iPhone 13 Pro
Mac Life|December 2021
Yes, it’s good, but is it enough to tempt you?
NICK ODANTZIS

From $999 From apple.com

Features 6.1–inch Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion, 460ppi, A15 Bionic chip, 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB storage, IP68, Pro 12MP rear camera system with Telephoto, Wide and Ultra Wide cameras, 12MP TrueDepth front camera, 7.16 oz

During what sometimes feels like a never-ending cycle of incremental upgrades to the iPhone, the iPhone 13 Pro could rank as the most incremental upgrade ever (ignoring the non–numeric S models). But wait, this is also the best iPhone ever. Huh? Bear with us. Last year’s iPhone 12 Pro was pretty darn great already, so there wasn’t really a big requirement to totally redesign it. Instead, Apple has finessed it in several key ways, and in the process made it a bit, erm, chunky… more on that later.

Probably the most noticeable upgrade from last year’s handset is battery longevity. The iPhone 12 Pro certainly wasn’t bad by any means — we easily managed about a day’s use before snapping it on to a MagSafe before bedtime — but it wasn’t top of the class either. According to Apple, the iPhone 13 Pro gains an extra 5 hours of video playback per charge — up to 22 hours now. Certainly, at the end of a day we noticed the battery bar still well over half a tank, as apposed to less than a quarter.

So that’s pretty incredible news. The battery boost is most likely down to the increased capacity of the unit — up from 1,078 mAh to 1,197 mAh, according to iFixit’s teardown.

Even more impressive is the battery life of the 13 Pro’s bigger brother, the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which thanks to a bigger battery now sports a massive 28 hours of video playback — a boost of eight hours over the old model, and six more than the 13 Pro. If you’re wondering which handset to choose, other than the bigger screen size (it’s the same 6.7–inch diagonal as the 12 Pro Max), the battery life is the only thing that’s different. So there you go.

FASTER, BUT IS IT FAST ENOUGH?

This year’s iPhone also gets a decent performance bump, with the new A15 Bionic chip, which Apple claims is “the fastest chip ever in a smartphone” (well, it would). Other than the extra GPU core, giving the iPhone 13 5–cores to play with, as opposed to the iPhone 12’s 4–cores, the specs appear identical. In testing, however, there’s a pleasing performance boost. Geekbench netted a slightly higher score in single-core CPU testing, while read/write speeds in Performance test Mobile were noticeably improved. An additional 7.5fps over the iPhone 12 Pro’s result in the 3DMark Wild Life test is not to be sniffed at, either.

If you’re coming from an iPhone 12, then realistically you’re not going to notice the changes unless you’re pushing it to the limits, but older iPhone users will probably be blown away by just how fast the new iPhone is.

You’ve got the choice of 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage on the iPhone 13 Pro. We wouldn’t recommend going for the 1TB option unless you really need that space — for example if you shoot a lot of video — while at the other end of the scale many users could find 128GB a bit limiting.

BIGGER CAMERAS, BRIGHTER PHOTOS

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