iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Specs, design, and other biggest differences

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12

We’re a few days away from the release of the iPhone 13! We’re excited to introduce the latest and greatest features of the upcoming iPhone 13 lineup, and how they stack up to the iPhone 12. 

To quench your curiosity and highlight the significant differences, here’s a detailed comparison between iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12. Let’s get started!

iPhone 13 models: Similar to iPhone 12 series

Apple’s September 14th event revealed an iPhone 13 lineup similar to what we saw with the iPhone 12:

  • 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini
  • 6.1-inch standard iPhone 13
  • 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro
  • 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max

Design: Minor revamp, smaller notch


We already saw a significant redesign with the iPhone 12 lineup. The iPhone 13 mini, 13, 13 Pro, and 13 Pro Max are no exception to the slim iPhone design we’ve come to enjoy over the last few generations; all models feature a 0.30 inch thickness.

0.2mm thicker iPhone 13 series
Source: MacRumors

Camera redesign

One noticeable design change is a slightly different camera design. The standard iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 mini, both of which have a dual-lens camera module, feature a diagonal lens layout (differing from the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini’s camera design).

Besides, the camera bump is also reported to be 2.51mm and 3.56mm thicker for the non-pro and Pro models, respectively. This change in thickness would prevent the lenses from protruding and also provide protection.

Source: Macworld

Moreover, the camera module is significantly larger than that of the iPhone 12 lineup. This is to account for the new diagonal dual-camera design on the 13 mini and 13, and the tri-camera design of the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max.

Upgraded notch

Various websites such as DigiTimes and Barclays have talked about a smaller notch on iPhone 13.

This shrink in the notch size is reportedly due to the redesigned VCSEL chip. The smaller notch was observed in various online leaked display panels of the iPhone 13.

Source: MacRumors

While the iPhone 12’s camera appeared on the right side of the notch, the iPhone 13 features it on the left.

Display: LTPO technology, Touch ID

120Hz vs. 60Hz refresh rate

A higher refresh rate is one of the most discussed and highly-requested features on the iPhone. It allows for smoother and faster animations.

The iPhone 12 lineup currently houses the standard 60Hz refresh rate, which is far lower than most Android devices in the market. 

While there were multiple rumors for a 120Hz refresh rate coming to life with the iPhone 12 lineup, that didn’t happen. It was believed that Apple delayed the plans until 2021 due to battery life issues.

Luckily, the upcoming iPhone 13 Pro models feature the highly sought after 120Hz refresh rate!

Camera: Improved lenses, better photography

Sensor shift stabilization

The iPhone 13 lineup features some notable camera improvements compared to what we have with the current iPhone 12 lineup.

The entire iPhone 13 lineup comes equipped with the Sensor shift stabilization currently available only on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The feature also extends to both Wide and Ultra-Wide lenses of the Pro models.

Cinematic Mode

Apple’s all-new stunning Cinematic Mode offers iPhone 13 users the ability to create a shallow depth of field (which is the same technique employed in blockbuster movies) while recording videos, right from the palm of your hand. Cinematic Mode is capable of shooting in 1080p at 30 FPS. You can also shoot 4K video (non Cinematic Mode) in various FPS counts up to 60.

Upgraded lens

iPhone videographers will be happy to see the addition of a Wide and Ultra-Wide lens in all iPhone 13 models. This offers substantially better photography in low-light conditions.

The Pro models also feature an improved f/2.8 aperture for the telephoto lens, an f/1.5 aperture Wide lens, and an f/1.8 aperture Ultra-Wide lens, along with an upgrade from a 5 element lens to a 6 element lens for telephoto and Ultra-Wide lens, along with a 7 element Wide lens.

The iPhone 13 lineup features dual optical image stabilization in the telephoto and Wide lens, and sensor-shift optical image stabilization in the Wide lens. This helps keep the subject in focus throughout the recording.

Upgraded Lenses in iPhone 13
Source: Apple

LiDAR Scanner

The LiDAR scanner introduced in the iPhone 12 lineup makes its way to the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max models. This enables Night mode portrait taking.

Source: Apple

Processor: Higher performance and efficiency

A15 vs. A14 Bionic

With iPhone 12, last year, Apple introduced the A14 Bionic chip, the first 5nm processor ever. However, Apple improves on the A14 model even further with the introduction of the A15 Bionic chip.

A15 Bionic chip design in iPhone 13
Source: iPhoneHacks

Rumors also claim that this might be Apple’s last 5nm processor. The company may jump to a 3nm processor for the following year’s iPhone models.

The A15 Bionic Chip boasts a 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine.

Upgraded 5G modem

Currently, iPhone 12 models use Qualcomm’s X55 modem, deprived of the 5nm processor node and carrier aggregation technology.

Reportedly, Apple will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X60 5G modem in their iPhone 13 lineup to make up for X55’s deficits and offer better overall performance. It will offer coverage for sub-6GHz and mmWave.

Upgraded 5G modem of iPhone 13
Source: Patently Apple

Battery: Larger battery, faster charging

Increased battery capacity

The iPhone 13 lineup will house larger batteries, thereby resulting in better battery life.

The battery lifespan for the iPhone 13 mini are as follows:

  • Video Playback (Streamed): Up to 13 hours
  • Audio Playback: Up to 15 hours

The iPhone 13 battery lifespan:

  • Video Playback (Streamed): Up to 15 hours
  • Audio Playback: Up to 75 hours

The iPhone 13 Pro:

  • Video Playback (Streamed): Up to 20 hours
  • Audio Playback: Up to 75 hours

The iPhone 13 Pro Max:

  • Video Playback (Streamed): Up to 25 hours
  • Audio Playback: Up to 95 hours

All iPhone 13 models are MagSafe and Qi charging compatible, and feature fast charging (up to 50% battery life in 30 minutes if a 20W charging cable is used).

New colors: A brand new lineup

The iPhone 13 series introduces a new line of available colors. These are as follows:

iPhone 13 mini, 13:

  • Product Red 
  • Starlight 
  • Midnight 
  • Blue 
  • Pink

The 13 mini and 13 feature a ceramic shield front coupled with a glass back and aluminium design.

iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max:

  • Graphite
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Sierra Blue

The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max offer a ceramic shield front, textured matte glass back, and stainless steel design.

Price: Similar

iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 (respectively):

  1. From $699 (before trade-in)
  2. From $799 (before trade-in)

For the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max (respectively):

  1. From $999 (before trade-in)
  2. From $1099 (before trade-in)

So, are you as excited as we are for the iPhone 13 release? And what are your thoughts on iPhone 13 against iPhone 12 lineup? Let us know in the comments below.

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Marcus is a freelance tech writer/editor with a focus on succinctly explaining consumer devices and their software. His previous work has been published on MakeUseOf where he covered everything from iOS to Git and UI design.

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