The iPhone 13
iPhone 13 review: Is it worth?
Sometimes phone reviews are hard there are new features to explore new hardware technologies to explain entirely new camera systems and new designs to talk about yeah i don’t think this is going to be that kind of review this review should be pretty easy this is the iPhone 13 and this is the iPhone 13 mini and there are only three things you need to know okay four maybe five will this be easy this might not be quite as simple as i thought i figured it’d be pretty simple because you know when i review an iPad I get to say it’s just an iPad but now when i review a phone i got to talk about this camera and that camera and there’s a third camera in there i compare it to okay let’s just start going over the things and i want to do it in order from the most important thing to the least important stuff i think the most important parts of a phone are the fundamental things that make your life easier and that means that we are going to start with battery apple made the batteries bigger apple says that the iPhone 13 lasts two and a half hours longer for most people and that the iPhone 13 mini goes for one and a half hours longer those are apple’s estimates based on aggregated data so it’s hard to know exactly what they mean you know in the real world for you so i’m just gonna tell you what i got the regular iPhone 13 made it from 7am to midnight before it tuckered out with about five hours of screen on time that was with some camera testing watching some video and the usual doom scrolling and emails and work and really bad chests which i’m really bad at so that’s impressive but it’s not magic when we had a day where we had to shoot a lot more 4k video testing i was looking for a charger by like 7 or 8 p.m now
The iPhone 13 mini is going to be a different story i just have to admit that i haven’t had a chance to fully test it yet we don’t do just video rundown tests here at the verge we like to have real world use and there are only so many phones i can actually use in the real world at a time i am going to be doing a full longer term battery test on the iPhone 13 mini over the next couple of weeks and i will publish a full rundown on theverge.com but i do have an early impression and it’s that apple’s one and a half hour longer claim does seem reasonable however that’s kind of faint praise i use the iPhone 12 mini a lot over the last year and what i said when i first reviewed it has turned out to be true if you use a little tiny smartphone like it’s a very big smartphone you’re gonna end up draining the battery by early afternoon or even lunch so my takeaway for the iPhone 13 mini is unfortunately wait and see my takeaway for the regular iPhone 13 is that we are back to having really good battery life on an iPhone after an off year last year because again the batteries are bigger now
The second thing i want to talk about is also a smartphone fundamental cameras apple made the main wide-angle camera sensor bigger too and bigger is better when it comes to camera sensors the sensor is so big they had to switch the camera layout to diagonal to fit it all they also had to make the whole thing a little bit thicker so cases from the iPhone 12 aren’t going to fit around this new bigger camera bump this new bigger sensor is the same one that came on the iPhone 12 pro max last year and that camera held on to the crown for best photo and video quality since it was released and in my testing the results from this main camera are as good or better thanks to software improvements than the top tier 12 pro max from last year which is to say the only better camera than the iPhone 13 on the market today is the iPhone 13 pro details out of this camera are sharp and accurate colors are rich without being over saturated focusing is fast and reliable portrait mode is really good enough to use day to day and low light and night sight are both exceptional video quality is also great.
The main camera has sensor stabilization which helps when you’re walking around it can do all of the modes that matter most in terms of 4k and slow-mo and it handles them all really well the only way to be unhappy with this camera is if you compare photos taken in difficult situations on a big screen head-to-head with the 13 pro the ultra wide sensor was also updated for better low light performance but it’s fairly minor what i mostly see is improved white balance and color when it’s in night mode if i could have one wish for this camera system it’s that the selfie camera would have been updated it does have software improvements just like all the other cameras and it is inside a smaller notch on the screen now but the selfie camera is just too important for apple to have left the same for this many years in a row so after battery and camera my third most important thing to know is a curveball it’s last year’s iPhone 12.
The iphone 12 has come up a lot already in this video because well you know it’s natural to compare this phone to the one that came last year and it would be totally fair to call this iPhone 13 an iPhone 12s it’s basically the same idea but better but the reality is many people looking to upgrade to the iPhone 13 are going to be coming from older phones than last year’s 12 and if that’s you i have very good news nearly everything the iPhone 13 is inheriting from last year’s iPhone 12 is excellent and a big upgrade all new design is beautiful and modern the old screen has deep blacks and bright brights it’s got the magsafe system for wireless charging that ecosystem still needs work but it’s convenient you’re getting everything that’s good about this phone and everything that was good from the phone that came before it.
The fourth thing is just answering this question should you get the iPhone 13 or the 13 pro i have a full review of the iPhone 13 pro and the pro max which i encourage you to go watch if you’re thinking about getting the pro what you get with the 13 pro is a better camera system overall and a telephoto camera the 13 pro max has the biggest screen and the biggest battery and both of those phones have a fast refresh display which makes animation and scrolling look and feel smoother are those things worth the extra money well they are to me but i love phones and i use them enough that every little detail makes a difference in my experience if you have to have the nicest things get the one with the nice to haves for me the camera improvements on the pro are good enough to justify the extra cost plus i’m a sucker for the extra screen all right how many things are we at uh five okay five means we’re going to go back to the camera to talk about some features that are fun but they’re not reasons to go out and buy this phone the first of those features is photographic profiles it’s a new option in the camera that changes the default look of the pictures you’re taking apple says that these are not filters but instead they change how the computational photography system makes decisions about things like contrast and white balance and color.
You know how Samsung takes super vivid photos and if you like that look then you can make the iPhone take super vivid photos and have that be your new default or you know pixels are really contrasty and blue same sort of deal you can make the iPhone do that profiles are a toggle that sticks so every time you open the camera you get that look they’re there all the time by default but of course you can turn them off if you don’t want to use them here’s some examples this is the iPhone shot with the standard profile next to a Samsung zflip3 and now the iPhone’s vibrant profile now here is the iPhone shot and standard next to a pixel 5 and now the iphone’s rich contrast profile apple’s photos are better across the board but in these profiles they are tuned in a way that makes them look a little bit more like what those other phones do one thing these profiles don’t do is apply these tone and warp settings to the entire picture
The iPhone knows when it sees grass or faces or sky and so it adjusts how it applies these color preferences accordingly so you don’t get weird looking skin tones or purple skies or whatever you also can’t change these in the edit after the fact profiles are baked into the file i get more into the weeds on how all this stuff works in the iPhone 13 pro video if you’re interested okay thing 5.5 there’s another camera thing it’s a new feature called cinematic mode think of it like portrait mode but for video so this is cinematic mode and what you’re seeing here is it lock on my face and use software to make the background blurry and then i could if i wanted to choose it to focus on veering over there.
Now it’s locked on him i could lock it on me what’s interesting is i look at him now it sees his face and not my face and so when it sees a face it wants to lock on the biggest face in the frame and that’s what it does you can edit this after the fact and so what you’re going to see here is it’s going to shift over to verand but i did that in edit i didn’t do it while we’re just sitting here so that’s kind of fun there are a few more notes about what it’s like to use cinematic mode it locks onto faces or human-shaped bodies so just looking away on your own isn’t necessarily enough to trigger a depth change also it is very aggressive at wanting to shift focus to the biggest face but you can double tap on something else to lock the focus elsewhere if you need to finally it can only shoot at 1080p and 30fps.
Now cinematic mode is a software blur just looks for human faces and kind of blurs everything else and that means it’s the equivalent of portrait mode but for video and that means it can have the same portrait mode problems it can’t work very well in low light and it can have weird or bad cutouts around hair for example that’s a little bit less noticeable because it’s a video and not a still photo but it’s still there all that said i think that cinematic mode generally looks pretty okay for casual video and just so you know it is light years ahead of what samsung was trying to do with portrait mode video you can go in afterwards and edit cinematic mode including changing the amounts of blur for the entire video and then also going through and picking moments when you want the focus to shift between different parts of the scene it’s actually really intuitive to do it in the apple photos app but if you want to get even more pro and do it in desktop software you have to do it in apple software on mac os Monterey like final cut or apple photos again this format isn’t something that can be edited in other apps
I think of cinematic mode in the same way i thought of portrait mode when it first came out it’s fun but don’t use it for anything super important at most it’s maybe good for some corny tick tocks i know i’m very cringe i just have to embrace it at this point all right is there a sixth thing i mean there’s lots of little things this has an a15 processor and it’s fast because all new iphones have fast processors the base storage has been increased to 128 gigs and that is great thank you the best color of the five iPhone 13 colors that are available is pink it just is iOS 15 has a lot of neat features but to me it’s starting to feel a little bit complicated heim gardenberg has a full review and he did find a lot to like here i’m just gonna say that the iphone’s camera interface is getting super crowded and hard to understand what with all the disparate settings and strange unlabeled icons all that stuff is small potatoes though here’s the important thing to remember with the iPhone 13 just think back to those first three fundamentals better battery life better cameras and you get all the improvements from last year’s iPhone 12.
It turns out the cliche is true if you improve the fundamentals the whole game gets better everybody thanks so much for watching we’ve got the iPhone 13 pro and pro max video right over there and then right down in the comments you’re all going to talk about whether this is the iphone for you or if you’re going to get the pro or neither probably not both though that would be weird