iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 – the key differences

October 11, 2021

Front and rear view of blue iPhone 13

Apple have followed its ground-breaking iPhone 12 with a new ground-breaking phone, the iPhone 13.

On the surface, they look very similar. But the inside of the new iPhone has been completely re-engineered to offer some serious performance enhancements.

If you choose iPhone 12, you’ll still be choosing a phone that’s slicker, faster, and smarter than the competition. But iPhone 13 has some seriously impressive new features that might persuade you to invest in getting the new model.

Here’s how the 2 iPhones compare.

iPhone 13 design – how does it compare to the iPhone 12?

Most of the big changes are on the inside for iPhone 13. Like iPhone 12, it still has the same aerospace-grade aluminium edges and extra-tough ceramic shield. Plenty of protection against scuffs and scrapes. And they’re both water resistant to a depth of 6 metres, for up to 30 minutes.

One difference is iPhone 13 only uses plastics upcycled from plastic bottles, in line with Apple’s environmental goals.

Another key difference is the re-engineered front camera, which is 20% smaller than before. That gives you more room to enjoy the Super Retina XDR display, which lets in 28% more light than on iPhone 12. That makes it easier to view in sunlight and gives you richer shades of colour.

New colours to suit new styles. 

iPhone 12 is available in more colours currently – Black, White, Green, Purple, Blue, and Product Red.

Row of iPhone 12 devices in black, white, red. green. blue and purple

iPhone 13 is also available in Blue and Product Red, but introduces Midnight, Starlight, and Pink.

Row of iPhone 13 devices in red, white. black, blue, and pink

What about the camera?

iPhone 13 takes what was great about iPhone 12’s camera and adds a few key enhancements. They both have a 12MP dual camera system, with both wide and ultra-wide lenses.

But iPhone 13 is even better at low-light photography, letting in 47% more light to reveal more detail in any dark parts of your photos. It also includes improved image stabilisation, taking the blur out of any of your unsteady snaps.

The most exciting innovations are in video. The new Cinematic Mode makes your videos look even more Hollywood than before. The camera adds depth to your images, and uses an intuitive focus that pulls in new things as they enter the frame.

Say, for example, you’re shooting video of yourself and someone else enters the shot. Cinematic Mode will automatically pull them into focus, and then take the focus away once they leave the shot. You also have the option to adjust where the focus is when you edit your videos afterwards to achieve incredible professional results.

What about iPhone 13 v iPhone 12 performance?

iPhone 12 was already ahead of the smartphone pack with its A14 chip. The new A15 chip in iPhone 13 grows the lead even further. Apple boasts that it’s 50% faster than the competition, and delivers 30% faster performance for gaming.

The big news with the A15 chip is the new machine learning technology available for photos and videos. Apple are making iPhone 13 a platform for a new generation of apps. It unlocks the potential to do everything from identifying flowers in your garden to analysing videos of your dance moves and your golf swing, before giving you pointers on how to improve them.

Another difference is storage memory. iPhone 13 has much larger internal memory capacity. You could only get an iPhone 12 with up to 258GB of memory. iPhone 13s are available with 516GB. That’s a huge leap and super-useful if you’re always running out of space to save things.

Will the iPhone 13 last longer than the iPhone 12?

iPhone 13 gives you a bit more juice than iPhone 12. Apple estimates that iPhone 13 lasts 2.5 hours longer than iPhone 12. If you sat watching videos all day, it would take about 19 hours before you’d need a recharge.

With iPhone 13 mini, you get 1.5 hours more than on iPhone 12 mini. That gives you about 17 hours of video playback before you need a charge.

Front and rear view of a pink iPhone 13

Which iPhone should you choose?

iPhone 13 has a lot in common with iPhone 12. But some of the performance enhancements really do make a difference.

Photography and video are the areas where iPhone 13 really steps above what iPhone 12 can do. Cinematic mode really is a breakthrough for video capture on a smartphone. So it’s a must for any passionate filmmaker, vlogger, or YouTuber.

iPhone 13’s new A15 chip really optimises gaming performance, so gamers may want to upgrade so they can enjoy the latest releases without compromise.

The machine learning technology is certainly intriguing, although it’s early days yet. But there are rumours that Apple is working on a VR headset. If you’re excited by the potential of these new features, then making that extra investment in the new iPhone could be worth it.

To compare more iPhones from the iPhone 13 range, head over to our iPhone comparison tool.

iPhone offers from Three.

The iPhone 13iPhone 13 ProiPhone 13 Pro Max, and iPhone 13 mini are all available to buy now.

iPhone 12 is available to buy now with iPhone 12 Pro Max currently available, but Apple plans to discontinue the 12 Pro Max soon.

Looking for a more affordable but powerful iPhone? Or maybe you are looking to try out an iPhone for the first time? Why not take a look at the new iPhone SE 3rd gen here on Three.

You can place your order online or in-store.

We also offer iPhone 12 business and iPhone 13 business plans too. Take a look over on our business site.