Even if a phone has the world’s fastest processor, it may still feel sluggish when compared to a similarly equipped device with a faster screen. That’s why the iPhone 13 Pro’s ProMotion display is its most important new feature.
As a result, the Pro and Pro Max models have a distinct advantage over the iPhone 13 and 13 mini, as well as last year’s 12 Pro, in terms of ProMotion. The Pro series also includes an additional telephoto camera, a new macro photography mode, and more power and endurance for an additional $200 to $300. The new cameras and screens on the iPhone 13 Pro, however, are they really worth the additional cost?
There’s one more consideration to make before we dive into the details of these features: weight. The 6.1-inch 13 Pro weighs 204 grams (7.19 ounces), making it heavier than the 12 Pro and the 13-inch iPhone. Last year’s Pro Max and Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra pale in comparison to the 13 Pro Max’s 6.7-inch display. As a one-handed user of Apple’s largest flagship product for more than five minutes, I found the regular Pro to be unwieldy.
The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are both heavier and thicker than last year’s models. Larger rear camera modules and smaller display notches are also included in the newer models. In terms of design, Apple hasn’t deviated much from the 12 Pro. The stainless steel casings and glass screens on these phones are both IP68 water and dust resistant.
In addition to the standard graphite, gold, and silver colors, Sierra Blue has been added to the palette. I prefer this shade of blue to the Pacific Blue that was available in the previous generation.
Display and audio
When I began testing the iPhone 13 series last week, I discovered something: Almost everything I do on a phone necessitates scrolling. When it comes to a non-exhaustive list of activities, this includes checking out social media feeds and searching for the right component in a spec sheet.
If you’re a fan of the iPhone, you’ll be happy to hear that Apple has finally adopted the new ProMotion screen on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. Since companies like ASUS and OnePlus had previously introduced higher refresh rates, Google was already behind when it added 90Hz panels to the Pixel 4. As of today, this technology isn’t just available on high-end Android devices.
In the past, Apple has been slow to adopt new technologies. However, it’s worth noting that the iPhone’s faster screens make a real difference. iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max refresh rates change depending on what you’re doing, like many Android phones. When you’re looking at a static image, they can go as low as 10Hz, or up to 120Hz for scrolling and compatible games.
Even though the benefits may not be immediately apparent, you’ll quickly notice the jagged artifacts they produce when you return to a slower screen.
With ProMotion, the iPhone 13 Pro’s OLED displays are even more vibrant, making them ideal for outdoor reading in the summer. It’s hard to tell without a side-by-side comparison.
Regardless, the True Tone display on the iPhone 13 Pro allowed me to enjoy Doja Cat’s Kiss Me More music video to the fullest. Rose and cotton candy hues popped against her fair skin, and her lashes were long and voluminous. Audio was clear and well-balanced thanks to the stereo speakers, which did a good job. The voices and instrumental background music in videos and games were also clearly audible.
Rear-facing cameras on the iPhone 13 Pro, Apple claims, have received the “biggest upgrade ever,” claiming “next-level hardware that captures so much more detail.” It has a primary sensor with an f/1.5 aperture, a long-telephoto lens, and a wide-angle lens with a 120-degree field of view in a triple 12-megapixel setup This means that you can take wide-angle or close-up shots in low light without sacrificing quality. The updated ultra-wide lens, as well as software like Photographic Styles and Cinematic Mode, allow for a new macro photography feature.
Those modes are also available on the iPhone 13 and 13 mini, which you can read about in my review of those devices. When it comes to image contrast and color temperature settings, Photographic Styles is a great tool to use. I was able to identify faces and people in a scene while using Cinematic Mode, but it struggled when I tried to change the focal point. While the system isn’t perfect at distinguishing individuals, the blurred out parts of people’s bodies, such as their thumbs and ears, can get distorted. Adjusting f-stop settings helped me keep this problem at bay, but the final video looked less DSLR-like because of this adjustment.
Macro photography is one of the advantages of the Pros over the regular 13 models. With today’s technology, you can get as close to your subject as two centimeters away without losing focus. When you get right up close to something, the camera automatically switches to macro mode. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t offer a way to manually enable macro mode.
The iPhone 13 Pro did a good job of detecting when I was trying to take a close-up photo, but it kept switching between macro and regular views. Sometimes it would refocus on the flowers behind the buds I was trying to photograph. As a result, it is difficult to focus on a subject when a camera is zoomed in so close, making it difficult to capture a clear image. A leaf swaying in the wind, for example, isn’t an option. As a result, manual control is all the more important.
Apple has promised a software update to prevent the camera from switching back and forth between macro and normal modes, but I haven’t seen it yet.
Aside from a few minor hiccups, macro mode was surprisingly effective. Photos of a flower bud and a leaf vein system were impressively detailed, showing the individual hairs on the stem and petals of each plant. When a fried fish was photographed up close, you could clearly see the oil dripping from the batter.
However, you must ensure that your subject receives enough light, as my photos of a bee in a flower were dark and splotchy. It’s not an issue specific to macro mode; it’s just photography 101.
My sample photos from the Pixel 5 and Galaxy S21 Ultra were sharp and vibrant on the iPhone 13 Pro. Photographic Styles allow you to choose a look that you like and stick with it, allowing you to change the look of your photos whenever you want. Although I prefer the Pixels’ more neutral landscapes, I must admit that the quality of Samsung, Google, and Apple’s HDR images is now on par with that of the Pixels.
With the iPhone 13 Pro’s upgraded sensors, low-light performance has also improved. I used the S21 Ultra, Pixel 5, and iPhone 13 Pro to take photos of the moon peeking through some clouds in the middle of Manhattan’s skyscrapers, and they were all clean and sharp. Color temperature was a little different between the two, but it wasn’t noticeable unless compared directly. Night Sight, on the other hand, gives Google the upper hand because of the superior quality, clarity, and brightness of the images it captures.
As for the front camera on the 13 Pro, it’s nearly identical to the one on the 13—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The 12-megapixel True Depth sensor still offers Cinematic Mode and Photographic Styles, and while selfies in low light were a little soft, they were otherwise sharp.
For the Pro-series phones, Apple threw in ProRes video support as well as ProRAW stills support… or at least it will in the future… As of this writing, ProRes hasn’t been made available for iOS 15 yet, but it promises to preserve colors in high quality. It’s also possible to record in the format at up to 4K resolution (1080p for the base 128GB model) and 30 frames per second thanks to the A15’s hardware acceleration and video encoders.
I was able to test most of the new features in the beta version of iOS 15 for the iPhone 13 series, which runs iOS 15 out of the box. If you want to customize your home page and notification settings based on where you are or the time of day, you can use focus modes. For people who don’t have a separate work device, this is one of my favorite new features on any smartphone platform in recent years.
There is little reason to upgrade your iPhone if most of the new features in iOS 15 are only available to newer models. In the meantime, suffice it to say that I’m a fan of the level of control that iOS 15 provides. The SharePlay feature, which hasn’t been released yet but will allow you to watch shows with friends or stream your phone screen to friends over FaceTime, is something I’m particularly excited to try out.
Performance and battery life
Because of the iPhone 13 Pro’s beefier 5-core GPU, its processors differ significantly from those of the iPhone 13. Consequently, graphically taxing activities such as gaming or video editing should run more quickly. A trailer I made in iMovie took 51 seconds to export on my phone’s 13-inch screen, but it only took 15 seconds on my phone’s Pro.
The iPhone 13 Pro’s A15 Bionic processor is just as powerful in less-demanding tasks as the iPhone 13’s A12 Bionic processor. Without stopping, I played Catan, watched YouTube videos, talked to friends, pressed play on my music, and took photos in quick succession. Even though I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: The faster screens here simply make most tasks more responsive, period.
During my first week with the iPhone 13 Pros, I only had to charge them once. For the first few days, I concentrated on the iPhone 13 and 13 mini, primarily using the Pros for camera testing. The iPhone 13 Pro, on the other hand, lasted for nearly two days before needing a charge. However, I didn’t have to worry about running out of juice while playing games and exporting videos.
An impressive runtime considering its higher refresh rate. Currently, I’m testing the battery life of each iPhone 13 model, and I’ll update this review when I’m finished with the testing with more concrete results. For the time being, however, it’s clear that the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max can last more than a day despite their ProMotion displays.
The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are excellent devices thanks to their fast screens, powerful processors, and long-lasting batteries. For the new ProMotion displays, you should consider upgrading if you’re using a device older than the 12 Pro. I’m not sure the cameras will be the biggest draw, even though they’ve been significantly improved. In reality, it’s difficult to tell the difference in quality between photos taken by the latest generation of Apple products.
However, features such as Cinematic Mode, Photographic Styles and macro cameras are a welcome addition to the iPhone 13 Pro. With the introduction of 120Hz screens to Apple’s phones, Samsung and Google’s flagships now have fewer features that the iPhones don’t have. A worthy upgrade for anyone using iOS on an iPhone 13 (or a larger model if you don’t mind the extra weight).