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Apple iPhone 13 review: Not a Pro, but still works like one

Apple iPhone 13 review: The most noticeable change this time is the new pink colour and the way the camera lenses are arranged. But is the iPhone 13 worth the hype? Here's what we thought of its performance.

Apple iPhone 13, iPhone 13 review, iPhone 13 camera review, Apple iPhone 13 discount, iPhone 13 sale, iPhone 13 battery life, Apple iPhone 13 sampleiPhone 13 features review: The new pink colour stands out for this device. The starting price is Rs 79,900 for the 128GB version. (Image source: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

When I first showed off the iPhone 13 at home, that pink colour was what caught everyone’s attention. In fact, someone else who had just upgraded to an iPhone 13 Red immediately felt disappointed that they hadn’t got a pink one instead. But it’s not just the colour that stands out for the iPhone 13.

What also struck me just how different the iPhone 13 is compared to all other flagships in the market. The 6.1-inch iPhone 13 is very compact, easy to hold with one hand. It makes the iPhone 12 Pro Max look like a phablet in comparison.
But don’t be fooled by the iPhone 13’s size and the lack of ‘Pro’ in its title. The phone is still the flagship to beat for most companies, and here’s why.

Apple iPhone 13 review: What’s good?

I’ll start with the biggest difference that Apple mentioned fleetingly in its launch presentation, something iPhones are usually mocked for. And that’s the battery on the iPhone 13. Now, Apple typically doesn’t reveal the battery size, and it has a good reason for why they don’t bother touting these numbers.

Apple iPhone 13 review: The new iPhone comes with an excellent battery life.

But on the iPhone 13, what you are getting is a battery that will easily last more than a day for the average user. This is not an iPhone I need to charge every single day, and I’m accounting for heavy-duty usage here. For instance, I charged the iPhone to a full 98 per cent Friday evening, and at 10.40 pm Saturday, I was down to 20 per cent battery. The usage included Netflix, WhatsApp, gaming, Instagram, going out to take pictures; typically everything that one would do in a day’s worth.

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By the time I was in bed, the iPhone’s battery was under 10 per cent and I did not expect to wake up with any battery left on the phone. Except when I woke up, there was still 8 per cent battery left. With the 20W charger, you can get the iPhone 13 to a full charge in around one and a half hours based on my observations. However, using the 15W charger is a painful experience.

With the iPhone 13, one gets an exceptional camera performance. And yes, at times it felt like it was a shade better than last year’s Pro Max. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

The other major area of change is the camera. On paper, it seems the same as the iPhone 12, just arranged differently. Plus the lack of a triple camera gives this perception that it is a compromise solution.

But it is by no means so. The iPhone 13 still has a camera that the competition will have to work hard to beat. I compared plenty of photos to those shot on an iPhone 12 Pro Max, and there’s no doubt this one comes close and in some cases a shade better. The pictures pack all the details, the night mode is excellent, and the colours look vibrant.


It also does a terrific job of preserving shadows, while lighting up the scene, especially if you are taking photos late in the evening just around sunset.

Apple has added some new features as well. The iPhone 13 camera gets the Photographic Styles feature where users can choose from Standard, Rich Contrast, Vibrant, Warm and Cool settings for their photos. This gives a little bit more customisation than the company typically offers. So if you are one of those who likes the sky in their photos to look really blue, you can go for the vibrant setting. My preference is for the cool and standard.

You can click on the photo of the Marigold at the bottom to see all the camera samples from iPhone 13 on our Flickr account 

Apple iPhone 13 camera sample taken in bright sunlight. (Image source: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express) Apple iPhone 13 camera shot taken in bright sunlight in Portrait mode. (Image source: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express) Apple iPhone 13 sample taken indoors. (Image source: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express) Apple iPhone 13 camera sample taken indoors. (Image source: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express) Apple iPhone 13 camera sample taken around sunset. (Image source: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express) Apple iPhone 13 camera sample taken with Night Mode at maximum and no light in the room. The nearest light source was at a distance. (Image source: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)


It also supports Cinematic video, which can add a shallow depth of field to your videos. I particularly enjoyed this feature, even though one might not always use it. That’s because videos of my toddler taken in this mode really put the focus on him, and it makes for a much more interesting effect. Cinematic video is not perfect by any means, and in poor lighting conditions, it doesn’t always look the best. But I find myself using it more than regular video when I’m recording my son.

This remains the camera that just delivers top-notch results, no matter the lighting and with minimal effort. And that’s really what most users want.

The iPhone 13 continues the same display and design as the earlier 12 series. The 6.1-inch OLED display has a resolution of 2532×1170 pixels and while it does not come with the ProMotion feature and 120Hz refresh rate, it is not something you will miss.

Apple iPhone 13 runs the A15 Bionic chipset, and the battery will easily last a day. (Image source: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

This is still a fantastic display, especially if you are one of those who like to binge-watch shows on the phone. Netflix’s Squid Game was a treat to watch on this, and I didn’t find myself tinkering with brightness levels at all on this one. I also played Monument Valley 2 and Limbo on the phone, and the games looked stunning as always.


The iPhone 13 runs the A15 Bionic chipset. Performance on the iPhone is never an issue, and this one continues the trend. But there is a difference compared to the Pro series this time, which has an extra core in the GPU. The iPhone 13 and 13 mini have a four-core GPU instead. But for the regular users, it is not a difference you are likely to notice.

This time around, the iPhone 13 is also starting at 128GB storage, and it is good to see Apple offer this at the same starting price as last year’s iPhone 12.


Apple iPhone 13 review: What’s not good?

One major issue I experienced was the device heating up. The sides of the phone got very warm when I was recording a video outside, taking photos for a longer duration. It also got very warm when I was binge-watching a show for more than an hour or so.

My other major letdown with the iPhone 13 is around selfies. The front camera is still pretty boring, and selfies taken indoors are just not as sharp as what some of the competition is delivering. The details are not what one expects at this price point. No, the iPhone does not make me look like Snow white with the cheeks of a supermodel and that’s fine. But I wished they looked a bit better.


Charging using a 15W iPhone charger can be frustrating, so invest in a charger that is at least 20W.

Apple iPhone 13 review: Should you buy it?

The iPhone 13 is the most appealing offering from Apple this year if one were to consider price, the battery life and the overall camera performance. If you are on an iPhone XS or older, and wish to upgrade this year, this would be my solid recommendation.

The iPhone 13 is compact and easy to use with one hand. It also has one of the best displays that money can buy. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Its biggest competition: the older iPhone 12 and 11, both of which can be purchased at a heavy discount right now. But do keep in mind that there are plenty of bank and exchange offers, which can bring the price down for the iPhone 13 as well before you make the decision.

The iPhone 13, of course, has its drawbacks. It does not come with a 120Hz refresh rate on the display, but it is not something everyone typically needs or misses. There’s no Macro camera option like on the Pro series, though I would not consider this a deal-breaker. As always, Apple has limited some features to its more high-end Pro series. Of course, if you are heavily into gaming or a professional who needs the iPhone to shoot videos, photography, etc, the Pro is targeted towards you and does pack a lot more.

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First published on: 04-10-2021 at 08:40:30 am
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