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Apple’s new iPhone 13 line vs. last year’s iPhone 12 series: worth the upgrade?

The iPhone 13 series is fancy, but if you don't care about 120Hz or cutting-edge camera, you might be better off getting an iPhone 12

iPhone 13 and 13 Pro

Apple hosted its September product event on September 14th where it unveiled the new iPhone 13 line-up.

There are a bunch of new features and changes, but as usual, we’ll also see a price drop on older iPhone models. If you’re in the market for an upgrade, it may be worth comparing the iPhone 13 and 12 lines to see if the new features are worth the extra money, or if you can scoop up an older model for less.

Let’s start with the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. Perhaps the biggest upgrade with these over the 12 Pro and Pro Max is the new 120Hz ProMotion display. The higher refresh rate should make the 13 Pros feel much smoother than before, especially when scrolling or gaming. An added benefit of the adaptive refresh rate is it can scale down to 10Hz when you’re not interacting with the phone to reduce battery consumption.

Other improvements include Apple’s more powerful A15 Bionic chip, a larger battery and improved 5G. Apple also talked up the improve cameras, with a focus on macro photography and ‘Cinematic Mode.’

iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 13 Pro

iPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Display

6.1-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, 2532 x 1170 pixels, HDR 10, Dolby Vision

6.1-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, 2532 x 1170 pixels, HDR 10, Dolby Vision, 120Hz refresh rate

6.7-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, , 2778 x 1284 pixels, HDR 10, Dolby Vision

6.7-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, 2778 x 1284 pixels, HDR 10, Dolby Vision, 120Hz refresh rate

Processor

A14 Bionic chip

A15 Bionic chip

A14 Bionic chip

A15 Bionic chip

RAM

6GB of RAM

N/A

6GB of RAM

N/A

Storage

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

Dimensions (in.)

146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm

146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm

160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4mm

160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm

Weight

189g

203g

228g

238g

Rear Facing Camera

12-megapixel (f/1.6, OIS, wide angle) + 12-megapixel (f/2.0, OIS, telephoto 2x optical ) + 12-megapixel (f/2.4, OIS, ultra-wide angle)

12-megapixel (f/1.5, OIS, wide angle) + 12-megapixel (f/2.8, OIS, telephoto 3x optical ) + 12-megapixel (f/1.6, OIS, ultra-wide angle)

12-megapixel (f/1.8, OIS, wide angle) + 12-megapixel (f/2.2, OIS, telephoto 2.5x optical ) + 12-megapixel (f/2.4, OIS, ultra-wide angle)

12-megapixel (f/1.5, OIS, wide angle) + 12-megapixel (f/2.8, OIS, telephoto 3x optical ) + 12-megapixel (f/1.8, OIS, ultra-wide angle)

Front Facing Camera

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

OS

iOS 14

iOS 15

iOS 14

iOS 15

Battery

Up to 17 hours video playback

Up to 22 hours video playback

Up to 20 hours video playback

Up to 28 hours video playback

Network Connectivity

GSM/HSPA/LTE/5G

LTE/ 5G

GSM/HSPA/LTE/5G

LTE/ 5G

Sensors

Face ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

Face ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

Face ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

Face ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

SIM Type

Nano SIM, eSIM

Nano SIM, eSIM

Nano SIM, eSIM

Nano SIM, eSIM

Launch Date

October 13, 2020

September 24, 2021

October 13, 2020

September 24, 2021

Misc

Colours: Blue, Gold, Silver and Graphite

Colours: Sierra Blue, Gold, Silver and Graphite

Colours: Blue, Gold, Silver and Graphite

Colours: Blue, Gold, Silver and Graphite

Display

iPhone 12 Pro

6.1-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, 2532 x 1170 pixels, HDR 10, Dolby Vision

iPhone 13 Pro

6.1-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, 2532 x 1170 pixels, HDR 10, Dolby Vision, 120Hz refresh rate

iPhone 12 Pro Max

6.7-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, , 2778 x 1284 pixels, HDR 10, Dolby Vision

iPhone 13 Pro Max

6.7-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, 2778 x 1284 pixels, HDR 10, Dolby Vision, 120Hz refresh rate

Processor

iPhone 12 Pro

A14 Bionic chip

iPhone 13 Pro

A15 Bionic chip

iPhone 12 Pro Max

A14 Bionic chip

iPhone 13 Pro Max

A15 Bionic chip

RAM

iPhone 12 Pro

6GB of RAM

iPhone 13 Pro

N/A

iPhone 12 Pro Max

6GB of RAM

iPhone 13 Pro Max

N/A

Storage

iPhone 12 Pro

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

iPhone 13 Pro

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

iPhone 12 Pro Max

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

iPhone 13 Pro Max

128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

Dimensions (in.)

iPhone 12 Pro

146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm

iPhone 13 Pro

146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm

iPhone 12 Pro Max

160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4mm

iPhone 13 Pro Max

160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm

Weight

iPhone 12 Pro

189g

iPhone 13 Pro

203g

iPhone 12 Pro Max

228g

iPhone 13 Pro Max

238g

Rear Facing Camera

iPhone 12 Pro

12-megapixel (f/1.6, OIS, wide angle) + 12-megapixel (f/2.0, OIS, telephoto 2x optical ) + 12-megapixel (f/2.4, OIS, ultra-wide angle)

iPhone 13 Pro

12-megapixel (f/1.5, OIS, wide angle) + 12-megapixel (f/2.8, OIS, telephoto 3x optical ) + 12-megapixel (f/1.6, OIS, ultra-wide angle)

iPhone 12 Pro Max

12-megapixel (f/1.8, OIS, wide angle) + 12-megapixel (f/2.2, OIS, telephoto 2.5x optical ) + 12-megapixel (f/2.4, OIS, ultra-wide angle)

iPhone 13 Pro Max

12-megapixel (f/1.5, OIS, wide angle) + 12-megapixel (f/2.8, OIS, telephoto 3x optical ) + 12-megapixel (f/1.8, OIS, ultra-wide angle)

Front Facing Camera

iPhone 12 Pro

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

iPhone 13 Pro

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

iPhone 12 Pro Max

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

iPhone 13 Pro Max

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

OS

iPhone 12 Pro

iOS 14

iPhone 13 Pro

iOS 15

iPhone 12 Pro Max

iOS 14

iPhone 13 Pro Max

iOS 15

Battery

iPhone 12 Pro

Up to 17 hours video playback

iPhone 13 Pro

Up to 22 hours video playback

iPhone 12 Pro Max

Up to 20 hours video playback

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Up to 28 hours video playback

Network Connectivity

iPhone 12 Pro

GSM/HSPA/LTE/5G

iPhone 13 Pro

LTE/ 5G

iPhone 12 Pro Max

GSM/HSPA/LTE/5G

iPhone 13 Pro Max

LTE/ 5G

Sensors

iPhone 12 Pro

Face ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

iPhone 13 Pro

Face ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

iPhone 12 Pro Max

Face ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Face ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

SIM Type

iPhone 12 Pro

Nano SIM, eSIM

iPhone 13 Pro

Nano SIM, eSIM

iPhone 12 Pro Max

Nano SIM, eSIM

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Nano SIM, eSIM

Launch Date

iPhone 12 Pro

October 13, 2020

iPhone 13 Pro

September 24, 2021

iPhone 12 Pro Max

October 13, 2020

iPhone 13 Pro Max

September 24, 2021

Misc

iPhone 12 Pro

Colours: Blue, Gold, Silver and Graphite

iPhone 13 Pro

Colours: Sierra Blue, Gold, Silver and Graphite

iPhone 12 Pro Max

Colours: Blue, Gold, Silver and Graphite

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Colours: Blue, Gold, Silver and Graphite

As for the iPhone 13 and 13 mini, Apple’s more affordable iPhones also sport the new A15, offer longer battery life and improved cameras. The non-Pro iPhone 13 models gained the sensor shift tech from last year’s iPhone 12 Pro line, which should help with low-light performance. Unfortunately, neither the iPhone 13 or 13 mini have 120Hz displays, which is a bummer.

Oh, and perhaps most important of all, all the new iPhones have about 20 percent smaller notches. Apple hasn’t gone for a hole-punch camera cut-out or under-display tech yet, but hey, I’ll take any notch reduction I can get.

iPhone 12

iPhone 13

iPhone 12 mini

iPhone 13 mini

Display

6.1-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, 2532 x 1170 pixels

6.1-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, 2532 x 1170 pixels, HDR 10, Dolby Vision

5.4-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, 2340 x 1080 pixels

5.4-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, 2340 x 1080 pixels

Processor

A14 Bionic chip

A15 Bionic chip

A14 Bionic chip

A15 Bionic chip

RAM

4GB of RAM

N/A

4GB of RAM

N/A

Storage

64GB, 128GB, 256GB

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

64GB, 128GB, 256GB

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

Dimensions (in.)

146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm

146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm

131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4mm

131.5 x 64.2 x 7.65mm

Weight

162g

173g

135g

140g

Rear Facing Camera

12-megapixel (f/1.6, OIS, wide) + 12-megapixel (f/2.4, OIS, ultra-wide)

12-megapixel (f/1.6, OIS, wide) + 12-megapixel (f/2.4, OIS, ultra-wide)

12-megapixel (f/1.6, OIS, wide) + 12-megapixel (f/2.4, OIS, ultra-wide)

12-megapixel (f/1.6, OIS, wide) + 12-megapixel (f/2.4, OIS, ultra-wide)

Front Facing Camera

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

OS

iOS 14

iOS 15

iOS 14

iOS 15

Battery

(Up to 17 hours of video playback)

Up to 19 hours of video playback

Up to 15 hours video playback

Up to 17 hours video playback

Network Connectivity

GSM/HSPA/LTE/5G

LTE/ 5G

GSM/HSPA/LTE/5G

LTE/ 5G

Sensors

TrueDepth Camera Sensor, Face ID, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer

Face ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

Face ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

Face ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

SIM Type

Nano SIM, eSIM

Nano SIM, eSIM

Nano SIM, eSIM

Nano SIM, eSIM

Launch Date

October 13, 2020

September 24, 2021

October 13, 2020

September 24, 2021

Misc

Colours: Black, Green, Product Red, Blue, White |

Colours: Black, Pink, Product Red, Blue, White |

Colours: Black, Green, Product Red, Blue, White |

Colours: Black, Pink, Product Red, Blue, White |

Display

iPhone 12

6.1-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, 2532 x 1170 pixels

iPhone 13

6.1-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, 2532 x 1170 pixels, HDR 10, Dolby Vision

iPhone 12 mini

5.4-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, 2340 x 1080 pixels

iPhone 13 mini

5.4-inch, Super Retina XDR, OLED True Tone display, 2340 x 1080 pixels

Processor

iPhone 12

A14 Bionic chip

iPhone 13

A15 Bionic chip

iPhone 12 mini

A14 Bionic chip

iPhone 13 mini

A15 Bionic chip

RAM

iPhone 12

4GB of RAM

iPhone 13

N/A

iPhone 12 mini

4GB of RAM

iPhone 13 mini

N/A

Storage

iPhone 12

64GB, 128GB, 256GB

iPhone 13

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

iPhone 12 mini

64GB, 128GB, 256GB

iPhone 13 mini

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

Dimensions (in.)

iPhone 12

146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm

iPhone 13

146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm

iPhone 12 mini

131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4mm

iPhone 13 mini

131.5 x 64.2 x 7.65mm

Weight

iPhone 12

162g

iPhone 13

173g

iPhone 12 mini

135g

iPhone 13 mini

140g

Rear Facing Camera

iPhone 12

12-megapixel (f/1.6, OIS, wide) + 12-megapixel (f/2.4, OIS, ultra-wide)

iPhone 13

12-megapixel (f/1.6, OIS, wide) + 12-megapixel (f/2.4, OIS, ultra-wide)

iPhone 12 mini

12-megapixel (f/1.6, OIS, wide) + 12-megapixel (f/2.4, OIS, ultra-wide)

iPhone 13 mini

12-megapixel (f/1.6, OIS, wide) + 12-megapixel (f/2.4, OIS, ultra-wide)

Front Facing Camera

iPhone 12

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

iPhone 13

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

iPhone 12 mini

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

iPhone 13 mini

12-megapixel (f/2.2)

OS

iPhone 12

iOS 14

iPhone 13

iOS 15

iPhone 12 mini

iOS 14

iPhone 13 mini

iOS 15

Battery

iPhone 12

(Up to 17 hours of video playback)

iPhone 13

Up to 19 hours of video playback

iPhone 12 mini

Up to 15 hours video playback

iPhone 13 mini

Up to 17 hours video playback

Network Connectivity

iPhone 12

GSM/HSPA/LTE/5G

iPhone 13

LTE/ 5G

iPhone 12 mini

GSM/HSPA/LTE/5G

iPhone 13 mini

LTE/ 5G

Sensors

iPhone 12

TrueDepth Camera Sensor, Face ID, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer

iPhone 13

Face ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

iPhone 12 mini

Face ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

iPhone 13 mini

Face ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

SIM Type

iPhone 12

Nano SIM, eSIM

iPhone 13

Nano SIM, eSIM

iPhone 12 mini

Nano SIM, eSIM

iPhone 13 mini

Nano SIM, eSIM

Launch Date

iPhone 12

October 13, 2020

iPhone 13

September 24, 2021

iPhone 12 mini

October 13, 2020

iPhone 13 mini

September 24, 2021

Misc

iPhone 12

Colours: Black, Green, Product Red, Blue, White |

iPhone 13

Colours: Black, Pink, Product Red, Blue, White |

iPhone 12 mini

Colours: Black, Green, Product Red, Blue, White |

iPhone 13 mini

Colours: Black, Pink, Product Red, Blue, White |

Really, whether or not the new iPhones are worth it over last year’s models comes down to what you care about in a phone. If you want the absolute cutting-edge camera performance, the 13 Pro phones are for you. Similarly, if high refresh-rate displays are something you care about, the 13 Pro devices will be your best option. If you’re more interested in getting a good deal, or don’t really care about the camera or refresh rate, you may be better off saving some money and picking up a discounted iPhone 12.

If you’re interested, you can learn more about the iPhone 13 Pros here and the regular iPhone 13 models here.

Click here to follow all of MobileSyrup‘s coverage of the September 14th Apple product event.

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