iPhone 13 Pro review: A trifecta of meaningful upgrades Review

Apple’s Iphone thirteen Professional and Iphone thirteen Professional Max make up the additional high priced half of the 2021 Iphone lineup. The Iphone thirteen Professional commences at $999, although the Iphone thirteen Professional Max commences at $1,099. The relaxation of the 2021 Iphone supplying features the $799 Iphone thirteen and $699 Iphone thirteen Mini. 

I have been primarily using the Iphone thirteen Professional Max for the earlier 7 days, with occasional testing of the lesser Iphone thirteen Professional. This 12 months, other than display screen size and battery life, there usually are not any significant discrepancies amongst the two. They offer an similar working experience. 

The Iphone thirteen Professional and thirteen Professional Max are two of the most effective iPhones I have at any time used, many thanks to an upgraded digicam process, improved battery life and a display screen that is simple on the eyes. But there is certainly additional to them than that. Let’s dive in, shall we?


The Iphone thirteen Professional Max in Starlight Blue. 

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What is in a identify, anyway?

Even even though Apple skipped using its common “S” naming conference for the 2021 Iphone lineup, the Iphone thirteen Professional and Professional Max are quite significantly an “S” improve as far as design is worried. Together with new colours, there are a few recognizable tweaks to the exterior of the Iphone thirteen Professional and thirteen Professional Max. The biggest transform is the size of the digicam array on the back of the telephone. The digicam lenses are additional unfold out and significantly much larger than the Iphone 12 Professional. 

It truly is important to observe that because of to the size of the digicam array and the facet buttons remaining shifted down at any time-so-a bit, you are going to quite likely will need to get a new circumstance if you are upgrading from an Iphone 12 Professional.

A additional delicate but continue to recognizable tweak Apple made to the design requires the Real Depth digicam process — or “notch”, as it’s usually identified as — on the entrance of all Iphone thirteen types. It truly is been shrunk down, horizontally at the very least, by 20%. Having said that, It is a tiny taller.

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The new Professional colours involve starlight blue, silver, gold and graphite. The colours usually are not as bright and vivid as they are on for the Iphone thirteen and thirteen Mini, many thanks to the matte end of the stainless steel housing. 

On the bottom of the Iphone is the place you are going to locate Apple’s Lightning port. It truly is a final decision that is drawn criticism for not adopting USB-C for quicker transfers and charging speeds and praise for not building additional eWaste by forcing buyers to change to a new connector. 

I get each sides of the argument, but I are inclined to concur with the USB-C group, but only for the Iphone thirteen Professional and Professional Max. A person of the main options of the new Iphone thirteen lineup is its new digicam options like Cinematic Manner and the forthcoming ProRes Video clip characteristic (additional on those people in a minute). Cinematic Manner by yourself is going to really encourage buyers to file additional online video than they have in the earlier — at the very least that is been my working experience as a result far — and ready for iCloud Photographs to back up prolonged clips, or using Lightning to transfer the movies more than to my MacBook Professional, isn’t as quick as it would be if the Iphone thirteen Professional and Professional Max had a quicker USB-C connection. 

A lot as Apple is little by little doing with its iPad lineup by methodically adding USB-C as it refreshes every single model, I believe Apple should really begin by adding USB-C to the Professional Iphone types and then little by little deliver it to the relaxation of the Iphone lineup a 12 months or two later. 

The size of the Iphone thirteen Professional and thirteen Professional Max has stayed the exact. The thirteen Pro’s display screen steps six.1-inches, although the thirteen Professional Max stays at six.7-inches. 


The Lightning stays on the Iphone. For now. 

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Overall performance, digicam options and battery life

When you filter down all of the improvements and updates Apple made to the Iphone thirteen Professional and thirteen Professional Max, you are remaining with superior general performance, improved cameras and for a longer period battery life. 

Some of those people improvements, this sort of as general performance, are tricky to quantify outside the house of artificial benchmarks. I can say that in my daily use more than the final 7 days, the complete Iphone working experience feels smoother and quicker than it did on the Iphone 12 Professional. Section of that is because of to the Marketing display screen, which improvements the refresh fee of the iPhone’s display screen amongst 10Hz and 120Hz, based mostly on what you are doing. 

It truly is a characteristic that is recognizable from the second you transform the telephone on the to start with time, even if you will not know what specifically appears to be distinctive. The screen would not have any additional pixels than the previous model, but it just appears to be better. 

The other section of the general performance increase I have observed is many thanks to Apple’s new A15 Bionic processor. The processor has a six-main CPU, sixteen-main neural engine, and in the Professional types, it has a five-main GPU. All of that provides up to a quick working experience, no matter of what you are doing. Be it recording a online video, using an augmented reality application or bouncing amongst Excel, Safari, Messages and Slack. 

Storage quantities for the Professional line begin at 128GB, and go all the way up to 1TB, doubling with every single rate position. It truly is the to start with time a 1TB Iphone has been offered — we absolutely sure have come a prolonged way from the authentic iPhone’s 4GB of storage. 

The boost in storage is welcome, basically since of the updates Apple made to the cameras. 


It truly is an appealing digicam process, to say the the very least. 

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Apple is calling the digicam process on the Professional lineup a “Professional 12MP digicam process.” That breaks down into just one telephoto digicam, a wide digicam and an ultra-wide digicam. The telephoto has an greater optical zoom of 3x, up from 2x — the ultra-wide stays at 2x optical zoom out. 

It took me a working day or so to get used to the added optical zoom in the telephoto, typically forcing me to back up just a tiny little bit additional. This 12 months, there are no discrepancies amongst the digicam methods in each Iphone thirteen Professional types. 

The cameras in Apple’s Iphone thirteen Professional and thirteen Professional Max continue on to set the bar for long run smartphones, and new program methods are pushing them even more. 

When getting a continue to picture, you can now use what quantities to be a collection of photograph filters on steroids. The iPhone’s new Photographic Kinds let photographers to totally customize irrespective of whether the photos they acquire have additional saturation or are additional correct to life, for occasion. There are a overall of 5 photographic variations, all of which you can adjust to your liking. 

I happen to prefer the default type that is additional correct to life, but I would be lying if I said there are occasions when the additional Samsung-like approach of wealthy contrast would not have its personal spot in my photographic arsenal. 

The show’s genuine star is the new Cinematic Manner that provides a experience of depth — either in the foreground or track record — to movies captured with the Iphone thirteen Professional and thirteen Professional Max. 

Definitely you’ve got found a clip in a motion picture or Television set demonstrate the place the foreground is completely in focus, but the issue or item in the track record is completely out of focus. Soon after a next or two, the focal position improvements, and the track record is now in focus although the item that is closest to the digicam is now blurry. 

The Iphone 13’s digicam can now do that with out any special gear or editing applications. And, for the most section, it does genuinely very well at it. I have only found Cinematic battle with pinpointing a issue and effectively applying a bokeh (or blurry track record) in low gentle situations. 

Here is a small clip that exhibits the vast majority of my working experience with the characteristic:

The only factor I had to do to capture the previously mentioned online video was pick out Cinematic from the listing of modes in the digicam application. The telephone taken care of the relaxation of the process. A thing important to observe is that any online video captured with the new online video method will be constrained to 1080p at 30fps hopefully, Apple is ready to deliver 4K capture to Cinematic method in the long run. 

A person part of Cinematic Manner that genuinely exhibits how potent the A15 processor is is when you edit a online video and adjust the focal position. In other phrases, you are ready to go into the Photographs application and change the last version of the online video — telling it to lock auto-focus on to a issue or reverse the purchase of what’s in and out of focus. Or ditch the focal characteristic entirely, reverting to a common online video. 

A quick comment about macro photos: I have often been a lover of macro photos. I even owned an Olloclip lens attachment for an Iphone years back that allowed me to acquire shut-up photographs of random objects. So when Apple announced the Iphone thirteen would have a macro method with out a devoted lens like Android phones generally do, I was quite enthusiastic. 

So far, the final results have been good. Here is a shot of some sweet potato french fries from a neighborhood cafe I took early on for the duration of my time testing. 


A shut-up shot of some sweet potato fries using Macro method on the Iphone thirteen Professional Max. 

Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

At the moment, there isn’t a toggle to change amongst regular and macro method — the digicam application recognizes you are finding shut to an item and transitions on its personal. But the outcome is fairly jarring as it shifts, typically forcing you to reframe the shot. Apple has informed quite a few outlets it will release an update that provides the solution to transform auto-switching to macro method on or off. 

The third tent pole of the Iphone thirteen lineup is improved battery life. I spent most of my 7 days testing the Iphone thirteen Professional Max, which has the biggest battery pack and longest marketed battery life out of the most up-to-date crop. And I can validate, it’s wonderful. It would not just final via a regular sixteen hour working day, but it typically has more than enough charge to get me via about 12 several hours the subsequent working day. In other phrases, I wake up on Monday a six am, and I will not have to charge it right until all around six pm on Tuesday. 

Very last 12 months, I determined to change from the much larger Iphone Professional model to the common Iphone 12 Professional for the to start with time in years. I will not regret the final decision just one little bit, but soon after testing the Professional Max, I recognized how significantly peace of intellect the added battery life delivers with it. And with the much larger screen, I’m ready to assessment files that I had been achieving for my iPad Professional to look at instead of using the Iphone 12 Professional. 

In point, I savored going back to the much larger model so significantly I purchased the 256GB Iphone thirteen Professional Max for myself this early morning. I will not likely come wherever shut to using all of that storage. Still, I opted for that model since of an additional online video-relevant characteristic that is set to debut by way of an impending iOS update identified as ProRes Video clip. The Iphone thirteen Professional or thirteen Professional Max with 256GB of storage or additional will be ready to capture ProRes online video at 4K/30fps, although the 128GB model will only file 1080p/30fps. I’m not completely absolutely sure if I am going to even use ProRes, enable by yourself at 4K, but I wanted the solution even so. 

All of that to say — the Iphone thirteen Professional and Professional Max have a good, Professional-excellent digicam process proper now, but we will not know the whole tale of what Apple is going to do with it. And so, we hold out. 


The digicam bump on the Iphone thirteen Professional and Professional Max is a lot more substantial than on its Iphone 12 equivalents. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Bottom line

The Iphone thirteen — any of them — weren’t intended and created for an individual who just bought an Iphone 12. They, arguably, usually are not even meant for an individual who had an Iphone eleven.

So, if you at this time have an Iphone 12, will not truly feel compelled to improve except you genuinely, genuinely want a pair of added several hours of battery and some extravagant online video options. To everyone else, even Iphone eleven buyers, the Iphone thirteen Professional and Professional Max are worthwhile, high priced and significant updates. 

We’ll have a assessment of the Iphone thirteen and Iphone thirteen Mini up coming 7 days. In the meantime, if you’ve got currently acquired your Iphone thirteen purchase or are ready for yours to be shipped — which model did you go with and why? Permit us know in the opinions underneath.