The Apple iPhone 13 has five new colours
The Apple iPhone 13 has five new coloursApple

iPhone 13 Review: Still the best?

The 13 makes massive strides when it comes the camera hardware and battery life

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The iPhone 13 looks very similar to the 12 from last year. The squared-off edges and the bathtub notch are all still very much part of the iPhone’s identity. But look a little closer and you will see visual differentiators that hint at important upgrades.

The screen remains the same as before
The screen remains the same as beforeApple

To start with, the 6.1-inch display remains the same (no high-refresh-rate here) but you can have the phone in five newish colours – blue, starlight, product red, midnight and pink. There are two design changes – a new camera bump with the diagonal placement of the wide and ultrawide lenses (to accommodate the larger lenses), and a slightly smaller notch. The new camera bump is an easy identifier for the iPhone 13. The bathtub notch on the other hand, although smaller, won’t be very noticeable at first glance. It is only when you place the iPhone 12 and 13 side by side that you notice the difference in size. The notch in itself is a little disappointing on a phone in 2021 but you quickly get used to it.

The iPhone 13 makes a huge leap when it comes to camera hardware. The wide-angle camera has a larger sensor – in fact, it has the same sized sensor as on last year’s 12 Pro Max. The Ultrawide camera too gets a new sensor to let in more light. On the whole, these new sensors, make it easier for you to capture photos with not much noise even in situations with less-than-ideal lighting. The images are sharper with better colour reproduction on both the wide and the ultrawide. The selfie camera on the other hand doesn’t get a serious upgrade in performance.

The new camera is shaped differently
The new camera is shaped differentlyApple

A much-talked-about addition is a Cinematic mode which is essentially like Portrait mode for video, but with the ability to switch focus from one subject to another. Importantly, this switch in focus can be done both while shooting as well as later after the video has been captured. You can even increase or decrease the depth of field in Cinematic mode allowing you to adjust the bokeh effect in videos. The effect is rather dramatic and was easily the biggest talking point right after the 13 series phones were launched. While it definitely is a noteworthy addition to the iPhone’s already burgeoning video capabilities, it is not something that will be adopted en masse. What might just see more adoption is the new Photographic Styles – a set of presets that alter Apple’s image processing pipeline to prime them for different styles even before the photo is clicked. For instance, you could opt to brighten up a frame while retaining skin tones if you opt for Warm – one of four styles that include Vibrant, Rich Contrast and Cool as well. This allows you to find a style that you like instead of going with Apple’s default image processing.

The battery life is a big improvement
The battery life is a big improvementApple

A major improvement is in the battery department. While the iPhone 12 Series (especially the mini) had issues with getting you through the entire day, the iPhone 13 breezes through. The iPhone 13 benefits greatly from the improved camera hardware and software and makes it easy to recommend.

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