iPhone 13 Review: A Quick and Dirty Guide to All Four Models

iPhone 13 Review: A Quick and Dirty Guide to All Four Models
Image credit: Lifehacker Australia

Apple’s iPhone 13 range was announced about a month ago now, and some of the excitement surrounding that has settled, meaning I’ve had a good amount of time to live with the phones and test out the experience of using the four models. For this Real Life Review, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the iPhone 13, the Mini, Pro and Pro Max models with you all.

Seeing as we have four phones to get through, we’re gonna Lifehacker the hell out of this and give you the short and dirty rundown of precisely what you need to know about living with each of the iPhone 13 models.

If you’d like a more in-depth technical review of the iPhone 13 range, however, may I suggest the work of our deal pals at Gizmodo here and here.

To start, let’s look at specs:

iPhone 13

  • Processor: A15 Bionic chip CPU (6-core CPU, 4-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine)
  • Display: 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED, 60Hz screen refresh rate
  • OS: iOS 15
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB storage
  • Dual rear camera: 12MP Wide (Æ’/1.6 aperture) 12MP Ultra Wide (Æ’/2.4 aperture).
  • Battery: 2.5hrs extra battery life
  • Colours: Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Pink and Product Red
  • 5G connectivity
  • IP68 water and dust resistance

iPhone 13 Mini

  • Processor: A15 Bionic chip CPU (6-core CPU, 4-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine)
  • Display: 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display, 60Hz screen refresh rate
  • OS: iOS 15
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
  • Dual rear camera: 12MP Wide (Æ’/1.6 aperture) 12MP Ultra Wide (Æ’/2.4 aperture).
  • Battery: 1.5hrs extra battery life
  • Colours: Midnight, starlight, blue, pink and product red colour
  • IP68 water and dust resistance
  • 5G connectivity

iPhone 13 Pro

  • Processor: A15 Bionic chip CPU (6-core CPU, 4-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine)
  • Display: 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display, 120Hz screen refresh rate
  • OS: iOS 15
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB storage
  • Cameras: 3 x 12MP cameras (wide camera with an f/1.5 aperture, an ultra-wide with an f/1.8 aperture and a telephoto with an f/2.8 aperture)
  • Battery: 1.5 hrs extra battery life
  • Colours: Graphite, Gold, Silver and Sierra Blue.
  • IP68 water and dust resistance
  • 5G connectivity

iPhone 13 Pro Max

  • Processor: A15 Bionic chip CPU (6-core CPU, 4-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine)
  • Display: 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display, 120Hz screen refresh rate
  • OS: iOS 15
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB storage
  • Cameras: 3x 12MP cameras (wide camera with an f/1.5 aperture, an ultra-wide with an f/1.8 aperture and a telephoto with an f/2.8 aperture)
  • Battery: 2.5 hrs extra battery life
  • Colours: Graphite, Gold, Silver and Sierra Blue
  • 5G connectivity
  • IP68 water and dust resistance

And here’s how my experience with the iPhone 13 range went.

What’s good?

iPhone 13 review
iPhone 13 Pro Max doing its zoomy thing. Credit: Lifehacker Australia

Surprise, surprise! The camera is incredible. I am blown away at its ability to capture incredibly fine detail, and I’m absolutely loving the range of Photographic Style options (Rich Contrast, Vibrant, Warm and Cool) you have when capturing photos with this phone. 

Style options give you a beautiful range of tones to work with and really easily elevate the quality of your photo – we all know how important lighting is. Oh, and the zoom function. Wow. On the Pro models, you can work with a range of 0.5 up to 3x zoom, (the iPhone 13 and Mini range from 0.5 to 1x zoom) which allows you to capture objects at a pretty incredible range of distances. The macro zoom feature, which I touched on earlier, is also so much better than I expected. I find myself looking for objects to zoom in on, just ’cause. 

Another sweet photographic feature is the group portrait option, which is particularly nice when snapping memorable moments with loved ones. You’ll all look that little bit more polished, y’know? I’ve used this a bunch of times and it always receives compliments.  

Then you have the Cinematic Video function which turns a little video of your grandma in the garden (true story) into an artsy family video. Using it makes you feel like you’re recording your own autobiographic documentary. Whether the doco is any good or not is another matter.

The Pro models can shoot video in ProRes, which is that little bit more advanced than the iPhone 13 and Mini Cinematic Video quality, but honestly, for your own personal use, both options work really beautifully.

Battery wise, considering the phone is running so many advanced programs, it feels pretty incredible that the battery life is able to push through. 

I’ve been using the iPhone 13 Pro most and I’m able to run the phone for over a day, easily. All four models, however, have had between a 1.5 to 2.5-hour bump in battery life and I have no complaints in this department. 

With the smaller notch, the screen display size across all models has seen a small increase, too. Obviously, the iPhone 13 Mini is the smallest of the bunch, and yes it’s noticeable, but it doesn’t feel too small to stream content or enjoy imagery from.

It’s probably worth noting here that if you’re coming from an older model of phone, like an iPhone 6, the display on that phone is 4.7 inches in size, where the iPhone 13 Mini is 5.4 inches.

Streaming from each of these models, which is the reason I care about screen size, really, is a seamless and enjoyable experience. Sometimes, mostly out of laziness, I will choose to watch shows on the iPhone Pro over my laptop, while in bed.

The display is bright and clear, and that is the case across any visual experience you’ll need to use your iPhone 13 for – whether that be gaming, photography or watching Succession

What’s not so good?

Very large phone, indeed. Image credit: Lifehacker Australia

The biggest annoyances for me come in the comfort department – though these don’t apply to all models.

I found the iPhone 13 Pro Max to be a monster of a phone in terms of weight and size [its dimensions are: Width, 78.1 mm (3.07 inches), Height: 160.8 mm (6.33 inches), Depth: 7.65 mm (0.30 inch) and it weighs 238 grams].

Sure, it’s a nice sized screen to watch things on, but holding it in my hand is uncomfortable. I feel constantly unsure of where to put the thing, too. It fits in the pocket of your jeans but it feels like it wants to burst on out.

The sizing of the iPhone 13 and the Pro suits my hand most, though I don’t love the weight of the Pro. At 203 grams it’s enough to notice the difference from the standard model and although it’s not a dealbreaker – there’s a lot inside this phone – I’m always aware of it.

The Mini is nicely sized for those used to a smaller phone, but now that I’ve made the jump to larger models I feel like I’ll accidentally drop the dainty thing now.

You can see my full sizing comparison of the phones here.

The verdict

iPhone 13 review
iPhone 13 Pro review. Image credit: Lifehacker Australia

As I’m sure you can tell from my lengthy love letter to the iPhone 13 camera, I’m very impressed by it. And while the rest of the phone’s improvements don’t feel all that wildly different to the 12 models, this is the one thing that has me thinking: yeah, okay – I need this phone in my life.

Personally, I’d say the Pro is my pick of the bunch (which is what a lot of folks are finding) but the iPhone 13 itself is also an incredible phone that’ll give you a beautiful camera and enjoyable experience all-around.

You can buy each of the models from Apple now. iPhone 13 Mini starts at $1,199, iPhone 13 starts at $1,349, iPhone 13 Pro starts at $1,699 and the iPhone Pro Max from $1,849.

Log in to comment on this story!