Bottom line: The iPhone 13 Pro is simply the best iPhone to get if you want all of the bells and whistles that Apple has to offer in an iPhone right now. With A15 Bionic, LiDAR, triple-lens camera system, 120Hz ProMotion Super Retina XDR OLED display, macro mode photography, Cinematic mode, and 6GB RAM, the iPhone 13 Pro is a powerhouse.
- Blazing fast A15 Bionic with 6GB RAM
- Super Retina XDR OLED display with ProMotion
- LiDAR and Wide, Ultra Wide, and Telephoto cameras
- Macro mode, Apple ProRAW, ProRes video
- Up to 1TB storage
- ProRes video not supported on 128GB
- Screen scratches easily
I've been using iPhones since 2008. I started with the original iPhone, and I've gone through every generation. When there were multiple versions and sizes, I usually went with the "more powerful" option. With the iPhone 13 lineup, I chose the 1TB iPhone 13 Pro, and six months later, I'm still delighted with my choice.
For most people, the iPhone 13 is what we consider to be the best iPhone. It has most of the latest and greatest from Apple, and it's designed for the mainstream. But if you're a power user and want something a little more, then the iPhone 13 Pro is definitely what you should consider.
Sometimes mid-cycle, Apple drops new colors for the flagship iPhone lineup. So six months after the original iPhone 13 launch, we have a new green color for the iPhone 13 and Alpine Green for the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. This is the first time the Pro devices also got a new color, which surprised me. With that in mind, I wanted to reflect and talk about whether the iPhone 13 Pro is still worth it, half a year after launch.
iPhone 13 Pro: Price and availability
The iPhone 13 Pro is available direct from Apple's retail stores or online. You can get it with your carrier of choice or even unlocked. It's also available at other retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Costco, and more, though these places usually sell the device locked to a carrier. Finally, you can always get the iPhone 13 Pro from your carrier of choice, like Verizon and Mint Mobile.
The iPhone 13 Pro launched in four colors: Sierra Blue, Graphite, Gold, and Silver. Apple just added a brand new Alpine Green to the lineup, making it the fifth color option. You can get the iPhone 13 Pro in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB for $999, $1099, $1299, or $1499, respectively. You can also go for the larger 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max, which would be $100 more for each storage capacity size, starting at $1099 and going up from there.
iPhone 13 Pro: Hardware and design
In terms of hardware and design, the iPhone 13 Pro looks pretty much the same as the iPhone 12 Pro before it, except for two differences: a much larger camera bump and a smaller notch. While the camera modules look very similar, if you have the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro side-by-side, the bigger camera bump is very obvious (even when compared with the iPhone 11 Pro).
|Category||iPhone 13 Pro|
|Operating System||iOS 15|
|Display||6.1 inches, 2532x1170 (460 ppi) resolution, Super Retina XDR OLED display with ProMotion (iPhone 13 Pro)|
6.7 inches, 2778x1284 (458 ppi) resolution, Super Retina XDR OLED display with ProMotion (iPhone 13 Pro Max)
|Rear Camera||12MP, ƒ/1.5 aperture (wide)|
12MP, ƒ/1.8 aperture (ultra-wide)
12MP, ƒ/2.8 aperture (telephoto)
|Front Camera||12MP, ƒ/2.2 aperture|
|Battery||3,095 (iPhone 13 Pro)|
4,352 mAh (iPhone 13 Pro Max)
|Charging||Qi wireless charging up to 7.5W|
MagSafe wireless charging up to 15W
Fast wired charging over Lightning with 20W power adapter
|Dimensions||146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm, 204g (iPhone 13 Pro)|
160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm, 240g (iPhone 13 Pro Max)
Also, the phone won't lay completely flat because of this large camera module, even in most cases. And due to the large size, the fit for certain MagSafe accessories, such as battery packs, may be affected. For example, I often have some issues with my PopSockets MagSafe PopGrip when I use some custom Mickey head-shaped PopTops. Because of the large camera module, the ears of the PopGrip end up obstructing my photos due to the position of the base where you swap out tops. I can only really use circular PopTops with it because of this issue, or I need to rotate my custom Mickey ones so that the ears are out of the way. This is definitely not an issue on the regular iPhone 13 unless using the Ultra-Wide lens.
On the other hand, the notch is less blatant but easy to see if you have them together to compare. According to Apple, the notch is about 20% smaller than the iPhone 12 Pro. However, while I appreciate the smaller size of the notch, it seems to be all for naught. Apple chooses to waste this screen estate by simply making the existing text and icons in the status bar larger, rather than adding more in there, such as battery percentage (one benefit of the new iPhone SE). Honestly, I'm not a fan, and it still bugs me six months later. I'm eager when Apple will get rid of the notch altogether and just do a hole punch or something for the front-facing TrueDepth camera.
While all iPhone 13 models have the Ceramic Shield front, the big differentiator between the standard and the Pro is the material used for the edges. Since the standard iPhone 13 uses aerospace-grade aluminum, it's pretty lightweight. However, the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max both use surgical-grade stainless steel, which adds quite a bit of heft and weight. And even though the iPhone 12 Pro also used stainless steel bands, the iPhone 13 Pro is slightly heavier because of the larger camera module. I've grown used to it in the past six months, but it's noticeable, especially coming from a lighter phone like the iPhone SE (2022). Also, depending on how your hands are, hand and finger fatigue may be an issue, especially with your wrist and pinky when using it one-handed.
Another one of the significant differences between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro is the display. The iPhone 13 Pro nets you a Super Retina XDR OLED display with ProMotion, which means it has an adaptive refresh rate starting at 10Hz and going all the way up to 120Hz. The refresh rate that the display has depends on the content on the screen and the user interaction. While a previous bug seemed to lock developer's apps to a 60Hz refresh rate, this appears to be resolved in the latest iOS 15.4 update, as developers can now take full advantage of the 120Hz refresh rate.
The ProMotion display is not super noticeable in day-to-day use for most people. However, once you use it and then go to an iPhone without it, such as the iPhone SE, it is very apparent. I notice it when scrolling through pretty much everything, but the iPhone 13 Pro's ProMotion display is best shown off when playing resource-intensive mobile games since you get smoother motion and transitions. It also helps when you need to do a lot of photos or video editing on the go, as colors and motions are much more vibrant and polished.
Since I'm not a heavy gamer, especially on mobile, I'm probably not taking full advantage of the ProMotion display. However, since the last six months, it's become something that I don't want to do without on an iPhone because everything just looks so much better, especially since it's also OLED. Not everyone can notice the difference, but it's part of the hardware that I want to see in future iterations because it makes all the difference.
Even though the iPhone 13 Pro retains the overall design of the iPhone 12 Pro, which honestly was a homage back to the iPhone 5 era (the best), it's not perfect. I love the flat edges over the rounded ones from the iPhone 6 to iPhone 11, but the large camera module is a little annoying when it comes to certain situations, though I love having the best iPhone camera. I also wish Apple decided to do more with the space recovered from having a smaller notch, but that was a waste. Truth be told, the iPhone 12 Pro did better with the overall hardware and design. But I'll be damned if that ProMotion display is not worth upgrading to, especially if you want to do a lot of gaming or graphics-intensive stuff on the iPhone.
iPhone 13 Pro: Software and performance
The iPhone 13 Pro ships with iOS 15, the latest version of Apple's iPhone software. As mentioned in my iOS 15 review, this iteration is more about streamlining the foundation that iOS 14 built before it. While iOS 15 works with devices back to the original iPhone SE, for the best performance, you'll definitely want a newer device, such as the iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 Pro.
Since the iPhone 13 Pro has the A15 Bionic, iOS 15 runs incredibly fast. One of the advantages of the iPhone 13 Pro over the regular iPhone 13 is that it has 6GB of RAM instead of 4GB. Several years ago, with iOS 13, the limited amount of RAM was an issue because apps would often need to reload once you come back to them after an extended period. In my daily use of the iPhone 13 Pro, I honestly have not noticed that to be as big a problem as before. I'm sure that this is due to iOS 15 being more efficient with app management, but also having the extra bit of RAM with the Pro models helps out quite a bit.
Again, as I said earlier, iOS 15 is definitely more about refining what iOS 14 brought to the table. There weren't any huge changes in iOS 15, aside from Focus, Live Text, Visual Lookup, and some big improvements to Safari, FaceTime, and Messages. But no matter what I try to throw at my iPhone 13 Pro for the past six months, it has powered through pretty much everything with ease. Visual Lookup gives me results in seconds, and the same can be said with Live Text.
I have encountered a few moments with my iPhone 13 Pro where it seems to freeze up. Still, usually, at that point, it's because my device has been going strong for weeks at a time — I expect the occasional hiccup now and then, where I need to reboot the device for a fresh start (this applies to literally every machine). But for the most part, my iPhone 13 Pro has been just as snappy as the first day I got it. I feel that it may not be as fast as a completely new iPhone, but that's probably because I have several hundred gigabytes of data stored on my 1TB iPhone 13 Pro. With almost 30,000 photos on my Camera Roll alone, it's still chugging along nicely. To me, it's the little iPhone 13 Pro that could.
With WWDC 2022 just months away, I'm looking forward to what iOS 16 will bring, and I'm sure that my iPhone 13 Pro will still be going strong.
iPhone 13 Pro: Battery
A big strength of the iPhone 13 Pro is the battery. It is a bit of an improvement over its predecessor since it's 3095mAh, slightly bigger than the 2815mAh of the iPhone 12 Pro. Apple claims that the iPhone 13 Pro battery life should last about 22 hours (over the 17 hours of the 12 Pro), which should be enough to get you through an entire day before you need to reach for a charger.
One of the problems that I encountered with my iPhone 12 Pro was that the battery health had degraded to less than 90% (I recalled it reached about 85% or so) around the 6-month mark. I believe that the culprit was either iOS 14.5 or iOS 14.6, which caused excessive battery drain for many people, including myself. Thankfully, even after six months with the iPhone 13 Pro, my battery health is still sitting at a cool 100% maximum capacity.
On average, my iPhone 13 Pro battery can easily last through an entire day, and only maybe I need to grab a Lightning cable in the late evening. I also have set up an automation in Shortcuts app to enable Low Power Mode when the battery dips below 30%, which helps. If I plan a full day at Disneyland, which happens pretty often, I stretch the battery out as much as possible by keeping Low Power Mode on pretty much all day. However, even if I'm there for a few hours with heavy use of the cameras and Disneyland app, the battery can get me through without breaking a sweat.
Of course, while the iPhone 13 Pro battery is pretty dang strong, I hardly ever go anywhere without one of the best portable battery packs or even a MagSafe battery pack. Still, I don't always need to bust those battery packs out with my average use. I suppose mileage may vary significantly here, but for most people, the iPhone 13 Pro battery is great, even six months later, as long as you take care of it. I tend to plugin for a little bit if I'm below 50% around late afternoon at the park or with a cable if I'm below 30% at home. But a guarantee for me is plugging it in overnight with Optimized Battery Charging turned on. If you turn off Optimized Battery Charging, it may charge your phone faster but with faster degradation.
But if you want to take it a step further and wouldn't mind the giant screen size, then the iPhone 13 Pro Max is on a whole other level with a 4352mAh battery packed inside.
iPhone 13 Pro: Cameras
I went with the iPhone 13 Pro over the standard iPhone 13 because of the triple-lens camera system. Plus, there are no differences in the cameras between the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max, so there's no reason to go with the Max unless you just want the bigger screen and battery. With the iPhone 13 Pro camera system, you have 12MP Telephoto (ƒ/2.8 aperture), Wide (ƒ/1.5 aperture, and Ultra Wide (ƒ/1.8 aperture) lenses in the rear, and 12MP TrueDepth with ƒ/2.2 aperture in the front. I know many people prefer to use the best digital camera for photography, but personally, I just use my iPhone because I already have it with me everywhere, rather than having to lug around separate gear. Therefore, all of the photos in this review and all other images I shoot for work are taken with an iPhone.
In the past six months with the iPhone 13 Pro, I've taken hundreds, if not thousands, of photos (you end up taking many pictures when you're at Disneyland and have a new baby). With that in mind, I've used the camera on the iPhone 13 Pro quite extensively, and honestly, it's my favorite way to shoot.
Since the iPhone 13 Pro has a larger aperture than the iPhone 12 Pro, more light can enter the camera sensor when shooting, resulting in better overall brightness, exposure, color, and even depth of field in images. During the day, you'll end up with images that look vibrant, crisp, and mostly true to life. In addition, because of larger sensors, I found that the iPhone 13 Pro is less reliant on Night mode in low light situations, so results are less blown out and more realistic. Of course, Night mode still works on the iPhone 13 Pro for super dim conditions, but less exposure time is needed with Night mode due to a larger aperture. If you're curious how low light images between the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro look head-on, check out my comparison images below in my original iPhone 13 Pro camera review. It's also important to note that all three lenses (Telephoto, Wide, and Ultra Wide) can now handle low light situations and use Night mode.
Before we dive into the specific iPhone 13 Pro camera features, one thing I noticed that changed slightly is with Portrait mode. Previously, the iPhone 12 Pro had 1x or 2x Portrait mode because of its 2x optical zoom range. With the iPhone 13 Pro, Portrait mode is now either 1x or 3x due to the 3x optical zoom range. I'm not a big fan of this change, as I need to be even further back when doing Portrait mode photos by default (1x doesn't look quite as good for most shots). After using it this long, it's one of my big qualms with the iPhone 13 Pro camera.
The beauty of tiny with Macro mode
An exclusive new camera feature for the iPhone 13 Pro is Macro mode. This is the first time an iPhone can do macro photography without needing an external lens accessory, and it works remarkably well. Macro mode will occur while you're using the standard Wide camera lens. Once you're considered close enough to the subject, Macro mode kicks in and utilizes the ultra-wide camera lens to autofocus but will still have the 1x crop ratio of the standard camera. Macro lets you get up to 2cm within a subject and is available for photos and video.