Apple on Wednesday, September 15, Philippine time, launched the iPhone 13, which once again consists of four different models, namely the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
All four iPhones come with a host of iterative improvements over the iPhone 12, most of which we’ve come to expect from Apple’s annual release cycle. However, almost all of the debuting features are only available on the iPhone 13 Pro and the Pro Max, as is usually the case every year.
The first of which is the new SuperRetina XDR display that supports an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, or ProMotion technology, as Apple calls it.
This makes motion such as scrolling, for example, appear smoother on your screen. And because the technology is adaptive, the display is able to automatically adjust the refresh rate depending on your activity.
For example, when you’re scrolling through your gallery, your display will be at 120Hz; whereas when you’re already viewing a photo and there’s no motion in your screen, it’ll be at 10Hz to conserve battery life.
It’s important to note that 120Hz displays are old news for Android flagship phones. The tech has been around as early as November 2017 with the Razer Phone.
Last year’s iPhone 12 was initially rumored to ship with this feature, but it ended up with the regular 60Hz instead.
Another debuting feature is the option to have 1TB worth of storage, the largest storage size on iPhone ever.
In comparison, the highest storage option for the iPhone 12 is 512GB. This option is limited to the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, which also come in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage options. The iPhone 13 and mini’s largest option is 512GB.
1TB options have been around for some time now as well on Android phones. Apple’s rival Samsung introduced it to its S-series phones in February 2019 with the S10 Plus and a variant of the Note 10 launched later that year – although the option appears to have been dropped in later S models.
The Pro iPhones also benefit from a new triple-camera system featuring a larger 77mm telephoto lens with a 3x optical zoom. Once again, for comparison’s sake, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Max’s optical zoom tops out at 2x and 2.5x respectively.
The ultra-wide cameras of the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max have similarly been improved, with both now having an aperture of f/1.8 from the f/2.4 lens of the 12 Pro and Pro Max.
The same goes for the wide cameras, which now have an aperture of f/1.5 over the f/1.6 of the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max. This essentially allows you to shoot a sharper image with a shallower depth of field and get better low light performance.
Video recording boasts some new capabilities as well, with Apple adding a Cinematic mode that lets you shift focus between subjects on the fly, creating depth effects like what you see in movies.
You can either let the system automatically focus on who it thinks is looking at the camera or manually tap the screen to lock onto a specific subject. Cinematic mode records in Dolby Vision and high dynamic range (HDR).
This feature is available on all four models. However, on the Pro and Pro Max, you also have the option of changing the focus after you’ve already recorded the video. This is thanks to the system being able to build a depth map in your videos.
Along with this, the Pro models also include a macro photography feature, ProRes tools for video editing, and photographic styles, which are artificial intelligence-powered filters, effects, and overlays for your shots.
When it comes to the actual improvements, all four models will be powered by the new 6-core A15 Bionic chip, which Apple touts is more powerful and more capable than the iPhone 12’s A14 Bionic chip.
Additionally, all models are getting better battery life. Apple claims The iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 Pro can outlast the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro by up to 90 minutes respectively. The iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 Pro Max, meanwhile, can outlast the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro Max by up to 2.5 hours.
The design, for the most part, remains unchanged from the iPhone 12, with screen sizes staying the same across all four models. But there are a couple of tweaks that are worth mentioning.
One of which is the new alignment of the cameras. Instead of having the cameras placed vertically like on the iPhone 12, the iPhone 13 and mini have the cameras placed diagonally.
Additionally, the notch is now about 20% slimmer than on the iPhone 12. Apple said it managed to shrink and move the front-facing components like the Face ID sensor, the earpiece, and the selfie camera to accommodate a slimmer notch.
The company has been quite conservative in tweaking the design of the notch, remaining mostly untouched over the last several generations. Though Apple doesn’t appear to be ready to do without it just yet – we’ll probably have to wait until next year for that – there’s at least some effort this year in refreshing the notch’s divisive design.
What also remains unchanged are the starting prices of all the models. The iPhone 13 starts at $799, the same price as the iPhone 12 when it launched last year, while the iPhone 13 mini starts at $699. The iPhone 13 Pro starts at $999 and the Pro Max starts at $1,099.
In certain markets, Apple will start taking pre-orders on September 17 with the release slated for September 24. Details for the Philippine market will likely be shown on the Apple website at a later date.
Kyle Chua loves gadgets and video games. He writes about them at Rappler and at his own site, SolidStateNow.
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