Skip to main content

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: which should you buy?

Apple iPhone 13 Pro colours
(Image credit: Apple)

It’s been 14 crazy years since Steve Jobs graced the stage with his formidable presence and introduced the world to the phone that would change the face of tech forever. Today, the much-leaked iPhone 13 is official, having made its debut at Apple’s live-streamed launch event.

As usual, some things are similar, while others are shiny and new, looking to tempt you away from last year’s model. There’s a lot to cover, so we’ve rounded up all the key differences between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 models to help you decide which you should buy and if the new iPhone 13 is worth upgrading to.

 iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: price 

The iPhone 13 models are going to land at almost the exact same launch prices as their iPhone 12 counterparts, namely: 

iPhone 13 mini: $699 / £679 / AU$1199

iPhone 13: $799 / £779 / AU$1349

iPhone 13 Pro: $999 / £949  / AU$1699

iPhone 13 Pro Max: $1,099 / £1,049 / AU$1849

The US prices remain identical to the launch prices of the iPhone 12 models, while the UK prices are a little cheaper (read: £20 less) across the board.

All iPhone 13 models can be pre-ordered from 17th September, ahead of their 24th September release date.

**Winner** iPhone 13

 iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: design 

Apple iPhone 13 colours

(Image credit: Apple)

At first glance you’d be hard pressed to find an immediate difference between the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 12. Peek a bit close though, and a few changes become apparent. 

Flip the base iPhone 13 and 13 mini models around, for example, and you’ll notice that there’s a new diagonal rear dual camera layout compared to the straight one of their iPhone 12 siblings. Apple has also opted for more sustainable design choices, such as plastic antenna lines made from recycled bottles. 

In terms of colours, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini will be available in Pink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight and Product Red. The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are offered in more subdued hues, which include Graphite, Gold, Silver, or the brand new Sierra Blue. These are all fairly similar to the colours offered by the various iPhone 12 models, although the new Sierra Blue is noticeably lighter than the iPhone 12 Pro's Pacific Blue.

There's no radical redesign then, but given how handsome the iPhone 12 family is, you won't feel like you're carting around an ugly phone by any means (though you might be hankering for one of those new finishes).

**Winner** Draw

 iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: screen 

iPhone 13 Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

Let’s kick off with the big difference — Both the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max have 120Hz screens, which is a very significant jump up from the 60Hz displays found on the iPhone 12. ProMotion with adaptive refresh rate also means that the iPhone will automatically adjust its refresh rate based on how it's being used, helping to preserve battery life.

The remaining iPhone 13 models retain the same 60Hz screens, which is a little disappointing, as the faster refresh rate should make things feel slicker, smoother, and faster than ever, matching most of the fastest Android flagships for smoothness.

On the physical design front, the iPhone 13 still hasn’t managed to ditch the notch — it’s still there to make space for the fancy Face ID tech above — although it is noticeably smaller in this latest iteration (around 20% in fact).

Size-wise, all models retain the same dimensions and resolution as their predecessors, though there are some positive tweaks. The advanced Super Retina XDR OLED display on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini is now 28% brighter while being more power efficient. The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max take this further by boasting the brightest iPhone display ever, with up to 25% higher maximum outdoor brightness, while also being more efficient than the screens on their predecessors.

**Winner** iPhone 13

 iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: power 

iPhone 13 A15 Bionic CPU

(Image credit: Apple)

Surprise surprise, the iPhone 13 models are the fastest iPhones ever made, thanks to Apple's all-new A15 Bionic processor. No other smartphone processor has managed to catch up with Apple's offerings, and it brings a few new features and performance hikes compared to the A14 chip in the iPhone 12.

For starters, there's a new 6-core CPU with two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores, making it 50% faster than the competition, with a new GPU that's 30% faster than rivals. The new 16-core Neural Engine makes for even faster machine learning smarts, such as the new Live Text in Camera feature found in iOS 15, and the new 3D Maps navigation feature.

Impressive? You bet, but the fact that comparisons were made between the competition as opposed to the previous generation iPhone suggests that it might not be as gigantic a leap in processing power. Still, it's definitely more efficient, and you can't argue with raw specs — the iPhone 13 is definitely more powerful than the iPhone 12.

**Winner** iPhone 13

 iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: camera 

Apple iPhone 13 Pro camera lenses

(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 13 has a 12MP wide camera and 12MP ultra wide camera. Both of these are powered by new sensors, with improved low light performance compared to the iPhone 12, with 47% more light being utilised by the sensor. 

The iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max show improvements over the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max too, with new telephoto, ultra wide and wide lenses, with sensor shift stabilisation to help reduce annoying camera shake. There's also now 6x optical zoom along with a new 3x telephoto camera for getting closer to subjects without loss of detail. The new wide camera also has the largest sensor on an iPhone to date, so we expect to see impressive iPhone 12 Pro-beating shots in low light situations.

Other improvements over the iPhone 12 include a new Dolby Vision HDR Cinematic Mode which should be a genuinely exciting addition for budding videographers thanks to its object and people tracking, along with a rack focus feature for greater cinematic effects.

**Winner** iPhone 13

 iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: battery 

iPhone 13 battery

(Image credit: Apple)

Good news for range anxiety sufferers — the iPhone 13 models all have larger batteries than their iPhone 12 predecessors which, combined with the newer, more efficient A15 Bionic processor and general improvements in hardware and software integration, mean the iPhone 13 has better battery life than the iPhone 12 across the board.

Thanks to these improvements, the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro Max both last two and a half hours longer than their iPhone 12 counterparts, while the iPhone 13 mini and 13 Pro last an hour and a half longer than their predecessors.

**Winner** iPhone 13

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: verdict

iPhone 13 camera

(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 13 isn't a revolution, and after 14 years of iPhones, it couldn't possibly be (without something as drastic as a folding screen, that is). Still, it's a solid improvement across the board, which suggests that the overall experience and performance will beat its iPhone 12 predecessor.

Still, you cant review a phone on specs alone, so while the iPhone 13 appears to have an early edge, you'll have to stay tuned for our full review for the final word.

MORE:

It's finally here: Apple officially unveils new iPhone 13 range, includes 120Hz displays, larger batteries

After a new iPad? The Apple iPad Mini 6 and more powerful iPad 9 break cover