Is the iPhone 13 a worthy upgrade?

Apple's iPhone 13 line-up was announced last September and was met with eager anticipation from fans and scepticism from its detractors. The tech giant was smooth as usual in its presentation of their latest phone and boasted many new features to entice customers. Now that it's been out for a few weeks, has the iPhone 13 lived up to the hype of its fans or does it prove its detractors right?

iPhone 13

The aesthetic

From a design perspective, not much has changed. They've retained the flat edges with rounded corners from the past model and the lower tier also has more colour choices than the Pro or Pro Max like before. The display size of both the iPhone and iPhone Mini remain at 6.1in. and 5.1in., respectively. It also retains the MagSafe charging feature introduced in the iPhone 12. The most significant changes are the slightly smaller notch that houses the front camera, which gives you a slightly larger display and the diagonal formation of the lenses on the rear. Other than that, it would be easy to mistake an iPhone 13 with an iPhone 12.

The performance

On paper, the iPhone 13 has many improvements over its predecessor. A larger battery means increased battery life while the new A15 Bionic chip also helps in making the phone not just more powerful but more efficient. The new chip with a 6-core CPU and 4-core GPU means faster computation and machine learning and enables smoother use of useful new features like Live Text in iOS15. Though it all sounds great on paper, it doesn't really offer that awe-inspiring difference in performance from the iPhone 12.

That's not to say that improvements are non-existent. The iPhone 13's camera is armed with better lowlight capture thanks to the power of the A15, as well as the new Photographic Styles, which allows you to have a customised preset so you can point and shoot. There's also Cinematic Mode, which allows the user to switch the focus between two subjects in the foreground and background. It's a great feature though there are still a few kinks to be worked out. The blur is sometimes off, causing fuzzy outlines on the subject, and the resolution is limited to just 1080p. The iPhone 13's camera unsurprisingly does its job well, providing stark colours and great contrasts. But aside from the Cinematic Mode, there's nothing too different from the iPhone 12.

The iPhone 13's display boasts a brighter maximum output when outdoors at 800 nits, which makes viewing your screen easier in the sun. However, it wanes in comparison to the Pro line-up's display upgrade.

The verdict

The iPhone 13 was revealed with a variety of improvements and it delivers on a few fronts like faster processing and new camera features. However, it's not necessarily a big improvement over the iPhone 12. Of course, if you're still at an 11 or an X, it's change worthy. But if you've got an iPhone 12, you can wait another year.

iPhone 13 Pro

The aesthetic

Like the lower tier line, the Pro line-up doesn't have a drastic change in design. It has the same display sizes (6.1in. on the Pro, 6.7in. on the Pro Max) with the same flat-edge design, the same three-eyed camera and the MagSafe capabilities like the iPhone 12. The stainless steel band also makes a comeback and provides a sleeker finish compared to aluminium. It comes in four beautiful colours though I can't help but feel that the lower tier line-up has better colours.

The performance

The difference between the iPhone 13/iPhone 13 Mini and the Pro line-up is pretty big. For starters, unlike the lower tier models, the Pro line-up's Super Retina XDR OLED display has ProMotion, which has an adaptive refresh rate of 120hz. Though there aren't many apps that can run on a refresh rate like that, yet the difference is evident even in swiping left and right -- your home screen is smooth like butter (BTS pun not intended). Even in the display, it's a huge leap from the lower tier line and even more so in comparison to the iPhone 12.

In terms of camera, Photographic Style and Cinematic Mode are present. The same caveats with Cinematic Mode still remain though: fuzzy edges on subjects and the limitation of 1080p resolution. However, a big improvement is that the Pro models have Night Mode on all their cameras whether it's the wide or telephoto, making the iPhone 13 even more versatile in photography. The Pro line-up is also able to take macro photography shots and focus on subjects up close and make them appear larger than life. On top of that, there's also an upcoming feature called ProRes, which allows users to shoot video that can be finely edited or colour-graded in editing software like Premiere Pro or Final Cut. However, because of the large file size, you'll need the 256GB model to film 4K 60fps while those with the 128GB model will be limited to 1080p 30fps.

Apple has boasted that the iPhone 13 will last one and a half-hour longer than its predecessor thanks to a larger battery and greater efficiency in the hardware. Though I can't really pinpoint the exact amount, the battery drain is pretty much similar to the iPhone 12 on a normal day's usage of social media, chatting and emails. Of course, it goes faster when you're streaming on Apple TV or watching YouTube videos for an extended amount of time but it has never drained drastically on me.

Finally, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max have a new 1TB model. At first, you may think it's insane to have that much memory and what it would be used for. But if you're planning to make heavy use of the ProRes feature once it comes out then having 1TB of memory will definitely help you out.

The verdict

The base iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini offered only minuscule improvements compared to the iPhone 12, but the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max have delivered on the improvements everyone was looking for. With a new display with a silky smooth refresh rate, a great improvement on cameras and a new bulky 1TB model, it's definitely the step-up you're looking for if you're coming from the previous model.

Prices for the iPhone 13 Mini start at B25,900, iPhone 13 at B29,999, iPhone 13 Pro at 38,900 and iPhone 13 Pro Max at B42,900.Visit

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