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iPhone 12 vs iPhone 13: The Biggest Changes

Based on our iPhone testing, here’s how the iPhone 13 compares to the iPhone 12.

Even after the iPhone 14 introduced four new devices to Apple’s lineup, an iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12 showdown remains relevant. Despite the rescheduling of the best iPhone rankings, both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 are still available at reduced prices. So it’s useful to understand what distinguishes these various models.

The iPhone 13 is the more recent of the two phones, having been released in 2021. Apple currently offers two models: the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 and the 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini. Though not as new as the iPhone 14, either iPhone 13 model can boast a better chipset, cameras, and battery life than previous iPhones, including the iPhone 12.

However, the iPhone 12 retains an advantage over most of the more recent models in that it is less expensive, as Apple continues to reduce the price of this 2020 phone.

Assuming you’re content with an older iPhone, the question becomes, which is more important: more features or a lower price? That is entirely up to you, but we can assist you in determining your options.

We’ve tested and used every iPhone, so believe us when we say the iPhone 13 outperforms the iPhone 12 in nearly every significant way. The biggest differences between the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 12 are longer battery life and better displays.

Here’s how the iPhone 13 compares to the iPhone 12, building on the foundation laid by those older phones. If you’re curious about Apple’s latest models, check out our iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 12 comparisons to see how everything compares now that the iPhone 14 is here.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Specifications

iPhone 13 mini iPhone 13 iPhone 12
Current price $599 $699 $599
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Screen size 5.4 inches 6.1 inches 6.1 inches
Resolution 2340×1080 2532×1170 2532×1170
Processor A15 A15 A14
Rear cameras 12MP main (ƒ/1.6); 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.4) 12MP main (ƒ/1.6); 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.4) 12MP main (ƒ/1.6), 16MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.4)
Front Camera 12MP TrueDepth (ƒ/2.2) 12MP TrueDepth (ƒ/2.2) 12MP TrueDepth (ƒ/2.2)
Colors Red, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Pink Red, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Pink White, black, blue, green, purple, [Product] Red
Battery life (Hrs: Mins) 8:44 10:33 8:25
Size 5.2 x 2.5 x 0.3 inches 5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches 5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches
Weight 4.97 ounces 6.14 ounces 5.78 ounces
Water resistance IP68 IP68 IP68

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Price and availability

Following the release of the iPhone 14, Apple retained the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, and iPhone 12 as discounted options in its phone lineup. That means the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 12 mini are no longer available.

Apple typically reduces the price of returned models by $100, which is exactly what happened here. At $699, the iPhone 13 is the most expensive older model. The iPhone 12 is now $599, which is the same price as the iPhone 13 mini. In essence, Apple has determined that the larger screen on the iPhone 12 is as valuable as the newer features on the smaller iPhone 13 mini.

In the case of the iPhone 13 and 13 mini, you get more storage for your money than with the standard iPhone 12. These two iPhone 13 models begin with 128GB of storage rather than the 64GB offered by the iPhone 12.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Design and display

Except for one very visible exception, there isn’t much difference in design between the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 12. That’s the notch on the iPhone 13, which is smaller than the one on the iPhone 12 — 20% smaller, according to Apple. Otherwise, the phones have the same appearance, with the same flat edges and Ceramic Shield displays for increased durability.

The newer models do weigh slightly more — most likely due to the larger batteries included with the iPhone 13 — and there are new color options. The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini now come in Pink, as well as black (Midnight), white (Starlight), blue, and Product [RED]. Sierra Blue joins graphite, gold, and silver as new colors for the iPhone 13 Pro lineup. Apple has added green options to the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro models since their release in 2021.

Apple has made the most changes to the displays since the iPhone 12, though the AMOLED panels used in the iPhone 13 lineup are the same size as their predecessors. Instead, Apple provided brighter displays — 28% brighter than the iPhone 12’s screens, according to Apple’s calculations. The iPhone 13 and 13 mini have a brightness of 800 nits, while the iPhone 13 Pro models have a brightness of 1,000 nits.

We measured 795 nits of brightness for the iPhone 13 and 788 nits for the iPhone 13 mini during testing. That is unquestionably superior to both the iPhone 12 and the iPad Pro (569 nits).

Unfortunately, none of the remaining iPhone 13 models include what was the most significant display feature added to last year’s phone lineup — ProMotion displays, which were included in the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. That means they could adjust their refresh rate dynamically between 10Hz and 120Hz to reflect your onscreen activity. Because Apple considers faster refresh rates to be an exclusive feature for its Pro phones, the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini remain stuck at 60Hz, the same as the iPhone 12.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Cameras

Even though the number of lenses remained constant from phone to phone, cameras proved to be a significant point of differentiation between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12. It’s what Apple did with the camera hardware that makes the camera experience on the iPhone 13 so distinct.

The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini both have a 12MP main camera with the largest sensor ever used in a dual-camera iPhone at the time of release. Apple claims that the iPhone 13 camera lets in 47% more light than the iPhone 12 camera, resulting in sharper images. The sensor-shift optical image stabilization feature, which Apple added to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, is available on these two iPhone 13 models, and the ultrawide lens captures more detail in darker areas of your images.

Night Mode is available on both of the remaining iPhone 13 Pro cameras.

We haven’t conducted a formal camera comparison between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 models. However, in some photo comparisons, the iPhone 13 performs slightly better in low-light photography than its predecessor. The leaves in the hydrangea shot below appear pinker in the iPhone 13 shot, and there are brighter leaves surrounding the petals.

Another feature worth mentioning is Cinematic mode, which is available on all iPhone 13 models. When shooting video, this mode automatically adjusts focus, shifting between objects in the foreground and background as needed. This is not a feature found on the iPhone 12.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Performance and 5G

The A15 Bionic processor powers all iPhone 13 models, an upgrade from the A14 Bionic chip found in all iPhone 12 models. Given that the A14 was the fastest system-on-chip we tested, the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini performed quite well in comparison to the iPhone 12.

We tested the iPhone 13 models and discovered that the new chipset is faster than the A14 inside the iPhone 12, though there isn’t a significant difference between the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 12. The iPhone 13 achieved single- and multicore scores of 1,684 and 4,129 in Geekbench 5, respectively. Both of these results outperformed the iPhone 12’s 1,593 and 3,859 results.

Those are, however, artificial benchmarks. The gap was narrower in real-world testing. We transcode a video using Adobe Premiere Rush and time the results. The iPhone 13 was slightly faster than the iPhone 12, but only by a fraction of a second.

(Intriguingly, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus also use an A15 Bionic chip, though it lacks the 5-core GPU found in the iPhone 13 Pro models.) As a result, our iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13 benchmarks show some improvement.

Although the iPhone 12 had some of the best 5G compatibility available, Apple claims that the iPhone 13 models will support even more 5G bands. Apple claims that by 2022, 5G support on iPhone 13 models will have more than doubled to more than 200 carriers in 60 countries and regions.

iOS 15 comes pre-installed on the iPhone 13. The iPhone 12 models were released with iOS 14, but they are now running iOS 15, just like their successors. Both phones can now run iOS 16 quite well.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Battery life and charging

Because Apple does not reveal battery sizes when it announces new phones, battery sizes are unofficial and derived from teardowns of the various phones. We know that the iPhone 13 power pack is larger than the iPhone 12 power pack and that the newer phone has longer battery life.

Model Battery life (hours: mins)
iPhone 13 Pro Max 12:16
iPhone 12 Pro Max 10:53
iPhone 13 Pro 11:42
iPhone 12 Pro 9:06
iPhone 13 10:33
iPhone 12 8:25
iPhone 13 mini 8:41
iPhone 12 mini 7:28

Here’s how each iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 model’s battery life fared in our testing. We put phones through their paces by surfing the web over 5G until their batteries die.

As you can see, in our battery test, each of the iPhone 13 models outlasted their iPhone 12 counterparts, with improvements ranging from modest in the case of the iPhone 13 mini to outstanding for the iPhone 13. Both iPhone 13 Pro models have earned a spot on our best phone battery life list, which honors phones that last more than 11 hours in our tests.

The charging speeds remain the same as they were on the iPhone 12 — 15W MagSafe wireless charging and 20W wired charging. The iPhone 13 models, like the iPhone 12, do not come with a charger.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Which Is Better?

Phones are expected to improve from generation to generation, but the differences in our iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12 comparison are quite noticeable. Better storage options, a faster processor, and camera improvements would make this a significant upgrade. With improved battery life, last year’s update proved to be a significant improvement over the previous year.

Even though the iPhone 12 models were excellent, they pale in comparison to what the iPhone 13 offers. That’s great news if you’re looking for an iPhone right now.

Because of the larger screen, most customers will likely prefer the 6.1-inch iPhone 13. Outside of the iPhone SE 2022 and its outdated design, the iPhone 13 mini is the only option if you prefer a more compact mini form factor.

Of course, now that it’s here, the iPhone 14 looms over everything. The new phones are an even bigger step up from the iPhone 12 and may cause envy among iPhone 13 owners, especially with the new iPhone 14 Pro editions. Still, our task is to assist you in making an iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12 decision, and in that regard, the iPhone 13 is superior in almost every way except price.

Why Trust Us?

Best Top Reviews Online was founded in 2018 to provide our readers with thorough, unbiased, and independent advice on what to buy. We now have millions of monthly users from all over the world and evaluate over 1,000 products per year.

The article above was written by the BestTopReviewsOnline team, which includes many of the US’s most knowledgeable technical experts. Our team includes well-known writers with extensive experience in mobile phones, computing, technology, photography, and other fields.

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