We’ve been using the new Apple iPhone 13 Pro for a few days, so it would be too early for a full review, but we’d like to share our first impressions with you today.
Housing: same design – detail improvements
Let’s start outside. The new iPhone 13 and the new iPhone 13 Pro basically have the same design that Apple introduced last year with the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro. There are some differences in the colors, unfortunately there is no longer any very chic Pacific blue, instead a slightly lighter blue. However, that is not extremely important.
More exciting are the differences that exist between the two iPhone generations despite the same design. The most striking thing is of course the camera module, it is really huge, even in the small iPhone 13 Pro it is now the size of the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The camera module is now wider than half of the iPhone, the arrangement of the camera itself has become however nothing changed.
What we noticed annoying: The camera has also become deeper, so it protrudes further out of the housing than before. Even in combination with a cell phone case, this still causes the camera to wobble. This is particularly annoying because in our first tests compared to the direct predecessor, the images look almost identical during the day and are extremely difficult to distinguish from one another at night.
But Apple also took the opportunity and made one or two improvements to the design. Compared to the iPhone 12 Pro, the buttons, the standby button as well as the mute switch and the volume control have slipped down a good bit. This makes it easier for people with smaller hands to operate the phone with one hand.
Face ID: Smaller, but still big
The Face ID sensor of the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro is 20% smaller than before, according to Apple. This makes the screen a little bit bigger, which should be particularly noticeable on the iPhone 13 mini. With the larger iPhones, however, this plays a less important role. Instead, it is noticeable here that many apps still have to be adapted to the new notch. The notch has become narrower in width, but sometimes protrudes a few rows of pixels further into the display, which means that apps like YouTube are now clipped by the notch in full-screen mode.
On the whole, of course, the innovation in the Face ID sensor doesn’t do any harm, but in our opinion it hardly brings any serious added value compared to its predecessors. The iPhone 14 could possibly bring more exciting innovations here, currently there is speculation that Apple could relocate the Face ID sensors under the display and thus only the camera can be seen in the display, as is the case with some Android phones is already the case.
Apple’s A15 chip: Turning fastest into faster
A new CPU is also installed in the new iPhone, but Apple is slowly having a problem here. The A14 chip that was built into the iPhone 12 is still the third fastest CPU in smartphones. Only the Snapdragon 888 Plus is slightly faster, the normal 888 is in 4th place. Precisely for this reason, Apple pointed less to the performance differences between the A 14 and 15 in the presentation of the new iPhone, but rather to the performance difference to the competition.
With the A14, the iPhone 12 is still an absolute powerhouse, in benchmarks the A15 is around 10-25% better, and especially on the iPhone 13 Pro, the new iPhone benefits from increased graphics performance. At least on paper, because currently you don’t notice any difference here as long as you are not rendering a video.
Finally Pro-Motion on the iPhone, but is it worth it?
Short answer: no. So don’t get it wrong, thanks to the 120 Hz display in the new iPhone, all of the animation, which is known to look very nice in iOS, looks extremely smooth and rounded. If you compare an iPhone 13 Pro with an iPhone 12 Pro, you will notice a certain difference here. But it is also a fact that this difference is not particularly great and is perceived differently by different people.
In contrast to many Android models with a 120 Hz display, Apple uses a variable clock rate for the display. This has the great advantage that it usually saves electricity compared to a 60 Hz display. The minimum clock rate of the iPhone display is 10 Hertz, which is 1/6 of normal iPhones. If something is moved on the display, the clock rate adapts variably up to 120 Hz.
What makes extremely good sense to us on the iPad Pro seems to be nothing more than a nice gimmick on the iPhone. Since you don’t write with an Apple Pencil here, and latencies are irrelevant, the animations remain rounded – it is your own fault if you buy the Pro model because of this.
Really exciting: features of the camera
The really exciting innovation, however, is less hardware-related than actually found on the software side: The camera has significantly more functions, which makes it even better.
There are some exciting new features on the iPhone, especially for videographers, such as the cinema mode. The cinema mode is a kind of portrait mode for videos, with which focus points can be set during the filming, but also after the recording.
Not yet available, but should be submitted via software update by the end of the year, is the option of recording videos in ProRes format with the iPhone. This means that even professional filmmakers can use the iPhone temporarily for high-quality recordings. There is a catch here, however, if you have the smallest storage version of the iPhone 13 Pro, this is only possible in Full HD, as the video files are extremely large.
In the case of photo recordings, profiles can now be selected which are not actually applied to the image like a filter, but rather represent a post-processing profile, which can be used afterwards with professional image processing solutions.
And last but not least, there is now a macro mode for the ultra-wide angle, with which you can get up to 2 cm close to objects. That’s pretty cool as a stylistic device.
Conclusion: a lot a little better
Our conclusion on the iPhone 13 Pro: Apple does a lot of things a little better here, with an emphasis on a little bit. If you don’t depend on the new features, you still don’t go wrong with an iPhone 12 Pro, the phone is still extremely fast, the camera is just a bit worse. Just like in recent years, Apple is taking the direct predecessor model out of its range for this very reason, only the iPhone 12 is still available as new.
Many of the new features in the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro are small improvements that can be particularly worthwhile for buyers who have been using an older iPhone for a long time. However, it will probably not be really exciting again until 2022. According to current rumors, Apple could bring some really exciting innovations with the iPhone 14 – and not just a subtle update.