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Should You Upgrade to iPhone 13? Learn iPhone 13 vs 12 Differences Before You Buy

Apple's iPhone 13 is official and many fans are debating whether they should upgrade to iPhone 13. The iPhone 12 Pro they just plucked down a bunch of cash on is still excellent, while the new iPhone 13, maybe not a significant upgrade, has some serious new features on board. If you're one of those sitting on the fence, we've rounded the  iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 key differences to help you decide if you should buy iPhone 13 and which should you buy.

Part 1: iPhone 13 vs 12, Should I Upgrade to iPhone 13?

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 key differences in a nutshell:

  • Similar design and size.
  • 120Hz ProMotion technology in iPhone 13 (Pro/Pro Max) compared to iPhone 12's 60HZ.
  • iPhone 13 camera: new telephoto, ultrawide and wide lenses, sensor-shift stabilization, new Cinematic mode.
  • A15 Bionic in iPhone 13 offers 50% faster CPU performance and 30% GPU performance than the competition.
  • Longer battery life in iPhone 13 than iPhone 12.

Price

The iPhone 13 models remain almost the exact same launch prices as the iPhone 12 counterparts. But after you upgrade iPhone 12 to iPhone 13 at the same price, you can get double the storage. Plus, a 1TB tier of iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max is introduced with an additional $200 over the 512GB versions.

Should I upgrade iphone 12 to 13
iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 Price

Design & Display

  • The biggest display upgrade comes in iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. Both models are packed with Apple's ProMotion technology which is able to dynamically adjust their refresh rate between 10Hz and 120Hz.
  • iPhone 13 is brighter than iPhone 12: the maximum display brightness and HDR content brightness go up to 800/1,200nits and 1,000/1,200 nits in iPhone 13/mini and iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max.
  • The iPhone 13 has five new colors: Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Pink, and (PRODUCT)RED. The iPhone 12 has six colors: Purple, Blue, Green, (PRODUCT)RED, White, and Black.

iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 have very similar designs and you can hardly tell the difference visually, except that the dual rear cameras on the iPhone 13 are placed diagonally. The iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 share the same Super Retina XDR display with the same resolution and sizes, though iPhone 13 is slightly thicker and heavier than iPhone 12. There are still some key upgrades in iPhone 13 that you may interest in.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 upgrade
iPhone 12 vs 13 Design

Camera

  • iPhone 13 Pro/13 Pro Max: Triple rear, 6x optical zoom range, Night Mode, Cinematic Video mode, Photographic Styles, Macro
  • iPhone 12 Pro/12 Pro Mx: Triple rear, 4x/5x optical zoom range, Night Mode

The camera may be where the biggest upgrade is made in iPhone 13. The cameras of the iPhone 13/13 mini share the same specs as the iPhone 12, except that there is a new sensor to capture up to 47% more light and there is a new sensor-shift OIS. The entirely new camera system on iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max is a good reason to upgrade. Here are the key differences between iPhone 13 Pro/Max and iPhone 12 Pro/Max:

Should I buy iPhone 13 or iPhone 12
iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 camera

iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max now supports new telephoto, ultra-wide, and wide lenses, with the sensor-shift stabilization, which is available on iPhone 12 Pro only. There is also 3x optical zoom in and 15x digital zoom to record subjects closely without loss of detail. The wider apertures on iPhone 13 improve the low-light performance by "up to 92% improvement in low light" according to Apple.

The new Cinematic mode allows for a rack focus effect to intelligently shift the focus from one subject to another. Now you can easily create beautiful depth effects and focus transitions with iPhone 13, that's what iPhone 12 can't do. The new Photographic Styles applies local edits to an image in real-time as the photo is rendered. And you can record videos in ProRes in 4K 30fps on the iPhone 13 Pro.

Should I buy iPhone 13 or iPhone 12
iPhone 12 vs 13 camera differences

CPU & Performance

  • iPhone 12: A14 Bionic, 6-core CPU with 2 high-performance cores, 4 energy-efficient cores. 4-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine capable of 11 trillion operations per second.
  • iPhone 13: A15 Bionic, a newer 6-core CPU with 2 high-performance cores, 4 energy-efficient cores. 5-core GPU (Pro) and 16-core Neural Engine capable of 15.8 trillion operations per second.

According to Apple, iPhone 13 now has the world's fastest smartphone chip - A15 Bionic chipset. To be specific, the CPU is 50% faster than the competition and the new GPU is 30% faster than rivals. The new 16-core Neural Engine brings faster machine learning, such as the new Live Text found in iOS 15, photography improvements, more efficient Siri, etc.

However, Apple has unveiled no iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 comparison on their performance. According to the tests on Geekbench, the A15 chip with a 5-core GPU earned a Metal score of 14216, a 55 percent increase compared to the 9123 Metal score earned by the ‌iPhone 12 Pro‌. If you upgrade iPhone 12 Pro to 13 Pro, you can enjoy huge GPU performance improvements.

Should I upgrade iPhone 12 to iPhone 13
iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 CPU

Battery

  • 1.5 hours longer battery life on iPhone 13 mini than iPhone 12 mini
  • 2.5 hours longer battery life on iPhone 13 than iPhone 12
  • 1.5 hours longer battery life on iPhone 13 Pro than iPhone 12 Pro
  • 2.5 hours longer battery life on iPhone 13 Pro Max than iPhone 12 Pro Max

Poor battery life is one of the biggest complaints that an iPhone user may have. Good news is that all the iPhone 13 models all have larger batteries than their iPhone 12 counterparts. To be specific, the iPhone 13 mini has a 2,406mAh battery, compared to the 2,227mAh battery on the iPhone 12 mini. The iPhone 13 and 13 Pro have 3,095mAh batteries compared to the 2,815mAh batteries on the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro. The iPhone 13 Pro Max has a massive 4,352mAh battery compared with the 3,687mAh battery on iPhone 12 Pro Max.

should you buy iPhone 13 or iPhone 12
iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 battery life

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12, Should You Upgrade?

Should you upgrade to iPhone 13? Some users think their current iPhones are enough for them, some will upgrade to iPhone 13 in a couple of years... There are good reasons to upgrade to iPhone 13 and also reasons not to upgrade. It all depends.

  • If you have an iPhone 12 and it has a healthy battery and enough storage, upgrading to iPhone 13 may not give you a significantly different experience.
  • If you're struggling with the old hardware on iPhone 11 or earlier and wondering if you should buy iPhone 12 Pro/Pro Max or iPhone 13, we suggest you to upgrade to iPhone 13. Though there is no major upgrade, iPhone 13 still gets some solid improvements such as faster performance, better camera, longer battery life, etc. without a price hike.

Part 2: Which iPhone 13 Should You Buy?

Decide to upgrade iPhone 12 to iPhone 13 but don't know which to buy? Here we list the highlights of iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and Pro Max to give you some hints.

why should you buy iPhone 13 Pro mini
iPhone 13 mini

iPhone 13 mini

Highlights:

  • Pink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight, and (PRODUCT)RED
  • 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display, 2,340x1,080 pixels, 60HZ
  • 800 nits of typical brightness, or 1,200 nits of max brightness (HDR)
  • A15 Bionic (4-core GPU), 4GB RAM
  • 12-megapixel wide and ultrawide; sensor-shift stabilization
  • HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60 fps

Suitable for: budget-minded fans who love small-size phones with upgrades in battery and performance.

why should you buy iPhone 13
iPhone 13

iPhone 13

Highlights:

  • Pink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight, and (PRODUCT)RED
  • 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display, 2,532x1,170 pixels, 60HZ
  • 800 nits of typical brightness, or 1,200 nits of max brightness (HDR)
  • A15 Bionic (4-core GPU), 4GB RAM
  • 12-megapixel wide and ultrawide; sensor-shift stabilization
  • HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60 fps

Suitable for: iPhone 13 can handle virtually all the daily tasks. Best for most fans who want a great balance of features and power for the price.

why should you upgrade to iPhone 13 Pro
iPhone 13 Pro

iPhone 13 Pro

Highlights:

  • Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Sierra Blue
  • 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display, 2,532x1,170 pixels, 120HZ, ProMotion
  • 1000 nits of typical brightness, or 1,200 nits of max brightness (HDR)
  • A15 Bionic (5-core GPU), 6GB RAM
  • 12-megapixel wide, ultrawide, and telephoto; sensor-shift stabilization
  • ProRes video recording up to 4K at 30 fps (1080p at 30 fps for 128GB storage)

Suitable for: iPhone 13 Pro has the same performance, display features, and camera capability as the 13 Pro Max in a smaller and lighter package, most importantly, at a cheaper price.

why should you buy iPhone 13 Pro Max
iPhone 13 Pro Max

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Highlights:

  • Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Sierra Blue
  • 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display, 2,778x1,284 pixels, 120HZ, ProMotion
  • 1000 nits of typical brightness, or 1,200 nits of max brightness (HDR)
  • A15 Bionic (5-core GPU), 6GB RAM
  • 12-megapixel wide, ultrawide, and telephoto; sensor-shift stabilization
  • ProRes video recording up to 4K at 30 fps (1080p at 30 fps for 128GB storage)

Suitable for: iPhone 13 Pro Max is for those who want professional-level video recording, more powerful GPU, and the best iPhone experience in a larger display.