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Your Most Asked Questions About the iPhone 13, Answered

We've gathered the most popular questions from our readers about Apple's four new iPhone 13 models — and answered them.

iphone 13
Tucker Bowe

You can finally buy an iPhone 13. Like last year, there are four new models to choose from — including the iPhone 13 mini ($699+), the iPhone 13 ($799+), the iPhone 13 Pro ($999+) and the iPhone 13 Pro Max ($1,099+) — but they're not drastically different from their iPhone 12 counterparts, as each shares the same basic look and feel. That said, Apple gave each iPhone 13 a few key upgrades and features (like a faster processor, a bigger battery and battery camera) that might make you think about upgrading.

We've had hands-on with all four new iPhone 13s and have been testing them for the last few weeks. We've also collected a smattering of questions from you — our readers — on social media about Apple's new iPhones. And there were a lot. The most common questions are answered below.

Does the iPhone 13 have a Lightning port?

Yep. Despite rumors that Apple might be doing away with the Lightning port, it hasn't. Yet. Just like last year, all the new iPhone 13 models still have a Lightning port (and no 3.5mm headphone jack). You can also charge them wirelessly with a MagSafe or Qi-based wireless charger.

There were rumors of a port-less iPhone which could still culminate next year, especially given that the European Commission (EU) wants to force all electronic manufacturers to use a USB-C charging port if they have one at all — which Apple can't be happy about.

How is the iPhone 13's design different from the iPhone 12? Is the iPhone 13 lighter?

The design of the all four iPhone 13 models isn't much different from their predecessors. They have the same size screens and same flat edges. The main difference is that Apple made the notch 20-percent smaller. It still houses all the same sensors that enable FaceID, but Apple squished them tighter together so that you have a little more screen real estate. The other big difference is that all four iPhones have larger camera bumps, which means your old iPhone 12 case won't fit.

Weight is a difference, however. The larger battery and the improved camera systems have led to all the iPhone 13 models being slightly heavier than their iPhone 12 counterparts. It's not a huge difference, but when holding the two iPhones in either hand, the iPhone 13 models just feel slightly more dense.

iphone 13
The iPhone 13 (left) has a 20-percent smaller notch than the iPhone 12 (right).
Tucker Bowe

Does the iPhone 13 have better battery life than the iPhone 12?

It's noticeably better. In fact, it might be the biggest reason to upgrade from the iPhone 12.
Apple gave each of its iPhone 13 models a battery that is physically larger than the one that its iPhone 12 predecessor. This, paired with Apple's new A15 Bionic chipset, has helped each iPhone 13 have a significantly longer lasting battery.

Apple claims that the iPhone 13 mini and the iPhone 13 Pro should each last up to 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro, respectively, while the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro Max should each get a battery bump of up to 2.5 hours.

What's the difference in cameras between iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro?

The rear-camera systems are the other big reason why you'd want to upgrade to iPhone 13 from the iPhone 12 — Apple improved them both considerably.

The iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 have the exact same dual camera system, consisting of wide (main) and ultra-wide lenses, but Apple gave them a significantly larger sensor and better optical image stabilization; the main result is that each is better at capturing detail in low-light situations.

The bigger upgrade is with the "Pro" line. The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max now have the exact same triple-camera system (unlike last year where the iPhone 12 Pro Max had a superior system and exclusive features) and it's a big improvement over their predecessors. The wide (main) lens has a much bigger sensor, the ultra-wide lenses has a wider aperture (f/1.8), and telephoto with more optical zoom (3x compared to 2.5x).

The result is that the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are significantly better low-light shooters (in fact, all three lenses now work with Night Mode) and they have an exclusive feature — macro photography — where when you get close to a subject (between 10cm and 2cm), it automatically switches to the ultra-wide lens while keeping the same frame and keeping the same focus. It's fun!

Is Cinematic mode any good?

Yes, it's pretty good.

Cinematic mode is new video mode that all four iPhone 13 models that enables you to shoot video with a subject in focus and the background blurred — it's kind of like portrait mode, but for video. The difference is that Cinematic mode is able to change the which subject is in focus during the video, which it can do automatically or you can tap a subject on your iPhone to switch the focus. You can even change and edit which subject is in focus after the video is shot. The result is that makes your video have a more cinematic (or dramatic) feel, but the problem is that it only works in 1080p at 30fps, meaning it's not really a "Pro" feature.

What is the best new feature?

For me, it's kind of a toss up between macro photography (exclusive to the Pros) and Cinematic mode (on all iPhone 13 models). I think I prefer macro photography because the close-up photos you take are really exceptionally detailed and in focus, and it just feels like a pro feature that everybody taking photos of flowers and food will use. It's also just fun seeing your camera working and actually switching in and out of macro mode.


tech roundup
Shot with Macro mode on the iPhone 13 Pro.
Courtesy


Do you really see a difference in the Pro's high refresh rate (120Hz) display?

You can notice it when you have the two iPhones right next to each other, but, if I'm being honest, it doesn't make a world of difference to me.

If you don't know, Apple gave the two iPhone 13 Pro models a display with 120Hz display — which Apple calls "ProMotion" — allowing the screen to refresh twice as often as the 60Hz display of the two regular iPhone 13 models. The result is that it makes scrolling and swiping (and little things, like when the your digital keyboard pops up) feel a little bit faster and smoother.

What are the tradeoffs with the iPhone 13 mini?

The only tradeoff with the iPhone 13 mini is how fast it's able to charge over MagSafe. Just like last year's iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 13 mini charges a little slower over MagSafe compared to other iPhone 13 models. It charges at a max of 12-watts instead of 15-watts.

The reasoning is that the iPhone 13 mini has a smaller battery and Apple likely doesn't want to risk overheating. Also, Apple likely believes that most iPhone 13 mini users likely won't notice the drop off in speed because the smaller battery fills up quickly and it's still much faster that the he max 7.5-watts speed that all iPhones can pull from a Qi-based wireless charger.

Aside from MagSafe charging speeds, screen size and battery life, the iPhone 13 mini has all the exact same features as the iPhone 13.

iphone 13
The iPhone 13 looks almost identical to the iPhone 12. The primary reasons to upgrade have to do with the improved battery, camera and display.
Tucker Bowe

Is MagSafe any different on the iPhone 13 vs. the iPhone 12?

Nope. Apple didn't change the MagSafe in any way from the iPhone 12 series to the iPhone 13 series. They still work with the exact same accessories and they still charge at the same max charging speeds. (The iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro can all charge at a max of 15-watts over MagSafe, while the iPhone 13 mini can charge at a max of 12-watts.)

Will my iPhone 12's case fit on the iPhone 13?

Nope. Despite having the same general dimensions, Apple made the camera array of all iPhone 13 models just a bit wider — by millimeters — than on their iPhone 12 counterparts, meaning old cases won't fit.

Additionally, you won't be able to interchange cases between the iPhone 13 and an iPhone 13 Pro. Unlike the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 Pro don't have the same size camera modules — the Pro's is much bigger — so you'll need a specific case for the specific iPhone 13 model you have.

Is it worth upgrading if I have an iPhone 12?

It depends on. If you're somebody who needs to be on the cutting edge of smartphone photography or you've had issues with the iPhone 12's battery life, then I think making the jump to an iPhone 13 makes sense. That said, Apple is so ahead of the curve when it comes to chip processor and mobile photography that the iPhone 12 is still an absurdly good camera, so waiting another year to upgrade isn't the end of the world.

Also, if the rumors are true, the iPhone 14 is expected to be the one to get the "big" redesign.

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