The iPhone 13 is officially here, and while the early reviews are very positive, there are some reasons you might want to buy an iPhone 12 — or stick with an existing iPhone instead of upgrading. Head below as we detail the differences and similarities between the iPhone 12 vs. the iPhone 13.

In this comparison, we focus specifically on the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 vs the 6.1-inch iPhone 13. There are many similarities between the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max, but there are also some key differences. Stay tuned to 9to5Mac over the coming days and weeks for additional comparisons between Apple’s iPhone lineup as it stands today.

iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 13: Display

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 both feature a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display that uses OLED technology with a resolution of 2532 x 1770. This equates to 460 pixels per inch. One upgrade with the iPhone 13, however, is that max brightness of the display 800 nits, up from the 625 nits of the iPhone 12. The actual max brightness of the displays is the same at 1200 nits, thanks to universal support for HDR.

Buying the iPhone 13

Note that unlike the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, neither the iPhone 12 nor the iPhone 13 feature a ProMotion display. Instead, you’ll get a 60Hz refresh rate.

Other display features on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro include:

  • 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio
  • True Tone display
  • Wide color gamut (P3)
  • Haptic Touch
  • HDR display

Design

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 are very similar in terms of design. Both devices feature flat edges similar to the iPad Pro with a nearly edge-to-edge display and support for Face ID. On the back, you’ll find a glossy finish in the color of your choosing.

Speaking of Face ID, the notch cutout that houses the Face ID sensors is slightly smaller on the iPhone 13 than on the iPhone 12. Apple says that the iPhone 13 notch is around 20% smaller in width, but also slightly taller in terms of height. In real-world use, this is a very minor change and Apple hasn’t made any changes to the iOS experience to take advantage of the slight increase in usable screen space.

The iPhone 13 is slightly thicker and heavier than the iPhone 12 to accommodate a larger battery (more on that later).

iPhone 12 dimensions:

  • Height: 5.78 inches (146.7 mm)
  • Width: 2.82 inches (71.5 mm)
  • Depth: 0.29 inch (7.4 mm)
  • Weight: 5.78 ounces (164 grams)

iPhone 13 dimensions:

  • Height: 5.78 inches (146.7 mm)
  • Width: 2.82 inches (71.5 mm)
  • Depth: 0.30 inch (7.65 mm)
  • Weight: 6.14 ounces (174 grams)

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 are made from what Apple calls “aero-grade aluminum” and feature a Ceramic Shield front to protect the display. The phones are both water resistant to a depth of 6 meters for up to 30 minutes.

Best iPhone 13 cases: 

Performance

The iPhone 12 is powered by Apple’s A14 Bionic processor, while the iPhone 13 features the newest and most powerful A15 Bionic chip inside. Both devices feature 4GB of RAM inside.

Both the A14 Bionic and A15 Bionic chips feature 6-core CPUs with 2 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores. Both also feature a 4-core GPU as well as a 16-core Neural Engine. Apple has been quiet on just how much faster the A15 Bionic is than the A14 Bionic, but GeekBench results show a modest improvement in CPU performance year-over-year.

Battery life

Where the A15 Bionic really shines over the A14 Bionic, however, is in terms of battery life and efficiency. Apple says that the iPhone 13 lasts up to 2.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12, an improvement made possible by the A15 Bionic’s efficiency as well as a physically larger battery — hence the increase in weight and thickness this year.

Below are Apple’s full battery statistics for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13.

iPhone 12:

  • Video playback: Up to 17 hours
  • Video playback (streamed): Up to 11 hours
  • Audio playback: Up to 65 hours

iPhone 13:

  • Video playback: Up to 19 hours
  • Video playback (streamed): Up to 15 hours
  • Audio playback: Up to 75 hours

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 are both fast-charge capable and can add up to 50% charge in 30 minutes.

Connectivity

If you want 5G connectivity, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 both have you covered. Apple says this makes for “superfast downloads and high-quality streaming.” This includes support for mmWave 5G connectivity in the United States, as well as sub-6GHz 5G in the United States and other countries.

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 both include a Lightning connector on the bottom as well as support for MagSafe connectivity on the back. There’s also support for 7.5W Qi wireless charging and 15W wireless charging when using a MagSafe wireless charger.

Best iPhone 12 cases: 

Camera

How to use iPhone 13 Photographic Styles walkthrough - change in the Camera app with triple-square icon

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 feature a dual 12MP camera system with Wide and Ultra Wide cameras on the back. On the front, you’ll find a 12MP f/2.2 aperture selfie camera.

Here are the full specifications of the features that are shared between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13:

  • Dual 12MP camera system: Ultra Wide and Wide cameras
  • Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view
  • Wide: ƒ/1.6 aperture
  • 2x optical zoom out
  • Digital zoom up to 5x
  • Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control
  • Portrait Lighting with six effects (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, High‑Key Mono)
  • Five‑element lens (Ultra Wide); seven‑element lens (Wide)
  • Brighter True Tone flash with Slow Sync
  • Panorama (up to 63MP)
  • Sapphire crystal lens cover
  • 100% Focus Pixels (Wide)
  • Night mode (Ultra Wide, Wide)
  • Deep Fusion (Ultra Wide, Wide)
  • Smart HDR 3 with Scene Detection
  • Wide color capture for photos and Live Photos
  • Lens correction (Ultra Wide)
  • Advanced red‑eye correction
  • Auto image stabilization
  • Burst mode
  • Photo geotagging
  • Image formats captured: HEIF and JPEG
  • 4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
  • 1080p HD video recording at 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps

The iPhone 13 has multiple features that aren’t available on the iPhone 12:

  • HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60 fps
  • Limited to 30 fps on the iPhon e12
  • Sensor-shift optical image stabilization
  • Photographic Styles for personalizing the look of your images
  • Cinematic mode for recording videos with shallow depth of field

Colors, storage, and pricing

The iPhone 13 is available in five different colors: midnight, starlight, blue, red, and pink. The iPhone 12 is available in six colors: black, white, red, green, blue, and purple.

In terms of pricing, the iPhone 13 retails for:

  • $799 for 128GB of storage
  • $899 for 256GB of storage
  • $1,099 for 512GB of storage

Meanwhile, Apple today sells the iPhone 12 for:

  • $699 for 64GB of storage
  • $749 for 128GB of storage
  • $849 for 256GB of storage

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 13 features

iPhone 12 iPhone 13
Display 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
ProMotion Display
Finish Aluminum Aluminum
Processor A14 Bionic A15 Bionic
RAM 4GB 4GB
CPU cores 6 cores 6 cores
GPU cores 4 core 5 core
Durability IP68 IP68
Battery life Up to 17 hours video Up to 19 hours video
Camera Dual-lens 12MP Dual-lens 12MP
Optical zoom range 2x 2x
Video Dolby Vision HDR up to 4K at 30 fps Dolby Vision HDR up to 4K at 60 fps
Optical Image Stabilization
Photographic Styles
Cinematic mode
Dual eSIM support
5G
Weight 5.78 ounces (164 grams) 6.14 ounces (174 grams)
Storage 64GB, 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Pricing From $699 From $799

What’s included in the box

Citing environmental concerns, Apple is no longer including headphones or a charging brick in the iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 boxes. Here are some accessories you might consider picking up to help fill that gap and complement your new iPhone.

Wrap-up: iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 13

We’re going to break this wrap-up into two separate parts. First, if you’re looking to buy a new iPhone today and are currently using an iPhone 11 or older, we would would definitely recommend going for the iPhone 13 over the iPhone 12. For just $50 more in the 128GB configuration (which is the perfect amount for most people), you get some significant camera improvements, a notable boost in battery life, and the latest A15 Bionic chip on the inside.

Meanwhile, if you’re currently looking into upgrading from the iPhone 12 to the iPhone 13, chances are that it’s probably not worth it. The iPhone 12 is still an excellent device, and despite improvements to the iPhone 13, you’re probably better off waiting for the iPhone 14 next year.

What do you think of the iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 13 debate? Are you planning to buy a new iPhone this year? Let us know down in the comments!

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iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 13: Which should you buy in 2021?
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