Apple has announced the newest version of its legendary smartphone, with the iPhone 13 replacing the iPhone 12 at the heart of the company’s eco-system. But what are the differences between the two models? Here’s our quick iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 guide.

Price and Availability

With the new iPhone 13, Apple has kept prices the same as last year, but with double the storage for the baseline model. Here’s the options:

  • iPhone 13 128GB - £779/US$799/AU$1,349
  • iPhone 13 256GB - £879/US$899/AU$1,519
  • iPhone 13 512GB - £1,079/US$1,099/AU$1,869

There is also a new iPhone Mini 13 for fans of the more diminutive device. Here’s how they line up too:

  • iPhone 13 Mini 128GB - £679/US$699/AU$1,199
  • iPhone 13 Mini 256GB - £779/US$799/AU$1,369
  • iPhone 13 Mini 512GB - £979/US$999/AU$1,719

You can pre-order either variant from Apple, beginning 17 September, with the release date set at 24 September.

Obviously, with the arrival of the new models, the older variants will no doubt see a drop in price. So, check out our best iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini deals to see if you can snap up a bargain.

For more buying advice we also have iPhone 13 series: Which new iPhone should you buy?

Design and Build

Apple updated the iPhone design with the iPhone 12, adding squarer edges that were reminiscent of the older iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 chassis. As expected, the new iPhone 13 retains this form, but does bring five new colours to the party – Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Pink and (PRODUCT) Red, replacing the Purple, Blue, Green, White, Black and (PRODUCT) Red of the iPhone 12. Yes, some of those have the same name, but Apple has tweaked the palette for the new ones, so they are distinct.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: New Colours

There’s also a bonus in the form of a smaller notch. This is achieved by reducing the arrangement of the Face ID camera and sensor array, allowing Apple to shrink its notorious protuberance by 20%. It’s still there, but at least there’s less of it now!

This will be good news for those who want to see more of the 6.1in display on the iPhone 13, not to mention on the smaller 5.4in panel of the iPhone 13 Mini.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: Display

An IP68 waterproof rating is found on both generations of device, as are the same durable ceramic shield technology that protects the display.

Buttons are kept to a minimum, with the right flank home to the Side button, while the left edge houses Volume up and down controls plus the mute switch. Apple continues to fit the Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, so there’s no need to switch chargers or other cables you may already own.

Both devices offer dual-camera systems, but Apple has added some significant new features to the iPhone 13, as we’ll explain below.

Dimensions are almost identical, with the iPhone 13 measuring 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm, compared to the 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm of the iPhone 12, but interestingly the newer model is heavier, weighing in at 173g, which is 9g heavier than the model it succeeds.

Note that the differences in dimensions means that iPhone 12 cases are not compatible with the iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 Pro

Specs and Features 

Processor

As you’d expect, the iPhone 13 comes with the latest generation of Apple’s processors. This time it’s the A15 Bionic, as opposed to the A14 Bionic on iPhone 12, which seems to be something of a beast. It features a new 6-core CPU (2x high performance, 4x high-efficiency), built on a 5nm process and containing a bewildering 15 billion transistors.

Apple makes various claims of how much faster this new silicon is when compared to its rivals, but obviously we’ll do our own testing before repeating numbers that don’t have much basis in any testable reality at the time of writing. But, judging from past offerings, you can be sure that the new A15 Bionic chip will be very fast indeed. The iPhone 12 was already one of the best performing smartphones in its class, so the iPhone 13 is sure to deliver a similarly impressive experience.

Display

The iPhone 12 already has a lovely 6.1in Super Retina XDR display, offering a 2532 x 1170 resolution at 460 PPI, lush colours and 625 nits of typical maximum brightness. That doesn’t seem to be good enough for Apple though, as the panel in the iPhone 13 is now 28% brighter than the previous model at 800 nits, with a maximum 1,200 nits of HDR brightness that will make it easy to read even in the glare of sun. Plus, of course, it now comes with less notch!

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 - Display

Cameras

While the camera appointments on the two devices look very similar, with a 12mp wide f/1.6 aperture and 12mp ultra-wide f/2.4 aperture combination, Apple has upped the stakes on the iPhone 13. The most significant hardware upgrade is the switch from optical image stabilisation in the iPhone 12 to the sensor shift variant previously found in the iPhone 12 Pro Max. This will no doubt dramatically improve the quality of shots you can get while moving or in darker environments with the iPhone 13.

The marquee feature touted by Apple though is the new Cinematic mode that is sure to make your videos look more professional. The features in this mode that catch the eye are the ability to pull focus. This is a classic film technique, where you choose one area of the frame initially, say someone in the foreground, then refocus on another subject elsewhere in the frame, say the background. It sounds complicated, but you’ll instantly recognise it when you see it in action.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: Cinematic mode

The mode also uses sensors to monitor people entering the shot so it can anticipate them and have them in focus. You’re also able to lock focus on a subject then move with them, again reproducing a standard filming technique you’ve seen a million times, but rarely on a smartphone. All of this can be shot in 4K HDR at 60 FPS, so if you’re a budding Christopher Nolan, then the iPhone 13 could be the device that helps launch your film career.  

Bigger battery

We all know the pain of having a hugely capable device in our pockets that remains at the mercy of the little battery inside. With this in mind Apple has increased the battery in the iPhone 13, promising that it delivers 2.5 hours more battery life than its predecessor, and iPhone Mini 12 fans can rejoice, as the iPhone Mini 13 now should deliver 1.5 hours of additional juice. Will this age of plenty never end?

Additional 5G support

Another feature worth mentioning is the support for more bands and carrier partners around the world with the iPhone 13. If you’ve been stuck in a location that doesn’t offer 5G so far, then this could mean that the faster speeds will soon be available if you upgrade to the newer device.

Here’s a full breakdown of the comparable specifications for both iPhones:

  iPhone 13 iPhone 12
Display 6.1in Super Retina XDR OLED,
2532x1170-pixel resolution at 460 ppi
6.1in Super Retina XDR OLED,
2532x1170-pixel resolution at 460 ppi
Processor A15 Bionic A14 Bionic
Storage 128GB/256GB/512GB 64GB/128GB/256GB
Rear Camera Dual 12MP, Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture, with Sensor Shift Stabilisation
Wide: ƒ/1.6 aperture
Dual 12MP, Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture
Wide: ƒ/1.6 aperture
Front Camera 12MP TrueDepth, f/2.2 (with Cinematic mode) 12MP TrueDepth, f/2.2
Video Recording 4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps or 60 fps, HDR Dolby Vision up to 60fps, new Cinematic Mode 4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps or 60 fps, HDR Dolby Vision up to 30fps
Biometric Security Face ID Face ID
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi 6
LTE 5G 5G
Wireless Charging Yes, with MagSafe Yes, with MagSafe
Bluetooth 5 5
Apple Pay Yes  Yes
Waterproofing IP68 IP68
SIM Dual  (nano and eSim) Dual  (nano and eSim)
Dimensions 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.65mm 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.4mm
Weight 173g 162g
Price £779/£879/£1,079 £799/£849/£949

Verdict

As with every iPhone release, the real question is whether you want the latest and greatest? On the outside, colours aside, there’s not much between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13. Yes, the notch is smaller, but that’s not exactly a massive difference. Under the hood though, the A15 Bionic processor looks to be a real powerhouse, plus the camera upgrades with sensor shift stabilisation and cinematic mode mean that if optics are an area of interest, then the iPhone 13 looks to be a killer for creative content. Oh, and the baseline storage is double that of last year, plus there’s more battery life, both of which are an excellent choice from Apple.