• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

After the radical design overhaul that accompanied last year’s iPhone 12 family, Apple would ostensibly appear to be back to the incremental updates with the iPhone 13 range.

In the case of the iPhone 13 Pro, though, that would be a massive short sell. Not only does it come with significant improvements over last year’s iPhone 12 Pro - both internal and external - but it also learns from its predecessor’s mistakes and manages to put clear water between it and the regular iPhone 13.

It’s arguably the first iPhone that deserves the ‘Pro’ moniker. Let’s find out why.

Screen

iPhone 13 Pro Display

The iPhone 13 Pro’s AMOLED display is one of the best, most balanced examples on the market. It’s neither the biggest nor the sharpest, but it’s beautifully calibrated nonetheless.

It’s exactly the same size as last year’s iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 at 6.1-inches, which feels just right in the hand. It’s also the exact same resolution at 1170 x 2532, which produces a pixel density of 460 ppi.

There are two key improvements here, and one is a much bigger deal than the other. For one thing, it gets brighter to the tune of 1000 nits in typical conditions, rather than the iPhone 12 Pro’s 800 nits. That’s always welcome, but the iPhone 12 Pro hardly felt dim.

Much more importantly, the iPhone 13 Pro screen finally – FINALLY – packs a 120Hz refresh rate. Previous iPhones have only managed to hit half that, making them feel much less fluid than their Android contemporaries.

You might not think that your iPhone display lacks smoothness, but the difference is immediately obvious as soon as you use the iPhone 13 Pro. Web content glides past, while simply flicking between home screens and dropping the notification menu takes on a new tactile dimension.

It should also have practical ramifications for games that have been tuned for higher frame rates. Make no mistake, this is the biggest deal in iPhone displays since the introduction of AMOLED with the iPhone X.

Design

iPhone 13 Design

While the iPhone 13 Pro’s display is a major improvement, the body it sits in is largely unchanged from last year’s iPhone 12 Pro. That’s not a massive complaint, however.

Apple really changed things up with last year’s model, introducing a boldly angular design language when all around it were getting curvier and rounder. It might have lost some of that initial impact, but the iPhone 13 Pro is a handsome piece of kit.

We still wish Apple would bring some of the vibrant colour choices of the non-Pro models over to the Pro range, but there’s no denying our headline Sierra Blue model looks suave and sophisticated. This colour looks light metallic blue from certain angles and distances, and a kind of putty grey from others. Combined with a shiny stainless steel frame, it certainly fits the ‘Pro’ aesthetic.

The phone is surprisingly heavy for its size, though. At 204g it outweighs the iPhone 12 Pro by 15g. It’s also a smidgen thicker at 7.7mm. You can thank a larger battery and a chunkier camera module for that weight gain, both of which seem like worthwhile trade-offs.

One clear design improvement is a Face ID notch that’s been reduced in volume by 20%, giving you a little more screen space in the top corners.

Power

Apple always leads the pack on power, and the iPhone 13 Pro keeps up that dominant run. Its A15 Bionic processor absolutely thrashes its counterparts on most benchmark scores.

Geekbench 5 single core scores of around 1700, and multi-core scores of around 4700, top flagship Android phones like the OnePlus 9 Pro and the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra by around 50% for single-core and 30% for multi-core.

Crucially this year, the iPhone 13 Pro also beats the iPhone 13 for performance. Not only does it have 50% more RAM (6GB vs 4GB), but it also has an extra GPU core (5 vs 4), giving a big boost to graphical output.

This is useful given the fact its display is running at double the refresh rate. Thankfully, the iPhone 13 Pro takes everything in its stride, from multitasking to high-end games like CoD Mobile on maxed out settings.

Camera

iPhone 13 Pro Camera

Perhaps the biggest area of focus for this year’s entire iPhone 13 range comes with the camera provision. Unlike with last year’s range, the iPhone 13 Pro’s triple–12MP camera system is identical to that of the range-topping iPhone 13 Pro Max. There’s clear space between it and the iPhone 13, and none whatsoever to the larger and more expensive iPhone 13 Pro Max.

All three sensors – the 12MP f/1.5 wide, the 12MP f/2.8 telephoto, and the 12MP f/1.8 ultra-wide – are bigger and better than before, hoovering up more light and detail. You also get the sensor-shift stabilisation system that was exclusive to last year’s iPhone 12 Pro Max, which keeps things extra steady.

The telephoto gains a new further 3X zoom, while the ultra-wide now doubles as an effective macro camera. It’s a little annoying that this latter function happens automatically when you get close to a subject, but Apple has promised to fix that.

Shots taken with the iPhone 13 Pro’s main camera are superb. There’s no phone better at capturing sharp, natural-looking shots in all lighting conditions, and you can now tweak the starting tone of those shots.

iPhone 13 Pro Camera Sample

Elsewhere, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra have the advantage when it comes to zoomed-in shots, and the OnePlus 9 Pro’s ultra-wide snaps are crisper at the edges. But the iPhone 13 Pro does well to match the colour temperature among these sensors.

Video capture is as peerless as ever. Captured footage is extremely crisp and balanced, and even 3X-zoomed footage proved to be rock solid in our testing

iPhone 13 Pro Camera Sample 2

Apple has added a new Cinematic video mode this year, which effectively lets you switch focus between subjects even in post production. It’s supposed to intelligently switch focus in live recording too, but we found this element to be a little flaky.

iPhone 13 Pro Night Mode

Features

The iPhone 13 Pro doesn’t really offer any bold new features, certainly not compared to the iPhone 12 Pro. But that’s not to say there’s nothing that stands out compared to its rivals.

MagSafe returns for a second year. For those who missed it last year, MagSafe sees Apple resurrecting the name of the magnetised charging standard it used to use with its MacBook line. Here that enables you to buy wireless chargers that snap on to the back of the iPhone 13 Pro, as well as wallets, cases, and more besides.

Elsewhere, it’s worth highlighting how excellent the iPhone 13 Pro’s stereo speakers are. There’s only one that’s front-firing, which is always preferable, but the two combine to create crisp, loud, and startlingly loud sound.

Another little feature we’re always pleased to see in iPhones is a physical mute switch. The ability to instantly change between silent and loud is something no other manufacturer other than OnePlus attempts.

Battery life, memory and connectivity

Apple has improved battery life right across the iPhone 13 range, with larger batteries and more efficient processing.

In the case of the iPhone 13 Pro, you also benefit from that new 120Hz display. While that sounds a little counter-intuitive, Apple has engineered it to adapt to your usage, so it can scale right down to 10Hz when you’re viewing static content.

The result is truly excellent stamina. After a 15 hour day of light usage (2 hours 30 minutes of screen on time), we found ourselves left with a healthy 53% left in the tank, opening the possibility of a second day of usage.

On a more intensive day, with close to 5 hours of screen on time, heavy Google Maps use, and plenty of photo and video taking, we found ourselves at between 20 and 30% come the end of the day. That’s pretty strong for such a capable phone, and it’s another way in which the iPhone 13 Pro lives up to its Pro branding.

As with last year’s model, you get 5G connectivity with the iPhone 13 Pro. There’s no mmWave compatibility outside of the US, but given that this advanced standard is so very far from ubiquitous, even in Apple’s home territory, that really isn’t a criticism. If you have 5G network support in your area, the iPhone 13 Pro will makes as good a use of it as any other phone.

Storage options have expanded this year. As well as the usual 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB, there’s a new 1TB storage option. That’s more than many premium laptops will offer you.

Verdict

The iPhone 13 Pro is, quite simply, the best smartphone on the market right now. It might look almost exactly like last year’s model, but as that represented a total refresh of the well-worn iPhone aesthetic, we’re not particularly bothered. The iPhone 13 Pro looks great.

More impressive are the many improvements and additions - both minor and major - to the phone’s core capabilities. Apple’s implementation of a 120Hz display refresh rate might have come a little late, but it’s also typically on the money. It’s seamless, silky, and it doesn’t make you feel like you’re being made to choose between stamina and smoothness, unlike many of its rivals.

Talking of which, the iPhone 13 Pro’s battery life is very good indeed, taking you through a full day of intensive usage with relative ease. The camera system, meanwhile, has taken another step forward, and is now the best all-round smartphone camera on the market.

Unlike with last year’s iPhone 12 line-up, the iPhone 13 Pro thoroughly earns its Pro name, and as such is a worthy upgrade on the iPhone 13 if you demand the absolute best of the best.

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Specifications

Specifications

  • Camera: 12MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP telephoto
  • Operating System: iOS 15
  • Internal storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1GB
  • Expandable storage up to: No
  • Processor make: Apple
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Pixels per inch (PPI): 460
  • Processor: A15 Bionic
  • Screen size (inches): 6.1
  • Resolution: 1170 x 2532
  • Battery capacity (mAh): 3095
  • Colours: Graphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra Blue
  • Dimensions (mm): 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.7
  • Weight (g): 204

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