Tech Guides

Apple iPhone 13 buying guide: Which iPhone 13 should you buy?

By Liu Hongzuo - 21 Sep 2021

What's new, what does Pro get, and what about 5G?

How to buy the right iPhone 13 model?

Shopping for a brand new Apple iPhone 13 handset, but not completely sure about what you're getting out of the different models? You've come to the right place.

In this article, we lay out what's new and what's different between the Pro and non-Pro models of the new iPhone 13.


Everything new and different on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini

In a nutshell - when compared to iPhone 12 handsets, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini will get a smaller notch, longer battery life, and a powerful new A15 Bionic processor. 

The main wide angle camera on all models now feature sensor-shift stabilisation. This was previously only available on the iPhone 12 Pro Max and a welcomed feature to boost iPhone 13's proposition over the iPhone 12. In fact, there's one less reason to go Pro because of this, but more on this later.

Its dual 12MP rear cameras also come with under-the-hood improvements. The main camera has a larger 1.7-micron pixel sensor that allows 47% more light to be captured compared to iPhone 12. The ultra-wide camera seems to have the same specifications as last year, but Apple claims it “reveals more detail” in darker areas (likely due to improved processing algorithms).

The iPhone 13 and 13 mini will now be able to shoot video in Dolby Vision HDR at 4K60FPS. Apple is also introducing a new Cinematic Mode that enables manual or auto rack focusing for video recording. This mode will even let you change focus points in post-production. For stills, a new Photographic Styles feature can apply unique filters while preserving skin tone colours.


What's more on the iPhone 13 Pro models?

iPhone 13 Pro series (Pro and Pro Max).

The iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max also received the same perks as their non-Pro siblings, but they do have a more powerful camera system. 

The main wide angle camera on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max have an even larger 1.9-micron pixel sensor, while both the wide and ultra-wide cameras have larger apertures, which give the Pro models better low light performance than its non-Pro siblings.

Both Pro models also feature a third rear camera, which is an updated 12MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom. The ultra-wide camera also get a macro mode for stills and video, with a 2cm minimum focusing distance. All three cameras also have Night Mode shooting. 

Since the non-Pro phones can now shoot in Dolby Vision HDR, the Pro models get a new exclusive perk, which is Apple ProRes support. It’s a video compression format proprietary to Apple, offering heightened colour fidelity and seamless integration with Final Cut Pro video editing software. So if you edit videos often on Final Cut Pro, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max just made it more convenient for you. 

ProRes at 1080p30FPS is available on all iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max models, but ProRes at 4K30FPS is only available to iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max models with 256GB and higher storage - likely due to the resulting ProRes file sizes.


Other differences

The design language between iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 are nearly identical, but there are minor differences in dimensions - so you can’t simply use an old iPhone 12 case and expect a good fit on your iPhone 13.

Just like the iPhone 12 series, the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini has an aluminium body, while the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max uses stainless steel

The LiDAR Scanner hasn’t yet appeared on the iPhone 13 or 13 mini, so it still falls upon the Pro models for that extra depth-mapping in your photos. 

Finally, unlike the iPhone 12 series, iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max now pack the same set of features, so it’s now a choice between preferred display sizes and battery life.


5G access in Singapore on your iPhone 13

You’ve probably seen our article about mmWave 5G support being available only on iPhone 13 models sold in the U.S., so we’ll keep this within the context of Singapore’s current 5G networks.

At our current juncture (September 2021), only Singtel has live mmWave 5G sitting on the 28GHz band, but it’s in very specific areas on our island. Our more accessible 5G (NSA and SA) networks are within the sub-6 range: Singtel, StarHub, and M1 have 2,100MHz and 3.5GHz, and TPG’s trial 5G network uses a part of its 2,300MHz frequency band

While there were more 5G licenses distributed to our telcos recently, that’s something for future you to worry about - since these 5G bands aren’t commercially ready yet. Your local 5G access via an iPhone 13 variant (or other 5G-capable phones) sold here isn’t largely affected, given our limited mmWave 5G availability. 

The iPhone 13 devices sold here have the same network compatibility, regardless of variant (mini, regular, Pro, Pro Max). Apple’s network compatibility list can be found here.

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