iPhone Comparison

iPhone 13 Vs iPhone 12 Vs iPhone 11:

Does buying the latest model make sense?

The iPhone 13 lineup is here and many Apple devotees are facing a big question: Should I upgrade? Maybe you've already read CNET's reviews of the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini, and iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, but you still can't decide whether to splash the cash on Apple's latest and greatest.

It might help to see all the main differences laid out, so we compared the most recent iPhone releases, so you don’t have to.

Note: There's no easy answer that applies to everyone. Purchasing decisions will always vary depending on budget, how well one's phone works right now, and personal needs. But by laying out the facts, we hope to make that decision as easy as possible. 

​​Should I upgrade to the iPhone 13?

The new iPhone - now with an extra megapixel!

Sometimes, this is exactly what it feels like when the big players come out with a new device. It’s tempting to be ahead of the curve, and the Apple cultivated hype makes a brand new device all the more alluring. But is this upgrade really worth your hard earned pennies? 

Our verdict for iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 owners: No

Unless you’re a die-hard Apple advocate and committed neophiliac, iPhone 12 and iPhone 11 owners can probably skip this upgrade. Your current device is most likely still in great shape, and there isn’t a lot in the new lineup that meaningfully changes your experience with the product.

Still representing older models? 

If you’re holding an iPhone XS and earlier, you’ll likely have a lot to gain when it comes to camera features and battery life. And we’re not talking a megapixel difference here. iOS 15 launched earlier this week - supported by iPhones dating back to the 6S generation. But they won’t be nearly as powerful running the software as a more current model would.

Here's a closer look at how the iPhone 13 stacks up to its predecessors. 

What am I missing with an iPhone 12?

There are few tangible reasons for iPhone 12 owners to fork out for an upgrade right now. Both the 12 and the 13 have 5G support, an OLED 6.1 inch screen, fast processor, great camera and MagSafe accessory support. Although we made jokes about camera megapixels - they’re actually the key reason to consider and upgrade from the pre-11 era, with the 13 throwing out some great camera improvements, especially when shooting video.

The new suite of Apple phones are all getting a new video feature called Cinematic mode. This automatically switches to focus between subjects to give footage a more authentic, film-like aesthetic. If you’re using your phone for video and photography projects, you might consider the new devices a worthy investment. This new mode takes advantage of the new A15 Bionic processor - but don’t be too worried if you’re just fine with your 12, Apple has a habit of enhancing previous devices with these upgrades via software updates.

Any photographer worth their money knows that light can make or break a shot - so the wide camera on the standard models is a feature that many will enjoy. The iPhone 13 and Mini also inherit the 12 Pro Max’s sensor shift technology - that means, no more shaky photos. Though some might call them a filter, the new ‘Photographic Styles’ feature allows users to apply certain preferences to photos, applying just the right level of adjustment to preserve things like skin tone accurately.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest photography improvements appear in the most spendy new models - the 13 Pro and Pro Max. Night mode works on all 3, and rear lenses and macro shots can be taken as close as 2cm. DLSR, who?

But, let’s be honest, the iPhone 12 has photo features not to be sniffed at. The 12 megapixel dual camera with wide and ultrawide settings and the iPhone 12 Pro with its 12 megapixel triple lens setup with the settings just mentioned, plue telephoto cameras are more than enough for most snap happy enthusiasts. 

That futuristic sounding A15 Bionic processor is promising faster speeds and longer battery life compared to the earlier models A14 chip. Want that in numbers? You should get roughly 2.5 hours more than the 12 while the 13 Mini gets 1.5 hours vs the 12 Mini. The 13 Pro will get 1.5 hours longer than the 12 Pro, while the 13 Pro Max will benefit from an additional 2.5 hours. Improved battery, for sure - but nothing a powerbank, or charger won’t fix for a fraction of the price.

The base level iPhone 13 comes with 128GB of storage instead of 64GB, and goes up to a whopping 512GB. The 13 Pro goes one step further, offering a gargantuan 1TB of storage. For comparison, the 12 Pro maxes at 512GB. Though, if you’re worried about storage, may we suggest familiarising yourself with ‘the cloud’?

The bottom line? Stick with your 12 - unless you splash cash like it isn’t a thing, or you’re keen to start your cinematography career and take crisp macro shots. Aside from that, the 13 range doesn’t offer much to significantly impact the experience you’re already having. Oh, and if you’re in the market for a new model, then a refurbished iPhone 12 is well worth a look. Sharing most of the features of the 13 for a fraction of the price means you’ll save some pounds, reduce the impact of tech waste on the planet by prolonging the life of a used device, while also enjoying a fantastic upgraded experience.

But I have the iPhone 11, should I upgrade?

Well, seeing as your phone is only 2-years old, it’s probably running smoothly enough for the average user - and definitely has loads more life left in it. So, what are you really missing out on? 5G support and a better camera, mainly.

To the casual photo-taker the iPhone 11 packs in a perfectly good camera. It has a 12-megapixel wide and ultrawide main camera system similar to the iPhone, and supports Night Mode. Much like the devices that have come after it, The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max have a 12-megapixel triple-lens camera that includes wide, telephoto, and ultrawide lenses. 

Where the 13 really shines is in video. The Cinematic mode plus the features that the 12 gained such as Night Mode time lapse and Dolby Vision HDR recording make it a powerful tool if video is something you’ll be shooting often. The 13 also has those Photographic Styles we mentioned, sensor based image stabilisation and a sensor that can take in more light. Just snapping away selfies, family pics, and countless shots of your dog? Then you’ll probably not notice much benefit in upgrading.

Worried about lack of 5G support? You don’t need to be - at least not yet. Widely deployed 5G networks are only a fraction better than what you’re getting via 4G and nothing out there on the market currently takes advantage of the higher 5G speeds anway. So you can enjoy 4G fomo free - at least for the time being.

If you’re already thinking about buying something new, getting a 5G enabled handset makes sense. But it definitely shouldn’t be the main reason you consider an upgrade.

Ok, so your processor chip might be 2 years old - the A13 Bionic vs the A15 - but it’s still powerful enough to handle the everyday tasks you throw at your device. And to reassure you that the chip is more than capable? Apple uses it for their latest, entry level iPad.

Spending most of your waking hours on TikTok? Well the 13 gives you 2 hours more in battery live vs the 11 - so you’ll keep scrolling for longer. However, Apple actually says that the battery life on the standard 13 is comparable to the 11 Pro and Pro Max - so scrolling ability is very much defined by what model you have. The 13 also has support for Apple’s MagSafe accessories and twice the storage capacity.

In terms of design, the 11 models differ slightly from 12 and above with the 11 featuring rounded corners and a glossy pastel finish vs the 12 and later which has flatter edges, a ceramic shield coating and a shiny glass back, or matte casing on the Pro models. The iPhone 12 and later, by comparison, has flatter edges similar to the iPad Pro, a Ceramic Shield coating that should make it more durable, and a shiny glass back. But these differences are so negligible, that we definitely don’t think you should be upgrading for design alone.

The bottom line? You can probably hold onto that 11 for a while longer - unless of course you’re a photographer, videographer, or budding pro content creator - as this is where both the 12 and 13 excel. For a couple of hours extra battery and storage, it’s probably easier for you to invest in a powerbank and some cloud storage rather than forking out for an upgrade.

Still thinking of levelling up? 

That’s where we can help, saving you lots of cash. 

The refurbished market is booming thanks to people rushing out to buy the 13, so you’ll benefit from tonnes of mint, excellent, and good condition iPhone 12 devices to choose from. 

Not only is buying with Doji kinder to your wallet, it’s kinder to the planet too. Another device avoids clogging up landfill and less tech waste is created as older devices enjoy a longer life.


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