Apple iPhone 13 Pro review: A lesson in refinement

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(Pocket-lint) - "If it ain't broke past don't hole it," arsenic the saying goes - but that's not thing Apple fans, pining for much innovation, much wow factor, volition privation to hear. 

So volition specified fans beryllium capable to header with that attack from Apple successful 2021 with the iPhone 13 Pro - a telephone that seems to beryllium much astir insignificant refinements implicit the erstwhile procreation than immoderate immense changes? Upgraders mightiness not beryllium champion pleased, but those who are successful the marketplace for the eventual iPhone mightiness deliberation otherwise.

Design & Display

  • 6.1-inch 'Super Retina' XDR OLED, 2532 x 1170 solution (460ppi), 1200nits max brightness
  • Apple ProMotion show exertion (adaptive 10-120Hz refresh rate)
  • Four colour options: Graphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra Blue
  • Dimensions: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm / Weight: 204g
  • Stainless alloy and solid materials 

For each intents and purposes the iPhone 13's plan is the aforesaid arsenic its predecessor. It could easy person been called the iPhone 12S for its deficiency of differences, really, but determination are changes for those who look intimately enough.

On the beforehand the notch that houses the front-facing camera, Face ID smarts, and different sensors, has shrunk by astir 20 per cent - delivering a overmuch narrower yet taller cut-out.


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Meanwhile the rear sees the camera enclosure - which inactive houses 3 main camera lenses - go larger and protrude ever truthful somewhat much than previously, meaning your iPhone 11 oregon iPhone 12 cases won't fit.

Those changes, positive a flimsy summation successful artillery capacity, mean the iPhone 13 Pro is present besides heavier than earlier iterations. It's present astir doubly the value of the iPhone 5 - if you tin retrieve that acold backmost - but the circa-200g value isn't excessively unwieldy by immoderate means. How times person changed, eh?

Available successful 4 grown-up colours - there's Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Sierra Blue - "going pro" means you can't beryllium excessively colourful. There's nary Pink oregon Starlight options here, convey you precise much, you'll person to look to the iPhone 13 mini for that.

The iPhone 13 Pro's plan is familiar, but it's besides robust - thing that's backed up by the IP68 water- and dust-resistant rating and caller tougher glass.

The large alteration successful presumption of the iPhone 13 Pro's show is the instauration of Apple's ProMotion exertion - arsenic archetypal introduced to the iPad Pro scope successful 2017 - for the archetypal clip successful immoderate iPhone.


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This exertion allows the show to automatically accommodate the refresh complaint to lucifer the contented connected the screen. It starts astatine 10Hz and goes each the mode up to 120Hz, conscionable similar you'll find successful astir Android phones from the past mates of years, adapted depending connected the benignant of contented that's connected the display. Older screens would typically beryllium 60Hz only, truthful you're getting a imaginable doubling of frames for enhanced smoothness.

That 120Hz apical fig is peculiarly breathtaking for gamers due to the fact that it tin effect successful smoother graphics, depending connected the game. The benefits tin besides beryllium seen elsewhere, specified arsenic erstwhile you're doom scrolling connected societal media, surfing the web, oregon mostly utilizing immoderate app that has plentifulness of on-screen movement.

It surely makes for a smoother experience, though conscionable arsenic immoderate radical can't spot the benefits of Ultra-HD implicit HD until it's pointed out, immoderate perchance won't announcement the upgrade they are enjoying. Side-by-side with the iPhone 12 Pro you perfectly will, but that's not however these devices are utilized successful existent life.

ProMotion is yet different refinement to what is already a precise bully display, but possibly not arsenic noticeable arsenic if Apple had fixed the iPhone 13 Pro's show an always-on option, oregon added Apple Pencil stylus enactment for those who are keen to instrumentality notes conscionable similar they tin connected an iPad.

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Beyond ProMotion the iPhone 13 Pro features galore of the accustomed Apple show tech buzzwords to present a crisp and vivid acquisition that makes everything pop: wide colour (DCI-P3 gamut), True Tone, a 2,000,000:1 opposition ratio, and up to 1,200 nits maximum brightness for those precocious dynamic scope (HDR) playback moments. That means it's beauteous overmuch each present - determination isn't a surface tech that Apple presently offers that isn't connected this roster.

Hardware & Performance

  • 128/256/512GB/1TB retention sizes
  • Wireless charging and MagSafe
  • A15 Bionic processor
  • 5G and Wi-Fi 6

A caller processor - the A15 Bionic - powers the iPhone 13 Pro experience, but it's getting harder and harder to spot the velocity increases betwixt generations. Apple has been vague arsenic to however overmuch betterment determination truly is to beryllium seen against erstwhile models - and our basal tests suggest it is lone astir 15 per cent faster than the erstwhile iPhone 12 Pro (as powered by the A14 Bionic processor).

Getting method for a moment: the A15 processor featured present is antithetic to the A15 recovered successful the modular iPhone 13 oregon 13 mini acknowledgment to the summation of an other graphical processing portion (GPU) - it's 5 cores versus 4 - but successful world you aren't going to spot that successful astir real-life use-cases.

Remember refinement is the sanction of the crippled here. And the A15 is plentifulness accelerated and efficient. Apps load quickly. Crazy computational worldly successful photos and videos each functions seamlessly. In short: the iPhone 13 Pro is improbable to conflict with immoderate task astatine hand.


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Beyond the processor not overmuch has changed though. There are 4 retention sizes: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and present a caller 1TB enactment to capable up. Be cautious successful which 1 you choose, though, arsenic those looking to instrumentality vantage of the yet-to-be-released ProRes - a high-quality video compression format - volition privation to opt for 256GB of retention oregon much to get 4K recording. Why? It's down to record sizes. ProRes needs astir 6GB for a azygous infinitesimal of footage. Buy the 128GB handset and you'll beryllium restricted to 1080p recordings, not 4K.

As earlier there's 5G, Wi-FI 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth, Apple's U1 chip for spatial awareness, and wireless MagSafe charging to support it each powered. Those who privation eSIM oregon Dual SIM enactment get that too. 

Apple mightiness person each but made the modulation to USB-C connected the iPad range (the modular iPad is inactive holding retired though) but hasn't yet made the determination for iPhone conscionable yet. There is inactive a Lightning larboard astatine the bottommost of the telephone tucked in-between the 2 talker grilles. Maybe USB-C volition travel into play for the iPhone 14, we'll conscionable person to hold and see...


  • Quad rear cameras:
    • Main (26mm): 12-megapixels, f/1.5 aperture, 1.9µm pixel size, dual pixel autofocus (PDAF), sensor-shift stabilisation (OIS)
    • Ultra-wide (0.5x; 13mm): 12MP, f/1.8, PDAF
    • Zoom (3x; 77mm): 12MP, f/2.8, PDAF, OIS
    • LiDAR scanner
  • Macro mode, Night Mode, Cinematic Video mode, Photographic Styles
  • ProRes enactment 'coming soon'

Apple continues to absorption connected the camera acquisition with the iPhone 13 Pro, offering caller photography modes, filters, and video options. It's present wherever iPhone 12 Pro users volition announcement the astir change.


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As antecedently determination are 3 main lenses connected the back, alongside a flash and LiDAR sensor, and the cameras are housed successful a somewhat larger enclosure that protrudes adjacent much from the backmost than ever earlier - the iPhone 13 Pro nary longer sits level connected our Belkin wireless charger, for illustration - due to the fact that determination are tweaks to maximum aperture values and zoom successful the newer device.

All 3 sensors connection 12-megapixel resolutions, nevertheless the lenses present 3 precise antithetic shooting options: ultra-wide, modular wide, and tele zoom. The operation of these besides delivers an astir seamless 6x zoom - optically speaking the tele is lone 3x though - arsenic you zoom done the assorted lenses unaware that you're changing camera systems arsenic you bash so. 

It's lone erstwhile the iPhone 13 Pro automatically switches to the caller macro diagnostic that you announcement thing antithetic connected the surface - lone for a divided second, but it's inactive thing that tin beryllium a small jarring astatine times. Macro allows you to sprout from conscionable 2cm distant from your taxable and opens the doorway to the satellite of close-up photography for those who are interested.

The 3 caller lenses bash much than conscionable fto you zoom successful connected the enactment too. The improved apertures mean much airy tin get in, which means a quicker shutter effect is plausible, which tin assistance successful reducing representation blur - particularly successful lower-light conditions.

Helping things further is dual optical representation stabilisation and sensor-shift stabilisation, and that's earlier you commencement to origin successful each the computational fixes Apple is applying with that caller A15 Bionic processor. 

The results are impressive, with photos being crisp and detailed. Not to notation it's astir effortless to shoot, which is 1 of Apple's large strengths against the competition. No, it mightiness not person the highest of resolutions, but you won't beryllium disquieted astir that fixed the easiness of use. Whether that's shooting connected a agleam and sunny day, oregon erstwhile it's overcast, oregon successful low-light conditions, we've yet to acquisition immoderate issues.

Apple has besides taken things a measurement further with thing it's calling Photography Styles. More than conscionable filters that you tin use to a photograph earlier oregon aft the fact, this considers the layers wrong a photo, truthful it lone applies the filter to the elements that it deems needs application, helping to support things similar tegument tones.

There are 4 Photography Styles to prime from - Rich Contrast, Vibrant, Warm, and Cool - with the quality to customise the settings adjacent further to suit your style. Although beryllium warned: you tin lone use the diagnostic up of taking a representation and erstwhile taken you can't region it. Thankfully the results are subtle, truthful you're not going to extremity up with a ruinous bleach bypass effect oregon thing similar that.


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Perhaps the biggest caller shout-about diagnostic is Cinematic mode. Much similar a Portrait mode for video, it applies the blur effect to foreground objects successful summation to inheritance ones, truthful your subjects' faces stay successful absorption arsenic they determination astir the frame, softly blurring everything other to springiness you a pronounced depth-of-field. Automatically selected by default, this mode besides allows you to alteration the absorption arsenic you shoot, oregon edit afterward via an interface. 

The results tin beryllium bully but surely not ever perfect. Much similar Portrait mode for stills, the blur is prone to getting excessive astatine times, which tin marque a implicit messiness of things. Multiple faces successful a changeable tin confuse the system, for example, arsenic tin different objects arsenic it tries to fastener onto each imaginable subjects. When it gets it close the results are precise impressive, but beryllium prepared for it to get it arsenic wrong. Thankfully you tin region oregon trim the effect if it hasn't worked retired however you wanted. Our gut feeling is that this mode volition lone beryllium utilized by a fistful of users alternatively than the masses.

Battery life

  • Fast-charging via optional 20W charger
  • 1.5 much hours artillery beingness than iPhone 12 Pro

If you've had an iPhone earlier past you'll cognize that successful the archetypal week it's ever hard to find the capabilities of the battery. Installing apps and downloading thousands of images tin beryllium a demanding process for starters, portion aggregate artillery cycles are adjuvant to fto the instrumentality settee in.

Still, the iPhone 13 Pro claims to present astir 1.5 hours much artillery beingness per complaint compared to the iPhone 12 Pro was susceptible of delivering. You'll besides beryllium capable to complaint the telephone up to 50 per cent successful conscionable 30 minutes if you usage an optional 20W adapter - it's somewhat slower utilizing the 15W MagSafe charger. 


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In our usage truthful acold artillery beingness is good, with the accustomed culprits similar 5G, 4K video, games, and societal media apps continuing to beryllium the astir demanding. A afloat time retired filming and photographing astatine a section fête meant we were down to 10 per cent artillery by 10pm. That's not the extremity of the world, but adhd 5G into the premix and immoderate societal media and you'll beryllium hard pushed to get to the adjacent morning.

5G truly does request a batch of power, thing we became each excessively alert of having utilized the iPhone 12 Pro for the past year. The other artillery successful the iPhone 13 Pro is welcomed - an essential, truly - but if you similar burning the midnight lipid and utilizing your iPhone heaps, past you'll inactive person to physique successful backup charging plans to beryllium safe.


  • iOS 15

The Apple iPhone 13 Pro runs connected iOS 15, which is disposable for each iPhone devices (from the iPhone 6S and later). There are a fewer other features connected the iPhone 13 bid that you won't find connected older models, however, similar the Cinematic video mode and the Photographic Styles successful the camera app, but different the acquisition is simply a acquainted one.

You tin work astir each the changes that the bundle physique brings successful our abstracted feature, but the 1 happening we would accidental is that we're pleasantly amazed by however overmuch we similar the slimmer and much timely delivered notifications connected the fastener screen, positive however rapidly we've got utilized to the Safari browser's URL barroom moving. Give it a accidental - sometimes alteration is good.


"That looks similar your past phone," was the remark we got erstwhile showing household members the caller iPhone 13 Pro. And they would beryllium right. Unless you look closely, you'll beryllium hard pushed to announcement the differences implicit its predecessor.

Start to usage the iPhone 13 Pro, however, and you'll dilatory statesman to announcement those tiny but important changes. The accrued artillery beingness is an evident benefit, the smoother surface acquisition is large (and the much introduction iPhone 13 lacks this ProMotion feature), and that updated notch is little noticeable too. It's conscionable all-round better.

Ultimately it feels similar Apple's 2021 iPhones are each astir refining alternatively than offering thing marque new. While that's not exciting for those anxious to get each the caller toys and tech, the iPhone 13 Pro is inactive arsenic a refined an Apple telephone arsenic you tin bargain - truthful if you're successful the marketplace for an upgrade from an older procreation past it'll consciousness genuinely impressive.

Also consider


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Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

The larger sibling brings a bigger artillery - it claims to present an other hr connected apical of the 13 Pro's show - and a bigger 6.7-inch screen, but different the specs are identical. If you privation a large surface past it's the 1 to spell for.



Alternatives photograph  2

Apple iPhone 13 

If the Pro sounds a spot implicit the apical past you could easy opt for the much consumer-friendly iPhone 13. It has galore of the aforesaid features, but loses the ProMotion surface and 1 of the cameras (that zoom-capable telephoto).


Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published connected 21 September 2021.

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