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Apple iPhone 13 review roundup: 'Bigger battery', 'better camera' - but is it worth the upgrade?

Apple iPhone 13 reviews hit the internet on Tuesday, with most of them focusing on the upgrades to the iPhone's internals, including its longer battery life. 

By and large, the reviews were positive on Apple's latest smartphone, with some heaping praise on the updated cameras, high-refresh rate display and video taking capabilities.

Others highlighted the new A15 Bionic chip, which gives the iPhone 13 an up to 50 percent faster CPU than the competition, along with delivering up to 30 percent faster graphics. 

Last week, the Tim Cook-led company unveiled four new iPhones - the iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max - along with a new Apple Watch, iPad mini and some updates to its Fitness+ subscription. 

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Customers can also purchases the new smartphone in blue, 'midnight,' 'starlight' and Product (RED)

iPhone 13 Pro ($999) (pictured) and iPhone 13 Pro Max (1,099) will be available in four finishes, including graphite, gold, silver, and the all-new sierra blue. Pre-orders begin Friday, September 17, with availability beginning Friday, September 24

Colors  Red, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, PinkRed, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Pink 
Capacity  128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 
Size  5.18 x 2.53 x 0.30 inches 5.78 x 2.82 x 0.30 inches 
Weight  140 grams 173 grams 
Display  5.4 inches 6.1 inches 
Camera  Dual 12MP camera system Dual 12MP camera system 

Starting at $699 for the iPhone 13 mini, the iPhone 13 provides 2.5 more hours than the iPhone 12. The smaller iPhone 13 mini gets an additional 90 minutes of power.

The sizes of the Super Retina XDR displays (with ProMotion) remain the same as last year, with the Pro iPhones (made of stainless steel) coming in at 6.1-inches and 6.7-inches for the Pro and Pro Max, respectively.

The iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 have Super Retina XDR Displays that are 5.4-inches and 6.1-inches, respectively.

iPhone 13 Pro ($999) and iPhone 13 Pro Max (1,099) will be available in four finishes, including graphite, gold, silver, and the all-new sierra blue. 

The iPhone 13 and iPhone mini come in five colors, including pink (pictured)

The iPhone 13 mini and iPhone will come in five colors, including pink, blue, 'midnight,' 'starlight' and Product Red.  

Here are several of the top reviews on Apple's iPhone 13.

The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern said all four devices have 'noticeable forward strides,' including battery life, while highlighting the aggressive promotions from the carriers  (AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile) to win customers.

However, Stern lamented that some of the camera and video improvements fell short of Apple's promise in her eyes. 

'[T]he results weren’t drastic enough that someone with an iPhone 12 would need—or even want—a regular iPhone 13,' Stern wrote. 

'It was only after looking at the photos side by side on my monitor that I could spot differences—better handling of city lights, reflections in the water. Compare it to an iPhone XR or iPhone 11, though? The difference is much clearer.'


CNet reviewer Patrick Holland was impressed with the Cinematic mode on the iPhone 13, especially on the Pro.

'What makes the video compelling is that everything but your subject is out of focus,' Holland wrote.

'The iPhone can even execute a rack focus from one subject to another. The effect is dramatic and impressive.'

Holland was also impressed with Apple's iOS 15 operating system on the Pro devices, noting it 'adds a bunch of features but doesn't mess with the status quo.'

The New York Times

The New York Times reviewer Brian Chen was ho-hum about the new models, calling it perhaps 'the most incremental update ever to the iPhone.'

Chen noted that the newest iPhone is only 10 percent than the prior year's models, while the higher refresh rate on the more expensive Pro and Pro Max models are 'hardly a game changer.'

The latest device is also powered by Apple's new A15 Bionic Chip, the iPhone 13 includes an up to 50 percent faster CPU than the competition, along with delivering up to 30 percent faster graphics

However, Chen also noted the cameras are better than the prior year's models, especially in low-light.

'The improvements in the new iPhone cameras were most visible in lowlight photos taken with night mode, which captures multiple pictures and then fuses them together while making adjustments for colors and contrast,' Chen wrote. 

'Low-light shots of Max perched on a balcony just after sunset looked clearer when taken with the iPhone 13 Pro than with the iPhone 12.'


TechCrunch reviewer Matthew Panzarino took the new devices to Disneyland - which he wrote is the 'perfect place to test the improvements' - and found that the new devices improved his trip.

'Overall this was one of the best experiences I’ve had testing a phone at the parks, with a continuous series of ‘wow’ moments with the cameras that sort of made me question my confirmation bias,' Panzarino wrote. 

He continued: 'I ended up with a lot of shots like the night mode wide angle and telephoto ones I shared above that impressed me so much I ended up doing a lot of gut checking asking other people in blind tests what they thought of the two images. 

'The iPhones 13 are an impressive field this year, providing a solid moat of image quality, battery life and now, thankfully, screen improvements that should serve Apple well over the next 12 months.'

The Verge 

The Verge's reviewer Dieter Bohn said the improvements over last year's models are 'significant but not obvious at first glance,' highlighting the camera system, battery life and refresh rate. 

'Upgrading the battery, camera, and screen sounds like an iterative, yearly update; they sound like the so-called “S” updates that Apple used to do for iPhones before its naming schemes became unpredictable,' Bohn wrote. 

'And it is true that the design is virtually identical to that of last year’s iPhone 12 Pros. But those assumptions — those words — don’t quite do justice to how big the changes really are.'

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