iPhone 13 was officially announced at Apple's "California streaming" event on September 14 with four new models. While the design shows limited changes from the iPhone 12, all four models got some significant upgrades under the hood.
While rumors pointed to limited updates for the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini, the rumors were mostly a miss with several impressive enhancements to the standard models. However, the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max do still clearly stand apart with enhancements to the displays and cameras that earn the "Pro" moniker.
Here's everything you need to know about the iPhone 13 models, including pricing, availability, specs, and more.
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iPhone 13 release date and price
The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini will go up for pre-order on September 16 at 9 p.m. Pacific time (12 a.m. Eastern, 9/17). The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro pre-orders go live on September 17 at 5 a.m. Pacific (8 a.m. Eastern).
All four models will be shipping and available in stores starting on September 24.
Pricing for all four models is unchanged from last year. iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 both start at $699 and $799, while the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are $999 and $1,099.
iPhone 13 design
The design was one thing the rumors had right with minimal changes after last year's big redesign. One welcome change to all four iPhone 13 models is the 20% size reduction to the notch that houses the front-facing camera and Face ID tech. Those hoping for it to be eliminated will have to wait at least one more year.
The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini rear camera lenses are now diagonally aligned to mirror the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. The third lens on the Pro models is the telephoto located in the bottom left corner of the rectangular array.
The rumored new colors for the iPhone 13 models were hit or miss, with the hits coming for the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini. Both are available in pink, blue, midnight, starlight and Product Red. The exact shade of pink was never clear from the leaks; it turns out its pale blush pink.
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max colors break somewhat significantly from the rumors though with graphite, gold, silver, and the new sierra blue color option. The last is a much lighter blue to replace the dark pacific blue from last year.
The rest of the design for both phones remains almost completely unchanged. This includes the Lightning port, which has largely disappeared from the rest of Apple's lineup now. Despite considerable rumors of improvements to MagSafe, Apple's magnetic wireless charging remains identical to last year.
iPhone 13 cameras
The biggest upgrade to all four iPhone 13 models comes in the cameras. The iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, and iPhone 13 Pro added the sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS) exclusive to the iPhone 12 Pro Max last year. This is a substantial advantage for low-light photography and video stabilization.
The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini still feature a pair of sensors, wide-angle and ultra-wide. The 12MP wide-angle is now the same larger sensor that we saw on the iPhone 12 Pro Max last year with an f/1.6 aperture, which itself offers a 47% boost to low-light photography. The ultra-wide is again 12MP as well, now with a slightly improved f/2.4 aperture.
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max camera systems are identical this year, a welcome change from last year when you had to go for the biggest phone to get the best camera features. All three sensors are upgraded again this year, with the wide-angle now featuring an amazing f/1.5 aperture for what is sure to be the best low-light performance we've ever seen from an iPhone. The ultra-wide adds a new macro mode for extreme close-up photos and videos, and the telephoto leaps a 3x optical zoom. All three sensors now support Night Mode as well, which was previously exclusive to the primary camera.
Video capture will benefit from the enhanced hardware as well, and on the software side, a new Cinematic mode will allow you to create depth-of-field transitions for the first time on a smartphone. Content creators were already flocking to the iPhone for its video performance, but Apple is really pressing that advantage with Dolby Vision and soon ProRes workflows available.
iPhone 13 display
The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini see some slight enhancements to their 6.1-inch, and 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR displays with a new peak brightness of 800 nits. We'll see how they compare to last year's in our testing when we get the phone in for review. Both phones also feature Apple's proprietary Ceramic Shield front cover that Apple claims is "tougher than any smartphone glass."
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max create additional separation from the standard models with the display upgrade this year to Super Retina XDR with ProMotion. That's Apple's name for its adaptive 120Hz display tech, which like the Galaxy S21 Ultra, can shift from 10Hz up to 120Hz depending on what is being displayed. This should prevent the high refresh rate display from having too significant an impact on battery life. Both phones stick to the same 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch display sizes but get a peak brightness boost up to 1,000 nits.
iPhone 13 performance
Apple's A15 Bionic will, without question, be the fastest mobile processor on the market this year, with Apple claiming improvements to its already class-leading CPU and GPU performance. With that said, we'll need to see what this looks like in the real world with our own testing as Apple sticks to vague comparisons with its marketing rather than giving concrete data.
More importantly, Apple claims that all four iPhone 13 models will offer improved battery life over their predecessors, which is great news given the dramatic step back that all but the iPhone 12 Pro Max took last year. Apple indicated that the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 Pro should offer 1.5 hours more, while the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro Max will deliver an extra 2.5 hours. Again we'll see how these figures hold up in our Laptop Mag battery test.
While Apple did indicate that all four models have larger batteries, it never gets into the specifics of its battery sizes, so we'll have to wait for teardowns to reveal that information. Apple did, however, indicate that improved 5G support and a new Smart Data mode should both lessen the impact that 5G had on iPhone 12 battery life.
iPhone 13 outlook
We will need to get our hands on the iPhone 13 models before we form any strong opinions about them, but it does seem to be a more significant upgrade across the board than was anticipated. The camera enhancements should easily keep the iPhone as the top option for mobile videography. They could also help it claim the top spot in photography, depending on what we see from Google's Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro later this fall.
The A15 Bionic being faster is largely meaningless for anything other than future-proofing as the A14 Bionic was already faster than any current app or game needs it to be. However, the improved efficiency is definitely appreciated, and the improvements to AI and ML performance may be more significant than we can appreciate just yet.
iPhone 12 owners shouldn't feel too envious of the improvements, and even iPhone 11 holds up well by comparison. If you are coming from the iPhone XS or older, there's enough here to warrant an upgrade unless some of the iPhone 14 rumors particularly sway you, just remember to take those early leaks with a grain of salt.