It’s that time of year again, darker nights, hoodies, pumpkin spice lattes, and new iPhones. I’ve been lucky enough to have reviewed the iPhone 13 Pro. Read on for my Rapid Review to find out if the number 13 is unlucky for Apple.
If It Isn’t Broke…
In terms of design, Apple has stuck to the tried and tested design of the iPhone 12 Pro. Side by side, at first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the phones are identical. However, when you take a closer look, there are some noticeable differences.
The first thing you’ll notice is the notch. Apple has reduced the size of the notch quite considerably, and it does make a difference, giving you some welcome extra screen real estate. The speaker is also in a different location, above the notch, rather than inside it, as it is on the iPhone 12 Pro.
The next and most significant design change is the camera housing on the rear of the phone. The cameras are a lot bigger than those found on the 12 Pro, and they protrude far more than the cameras on the 12 Pro.
This means that it doesn’t sit flush when you lay the iPhone 13 Pro flat on a table. I can’t imagine this will be an issue; however, some people might find this an annoyance. For me, though, it’s not a concern.
With the bigger battery; and the bigger camera housings, the iPhone 13 Pro does feel considerably heavier than the 12 Pro, and when you pick it up the first time, it does feel a little top-heavy. Fortunately, after a little time with the phone, you get used to the weight balance and holding it becomes far more natural and comfortable.
This year’s iPhone also seems to be more durable. I’ve used it every day for the past two weeks, and there’s not a single mark or scratch on it.
The iPhone 13 Pro sports a Super Retina XDR display, and it’s a beauty! In a side by side comparison, the iPhone 13 Pro display is noticeably brighter than the iPhone 12 Pro, colours look more vivid, and thanks to the addition of ProMotion, scrolling is far smoother. Talking of ProMotion, Apple’s display can adapt refresh rates, on the fly, from as little as 10Hz all the up to 120Hz. This means that when you need a faster frame rate, for example when playing games, you’ll get a more fluid and responsive refresh rate.
However, when it’s not needed, the frame rate drops, therefore making the display more energy efficient. Apple is playing a game of catch up here, as many recent handsets have already adopted a 120Hz refresh rate. However, in true Apple fashion, it has taken something and mastered it. Going back to my iPhone 12 Pro, which also has a fantastic display, does feel a little sluggish in comparison.
The iPhone 13 Pro’s battery is larger than the one found in the iPhone 12 Pro, and Apple has said that it provides 1.5 hours more battery life. As an everyday user, I wanted to test the battery life out in a real-life day to day situation. On one particular day, I had a full battery at 10:30 am, and after putting the iPhone 13 Pro through its paces, including 4K video recording, gaming, and everything in between, the battery finally depleted at 10:05 pm. This shows that the iPhone 13 Pro will easily last you a full day, no matter what you’re doing. This is an impressive upgrade when compared to the iPhone 12 Pro.
In terms of charging, you don’t get a charger in the box. However, most people will now have a compatible charger in their homes. I’ve got a MagSafe charger, which fully charges the phone in around 1 hour and 40 minutes. I’ve also got an Anker Nano II 30W which charges the phone fully in less than an hour.
The new iPhone 13 Pro camera set-up is the star of the show this year. There’s a new ultra-wide camera, wide camera, and Telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom. These updates add up to a fantastic experience and a meaningful upgrade compared to the iPhone 12 Pro.
3x Optical Zoom
The iPhone 13 Pro is now capable of 3x Optical Zoom meaning that you can now zoom in closer. This is compared to 2x on the iPhone 12 Pro. In real-life terms, this means that you can now get closer to objects, whilst maintaining quality.
Macro Mode, A Big Deal
It’s hard to fathom that it’s taken 13 iterations of the iPhone to get a dedicated macro mode. Fortunately, it’s worth the wait. I’ve had so much fun testing this mode, getting as close as possible to an object and capturing some incredible details. As you can see in the images below, the level of detail is superb. You can see things that you wouldn’t pick up when looking at an object. For example, I couldn’t see the tiny insect on the leaf below.
When you move the camera close to an object, you can see the camera switch to macro mode, and then when you pull away, it reverts to the normal camera mode. It’s such a fun experience.
Improved Night Mode
Night mode is now available on all iPhone 13 Pro cameras, meaning that taking photos at night time, or in dark places, is now much improved. As you can see in the comparison image below, the iPhone 13 Pro captures more detail, and the colours are more vibrant.
Another great new feature is Photographic Styles. This allows you to personalise your photos, applying a style that suits you. I had lots of fun with the mode. You can see the different styles in the series of photos below.
Perhaps the most exciting new addition is Cinematic Mode. This mode allows you to create cinema-style videos using features that you see in big-screen movies. I tried this out, and you can see the mode in action in the video below. The camera automatically focuses on my daughter while blurring out then the background. The focus then switches to the background before focusing again on my daughter.
I’m looking forward to experimenting more with this mode, and I can see people having a lot of fun with it. Somewhat amazingly is the ability to edit the focus post-filming.
I’ve been blown away by the quality of photographs that I’ve been able to take. Below, you can see a selection of my favourites.
Great for Gaming
The iPhone 13 Pro is an excellent device to enjoy playing games on. A combination of the powerful new 5‑core GPU, A15 Bionic chip and Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion means that games look and feel incredible. As an Apple Arcade subscriber, I was able to put the iPhone 13 Pro through its paces by playing graphically intensive games like Genshin Impact, Wonderbox, Asphalt 8: Airborne+, and NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition. I also tried out Call of Duty and Pokémon Unite. Playing these games with maximum graphics settings enabled is an incredible experience, and after a while, you forget that you’re playing on a phone.
My review handset came with an iPhone 13 Pro Clear Case with MagSafe and the new iPhone Leather Wallet with MagSafe in a Golden Brown variant. The clear case looks great and provides a good level of protection. Hearing the audible click when you attach it is very satisfying.
The Leather Wallet is slightly darker than last year’s version and has had a noteworthy upgrade. It’s now trackable using the Find My App. This is a meaningful upgrade, as you can now track your wallet if you happen to misplace it.
You can have the greatest hardware in the world, but if your operating system isn’t up to par, then the user experience won’t be great. Fortunately, the latest version of iOS 15 has many new and improved features. I’m going to highlight some of my favourites.
Focus mode allows you to choose what notifications can grab your attention, depending on what you’re doing. For example, I set up focus for times that I’m working. When working, I only allow text and call notifications, and turn off everything else. This ensures that I don’t get distracted during work hours. When I’m not working, I allow all notifications.
As a user of Apple AirPod Pros, and AirPods Max, I’m now able to enjoy Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos. Listening to music, and podcasts and watching movies and TV shows is such an immersive experience when coupled with Spatial Audio. If you move your head, the audio feels like it moves around you. You have to hear it to believe it.
Live Text in Photos
This is a very useful feature that lets you select text in photos. For example, you could take a photo of a recipe card, and copy and paste the text then email it to yourself or create a shopping list in notes.
The Wrap Up
- A Super bright screen.
- ProMotion display is great.
- The battery gets you through the day, even with quite intensive use.
- New cameras are incredible.
- Lightning fast.
iPhone 13 Pro, Lucky for Some
As an iPhone 12 Pro user, I was a little concerned that the 13 Pro would somewhat underwhelm me. However, after spending a little bit of time with the phone, this wasn’t the case. The upgrades that Apple has made to the 13 Pro are all meaningful and go a long way to making the 13 Pro the best iPhone I have used to date. If you already have an iPhone 12 Pro, you don’t need to upgrade, but you won’t be disappointed if you do.
Rapid Reviews Rating
5 out of 5
To find out more about the iPhone 13 Pro, head to the Apple Website.