iPhone 15 vs iPhone 13: Should you upgrade?

The iPhone 15 is on its way, and we know what the inside (and outside) of the phone will look like —and there are some stunning updates on board. The iPhone 13, however, has just had its second birthday; which means a whole lot of two-year contracts are about to meet their end.

If this is you, then you might be wondering whether you should upgrade from your trusty iPhone 13 and what benefits Apple’s latest flagship is going to bring to you. In a word, loads; the iPhone 15 is a massive upgrade over the iPhone 14, let alone the iPhone 13. There’s the processor from last year's Pro iPhones, a new 48MP camera, and some wicked color options. The price remains unchanged as well — you can grab an iPhone 15 for $799, the launch price of the flagship iPhone models for the last few years.

But which is the better handset? You can probably already guess, but let's take a look at whether you should consider upgrading.

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Tammy Rogers

Can’t wait for iPhone 15

"If I had an iPhone 13, I'd be scratching at Apple's door to get an iPhone 15. It's more powerful, better looking, and comes in far more pleasing colors. And considering I'd be able to trade it in and pretty much get the new iPhone for free? It's a no brainer."

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 13: Features and specs

It’s going to be no great surprise that iPhone 13 and 15 have completely different specs on the inside — there were boatloads of upgrades announced at the iPhone launch event on Tuesday, and they all make for one of the strongest flagship iPhones in years. If you’ve already got an iPhone 13, then the extra spec bump is going to look particularly impressive compared to what’s in your pocket. If you’re buying new, then you’ll soon spot that the new specs easily make the iPhone 15 worth the extra cost.

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Specs iPhone 13iPhone 15
Display size13: 6.1 inches15: 6.1 inches | 15 Plus: 6.7 inches
Display type OLED OLED
Capacity 128GB, 256GB, 512GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Splash, water, dust resistanceIP68IP68
Chip A15 bionic chip, 6 core CPU, 5-core GPU, 16-core neural engineA16 bionic chip, 6 core CPU, 5-core GPU, 16-core neural engine
Camera 12MP dual-camera system + TrueDepth front camera with autofocus, ƒ/1.5 aperture 48MP dual-camera system + TrueDepth front camera with autofocus, ƒ/1.5 aperture
Video 4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps, Action Mode 4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps, Action Mode
Face IDYes Yes
Apple Pay Yes Yes
Safety Emergency SOS via satellite, Crash Detection Emergency SOS via satellite, Crash Detection
Location GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou, Digital compass, WiFi, Cellular, iBeacon microlocationGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou, Digital compass, WiFi, Cellular, iBeacon microlocation
Video calling Yes Yes
Audio calling Yes Yes
Siri Yes Yes
Power and battery Video playback: up to 20 hours, audio playback: up to 80 hoursVideo playback: up to 20 hours, audio playback: up to 80 hours
Fast chargingYesYes
Sensors Face ID, Barometer, High dynamic range gyro, High-G accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Dual ambient light sensorsFace ID, Barometer, Three-axis gyro, Accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor
Operating systemiOS 15 (at launch)iOS 17

Those specs speak strongly to the strength of the new iPhone. The A16 Bionic is an absolute beast that powered the Pro phones only a year ago, and now we’ve got its boosted power in the ‘standard’ iPhone, and the new 48MP camera is going to make those shots look even better with quadruple the Megapixels of the iPhone 13.

There are other updates as well, along with a brighter screen at 2000 nits peak (twice as bright as iPhone 13), and an improved front camera. Not to mention that it’s a newer phone — Apple might not claim that the battery life is longer, but if you’ve got a two-year-old iPhone 13 that you’ve been charging nightly, then you will definitely find some improvement overall.

iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 13: What’s new?

iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

There are loads of new features that set the iPhone 15 apart from the 13, and they should all make you seriously consider upgrading to the iPhone 15. With a whole host of new features to get you excited for the next generation of iPhone, here’s everything that’s new about the iPhone 15.

Dynamic Island

The Dynamic Island has come directly from the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max — Instead of an unsightly notch at the top of the screen, there’s now a digital black pill that hides the front camera and depth sensors. It’s like a mini notifications tray; it will let you know if there’s music playing, and whether it’s over Bluetooth or AirPlay, you can track an Uber Eats order, and you can even know when an AirPlay device is nearby with a helpful popup. It’s especially useful for doing two things at once, such as watching a timer count down while playing a game.

Unfortunately, not all the impressive display specs are coming from the iPhone 14 Pro models. There’s still no 120Hz refresh rate on the standard iPhones, and the Always-on Display remains exclusive to the most expensive versions. The screen has been further brightened, however, with a peak of 2000 nits brightness — very nice.


Blue iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

The camera on the iPhone 15 has been made even better than the last version, with a big bump up the spec list to 48MP. That’s around quadruple the megapixels of the iPhone 13’s camera, and it comes with some big updates to the image processing on board for some truly epic photos.

One of the coolest updates comes to the already impressive portrait mode for an even better Bokeh effect. The camera will now auto-detect multiple people in the shot, and you can even change the effect after the picture has already been taken. In fact, even if a photo wasn’t taken as a portrait mode picture, you can now bring them into the fold, and edit them in the Bokeh effect format. The camera now uses more machine learning to make those photos better — and sticking the iPhone 15 besides the iPhone 13 is going to show some massive improvements to the camera system.


iphone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

USB-C is here for the first time on the iPhone, and it's been a long time coming. Obviously, upgrading from the iPhone 13 means that you’ll have to get a new cable to get it plugged in and charging, but not only will a cable come in the box, but you’ll also be able to use any other USB-C cable that you’ve got lying around to charge your phone.

That’s not to say there won’t be any drags at all: Any accessories for Lightning you’ve got will need updating as well so that they work with the iPhone 15, and you might have to invest in another dongle. That’ll mostly be game controllers, like the BackBone One and docks. 

Given that the iPhone as a whole was the last great bastion of the weird proprietary connection, it’s more than likely you already have USB-C accessories anyway. Don’t worry about your battery packs either, if there’s a USB-C port on it, you’ll be fine. Same with charging bricks — unless the lightning cable is permanently connected, you’ll be safe.

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 13: Processor


(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 15 has received a very powerful upgrade in the form of the A16 Bionic chip, the beating heart of last year's Pro models. That’s a pretty big step up from the iPhone 13, which has an A15 Bionic chip. Don’t let those numbers after the A fool you, the iPhone 13’s chip is two years old — and part of the reason that many users may have skipped the iPhone 14 last year, given it had the same processors.

The A16 is a far more powerful and efficient chip, making the iPhone 15 the most powerful flagship iPhone to date, and more than worth the upgrade over the iPhone 13.

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 13: Colors

iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

There are some wicked new colors for the iPhone 15 this year, including Black, Blue, Green, Yellow, and Pink. There are some classics missing there, most notably PRODUCT(RED), but it’s easily one of the most eye-pleasing lineups that we’ve seen pumped out by Apple for some time.

The iPhone 13 came in Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Pink, Green, and PRODUCT(RED). That’s a longer list, and the colors were more ‘vibrant’ perhaps, but this year more pleasing pastel tones have won us over — although will miss the ever-wonderful PRODUCT(RED).

iPhone 15 Vs iPhone 13: Battery life

This is a tricky one because until we actually have the phone in our hands we don’t know the exact battery life of the iPhone 15, although expect it to last around what Apple calls ‘all-day’ That would likely mean ‘all-day’ waking hours, rather than a full 24 hours of use.

The iPhone 13 had respectable battery life, but if you’ve got one now that you got on launch, then it’s likely that you’re currently finding that battery life has fallen off a little. The iPhone 15 has a more efficient processor so you’d hope it would last longer, but it’s like to outlast your old phone no matter what.

iPhone 15 Vs iPhone 13: Which should you buy?

iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

So we’ve seen the new iPhones, and we’ve got a good idea of what kind of specs are coming to the lineup. It's fairly obvious that the iPhone 15 is going to be a much better handset than the iPhone 13, with plenty of reasons to upgrade when your two-year contract comes to a close.

The iPhone 15 takes everything that makes the iPhone 13 a solid phone and then dials it up a notch — by taking the notch away. Dynamic Island is a wicked update to the iPhone line and it's good that you can now get it on every new iPhone. That brighter screen too is nice to have, and the processor update will make the phone faster than you might expect. All this you would expect would come at a higher price. 

But it won’t — it will cost $799, the same launch price as the iPhone 14, and the iPhone 15. You can even get it for free if you trade in your old iPhone 13 in some cases, with some very competitive trade-in prices across the board when you’re looking for a new iPhone.

Of course, future-proofing and buying the latest whenever you can is always a good idea — and given that this one is unlikely to cost you any more than even keeping your old phone, it’s almost a no-brainer. If you’re looking to buy an iPhone 13, then unless you’re saving two-thirds the price, it’s not worth it. Just grab the 15.

The iPhone 15 is available to preorder on September 15, and then available to preorder on September 22.

Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.

  • Captain NV
    The article left out a very important feature of the iPhone 13, which is the physical SIM card slot. This makes it very easy to get tourist SIMs when traveling. I've used tourist SIMs in Asian and Europe.

    I'm also not getting a phone with only an eSim until some of the mobile companies get their act together in supporting them.
  • FFR
    Captain NV said:
    The article left out a very important feature of the iPhone 13, which is the physical SIM card slot. This makes it very easy to get tourist SIMs when traveling. I've used tourist SIMs in Asian and Europe.

    I'm also not getting a phone with only an eSim until some of the mobile companies get their act together in supporting them.

    Great point, unfortunately might be a year or two until they do.

    Ofcourse Apple could speed things up by announcing a global variant without a physical sim.