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iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Is it worth the upgrade?

iPhone 13 13 Mini iPhone 12 12 Mini
© Apple

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The iPhone 13 has been roundly criticized for not featuring enough innovations, but does that statement hold any truth? NextPit compares the smartphone which will be made available at the end of this month alongside its predecessor. Let the battle between the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 12 begin!

In September, the whole world had their eyes fixed toward Cupertino as we waited with bated breath for the release of the iPhone 13! The new Apple smartphone boasts the latest generation of Apple's smartphone SoCs, but at first glance, it is hardly different from its predecessor. If you are thinking about upgrading to the new iPhone, NextPit took a closer on your behalf!

  Candidate 1 Candidate 2
Image Apple iPhone 13 Apple iPhone 13 Pro
Display 6.1-inch OLED display with 1,170 x 2,532 pixels (460 ppi) at 60 hertz 6.1-inch OLED display with 1,170 x 2,532 pixels (460 ppi) at 120 hertz
SoC Apple A15 Bionic (5nm) | Apple GPU with 4 cores Apple A14 Bionic (5nm) | Apple GPU with 4 cores
Memory 4GB RAM | 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB internal 4GB RAM | 64GB, 128GB, 256GB internal
Micro SD No No
Main camera 12 MP | f/1.6 | 26 mm | 1.7 µm | Dual Pixel autofocus, Sensor Shift OIS 12 MP | f/1.6 | 26 mm | 1.4 µm | Dual Pixel autofocus, OIS
Ultra-wide angle 12 MP | f/2.4 | 120° | 13 mm focal length 12 MP | f/2.4 | 120° | 13 millimeter focal length
Telephoto - -
3D - -
Video Max: 4K at 60 fps | HDR | Dolby Vision HDR | Cinematic Mode Max: 4K at 60 fps | HDR 10 Bit | Dolby Vision HDR
Selfie camera 12 MP at 23 mm 12 MP at 23 mm
Audio Stereo speakers Stereo speakers
UWB Yes Yes
Battery Up to 19 hours of video playback 2,815 milliampere hours
Quick Charging Max. 20 watts Max. 20 watts
Wireless Charging Max. 15 watts Max. 15 watts
Prices From $799 From $699 (current price)
  • OLED display with deep black tones
  • Good battery life
  • Good camera quality
  • IP68 certification
  • iOS 15
  • Screen refresh rate of only 60 Hz
  • Face ID remains cumbersome when using masks
  • Quick charging with only 20 watts
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Has the new iPhone possibly shed a few millimeters or are there actually killer features underneath the hood? Below, you will find all of the subtle differences between the 2021 iPhone and the 2020 iPhone.

Note: In this article, we compare the 2020 and 2021 standard and mini iPhone models. If there's a relevant difference to the Pro version that might influence your buying decision, I'll definitely include it. In another comparison, we explored the difference between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro!

  2021 model 2020 model
Image Apple iPhone 13 Mini Apple iPhone 12 Mini
Display 5.4-inch OLED display with 2340 x 1080 pixels at 476 ppi and 60 hertz
SoC Apple A15 Bionic (5nm) | Apple GPU with 4 cores Apple A14 Bionic (5nm) | Apple GPU with 4 cores
Memory 4 GB RAM | 128 GB, 256 GB or 512 GB ROM 4 GB RAM | 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB ROM
Micro SD No
Main camera 12 MP | f/1.6 | 26 mm | 1.7 µm | dual pixel autofocus, sensor shift OIS 12 MP | f/1.6 | 26 mm | 1.4 µm | dual-pixel autofocus, OIS
Ultra-wide angle 12 MP | f/2.4 | 120° | 13 millimeter focal length 12 MP | f/2.4 | 120° | 13 millimeter focal length
Telephoto - -
3D - -
Video Max: 4K at 60 fps | HDR | Dolby Vision HDR | Cinematic Mode Max: 4K at 30 fps | HDR 10 bit | Dolby Vision HDR
Selfies 12 MP at 23 mm 12 MP at 23 mm
Audio Stereo speakers Stereo speakers
UWB Yes Yes
Battery 2,406 mAh 2,227 mAh
Quick-charging Max. 20 watts Max. 20 watts
Wireless charging Max. 15 watts Max. 12 watts
Prices From $699 From $599
  • Fantastic size in everyday use
  • Good image quality for photos
  • Very good video quality
  • High performance level
  • Compact size
  • A14 Bionic
  • Good camera performance
  • The most customizable Apple software ever
  • Battery life only sufficient
  • Display only 60 hertz
  • No memory expansion
  • Battery life is the big compromise
  • Only 12 W wireless charge
  • 64 GB is not enough memory
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iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Models and price

We can keep the first section in this comparison table short! This is because both the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 arrive in four different models. There is a standard model, a mini model, a Pro model, and a Pro Max model. The recommended retail price for each model are as follows:

Prices at a glance

Model iPhone 13 iPhone 12 iPhone 13 mini iPhone 12 mini
64GB - $699 - $599
128GB $799 $749 $699 $649
256 GB $899 $849 $799 $749
512 GB $1,099 - $999 -

There are no major differences between the different generations. The Pro models received a storage expansion to 1 TB in 2021. In the previous year, it carried a maximum of 512 GB. In addition, you can look forward to the same camera features in the iPhone 13 Pro and the Pro Max. The iPhone 12 Pro Max came with a larger camera sensor. That's about it.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: What's new with the display?

In terms of display size, you won't see any changes when you upgrade to the iPhone 13. The screen of the Apple iPhone 13 still measures 6.1-inches and has a resolution of 1,170 x 2,532 pixels. Everything remains the same for the mini models, which in this case means 5.4 inches with a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels. However, the new displays are brighter: The devices in the 13-series offer 800 nits, compared with only 625 nits from the 12-generation.

Fortunately, though, Apple has managed to shrink the notch at the top of the screen a little. A selfie camera and all the necessary sensors for Face ID are still included, of course.

20201102 113325
Like its successor, the iPhone 12 offers two cameras at the back / © NextPit

Due to the unchanged display size, the dimensions of both phones are also almost identical. While the length is exactly the same at 146.7 millimeters with a width of 71.5 mm, the iPhone 13 is a wee bit thicker. It measures 7.7 millimeters, while the iPhone 12 measures just 7.4 millimeters. The newer model is also a bit heavier at 174 grams, while the iPhone 12 tips the scales at 164 grams. The dimensions of the mini models have remained identical in terms of length and width. However, the new mini iPhone 13 is 0.25 mm thicker and seven grams heavier.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: New SoC that uses the same manufacturing process

Once a year, Apple upgrades not only its smartphones but also its in-house smartphone processor. In 2021, the A15 Bionic will feature in all iPhone models. According to the manufacturer, the SoC will be 50 percent faster than the current leading competitor and offer 30 percent more graphical performance. Apple is probably referring to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, which is the most powerful Android processor at the time of its launch. However, this information has yet to be confirmed.

Compared to the A14 Bionic in the iPhone 12, there is also a performance advantage, but it is not too relevant in everyday use. All mobile games and apps in the AppStore can run on the iPhone 12's A14 Bionic SoC. What's more interesting would be to check out the different memory configurations, where Apple has made a real upgrade in 2021.

iphone 12 vs iphone 13 specs
Innovations in the iPhone 13 at a glance! / © NextPit

For the iPhone 13, it has finally dropped the 64 GB variant to keep up with the times. Thus, the minimum storage space would be 128 GB with a maximum of 512 GB on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini. The Pro models will hit the 1 TB mark when it comes to internal storage. 

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Cameras with larger sensors including Pixel Shift

If you are interested in smartphone photography and are faced with the decision of picking between iPhone 13 and iPhone 12, then there are many arguments in favor of picking up the newer model. That's because Apple has made improvements to both the hardware and software. Let's begin with the cameras on the back of the new iPhones.

On the standard and mini models, there's still a dual-camera setup, with both the main camera and the ultra-wide-angle camera featuring a 12 MP resolution. However, on the main camera, Apple has placed a larger sensor under the camera lens, enabling 47 percent more light to be captured. Images in dark light environments and night shots should be further improved as well courtesy of another feature.

iPhone Keynote 30
The camera lenses are no longer stacked, but diagonally arranged / © Apple / Screenshot: NextPit

That's because, with Sensor Shift technology, Apple is porting a feature from the iPhone 12 Pro Max to all new models. "Sensor Shift" is Apple-speak for optical image stabilization that works by shifting the camera sensor. On all iPhone 12 models with smaller screens, this is still done via traditional optical image stabilization. This feature also helps you stabilize videos, which is where another advantage of iPhone 13 models can be found.

This is because all new iPhones have been equipped with the interesting Cinematic Mode. This feature calculates a digital bokeh effect in your shots and allows focus changes to be made at the touch of a button, or it can be left to run on a fully automated process. For the Pro models, support for Apple's ProRes codec will be included some time after the launch in a software update.

Last but not least, you can recognize the new iPhones at first glance based on the camera island. The camera lenses of the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 mini are no longer arranged on top of each other in a vertical manner, but diagonally. A tiny change that does not bring any functional advantages.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Battery capacity and charging

Buyers of the new iPhone 13 can also look forward to longer battery life with this year's edition. As usual, Apple does not reveal any information about the milliampere hours of the installed batteries but instead offers two promises. According to this, the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 Pro Max are supposed to last a solid 2.5 hours longer than before while the iPhone 13 mini and the iPhone 13 Pro both offer 1.5 hours more battery life.

As a result, Apple claims that the new iPhone 13 can achieve video playback times of up to 22 hours before it runs out of juice. Of course, battery life is also affected by your usage pattern and other factors. However, we are pleased that Apple continues to commit to improving battery life even at this stage of its product maturity.

NextPit iPhone 12 Pro magsafe magnet
MagSafe is of course still on board with the iPhone 13 / © NextPit

Apple also relies on the proprietary Lightning connector in the iPhone 13 and offers wireless charging as an alternative, as well as MagSafe support. The wireless charging standard relies on magnets to position a charging puck on the back of the new iPhones. Alternatively, accessories like the MagSafe Wallet or MagSafe Powerbank can also be attached to the back.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Which do we recommend in 2021?

To sum it up, there are two things to take note of: The iPhone 13 comes with a few minor improvements, but some of them are important. The iPhone 13 Pro, in particular, is an upgrade over its predecessor thanks to a 120 Hertz refresh rate in its display and improved camera performance. Those who own an iPhone 12, however, do not necessarily have to make the jump to the iPhone 13. The phone looks almost identical, offers a faster processor and more powerful cameras. However, you won't be able to enjoy any of the entirely new features.

Is it worth upgrading to the iPhone 13?
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If you want to switch from Android to Apple in 2021, it would be in your best interest to pick the iPhone 13 model when deciding between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13. That's because the iPhone 12 hasn't seen a significant drop in price a year after its release, while the memory upgrade on the iPhone 13 makes the additional cost worthwhile. At the same time, you're getting a more powerful chipset and therefore a future-proof smartphone - at least for the next 5 or 6 years.

In short: If you're buying new, go for the iPhone 13, but if you already have an iPhone 12, it would be better to wait for the iPhone 14! If you're still looking for deals, check out our Apple iPhone overview page.

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Benjamin Lucks

Benjamin Lucks
Product Reviewer

Benjamin works as a freelance journalist and is always on the lookout for special features that make new cell phones, headphones and gadgets interesting for the reader. If he doesn't succeed, he comforts himself by writing short stories and using his digital camera.

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