iPhone 13 Buyer's Guide
Diehard fans and Apple newbies alike won't be disappointed by the latest in the flagship lineup. The iPhone 13 came out in the fall of 2021, sporting top-of-the-line features in a familiar yet refreshed design. Choose from the Apple iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max to find one that fits your needs.
From a stellar display to Apple's always-impressive camera system, you can expect a great experience no matter which iPhone you choose. With four different varieties, there's something for everyone. Stick around to learn everything you need to know about the lineup, including the differences between models and how to pick the right one for you.
iPhone 13 Display Options
Let's start with the part you'll be interacting with constantly — the display. All four phones have the same screen sizes as their predecessors from the iPhone 12 collection. Measured diagonally across the screen, they offer the following dimensions:
- iPhone 13 mini: 5.4 inches
- iPhone 13: 6.1 inches
- iPhone 13 Pro: 6.1 inches
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: 6.7 inches
Each option uses the Super Retina Extreme Dynamic Range (XDR) organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display — or, if you prefer something easier to say, the Super Retina XDR OLED. The 13 and 13 Pro offer a whopping 460 pixels per inch from a total resolution of 2,532x1,170 pixels. The 13 mini is slightly higher at 2,340x1,080 pixels, and the Pro Max is slightly lower at 2,778x1,284 pixels.
The phones also have impressive brightness levels. The iPhone 13 and 13 mini have typical outdoor brightness levels of 800 nits, which jumps to 1,200 nits in high dynamic range (HDR). The 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max share the same 1,200 nits for the HDR display, but have a typical outdoor brightness level of 1,000 nits for a little more oomph. For comparison, the iPhone 12 only reached a typical max brightness of 625 nits without HDR.
There's one feature of the display that gives a major advantage to the Pro and Pro Max phones. Where the standard models lack ProMotion technology, the Pro models use it to offer adaptive refresh rates between 10 Hertz and 120 Hertz. The refresh rate refers to how many times a second the display creates a new image.
Ultimately, what you'll get are buttery-smooth movements for some applications, like scrolling and playing games. If you're doing something that doesn't need that kind of refresh rate, like viewing a static image, the refresh rate drops to a lower level to conserve battery life.
Other display features you can find in the iPhone 13 lineup include:
- True Tone display: True Tone senses the light in your environment and adjusts the display to offer a more accurate image. The effect of ambient light can sometimes make screens look unnatural or hard to read — if you've ever tried to read your phone on a super bright day, you know what we're talking about. True Tone tackles this issue by offering a less-reflective display and adding certain colors that help our brains perceive the screen more naturally.
- Wide color display: Alongside the HDR options, Apple's wide color display uses Digital Cinema Initiatives-Protocol 3 (DCI-P3). This means it offers a greater range of colors, so they appear deep, rich and saturated. DCI-P3 is usually the color range targeted in cinematic films.
- Haptic Touch: Haptic Touch is a technology that allows you to press harder or softer on your screen to accomplish different functions. It essentially creates two “levels” of tapping, where you can tap normally for typical functions or press a little harder to access different menus or tools. For example, the Apple lock screen has an icon of a flashlight. If you press down harder, you can turn on the flashlight without unlocking your phone.
iPhone 13 Design Options
The iPhone 13 is pretty similar to the iPhone 12 in terms of design. It offers the same flat-edge body for some durability and a ceramic shield, which Apple claims is tougher than any smartphone glass. The phones still have edge-to-edge displays, and Apple reduced the size of the notch at the top of the screen by 20%, creating more screen space.
Here's how the phones stack up in terms of dimensions:
- iPhone 13 mini: The smallest of the lineup has a height of 5.18 inches, a width of 2.53 inches, a depth of .30 inches and a weight of 4.94 ounces.
- iPhone 13: The standard phone is 5.78 inches tall, 2.82 inches wide and .30 inches deep. It weighs 6.10 ounces.
- iPhone 13 Pro: The 13 Pro offers the same specs as the iPhone 13, but with a heftier weight of 7.16 ounces.
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: The largest of the phones is 6.33 inches tall, 3.07 inches wide and .30 inches deep and weighs 8.39 ounces.
Whether you want to be bright and bold or stick with something more subdued, you have plenty of color options. The 13 and 13 mini come in pink, blue, midnight, starlight, green and (PRODUCT)RED. The Pro and Pro Max are available in alpine green, silver, gold, graphite and sierra blue.
For a more premium feel, the Pro and Pro Max models have a textured matte glass backing, while the other two devices get a standard glass finish. As for the frames, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini are made of aerospace-grade aluminum, with the Pro and Pro Max sporting surgical-grade stainless steel.
Both offer excellent durability, but they take on different appearances. The stainless steel looks smooth and shiny, and the aluminum offers more of a brushed, matte texture that you'll see on the edges of the phones.
All iPhone 13s get an IP68 rating, which means you can dunk them in water up to 6 meters deep for up to 30 minutes. All devices also have Apple's MagSafe system, with a magnetic ring to lock onto accessories, like chargers and cases.
iPhone 13 Battery and Performance
Every member of the iPhone 13 family offers larger batteries and a longer battery life than their partners in the iPhone 12 lineup:
- iPhone 13 mini: With the 13 mini, you'll get up to 17 hours of video playback, 13 hours of streamed video playback and up to 55 hours of audio playback.
- iPhone 13: The standard 13 offers up to 19 hours of video playback, 15 hours of streamed video playback and up to 75 hours of audio playback.
- iPhone 13 Pro: The 13 Pro offers up to 22 hours of video, 20 hours of streamed video and 75 hours of audio.
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: Lastly, the 13 Pro Max delivers a sizable 28 hours of video playback, 25 hours of video streaming and 95 hours of audio playback.
The 13 lineup also supports MagSafe wireless charging and fast charging, so you can rack up a 50% charge in about 30-35 minutes with a 20-watt adapter. Keep in mind that Apple no longer provides a power adapter in the box as part of their efforts to go green. The company has also started using more recycled components and switched to smaller, lighter packaging for more efficient shipping — efforts we have to admire here at Gazelle, where we love to reduce e-waste.
When it comes to performance, Apple's latest processor is the A15 Bionic chip, which powers many of the phone's exciting features like Cinematic mode and Photographic Styles. It features a six-core CPU, including two cores dedicated to performance and four for efficiency. The 13 and 13 mini have a four-core GPU, while the Pro and Pro Max have a five-core GPU, offering some extra processing power for more robust features.
Those numbers boil down to a lightning-fast phone that's miles ahead of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 that powers top Android phones. Apple claimed that the A15 chips would be 50% faster than the competition, and benchmark tests have mostly backed that up. Essentially, the A15 Bionic chip can get you one of the fastest phones on the market. It responds quickly and supports an array of intensive tasks like video and gaming.
All phones also have a 16-core Neural Engine, which is designed to help improve machine learning. It helps with features like Live Text, where you can take a picture of something with text and interact with it, like clicking on a URL printed on a billboard. The Neural Engine also powers some photography features such as Cinematic mode.
As with most flagship phones nowadays, the iPhone 13 lineup supports 5G, even offering Smart Data mode, which saves power by downshifting when you don't need 5G speeds. Apple's adding more 5G bands to deliver 5G speed in more places, too.
iPhone 13 Storage Options
The iPhone 13 starts off at 128GB, which is twice the storage of the lowest iPhone 12 option. It should offer a good amount of room for people who don't save a ton of photos, videos or files. If you need a little more space, all phones also offer 256GB and 512GB options. The Pro and Pro Max can also come as 1TB models. For users who store a lot of photos and videos, the 1TB storage option is a big point for the Pro models in the Pro vs. iPhone 13 debate.
Like most iPhones, you won't find a micro-SD card slot that would allow you to expand storage, so make sure you have enough from the start. If you do find yourself needing more storage, you can always pay for an iCloud plan.
iPhone 13 Camera and Video Recording
Apple never slacks on its cameras, and the iPhone 13 is no exception. The standard phones offer Wide and Ultra Wide lenses, while the Pro models add a new Telephoto lens to the mix for long-distance shooting.
The new Ultra Wide lens offers better low-light detail and the Wide camera lens pulls in 47% more light. The sensor-shift optical image stabilization helps all of your shots stay crystal clear. To fit these new features, Apple shifted the lenses from a stacked layout to a diagonal one.
These phones are the first iPhones to offer Photographic Styles, a handy new camera feature. Styles allow you to set your shooting preferences once and reuse them every time you open the camera. You can choose from a range of preset styles, like Rich Contrast, Warm, Vibrant and Cool, or make your own changes. Photographic Styles is pretty smart, too — it can adjust colors while maintaining natural skin tones, so you can get creative without making your subjects look discolored.
All of them offer the TrueDepth front camera system that enables many of the same features you can expect from the rear camera, like Portrait mode, Night mode selfies and HDR recording. Portrait mode gives you more professional-level control over the depth of field, so you can keep your subject in focus. Night mode is another way to take photos in low light, and HDR offers better exposure, ideal for shooting high-contrast scenes. Put them together and you get a stellar platform for capturing great photos and videos.
In the iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max and Pro debate, the cameras are what really set the Pro models apart. Some photography features you'll get with these two versions include:
- A Telephoto lens: The Telephoto lens can focus at long distances, allowing you to bring faraway shots into sharp relief. This lens is improved from the 12 Pro and Pro Max models. It's now a 77-millmeter lens offering up to 3x optical zoom and digital zoom up to 15x.
- Wider lenses: The Wide and Ultra Wide lenses on the Pro and Pro Max are wider than on the standard and the mini.
- More light: The Pro varieties have a Wide camera that pulls in 2.2x more light and an Ultra Wide camera that grabs 92% more light.
- LiDAR scanner: A light detection and ranging (LiDAR) scanner uses lasers to create a “map” of the environment. On phones, the LiDAR scanner is used to improve augmented reality systems and deliver portraits in Night Mode.
- Macro mode: The Ultra Wide lens enables super-close macro photography and videography, allowing you to get as close as 2 centimeters away from your subject for some truly unique shots.
- ProRAW compression: For those with higher-end photography needs, the ProRAW compression option brings together the standard RAW format and iPhone image processing capabilities for a highly compatible file format that still offers the benefits of Apple's flexible software.
When it comes to video, all four phones can shoot in 4K up to 60 frames per second and take advantage of the new Cinematic mode, which is a lot like Portrait mode but for video. It uses a smarter autofocus system, video stabilization and dramatic depth of field to provide more professional-looking cinematic effects. Keep in mind that Cinematic video only works at 1080 pixels.
These phones also offer HDR recording at 60 frames per second and 1080 pixel recording at 25, 30 or 60 frames per second. In video shooting, the standard phones offer 2x optical zoom and up to 3x digital zoom, while the Pro models offer 3x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out and digital zoom up to 9x. You'll also get options for recording slow-motion and time lapses.
What's the Best Budget iPhone 13?
If you're looking to get the iPhone 13 experience at a lower price, try the iPhone mini, which is the least expensive of the iPhone 13 lineup. It packs quite a punch considering its small size. When comparing the iPhone 13 vs. the iPhone 13 mini, the biggest difference you'll likely notice is in battery life.
With less room for a larger battery, the iPhone 13 mini may not last you all day, depending on how often you use your phone. It lags behind the standard 13 by about two hours for video playback and 20 hours for audio. But remember, you can always use the fast-charging feature to top off your phone.
In the mini, you'll get the same camera, storage options, display and lightning-fast processor as the standard 13. Not to mention, it's a bit easier to hold if you prefer the smaller size.
What's the Best iPhone 13 for the Standard User?
If you want something with great all-around performance, the standard iPhone 13 is an excellent pick. It gives you a superb camera, a just-right size and all of the perks that make Apple so popular, like stellar image processing software and security tools. It's a bit longer-lasting than the standard 13 with a battery that should last all day for most users.
What's the Best iPhone 13 for Someone on the Go?
If you want the whole package in an easy-to-carry size, go for the Pro. You'll get the powerful features of the Pro Max without the bulkier size. The 13 Pro is also a good choice if you're looking for more professional camera tools in a phone that's a little easier to hold. It fits nicely in a bag or pocket to take along with you, whether you're going to work or traveling the world.
The Pro model camera lets you zoom in more, get better close-up and low-light shots and use wider aperture ranges. Plus, the formatting options make it easy to store all of your photos and videos without missing a beat. The battery life is also exceptional, giving you up to 22 hours of video playback and a whopping 95 hours of audio — meaning there's no need to stop and wait for your phone to charge when you have things to do.
What's the Best iPhone 13 for Super Users?
Are you looking for all the bells and whistles? It should come as no surprise that we recommend the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max. You'll get that amazing camera system from the Pro with some extra battery life and a larger screen. The premium build looks and feels great in your hands, and you even have the option to get 1TB of storage — plenty of room for storing all of your photos and videos.
Buying Your Next iPhone With Gazelle
Do you know which iPhone 13 model you want? Great! You've got the tough decision out of the way. Next up is deciding how you'll get your new phone. You could buy the device new, but a much more economical and sustainable option is to buy it used or refurbished.
Here at Gazelle, we carry a large selection of used devices that can help you save significantly on the price of a new iPhone 13. Choose from fair, good and excellent cosmetic conditions to find the right phone for your budget and needs. Buying used is a great way to save money and help the planet by keeping more electronics out of landfills.
We know that buying a used device can come with some concerns, which is why we take great strides to make sure our listings work as promised and you can buy with confidence. We check every phone with a 30-point inspection before listing and provide honest descriptions of any issues that may be present, such as dings or scratches.
With free standard shipping and a 30-day return policy, you get an easy buying experience and plenty of time to see if the phone is really the right fit for you. Are you ready to upgrade to the 13? Shop our listings from the lineup!