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Apple iPhone 13 and 13 Pro series review: These are peak iPhones

By Kenny Yeo - 3 Oct 2021

Conclusion

How much are these phones?

The iPhone 13 Mini is the most affordable of all the new iPhones but even it starts at over a grand.

Let's talk prices. I hope you have been saving up because like last year's models, this year's iPhones are all four-figure phones with the most affordable being the iPhone 13 Mini which starts at S$1,149.

But if it's any consolation, this year's iPhone 13 and 13 Mini are better value than last year's models because the entry-level storage is 128GB – up from 64GB. And if you look at prices of the 256GB models, they are actually S$70 less than last year.

Prices of the Pro iPhones are unchanged but there's now a 1TB option for users who need more storage. But be warned, the 1TB phones will leave huge holes in your pocket.

2021 iPhone prices
Model iPhone 13 mini iPhone 13 iPhone 13 Pro iPhone 13 Pro Max
128GB S$1,149 S$1,299 S$1,649 S$1,799
256GB S$1,319 S$1,469 S$1,819 S$1,969
512GB S$1,649 S$1,799 S$2,149 S$2,299
1TB - - S$2,479 S$2,629

 

2020 iPhone prices
Model iPhone 12 mini iPhone 12 iPhone 12 Pro iPhone 12 Pro Max
64GB S$1,149 S$1,299 - -
128GB S$1,219 S$1,369 S$1,649 S$1,799
256GB S$1,389 S$1,539 S$1,819 S$1,969
512GB S$2,149 S$2,299

 

Which phone to get?

Unlike last year, the regular iPhones and Pro iPhones are distinctly different.

If you love a larger display, the iPhone 13 Pro Max and its 6.7-inch display is the obvious choice. And on the flip side, if you prefer a more compact phone that you can slip easily into pockets and operate with one hand, the petite iPhone 13 Mini is the one to have. For readers who want a moderately-sized phone, there’s the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro. Fortunately, the between which phone to get is simpler this year because, unlike last year, the Pro iPhones are distinctly different. 

Last year, the iPhone 12 Pro was a bit of a lost sheep. It didn't do enough to differentiate itself from the iPhone 12 and it lacked some of the features present on the larger iPhone 12 Pro Max. Luckily, it looks like Apple realised this and so this year's iPhone 13 Pro is drastically different from the iPhone 13 and there's no difference between the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max – save for the size of their displays and their battery capacities.  

The Pro iPhones have superior specifications. Not only do their GPUs have an additional core, but their displays are also brighter and have a higher refresh rate, their cameras and lenses are faster and they have the extra telephoto camera and lidar scanner. And if shooting macro photos and ProRes video is important, only the Pro iPhones can do that. The Pro iPhones are peak iPhones. Having said all that, the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini are probably all the phones most people will ever need. But if you want the cutting-edge of what Apple has to offer (and your budget stretches far enough), then the Pro iPhones are the obvious choice. Either way, the entire iPhone 13 series are capable phones.

 

Upgrade advice

Last year's iPhones are still very capable devices.

My advice is mostly the same as last year’s. For most users using an iPhone 12 series phone, there’s really no need to upgrade unless you are a stickler for the very best. This year’s phone may be better but the differences are not so groundbreaking that it warrants an immediate upgrade. Having said all that, that smooth ProMotion display is super tempting…

Professionals, however, will face a tougher decision. The upcoming support for ProRes video can be handy especially if you already use iPhones in your workflow. Furthermore, because they have larger sensors and faster lenses, the Pro iPhones take appreciably better images in challenging situations. If you rely heavily on iPhones for your production, I think it's worth taking the plunge for these new ones and keeping last year's models as backups and spares.

 

General closing thoughts

The latest iPhones improve on their predecessors and are irrefutably some of the best phones money can buy.

Apple rarely makes big changes to their phones and it’s no different this year. The design is the same and while there are a couple of significant improvements and interesting new features, these new phones are fundamentally iterative updates of last year’s phones. But that’s just the way smartphones are. As I said before, gone are the days when you see huge leaps in performance and features year-on-year. 

Ultimately, this year’s phones build on the strengths of last year and rectifies some of their weaknesses. They look and feel expensive, performance is peerless, the displays are better, the cameras take nicer photos, and battery life is even longer. These are just very solid well rounded phones that are capable of doing many things very well. Those who decide to splash the cash will be very happy with their purchase. I only wished they got rid of that cursed Lightning port.

iPhone 13 series final ratings

iPhone 12

Click to see the score breakdown

iPhone 12 Pro

Click to see the score breakdown

iPhone 13 Pro

Click to see the score breakdown

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Click to see the score breakdown

You can order these new iPhones from the Apple Online Store, the Apple Flagship Store on Lazada, or the Apple Flagship Store on Shopee.

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