In our review of the iPhone 13, we cover all aspects of Apple’s new standard model. How do you like it compared to the iPhone 12, what has the manufacturer tinkered with or not and more you can of course check iPhoned!
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Review iPhone 13: Apple’s ‘entry-level model’
Last year Apple presented four iPhones in the 12 series at the same time and this year we are so spoiled. In the near future we will take a close look at each of those devices in a separate review. So keep an eye on iPhoned for our experiences with the iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro and of course iPhone 13 Pro Max.
In this iPhone 13 review, however, we focus on the manufacturer’s standard model. The starting price has remained the same as with the iPhone 12, but you do get more memory for that price. That means that you can purchase the new iPhone 13 from 909 euros (128GB). Need more storage? Then you pay respectively 1029 euros (256GB) or 1259 euros (512GB).
Table of contents iPhone 13 review
Design: distinctive straight edges
As expected, we don’t see too big changes in design compared to the iPhone 12. With that series, Apple opted for a completely new appearance and we only expect that with the next generation, the iPhone 14. That also means that the iPhone 13 has straight sides, which really gives the device its own face.
The angular edges ensure that the iPhone is somewhat sharp in the hand, making the smartphone less comfortable to hold. The black edges around the screen are the same width everywhere and that symmetry adorns Apple. However, in my opinion they are a fraction too broad and therefore too present.
During the big announcement, Apple also talked quite extensively about the ‘much smaller’ notch. In practice, the difference is less significant and in 2021 that is really something that the manufacturer is lagging behind. The notch is a bit smaller (about 20 percent) compared to the iPhone 12, but still takes a big bite out of the screen. It is of course necessary for all sensors, but we are really eagerly waiting for the iPhone 14 with its new design.
We tested the new pink variant, which has a glossy glass back and a matte-finished camera island and sides. Fingerprints can therefore be seen a bit quickly and that is a shame. If you take an iPhone 12 and the iPhone 13, only one design aspect shows which device is which. The two cameras of the iPhone 13 are not vertically below each other, but obliquely. As far as we’re concerned, that’s just a bit more playful and a small plus for the iPhone 13.
Screen: you really can’t gain weight with 60Hz
The biggest downside of the iPhone 13’s screen is the refresh rate. It is 60Hz, which means that the screen refreshes a maximum of 60 times per second. That may sound fine, but the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max have a 120Hz display. In practice, it simply means that the 60Hz screen does not come across as smoothly as with a device with a higher refresh rate.
It is therefore a pity that Apple has saved on the refresh rate, because the powerful processor and video chip can easily control 120Hz. The choice was probably made to let people choose the more expensive iPhone 13 Pro (Max). I myself have long been used to such a smooth screen from my own (Android) device and the iPhone 13 was a big step back in this area.
Do not expect that the device suddenly feels as slow as syrup, because that is of course not the case. But the lower refresh rate is just a waste and for an entry-level price of 909 euros, this is simply not possible.
For the rest, we have nothing to complain about the screen. Fortunately, Apple again opts for a high-resolution OLED panel (2532 by 1170 pixels). That combination ensures that the colors of the screen pop, the contrast is very good and the viewing angles are also okay. The brightness has improved a bit compared to the iPhone 12 and that is also clearly noticeable. On a sunny day you can still easily read the display.
Hardware: almost too fast for a smartphone
In terms of hardware performance, it becomes a bit of a repeat of our reviews of previous Apple devices. That is a very positive point, because the performance of the new Apple A15 Bionic chip is unparalleled. Also this year, the manufacturer has again developed an improved processor, which is also used in the iPad mini 2021.
Apps open on the iPhone 13 directly when you tap the icon, heavy games start very quickly and multitasking is no problem at all. It is that you are dealing with a screen of 6.1 inches, but with this power source you can easily control an entire multimedia PC.
With the iPhone 12 series, MagSafe came to Apple smartphones and it is still present today. Thanks to a combination of magnets and an NFC chip, you can use additional accessories. You can think of a special card holder, covers or the MagSafe charger.
Of course, a 5G modem is also on board, but that is more useful for the future. Although there is a 5G icon in the picture, you can only make optimal use of it if a certain network frequency can be used. When exactly that will happen remains to be seen, so wait and see.
Cameras: 3 times 12 megapixel
The iPhone 13 contains three cameras of 12 megapixels each, so we don’t see very exciting things in terms of resolution. You use the front camera for selfies and of course FaceTime. That sensor has been the same for years and performs well, but an update in terms of resolution or light sensitivity is not an unnecessary luxury.
On the back we see two more cameras, a normal one and one that allows you to take pictures at a wider angle. Apple has especially tinkered with the inside, making the cameras a bit brighter. The manufacturer has used the same sensor as the iPhone 12 Pro Max in this iPhone. You can of course check how the cameras of that device perform in the iPhone 12 Pro Max review.
During the day you shoot wonderful shots, where contrast, details and colors are captured almost perfectly. We have noticed lately that we suffered from a lot flare or some annoying lighting. If we photographed only slightly against the sun, then the necessary discolorations appeared on our photos. See also the examples in the gallery above. Below you will find some of our excellent pictures.
The wide-angle lens has of course also been extensively tested and thanks to the wide angle you can capture even more. What is positive is that colors between the different cameras are the same and that is certainly different with other smartphones.
In the gallery here directly above and below you will find a photo taken with the primary camera at the top, with a snapshot of the wide-angle sensor below.
The sensors are therefore slightly brighter, which benefits photos in a low-light environment. In the twilight colors are still well captured and there are enough details to see in the images. A special night mode is not on board, but the device automatically detects when it needs to increase the shutter speed a bit to take better pictures in the dark. You can view some examples below.
Software: iOS 15 is more refined and slicker
iOS 15 is preinstalled on the iPhone 13 by default, but you will not find an extensive explanation about my experiences in this review. We have already published all kinds of content about the new software. There is of course the iOS 15 page, where we have collected all the information for you.
There is also of course our separate iOS 15 review in which we discuss our personal experiences and of which you can read the conclusion below. Everything works very smoothly as we are used to from Apple. Animations look slick, switching between apps is smooth and navigating through the software is fast.
If you are not sure whether you should install iOS 15 or not, we can say with certainty that it is more than worth it. The changes aren’t revolutionary, but each and every one of them are valuable improvements that make everyday use of your iPhone much more pleasant.
The battery capacity of the iPhone 13 compared to the iPhone 12 is about 15 percent larger. During the presentation, Apple also called that with the same use you can do about 2.5 hours extra with a battery charge. That seems to be correct, although that of course depends on your use.
If we took the device off the charger in the morning, it only called for power again at the end of the day. We also used the device quite a bit for taking photos, social media, internet, WhatsApp and other chat apps. With such a day of use, we tapped the 5.5 to 6 hours of screen time, with the brightness at about 60 to 70 percent.
If you use the device a lot to navigate or constantly photograph and film, the battery will run a bit faster. On such days we got the same screen time, but around 19.00 it was time for something power. During our review period, there were some problems with Spotify that drained the battery. To get a good idea of the battery, we have completely removed Spotify for our battery test.
No included charger is annoying
However, we still have to talk about the minimum content of the packaging of the sales package. Including a charger has not happened since the iPhone 12 series because of cost savings and because it is better for the environment. Very beautiful of course, but not everyone benefits from an included Lightning to USB-C cable. Now I regularly test devices, but even I had to search for the right charging adapter.
Once found, it is noticeable that the device is being charged really ‘slowly’ in 2021. It takes just under an hour and a half before the iPhone 13 is completely full. Manufacturers of Android smartphones have now understood this a lot better, because many of those smartphones now fully charge in half an hour.
Wireless charging is fortunately possible, but it is a little slower. This is possible via the Qi standard and therefore all kinds of different chargers. Of course, this is also possible via the special MagSafe charger. With the help of magnets you ‘click’ it on the back, after which it is charged ‘wirelessly’.
Conclusion iPhone 13 review
The iPhone 13 is a more refined version of the already well-performing iPhone 12. It’s nice that you get more storage for the same entry-level price. The improved cameras and battery life are also nice plus points. The design is characteristic of Apple and a bit more playful due to the new colors and the modified camera module.
The screen leaves mixed feelings, because in terms of colors, clarity and sharpness there is nothing to complain about. Refreshing at only 60 times per second is really not done in 2021 and that notch … that is really not (anymore) Apple’s either.
If you have an iPhone 11 or older and you want something new, the iPhone 13 is simply the device to wait for. The iPhone 12 is admittedly more available, but costs only a few tens less.
buy iPhone 13
As mentioned, you pay a minimum of 909 euros for the iPhone 13. That is for the model with 128GB of internal storage. Variants with 256GB and 512GB are also for sale, but cost 1029 or 1259 euros respectively.
You can go for a separate iPhone 13 or opt for the iPhone 13 with a subscription. In addition to the different amount of storage, you can also choose from five colors: black, silver, blue, red and pink. You can of course view the best deals via the price comparator below.