Every year like clockwork, Apple unleashes upon the world a shiny array of new gadgets, sending the media and devotees around the world into a frenzy.
The ubiquitous iPhone, of course, gets most of the attention. Are they bigger? Do they perform better than their predecessors? Will the new features make my life better? Should I, wonder of wonders, upgrade?
The short answer to the last question is yes, especially if you’ve skipped last year’s editions. Owners of the iPhone 12 series will also benefit from some nifty improvements across the range — though it’s worth noting that the 13s are more of an evolution than a revolution.
12 versus 13
Design-wise, the newest models (iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max) share the same flat-edged design as the generation past, along with stainless steel enclosures, Ceramic Shield glass on the front and an IP68 rating for water resistance. All are 5G-enabled and are priced the same as their iPhone 12 counterparts when they first launched.
That’s pretty much where the similarities between the 12s and the 13s end. The latest series is powered by the A15 Bionic processor, which is obviously the fastest and most efficient system-on-chip by Apple to date. They run on the iOS15 that comes with Focus, a new feature that filters notifications and apps based on what you wish to focus on at different times of the day, as well as security enhancements and bug fixes. Displays are brighter, too, for better outdoor reading. In the camera department, the iPhone 13 family now boasts the sensor-shift optical image stabilisation that was unique to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, an all-new Cinematic Mode for an intuitive movie-like bokeh effect in videos, plus four filter-like presets in the Photography Styles app that you can shoot with that won’t alter the skin tone of your subjects.
Pro cameras upgrades
If you love taking pretty pictures and film enthralling videos, the 13 Pro handsets will blow you away with its impressive specs. The unmissable trio of rear cameras capture more detail (read: brighter, sharper images) in low-light conditions, thanks to larger apertures, a larger sensor with 1.9 µm pixels and a 77mm telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom (the iPhone 12 Pro offered 2.5x). One feature unique to the new Pros is macro photography, which allows you to get as close as two centimetres from the subject and not lose focus. The result is phenomenal, but because the macro mode is automatically enabled, the viewfinder jitters as it switches from wide to ultra-wide lens — which shows when shooting videos. That said, Apple has addressed that complaint with an option to disable macro mode in a software update.
The biggest buzz around the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max is the Super Retina XDR with ProMotion screen, previously only available on the iPad Pro. With an adaptive from 10Hz to 120Hz, the Pro devices deliver a smoother, faster, and more responsive display when scrolling or switching between apps while optimising battery life.
It goes without saying that the Pro Max is, as in every case, the best in class. Yes, the giant 6.7 inch smartphone is thicker and 10 grams heavier than its predecessor at 238 grams. There is also little disparity in performance compared to the more-compact iPhone 13 Pro. But those undeterred by the ergonomic issues will be rewarded with maximum (pun intended) viewing pleasure on a bigger screen and a longer battery life of up to 28 hours of video playback (6 hours longer than the Pro according to Apple). YouTube has never looked better.
(All images: Apple)
This story was written entirely on the iPhone 13 Pro Max.