Apple iPhone 13 series: Which should you buy?
Apple's iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max succeed the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max from 2020, though the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini remain available.
How do the four latest models differ though? We've run up the specs for the iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max to help you work out which is right for you.
What's the same on the iPhone 13 models?
- Similar square design
- OLED displays
- Front camera
- A15 chip
- iOS 15 software
There are many similarities between the iPhone 13 models. They all feature a similar flat edge design - even though there is some variation between the models in terms of finishes and camera lenses on the rear.
The Pro models are more premium in appearance, but the standard models still have a great finish - opting for aerospace-grade aluminium frames over surgical-grade stainless steel. They all run on an A15 chip with next generation 16-core Neural Engine though, they all run on iOS 15 software and they are all 5G compatible.
They also all have OLED display panels with True Tone, Haptic Touch and HDR support - though their resolutions and some technologies differ - and they all come with the same front-facing camera, whilst also all being IP68 water and dust resistant. All models also offer a reduced notch compared to the iPhone 12 models - although it isn't a hige reduction.
All four models have Face ID, differentiating them from the iPhone SE model, which uses Touch ID.
What's different on the iPhone 13 models?
Whilst the four new iPhones have some similarities, there are of course a number of differences.
- 13 mini: 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.65mm, 141g
- 13: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm, 174g
- 13 Pro: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm, 204g
- 13 Pro Max: 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm, 240g
The four new iPhones all vary in physical dimensions. The iPhone 13 mini is the smallest and lightest (and it's lovely), while the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the largest and heaviest.
The standard iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 Pro have identical measurements, but the Pro is a little heavier and as we mentioned, more premium in its finish. They are middle of the range in terms of size. All four devices have the same thickness.
- 13 mini: 5.4-inches
- 13: 6.1-inches
- 13 Pro: 6.1-inches
- 13 Pro Max: 6.7-inches
The iPhone 13 mini has the smallest display at 5.4-inches, but it's not too small at all so don't let that put you off. It features a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels, 476ppi, which makes it the sharpest display of the four models and it's a brilliant display too.
The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro are both 6.1-inches with resolutions of 2532 x 1170 pixels, 460ppi, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the largest at 6.7-inches with a resolution of 2778 x 1284 pixels, 458ppi.
Display refresh rate
- iPhone 13 mini/13: 60Hz
- iPhone 13 Pro/13 Pro Max: 120Hz ProMotion
Whilst the iPhone 13 models all offer OLED screen panels, their refresh rates are different. The iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 both have a standard 60Hz refresh rate.
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max have ProMotion displays with adaptive refresh rates between 10Hz and 120Hz. You can read more about refresh rates and what they mean for your device in our separate feature. In reality, the faster refresh rate delivers smoother scrolling in our experience reviewing the Pro model, though you probably wouldn't notice unless you had the standard and Pro models side-by-side.
- iPhone 13 mini/iPhone 13: Dual rear camera
- iPhone 13 Pro/13 Pro Max: Triple rear camera, extra features
As you might expect, the rear camera setup is one of the main differentiating features between the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 and the Pro models.
The iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 have a dual rear camera, comprised of a 12-megapixel main camera with f/1.6 aperture and a 12-megapixel ultra wide-angle camera with an f/2.4 aperture and the results are great.
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max have a triple rear camera. Both have a 12-megapixel main camera with f/1.5 aperture, a 12-megapixel ultra wide-angle camera with f/1.8 aperture and a 12-megapixel telephoto camera with f/2.8 aperture. The telephoto lens offers 3x optical zoom. Again the results are great with these models too.
All four models use sensor-shift stabilisation, which makes them slightly better cameras for low light photography. They also all have Smart HDR 4 for photos, Portrait Mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control, Night Mode and Deep Fusion. There's also a feature called Photographic Styles and Cinematic video - both of which are great fun in use, though the latter is very subtle.
The Pro models also have a LIDAR sensor for augmented reality and enhanced understanding of the scene in front of the camera though, and they come with a few extra features, including Night mode portraits and a macro mode. A feature called ProRES will also be coming to the Pro models later this year, which includes ProRes video recording up to 4K at 30fps.
All four models have a 12-megapixel front camera with the same features, including Night mode, Deep Fusion and Photographic Styles.
- iPhone 13 mini: Up to 17 hours
- iPhone 13: Up to 19 hours
- iPhone 13 Pro: Up to 22 hours
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: Up to 28 hours
The battery capacities on the iPhone 13 models also differ, with the iPhone 13 mini offering the smallest and the iPhone 13 Pro Max offering the largest, which is unsurprising due to their size.
The iPhone 13 mini's battery life isn't amazing in our experience, while the iPhone 13 does deliver on this front, as does the iPhone 13 Pro Max. We found the iPhone 13 Pro to do well too, though it was challenged when put under pressure.
- 13 mini/13: 128/256/512GB
- 13 Pro/13 Pro Max: 128/256/512GB/1TB
The iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 come in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB storage options.
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max come in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB storage options.
- iPhone 13 mini/13: 4-core
- iPhone 13 Pro/13 Pro Max: 5-core
While all four of the iPhone 13 models run on the A15 chip and next generation 16-core Neural Engine, the iPhone 13 Pro models offer a faster GPU with five cores over the standard iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini's four cores.
In use though, all four iPhone 13 models offer swift performance with no issues switching between tasks.
- 13 mini/13: Five colours
- 13 Pro/13 Pro Max: Four colours
The iPhone 13 mini and the iPhone 13 come in five colour options: Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Pink, Product (RED).
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max come in four colours: Silver, Graphite, Gold, Sierra Blue.
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As you would expect, the four iPhone 13 models all differ in price, with the Pro models sitting at the higher end and the iPhone 13 mini at the cheaper end.
The iPhone 13 mini starts at $699 / £679.
The standard iPhone 13 starts at $799 / £779.
The iPhone 13 Pro starts at $999 / £949.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max starts at $1099 / £1049.
The only differences between the iPhone 13 mini and the iPhone 13 is physical size, display size and cost. Otherwise, the colours, storage options, camera and hardware is identical between the two models, as well as the design. The mini doesn't last as long in terms of battery though.
The iPhone 13 is the same size as the iPhone 13 Pro model, but the Pro model has a more advanced rear camera setup, as well as a more premium finish and different colour options. It also has different storage options, the additional LiDAR sensor, a faster GPU and it's pricier.
The difference between the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max is physical size, display size and cost, as well as battery life again.
The iPhone 13 model that's right for you will depend on what size device you want and how much certain features mean to you. If you're all about the camera, then the Pro models are the better choice. If you want camera and a big display, then the 13 Pro Max is the one for you, but if you're just about the camera, then the 13 Pro is great.
That said, we experienced great performance from the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 despite them not offering everything the Pro models do in terms of camera setup, so they are a great option for those who don't have the higher budget.