iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: what's new?

A new challenger

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12
(Image credit: Apple)

To upgrade or not upgrade, that is the question. It's a yearly inner conflict many of us have to deal with every time Apple unveils its latest device - the iPhone 13 is no different. At first glance, it's very easy to be swayed by the new improvements, add-ons, shiny colours and tempting new features laid out by Tim Cook and fellow Apple colleagues. But there's so much more that needs to be taken into consideration before considering whether to go ahead.

Namely, how the iPhone 13 stacks up against its predecessor, the iPhone 12. After all, that was the hot, new toy only 12 months ago with our review calling it "excellent in almost every way." That said, the iPhone 13 looks to be a step up once again, offering lots of incentives for people willing to make the jump. To break this down, it's easier to match these two titans against one another to see how these specs really stack up. 

Note: Four new iPhone models were announced - iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max - however, we will be strictly focusing on the standard models for this comparison. 

 Price and release date 

The all-important question of price. Let's get straight to it. At launch, the iPhone 12 was available for purchase for $799 / £799 / AU$1,349 for the standard 64GB storage. Apple has now stated that the iPhone 13 will launch at that same price, however with 128GB, giving more bang for your buck. 

A release date for iPhone 13 has been confirmed as September 24th. Pre-orders are expected to go live a week prior on September 17th. This is slightly earlier than the iPhone 12 that became available for pre-order on October 16th and then was shipped on October 23rd, 2020. 

iPhone 13 colours

(Image credit: Apple)

 Design 

Once again the iPhone 13 takes inspiration from the design of the iPad Air 2020, something the iPhone 12 did. Apple has leaned more into this with a more durable flat design while holding onto the aluminium frame that has now become a staple. It also retains its Ceramic Shield as well as an IP68 rating for water resistance. The biggest change comes in the form of a redesigned rear camera layout that has diagonally arranged lenses, as opposed to the linear ones on its precursor. Outside of this, there's very little to separate the pair. 

The colour choices between the pair are reasonably different for the most part. While the iPhone 12 launched with black, white, red, green and blue, the iPhone 13 will offer pink, blue, midnight, starlight and (product) red. 

Apple iPhone 13

(Image credit: Apple)

 Camera

Apple has claimed that the iPhone 13 is equipped with the "most advanced dual-camera system ever" on iPhone. This consists of a new 12-megapixel wide camera and new sensor-shift optical image stabilisation (OIS) to help reduce shakiness and help with low-light photos and videos. 

The TrueDepth camera system on iPhone 13 is slightly smaller than the iPhone 12 but has not changed the amount of tech within. On top of this, you have the new Cinematic mode as the company looks to entice more filmmakers. iOS 15 will also be bringing in a new Portrait mode specifically for FaceTime calls, with Focus helping to reduce background noise. 

iPhone 13

(Image credit: Apple)

Performance/Battery 

Battery life has improved once more by the A15 Bionic, making it so the new smartphone can be powered on for two and half hours longer a day. Components are said to run more efficiently too, meaning everything should run that little bit faster (in theory). 

iPhone 13 screen

(Image credit: Apple)

Screen

The iPhone 12 was the first model to go from an LCD panel to an OLED display, which unsurprisingly the iPhone 13 has held onto but is now 28% brighter. Screen size is identical at 6.1 inches, while also keeping the 60Hz screens and promises to be more power-efficient. It's still not on the level of the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max that both now offer 120hz, however.  

iPhone 13

(Image credit: Apple)

Early Verdict

It's fair to say that at this point the iPhone 13 it's not a monumental leap from the iPhone 12, yet it's hard to underestimate the effect these little touches can have on those that care and upgrade on a regular basis. Extra battery life, 64GB more storage alongside a more appealing rear-camera layout and a better selection of colours certainly sweeten the deal. It's more of a question of whether that is enough for you. 

Matthew Forde
Matthew Forde

Matthew is the Staff Writer for T3, covering news and keeping up with everything games, entertainment and all manner of tech. You can find his work across numerous sites across the web, including TechRadar, IGN, Tom's Guide, Fandom, NME and more. In his spare time, Matthew is an avid cinema-goer, keen runner and average golfer (at best).