Apple’s iPhone 13 has officially arrived — the baseline, most mainstream model that will set the bar for Apple’s 2021 phone lineup.
As with last year, the entry-level iPhone 13 will come in two versions: the 6.1-inch “regular” model and the smaller 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini. The screen is an OLED panel, although it’s brighter than last year’s, while the sides are still aluminum sandwiched between two slabs of glass.
Pricing starts at $829 for the iPhone 13 and $729 for the smaller iPhone 13 Mini, although Apple is once again offering a $30 discount for phones purchased through carriers. Storage options for this year’s models have been bumped up, with Apple offering 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB configurations for the two models. Preorders for the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini will start this Friday, September 17th, ahead of a September 24th release date.
There’s not much in the way of radical new features or changes here; instead, the iPhone 13 is closer to Apple’s old “S”-year model of iPhones. It offers some refinements and improvements to last year’s design rather than monumental new features.
Unlike the iPhone 12, which saw a substantial redesign, the iPhone 13 has the same broad look as last year’s model, just with a slimmed-down Face ID notch that’s 20 percent smaller, meaning it’ll take up less space at the top of your phone. It’s not quite the minimal look that hole-punch displays offer on Android, but it’s a nice-looking improvement.
There’s also a more powerful processor: the A15 Bionic, which Apple says is faster and more power-efficient than last year’s A14 Bionic chip. It’s still a 5nm chip and still a 6-core CPU (with two new high-performance and four new high-efficiency cores) — but Apple says it’s the “fastest CPU in a smartphone,” up to 50 percent faster than the competition. It also says that graphics are up to 30 percent faster than its competitors (although, it doesn’t specify who it’s comparing to).
The new iPhone 13 lineup will also offer better battery life: the iPhone 13 Mini will get 1.5 hours more battery life than the iPhone 12 Mini, while the larger iPhone 13 should get up to 2.5 hours more battery life compared to the iPhone 12, thanks to bigger batteries, better performance from the A15 Bionic, and additional software improvements and optimizations.
The biggest change actually comes in the form of trickled-down camera technology from last year’s iPhone 12 Pro Max: the base iPhone 13 has gotten the same souped-up camera that Apple debuted with its biggest smartphone in 2020, with a physically larger sensor for the wide camera that’s 47 percent bigger than last year, allowing it to capture more light in darker environments with less noise.
The new wide sensor is a 12-megapixel lens with an f/1.6 aperture, while the new 12-megapixel ultrawide camera features a faster f/2.4 lens and 120-degree field of view. The iPhone 13 will also feature the sensor-shift stabilization technology that Apple introduced last year on the 12 Pro Max, which physically moves the wide sensor to reduce vibrations.
The new cameras will also be getting the “photographic profiles” feature that Apple introduced with the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max models, which allow you to customize the look of your photos even further for more consistency across shots.
Apple also introduced a new “cinematic mode” for video that allows for a rack focus effect to change the focus during a video, which the company showed off in an amusing Knives Out-style parody. When recording a video, cinematic mode will automatically transition focus while filming in real time, intelligently shifting focus when people enter the frame or glance away from the camera. You’ll be able to manually change focus or lock focus on a particular object for more precise control, too. The front-facing camera will also feature cinematic mode support.
Apple is also promising improved 5G performance compared to the iPhone 12, with more band support for better international 5G experiences. The company promises the iPhone will support 200 carriers in over 60 countries and regions by the end of the year.
Correction September 13th, 2:30PM ET: Apple originally announced the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini would cost $799 and $699, respectively. The MSRPs are actually $829 and $729. The lower price only applies after a $30 discount from specific carriers.