iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Which one should you buy in 2023?

iPhone 13 Pro in green and iPhone 14 Pro in Purple
(Image credit: iMore)

Apple's iPhone 15 Pro might be the best iPhone in 2023, but for many, upgrading to Apple's latest and greatest each year simply isn't an option. If that's the case, Apple's iPhone 14 Pro and even its iPhone 13 Pro are still valiant offerings in terms of robust, premium iPhones that excel at photography and gaming, all while offering the premium finish and feel we've come to expect from Apple's Pro line. 

If you're not on the hunt for an iPhone 15 in 2023, but you're considering one of Apple's older Pro models, then sizing up the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 Pro is the place to start. 

There are some definite tradeoffs in terms of color, capability, and safety features, but the biggest draw to the iPhone 13 Pro will be its price, which continues to fall each time a new model comes joins the fray. Here's everything you need to know about the iPhone 14 Pro versus the iPhone 13 Pro. 

iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Breaking things down

These two iPhones may not look like two entirely different models when you see them side-by-side, but the proof is in the specs. The chart below breaks down the lineup of technical details for both the iPhone 14 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro.

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Header Cell - Column 0 iPhone 14 ProiPhone 13 Pro
DesignCeramic Shield front, Surgical-grade stainless steelCeramic Shield front + Glass back and aluminum design
ColorsDeep Purple, Gold, Space Black, SilverSilver, Graphite, Gold, Sierra Blue
ProcessorA16 Bionic A15 Bionic
Display6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display6.1-inch OLED ProMotion display
Back camera48MP Main, Ultra Wide, TelephotoTriple-lens 12-megapixel wide and 12MP ultra-wide
Front cameraAdvanced dual-camera system, 12MP Main Ultra Wide12MP TrueDepth
SOS emergencyYesNo
Crash detectionYesNo
Dynamic IslandYesNo
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
BatteryUp to 23 hoursUp to 22 hours
Always-on displayYesNo
SIM trayNoYes
Size5.81 by 2.81 by 0.31 inches5.78 by 2.81 by 0.30 inches
Weight7.27 ounces7.19 ounces

As you can see, the size, storage, and battery life of these two models are roughly the same, but most other specs have changed. The iPhone 14 colors are somewhat different from the options for the iPhone 13, of course, but the camera seems like the biggest difference at first but added features and the lack of the SIM card tray on the 14 Pro could make a big difference for certain users.

iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Goodbye notch, hello Dynamic Island

Apple iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro colors

(Image credit: Apple)

The biggest iPhone 14 Pro design change that jumps out at you right away is the Dynamic Island. That's the pill-shaped cutout is called that replaced the notorious black notch, present since the iPhone X back in 2017.

Apple has taken a static, unsightly cutout and transformed it into a useful interactive feature. The black space will move and animate to provide important updates, notifications, and alerts without interrupting the user's current activities. If you're tired of that old boring notch, then the iPhone 14 Pro is definitely an improvement over what came before.

Apple has taken a static, unsightly cutout and transformed it into a useful and interactive feature.

Besides the Dynamic Island, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro are almost identical in design and display. The colors are the same except for the exclusive Deep Purple offering in the iPhone 14 Pro lineup. The ProMotion display is also the same, although the iPhone 14 Pro does has an adaptive refresh rate that can decrease all the way down to 1Hz. This makes it possible to support an always-on display without draining the battery.

The 14 Pro also offers double the brightness in sunny or high-light situations to improve visibility. So if you really love that always-on display and extra brightness, the iPhone 14 Pro may be the way to go. When it comes to visual design, size, and graphics, the rest will be about the same as the iPhone 13 Pro.

iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Quadruple the pixels

iPhone 13 Pro versus iPhone 14 Pro cameras

(Image credit: Apple)

There's no denying that the camera on the iPhone 14 Pro is a giant leap forward. The 48-megapixel lens allows you to shoot photos with no compromise on quality. Add to that the improved dual-lens TrueDepth camera in the front and 4K video recording at 24 frames-per-second, and the 14 Pro has got the 13 Pro beat when it comes to photography and videography. It even has an Action mode for stabilizing rough video shots.

Now, that's not to say that the iPhone 13 Pro doesn't offer excellent photo quality with its triple-lens 12-megapixel camera that shoots beautifully in wide, ultra-wide, and macro modes. If you just use your camera to shoot pretty photos of everyday memories, this will be more than enough. For creators, photographers, and videographers, however, the iPhone 14 Pro has a lot more to offer. 

iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Safety versus SIM

iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro display

(Image credit: iMore)

We've talked about Dynamic Island and 48-MP cameras, but SOS Satellite emergency calling integrated into the iPhone 14 lineup may have the biggest implications for the future of smartphones as a whole.

For the first time, a cell phone can send out an SOS signal for emergency assistance without data or cellular coverage. So if you get lost in the middle of the Sahara Desert for example, the iPhone 14 Pro can use satellite communication technology to call for help. It also has crash detection sensors that will automatically detect an automobile accident and send out a message to your emergency contact. 

If you're an adventurer, extreme sports enthusiast, or risk-taker, the exclusive emergency features in iPhone 14 could literally save your life. 

The emergency features provided by the iPhone 14 Pro could literally save your life.

With that being said, the eSIM system may or may not be a dealbreaker for you. Most, if not all, cellular providers in the United States will support eSIM cards eventually, so people who have upgraded to the 14 Pro will likely welcome this technological advancement. There are some small local carriers that do not yet support eSIM cards, however, alongside a lot of foreign carriers.

If you spend a lot of time in South America for example, the local cellular providers south of the border may not yet support eSIM systems. Without a SIM card tray to use in these situations, the iPhone 14 Pro could become the source of a lot of frustration and headaches.

Granted, eSIMs are the way of the future, but it may take several years for smaller carriers and developing countries to catch up. In the meantime, the iPhone 14 Pro may not be a viable option for those that still need a SIM card tray. 

iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Which should you buy?

iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro design

(Image credit: Apple)

In my opinion, the choice is pretty clear which is the best iPhone. The small increase in price you will pay for the iPhone 14 Pro will be more than worth the new advancements and added benefits. The iPhone 14 Pro offers a convenient always-on interface, alongside the Dynamic Island to keep your experience interactive and streamlined. This newer model also has a better camera and a faster, more powerful chipset. And perhaps the most impressive advancement is the development of emergency SOS services through satellite communication and crash detection.

However, the only to choose the iPhone 13 Pro over the 14 Pro is the lack of the SIM card tray, as this would only apply to unusual cases. For those that live in the United States and use a small local carrier, or spend a lot of time in developing countries, you might not find ready support for eSIM technology. If that's the case (and I doubt this is the case for most), then the iPhone 13 Pro may be the better choice for you. Otherwise, go for the upgrade!

Daryl Baxter
Features Editor

Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.

Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.