Technophile

First look at the iPhone 13 line-up

Mala Bhargava | Updated on September 29, 2021

Familiar and yet brand new, the arrival of Apple’s smartphone series always generates excitement

Another year, another line-up of iPhones. The new series of iPhone 13 variants is here and it feels so much the same and yet, paradoxically, so very fresh. One has long since given up expectations of seeing radical external design changes on the iPhone as time after time Apple focuses on what’s on the inside of a smartphone that happens to still be so good as to be difficult to replicate for any company. Instead, everyone pores over minute details that take on a much bigger significance.

Beautiful build: As we unbox each one of the iPhone 13’s, it’s impossible not to be awed all over again by the beautiful build quality. I could swear the colours even plain white or black, look different on an iPhone than anywhere else. Apple even manage to icon-ize some of their colours, such as Product Red which you can get on the non-Pro models. Again, all four iPhone 13’s are in that much-loved flat glassy design with rounded corners. On the non-Pro phones the metal frames are aluminium and on the Pro phones stainless steel which this time doesn’t show finger smudges as terribly as on the iPhone 12 Pro models.

Unboxing is a simple matter as the packaging is minimal — just a slim box with no fuss and frills. There’s no charging brick in the box but just a cable and a little essential paperwork. You don’t even get a plastic wrap anymore because Apple wants you to know they’re serious about even the smallest thing that can be done to minimise the impact on the environment. When you look at a line-up of iPhones amidst a sea of glitzy Android phones, there’s little doubt who wins on design and build. And yes, price.

Mighty Mini: The iPhone 13 Mini, coming to us in the cleanest white possible, is still unique in the way it fits in your hand. With the multitude of Android phones around, one just can’t find one with the feel of the Mini. This time, the Mini has much stronger internals because it runs on the A15 chip and even has some of the camera prowess of the previous 12 Pro. It’s too small for those who are intensive users of a phone, but oh so perfect for those who want to talk and look up things and so on but not centre their lives around a device. It’s impossible to get small phones, so the Mini may almost the only choice for a good phone for those who want something easy to hold.

For those who have big hands and fingers and who use a whole lot of screen space, one of the other phones in the series may work out better. But the size of the Mini is no indication of its power. It’s also based on the new A15 chip and works fast. It doesn’t have the 120Hz display. It does however have an increase in battery life and is slightly thicker and heavier, though not enough to be a strain. The cameras are the same as on the iPhone 13 and on the back you’ll see a new diagonal arrangement for the lenses inside a transparent casing. It starts at ₹69,900 for the base variant.

Obvious option: The iPhone 13, which we have in a creamy pale pink colour, looks as if it will easily take up where the iPhone 12 left off, being a great in-between option for many. Our unit is so pale a shade of pink it’s almost white. It’s also called Starlight, intriguingly. Like crème brule. There’s a great midnight blue variant that people will rather like, specially if they’re looking for a black, of which there is none this time. This device too is slightly thicker and heavier but with only a positive impact - better battery life by about two hours, according to Apple.

The iPhone 13 and 13 Mini are both glossy so you might want to protect it with a case. Like the others in the series it’s a 5G phone and also runs on the A15 chip. The camera from the iPhone 12 Pro Max is here and has a bigger sensor and the software capabilities that bring new features to photography with it, such as Cinematic video. Storage on this and this phone has been increased, starting at 128GB, more than last year. It starts at ₹79,900 for the base model.

Going Pro: Simplifying matters greatly this time, the non-Pro phones are differentiated from each other in size and the two Pro phones are exactly the same except for size and of course things like battery that must necessarily scale to fit a bigger size. The iPhone 13 Pro Max has a 6.7-inch screen which is really very standard for Android phones but seems much more weighty and substantial perhaps because of its flat design.

The 13 Pro is the size of the iPhone 13 with its 6.1-inch screen, compact going by Android terms. The Max is decidedly a big phone and nice for those who have large hands and can hold the device without hand-strain and repetitive stress injuries and who are planning to spend a good amount of time on consuming content. The heart of both these phones is the set of cameras and videography, so the larger the screen, the more interesting and creative photography can be. And the display on these two phones brings the 120Hz refresh rate to iPhones — finally — and also ProMotion.

Although one of the two phones is called Max, they really have the same specs including the new level of storage going all the way up to 1TB, necessary for those who are going to be filming with either of these devices.

The cameras now have bigger sensors and Apple thinks they are powerful enough to start a new genre of shooting video. Unlike with Android phones, these devices don’t jump into the megapixel race so there’s no 108MP lens etc, but very capable equipment nonetheless which beats everything else in the video department. The Pro phones start at ₹1,19,900 and ₹1,29,900.

The iPhone 13 series is for the most part an iterative upgrade to the iPhone 12 line up. It makes more sense for those with phones older than that to come to the iPhone 13 series. For a first-time iPhone, this rough guide can tell you where to start exploring to pick your device. Also check on the very many schemes that there are and on buyback deals.

Published on September 29, 2021

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