The iPhone 13 lineup allows users to explore the entire potential of Apple’s ecosystem and hardware, and those using the iPhone 11 or an earlier iPhone device should consider taking the leap.

Atom Smartphones Friday, October 01, 2021 - 11:57

Whether you’re an Apple fan or an Apple baiter, you probably know all the key facts about the new iPhone 13 quartet. Detractors might have dubbed this as an incremental upgrade, a term we’ve only come to learn thanks to smartphones. But here’s the thing; iPhones have never been about spec sheets. It’s a user experience thing. That’s what we’ve tried to cover in our deep-dive with two of the iPhones from this year’s release that we expect to be the most popular variants – the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro Max. There are shared features and enhancements reserved for the two Pro variants. We’ll kick this off with one of the headline features that all the iPhones get this year.

Need for speed

The new iPhones are powered by the new A15 Bionic chip with a new 6-core CPU with two new high-performance cores and four new high-efficiency cores. While most of us think of improved processing for gameplay, smartphone processors have a wider impact. Everything from the camera to navigation gets a boost. The other big change is battery life. Apple pegs the improvement in battery life (over last year’s versions) at 2.5 hours for the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the iPhone 13 (and 1.5 hours for the Mini and 13 Pro). I found the improvement quite significant with the iPhone 13; we’ve almost come to expect the Pro Max versions to be energizer bunnies. 

Pro Cam

If you caught Apple’s big September iPhone launch event, you’re likely to remember the cleverly executed Knives Out parody that showcased one of the big talking points of the new iPhone camera. Cinematic mode automatically transitions focus while filming in real time and thereby shifts focus when subjects enter or leave the frame; it also allows you to edit the depth-of-field effect in video even after recording. That’s not the only set of controls you have at your fingertips. 

There’s also the new ‘Photographic Styles’ that gives you a choice of five styles (like ‘vibrant’ or ‘rich contrast’) that allow you to set the tone even before you snap the image (unlike a post shot filter). Both these features are available on all the iPhone 13 variants. Apple has given a boost to the dual rear cam on the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini with the sensor-shift that we first checked out on last year’s iPhone 12 Pro Max. It stabilises the sensor instead of the lens. The bottom-line: shots are steadier and low light photography is sharper. 

Apple has pitched the 13 Pro cams as the best you can get on a smartphone. The all-new wide camera has a larger sensor with 1.9 µm pixels, the largest ever on iPhone, for less noise and faster shutter speeds needed across lighting conditions to capture more details. All three rear lenses have night mode, which impacts images and videos across scenarios and whether you’re using the wide-angle or optical zoom mode. Macro mode, a feature we’ve seen on Android devices, gets a wonderful execution on the Pro Models when you’re shooting with a minimum focus distance of 2 cms. Macro also extends to slow-mo and time-lapse videos. I enjoyed using this mode while clicking close up images of edible flowers and micro greens that decorated small plates at a tapas bar.  


If you already own an iPhone 12 or a 12 Pro Max, you’re unlikely to notice any major design changes. I loved last year’s flat-edge design, which makes the current generation of iPhones easier to clasp. The placement of the rear lens has been rejigged in the iPhone 13; the diagonal alignment looks more elegant now. We also dig the new pink colour option (that we checked out) on the iPhone 13; it’s subtle and yet a showstopper. Both phones are a tad heavier to accommodate more robust batteries, but I didn’t really notice the change when I switched from the 12 Pro Max. The iPhone 13 might be the perfect heft for most folks but then there’s the bigger display that tips the scales towards the 13 Pro Max.


The iPhone 13 features the same screen size as the iPhone 12, but the 6.1-inch display Super Retina XDR OLED display gets brighter (by 28%) this year with a maximum outdoor brightness at 800 nits, with higher peak brightness for HDR content like photos and videos at 1200 nits. The big story is the display on the 13 Pro and the 13 Pro Max. This new 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display (1284 x 2778 pixels) coupled with iOS 15 makes the iPhone experience even more fluid. Apple has tweaked the display to offer an adaptive refresh rate from 10Hz to 120Hz. This delivers fast frame rates when you need it and conserves battery life when you don’t. Gaming and catching videos were really immersive; this is something even users upgrading from a 12 Pro Max will notice. 


So, should you upgrade to the new iPhones and which one’s for you? If you own last year’s iPhone 12 or 12 Pro Max and are not the type who changes phones every year, you could sit this one out unless the new display or camera features are critical to your everyday usage. If you’re using an iPhone 11 or earlier iPhone devices, you should consider taking the leap. The iPhone 13 might be the popular choice for those looking for an iPhone experience with a dependable battery and a stellar cam. The iPhone 13 Pro Max isn’t just for those who like flaunting the most formidable iPhone, it’s truly a device for those who love their smartphones. Especially, for those of us who like to explore the entire potential of Apple’s ecosystem and hardware. And then there’s the Pro cam, that’s probably the smartphone cam to beat right now.

The Apple iPhone 13 starts at Rs 79,900 while the iPhone 13 Pro Max starts at Rs 1,29,900. The iPhone 13 Pro Max (and the 13 Pro) come in four colours - Silver, Graphite, Gold and Sierra Blue. The iPhone 13 (and the mini) come in Pink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight and Product Red. 

Views expressed are the author's own.

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