
Up to 95 hours
What are the main competitors of the iPhone 13?
The main competition for the iPhone 13 remains in large part a mix between Google and Samsung. Samsung's recently released S21 Ultra 5G features many of the same features of the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini. With Google, the Pixel 5 and Pixel 5a remain competitors to the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini as well mainly because of the camera and battery life features.
Competition for the iPhone 13 Pro models largely comes down to the offerings from Samsung's Galaxy and Galaxy Note products, which trend towards the higher end of specs.
What's the target market for the iPhone 13?
When it comes to upgrades for iPhone models, the target market trends towards users who are already in the iOS ecosystem. We particularly see interest for the iPhone 13 in businesses and users who are using their devices with the camera system in mind. The iPhone 13 is particularly good with augmented reality, photography and filmography. We anticipate the users who primarily focus on these use cases will see the largest benefit from the upgrade between iPhone 12 and older devices.
SEE: Why I'm buying the iPhone 13 Pro Max, and maybe you should, too (TechRepublic)
Users who also need larger batteries for their devices will see a dramatic benefit from the A15 Bionic chip and the larger batteries found on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max models.
We anticipate that businesses who have been holding off on device purchases since the iPhone X and iPhone XS will be particularly interested in upgrading to the iPhone 13 as it adds many new features and capabilities that iOS 15 can take advantage of going forward.
How much does the iPhone 13 cost, and when can I get one?
Despite rumors of the iPhone 13 being impacted by the 2020/2021 global microchip shortage, Apple is continuing on with its standard pre-order timeline, and the pricing of the device has remained stable as compared to the iPhone 12 models:
- The iPhone 13 mini with 128GB of storage starts at $699 USD.
- The iPhone 13 with 128GB of storage starts at $799 USD.
- The iPhone Pro with 128GB of storage starts at $999 USD.
- The iPhone Pro Max with 128GB of storage starts at $1099 USD.
The iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, and iPhone 13 Pro are all going to be available for pre-order beginning Friday, September 17, 2021 in these countries Apple announced: U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan and more than 30 other countries and regions. See the local Apple website in your local country or region for more information.
The devices are expected to arrive in customers' hands beginning on September 24, 2021, and the devices should also be available in limited quantities in most Apple Stores and retail partners on the same day in launch countries.
Beginning Friday, October 1, orders for the iPhone 13 will be available in Turkey; and, beginning Friday, October 8 in Malaysia, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand, and nearly 10 other countries and regions. See the local Apple website in your country for additional availability during the launch week of September 24, 2021.
Editor's note: This feature has been updated with additional information.
- Apple iOS 15 cheat sheet: Everything you need to know (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Smartphones and mobile tech: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)