iPhone 13 camera: Everything you need to know

iPhone 13 camera explained
The iPhone 13 series has been around since September 2021 with hefty amount of improvements over the previous iPhone 12 generation, and some would even dare say that certain members of the iPhone 13 lineup are a much better value than the newer iPhone 14 series. Surely, if you want more camera upgrades, you should take a peek at the iPhone 14 Pro/iPhone 14 Pro Max camera, a 48MP new endeavor that will certainly serve as the foundation of many upcoming iPhone camera solutions.

But it's 2024 now, and neither of the iPhone 13 models are exactly brand-new. Actually, all of those are now mid-way through their life cycles, so it's definitely worth considering the iPhone 14 Pro/iPhone 14 Pro Max models, as well as all iPhone 15 models, which all offer an objectively better camera experience than the iPhone 13 models. Naturally, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the current best iPhone as far as camera is considered. 

Notice the omission of the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus from that list? Despite the arrival of the iPhone 14 in September 2022, we didn't see any major improvements in the iPhone photography space, and as such, the iPhone 13 lineup is still perfectly capable. 

The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max scored large new 48MP sensors in one of the biggest upgrades of an iPhone camera ever, but the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus mostly reused the iPhone 13/13 mini camera.  

As we mentioned, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 generations are newer and objectively more capable in the photography areas, relying more and more on software improvements and image-processing algorithms than pure hardware alone. With the iPhone 16 generation likely coming in September 2024, we expect that the photography capabilities of the iPhone will be further boosted. 

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iPhone 13 camera summary:

iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max camera

The much wider apertures of the lenses will naturally let much more light inside for exceptional low-light prowess, but what's even more impressive here is the main camera's large new sensor, equipped with big 1.9 µm pixels, which are the largest ever fitted on an iPhone.

Pair those with the exceptionally wide F1.5 aperture, and the promise for exceptional low-light camera performance is more than exciting. The camera's Night mode now also extends to the ultra wide-angle and telephoto cameras, where it will automatically take long exposure shots with the help of artificial intelligence.

There's sensor-shift optical image stabilization on both the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, similar to their predecessors, and this exclusive hardware feature also helps greatly here: it eliminates jitter and enhances low-light details by keeping the camera sensor steady, even when your hands aren't at their steadiest.

Hardware is just part of the full picture. The fast new A15 Bionic chipset, thanks to its advanced computational prowess and much faster Neural Engine, is the main culprit behind the much better overall camera performance, says Apple. Indeed, camera processing algorithms are as important as the hardware parts that capture light itself, and the iPhone 13 Pro-series seemingly takes this to heart. The so-called Photographic Styles allows iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max users to employ their own preferences while still benefitting from the camera's enhanced image processing.

For example, you can choose between filters with different vibrancy and contrast, as well as color temperatures, while still maintaining natural-looking skin tones. The new chipset also enables Smart HDR4, which enables enhanced contrast, color, and lighting, even in challenging and dynamic conditions. Deep Fusion, Apple ProRAW, and Portrait mode with Portrait Lighting are also on deck, now better than ever thanks to Apple A15 Bionic's prowess.

iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 camera

Thanks to the Apple A15, which powers both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini, the duo also supports the new Cinematic mode with rack focus and all the software bells and whistles also found on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max series.

Although the majority of novel camera features are naturally concentrated into the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 mini have also scored tons of improvements. There's sensor-shift stabilization on the wide-angle camera, which should deliver smoother videos and sharper photos, while the ultra wide-angle camera has scored a new camera sensor, capable of capturing 47% more light than the iPhone 12.

You can check all of our beautiful samples right there in the iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 mini review, but here is a representative sample.

And here's what the iPhone 13 camera is capable of during the night. It probably isn't on the level of the iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, or even Android's finest, but it's pretty good.

How many cameras does the new iPhone have?

The iPhone 13 mini has ultra-wide and wide-angle cameras, both coming in at 12MP. The iPhone 13 also comes with dual 12MP cameras. There are 12MP ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto cameras on both the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.

The new iPhone 13 and 13 mini come with dual cameras, wide and ultra-wide, similar to their predecessors, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 11. Of course, each new iPhone will also have a FaceTime selfie camera.

iPhone 13 camera: Superior ultra-wide angle lens

The ultra-wide camera has also seen some great improvements. It now comes with an exceptionally large, F1.8 wide aperture that also holds the promise for exceptional low-light capabilities. Apple even puts that potential prowess against a number - the new camera is obviously 92% better than the one on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

But that's not all - the shooter has also scored a new autofocus system that not only produces sharper and more detailed images, but also unlocks a brand-new iPhone functionality: dedicated macro photography. While close-up shots weren't impossible on previous iPhone models, the ultra wide-angle camera of the Apple 13-Pro series now allows for a minimum focusing distance of just 2 centimeters.

Macro isn't limited to photos, but allows you to also capture videos, slo-mos, and timelapse videos. With enough inspiration in tow, the new iPhone 13 Pro-series could be the right tool for the creative mind.

iPhone 13: Telephoto camera

There's a new 3X 77mm telephoto camera on the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max, allowing for a combined zoom range of 6X. Aside from getting closer to your subject. the telephoto camera allows you to capture better portraits. Why better, you might ask...

Well, it compresses the image more and thus creates more natural-looking portraits, with less distortion and more pleasing facial proportions that simply look better than portraits taken with a wider lens. This has been a staple of portrait photography for ages, and it's finally great that Apple is making small steps in the right direction by offering longer and longer telephoto cameras with longer focal length.

iPhone 13 video recording

Video has rarely been the centerpiece of an iPhone announcement event, mostly because Apple hasn't introduced that many outstanding video-related features. That's changed with the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, which put cinematography on a pedestal.

One of the new features that will definitely be used extensively by videographers is Cinematic mode and its unique rack focus feature. What is rack focus? You've certainly seen it hundreds, if not thousands of times without ever realizing it, as rack focus is meant to subtly change the focal point in a continuous shot scene and draw the viewer's attention to a certain character or object.

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And here's how the iPhone 14 Pro Max fares against the iPhone 13 Pro Max camera in video recording.

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If anything, the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max will allow anyone to achieve cinematic-looking videos without being well-versed in the field. Users will be able to change the focus in a captured video both during and after capture, as well as in the Photos app and iMovie for iOS, making the iPhone 13 Pro-series the only device to allow for such a functionality.

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Cinematic mode records in Dolby Vision HDR, while iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max come with ProRes.2, a video codec that's widely used as a final delivery format for ton of content, like ads, short films, and broadcasts. ProRes.2 is supported on the iPhone 13 Pro-series thanks to the Apple A15 Bionic chipset. This makes the iPhone 13 Pro-series possibly the most complete video-capturing device so far.


No matter how you look at it, the camera on all iPhone 13 models is an improvement over the previous generation and is more than capable, even in this day and age. You might not see any major changes if you're coming from the iPhone 12 series, but users of older iPhones might find the advancements brought by the iPhone 13 camera more than exciting.

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