iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: biggest differences expected so far

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: biggest differences expected so far
Rumors suggest that Apple will unveil four new iPhones in 2021, all improved versions of the existing models. While design is expected to remain mostly the same, the new iPhone 13 series is said to bring better cameras, a faster processor and some of the models could introduce 120Hz ProMotion display technology. 

Of all four iPhone 13 versions, the non-Pro and non-mini iPhone 13 is the device that is expected to become the best-selling model. Unlike Pro models that cost more than $1,000, and unlike the battery-constrained Mini, the regular iPhone 13 strikes the best balance between price and functionality.

Here are the key features that will define the iPhone 13 and how they compare against the iPhone 12:

  • Similar flat edge design and overall size, may be a bit thicker
  • Same 6.1" screen size, 120Hz ProMotion likely only coming to 13 Pro models
  • Faster Apple A15 Bionic chip inside
  • Similar dual rear camera (wide and ultrawide) with no telephoto lens
  • Slightly bigger battery size than the 2,800mAh in iPhone 12
  • Faster Wi-Fi 6E connectivity


Price and release date


The iPhone 12 was a bit of an exception with a delayed release due to the raging coronavirus pandemic, launching in late October, a full month behind Apple's typical schedule. However, we expect the company to return back to its regular release calendar in 2021 and the iPhone 13 to launch in late September.

If we were to pin-point a date, history shows that an Apple event can be expected on Tuesday, September 14th, with an in-store release following on Friday, September 24th.

So far, there are no rumors suggesting Apple will change the pricing frame it has set with the iPhone 12: this would mean a baseline price of $800 for the iPhone 13 bought with a carrier plan, and an $830 price point for an unlocked version of the iPhone 13.

Cameras

Don't get your hopes high for a telephoto camera on the iPhone 13, but expect to see an improved ultra-wide camera

In the past couple of years, Apple has adopted a clear strategy to differentiate the cameras for its non-Pro iPhone series, equipping the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 with two cameras, a wide and ultra-wide one, but no dedicated telephoto zoom lens that you get on the Pro iPhones.

The iPhone 13 is also expected to skip the telephoto lens and have a very similar camera performance to the iPhone 12. Rumors do point out, however, that Apple is planning slight improvements in 3 key areas:

  • more advanced, 6-element construction for the ultra-wide camera lens
  • faster, f/1.8 aperture for the ultra-wide camera, so it takes better shots in low light
  • overall software improvements to image quality

So yes, the iPhone 13 will deliver slightly better image quality, but rumors so far suggest that it won't address the zoom quality issues present on the iPhone 12, which can currently only zoom up to 5X digitally in photos and 3X in video, with quality that is a far cry from Android rivals.

We have also seen rumors about Apple introducing astrophotography modes in the camera as well as a portrait video mode, but those leaks have not been confirmed by reliable sources yet, so we would take them with the proverbial grain of salt.

Performance and new Apple A15 chip


Apple makes its own A series of chips for iPhones and they have led the market in terms of performance in the past few years, and we only expect this lead to continue with the new Apple A15 Bionic processor.

The iPhone 13 is also expected to have the same 4GB of RAM as the iPhone 12. This is a bit less than the 6GB of RAM on Apple's iPhone Pro series, and this difference in RAM is expected to remain a defining one between the non-Pro iPhone 13 and the Pro models in 2021. 

One area where the iPhone 13 will step things up a notch from the iPhone 12 is connectivity with expanded support of mobile bands, but also Wi-Fi 6E support. This newer Wi-Fi standard delivers higher performance, lower latency, and faster data rates, and it adds support for the 6GHz Wi-Fi band on top of the existing 2.4 and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands that may be congested in dense urban areas.

Take a look at this nifty comparison between the Apple A14 and its closest rival in 2021, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888.


And in gaming, we see that the Apple A14 also has the lead over Snapdragon 888:


So far, we don't have any leaks about the performance characteristics of the Apple A15, but new rumors come in quite often and this article will be updated whenever new information about the A15 surfaces.

Display

6.1" OLED screen, but will it have 120Hz ProMotion?

The iPhone 13 is rumored to keep the size and design styling of the iPhone 12, and that also means it will come a flat, 6.1" screen. This size has proven to be a great middle ground, a bit larger and more useful than the smallish 5.8-inch screen that Apple used to have on the iPhone X, XS and 11 Pro, but not too big either.

The big question is whether the iPhone 13 will support 120Hz ProMotions technology for smoother scrolling. The tech is already prevalent in Android phones selling for more than $600, but those phones also typically come with larger battery sizes and faster refresh rates do drain the battery quicker. Rumors so far suggest that the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max will adopt 120Hz ProMotion, but it's not clear whether the more affordable, non-Pro iPhone 13 will get it as well.

Battery and Charging

iPhone 13 battery size might be a bit bigger, but don't expect a charger in the box

To achieve the thin form factor of the iPhone 12, Apple had to put it on a battery diet, cutting nearly 10% of the battery size of the iPhone 11. So far, rumors suggest that the new iPhone 13 might actually be a tiny bit thicker and accommodate a slightly larger battery compared to the iPhone 12. With this in mind, here is a quick overview of battery sizes on recent iPhones:

  • iPhone 13 & 13 Pro battery size estimate: slightly bigger than on iPhone 12 series
  • iPhone 12 & 12 Pro battery size: 2,815mAh
  • iPhone 11 battery size: 3,110mAh

On the charger front, Apple "innovated" by not including a charger or headphones in the iPhone 12, and we expect this to carry on with the iPhone 13. Apple paints this as an eco move, but to us it seems like a price-cutting maneuver. Whatever it is, plan on spending an additional $20 bucks for a fast charger for the iPhone 13.

As to charging speeds, Apple has been slow to adopt the super fast charging that we see on many phones out of China. So far, rumors don't suggest any change in that regard, so one can assume 20W wired charging speeds for iPhone 13 and 15W wireless charging speeds with a compatible MagSafe charger.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: Specs Comparison


And here is a detailed specs comparison between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12. Keep in mind that the specs below are based on rumors, leaks and expectations, so they may change in the final device.


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