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Apple iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: Which Is Better?

The top Pro options are the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro.

Our iPhone 13 Pro review lauds the smartphone, which is the family’s classy compact flagship. But, given that our iPhone 12 Pro review was also positive, how do they compare?

These are both among the best iPhones and, arguably, among the best smartphones, and there’s no denying that they look strikingly similar. And, while we gave both phones 8 out of 10 stars, Apple has undoubtedly made some key improvements with the latest model to keep things feeling fresh.

So, should you buy the iPhone 13 Pro? Let’s take a closer look at what’s on offer.

Price and availability: iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro

The iPhone 13 Pro will be available in stores on September 24, 2021. This was released slightly earlier in the year than the iPhone 12 Pro, which was released on October 23, 2020.

Pricing is similar to that of the iPhone 12 Pro. The entry-level 128GB iPhone 13 Pro costs $999 / £949 / AU$1,699, the 256GB model costs $1,099 / £1,049 / AU$1,869, and the 512GB model costs $1,299 / £1,249 / AU$2,219.

For the first time, the iPhone 13 Pro lineup includes a 1TB model. This will set you back $1,499 / £1,449 / AU$2,569.

At launch, the iPhone 12 Pro cost $999 / £999 / AU$1,699 for the 128GB model. The 256GB model cost $1,099 / £1,099 / AU$1,899, while the 512GB model cost $1,299 / £1,299 / AU$2,219.

As you can see, UK buyers benefit from a recent currency shift, resulting in a slightly better deal.

Design: iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro

The iPhone 13 Pro appears to be very similar to the iPhone 12 Pro, but we’d be surprised if that wasn’t the case. Apple made significant changes to the iPhone design with last year’s models, so another major overhaul is unlikely.

There are subtle differences in the angular design, parallel glass surfaces, and surgical-grade stainless steel rim.

Because of the larger battery, the newer phone is slightly larger and heavier than its predecessor. The iPhone 12 Pro is 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm and weighs 189g, whereas the iPhone 13 Pro is 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm and weighs 204g. The newer phone is slightly thicker and weighs 15g more.

This year’s iPhone also comes in a slightly different set of colors: graphite, gold, silver, and Sierra blue, the latter of which is one of the most striking new colors we’ve seen from Apple in a long time. The iPhone 12 Pro was available in Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Pacific Blue.

The matte finish on the glass rear panels of both Pros is preferable to the shiny non-Pro models.

In terms of the back, the iPhone 13 Pro’s camera module is significantly larger than the iPhone 12 Pro’s. This improves camera quality, as we’ll see, but it makes the phone a little unwieldy and more difficult to lay flat than its predecessor.

The iPhone 13 Pro, like the iPhone 12 Pro, has a Ceramic Shield on the front, which is four times stronger than most other glass display materials.

The display notch on the iPhone 13 Pro is 20% smaller than on the iPhone 12 Pro, which is perhaps the most significant design change this time around. It isn’t a game changer, as it still stands out quite a bit, but it is a step in the right direction.

Display: iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro

These two displays appear to be identical at first glance. Both have 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED displays with 1170 x 2532 resolutions. For HDR content, both can achieve a peak brightness of 1200 nits.

However, there are a few distinctions. One is that the iPhone 13 Pro’s display brightens up to 1,000 nits in bright outdoor lighting. The iPhone 12 Pro has a maximum brightness of 800 nits.

The key difference, however, is that the iPhone 13 Pro earns its Pro moniker in a way that the iPhone 12 Pro should have done a year ago. Finally, the new version incorporates a 120Hz refresh rate into the equation.

This has been a long-awaited feature, with Apple introducing its super-smooth ProMotion standard with the 2017 iPad Pro. It essentially means that content can scroll twice as smoothly as it can on the iPhone 12 Pro’s 60Hz counterpart.

Apple has used LTPO (low-temperature polycrystalline oxide) display technology here, allowing it to adjust the refresh rate of the iPhone 13 Pro display from 10Hz to 120Hz depending on the task at hand.

This LTPO technology has long been present in Android phones. The intriguing aspect here is that iOS has been programmed to track the speed of your touch inputs and adjust the refresh rate of the screen accordingly. As a result, it should scale seamlessly without your knowledge, saving vital battery life.

On the hand, we can confirm that the iPhone 13 Pro display is a significant improvement over previous models. When scrolling through menus or system apps, you can tell the difference. The difference will only become more noticeable and meaningful as third-party app support grows.

Camera: iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro

The iPhone 13 Pro, like the iPhone 12 Pro before it, features three 12MP cameras.

The iPhone 13 Pro now has a larger wide sensor and a wider f/1.5 aperture (vs. the iPhone 12 Pro’s f/1.6) for a 2.2x improvement in low-light shots.

The ultra-wide sensor on the iPhone 13 Pro has been widened to an f/1.8 aperture, which is significantly larger than the f/2.4 equivalent on the iPhone 12 Pro. Overall, this sensor outperforms the iPhone 12 Pro’s ultra-wide sensor by 92% in low-light conditions.

The iPhone 13 Pro’s ultra-wide camera is an improvement in more ways than one. It can also take sharp super-close-up macro shots from as close as 2cm away from the subject.

In addition, the 12MP telephoto lens on the iPhone 12 Pro is upgraded from 2x optical zoom to 3x optical zoom on the iPhone 13 Pro. This time around, you can also shoot in Night mode with the telephoto sensor.

Apple has carried over the sensor-shift optical image stabilization system from last year’s iPhone 12 Pro Max, resulting in even steadier shots than the iPhone 12 Pro.

Apple is always bringing new photographic tricks to the table. The iPhone 13 Pro includes a new feature that allows you to choose from a variety of Photo­graphic Styles, altering the tone and warmth without making skin and skies look unnatural.

We found this to be a fun mode to experiment with, but it is by no means a compelling reason to upgrade. The iPhone 13 Pro’s fundamental hardware improvements are far more significant.

Meanwhile, Smart HDR 4 can make adjustments for multiple people in a scene.

In terms of video, the new Cinematic mode will automatically select the point of focus for movie theater-worthy productions, even following a subject’s gaze and anticipating when a subject will come into view. It also allows you to edit the depth effects after the fact.

We’ve put this mode through its paces and found it to be quite effective. However, because it is a first-generation feature, we expect it to become much smarter and more consistent over time.

A feature called ProRes video will be available later this year. This allows you to record, edit, and deliver broadcast-ready content while on the go at 4K/30fps – or 1080p if you choose the 128GB model.

It’s a welcome improvement over the iPhone 12 Pro, which still has one of the best smartphone cameras on the market.

Specifications and performance: iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro

Apple’s A-series chips have always been at the pinnacle of smartphone performance, and the A15 Bionic chip in the iPhone 13 Pro is no exception.

This model has a 6-core CPU that is 50% faster than the leading Android competitor. When it comes to the GPU, the A15 Bionic in the iPhone 13 Pro outperforms the A15 Bionic in the iPhone 13, with a 5-core GPU (rather than 4-core) providing a claimed 50% boost over its nearest rival.

Apple didn’t provide many direct comparisons, but we do know that the A15 Bionic chip’s new Neural Engine can perform 15.8 trillion operations per second, a more than 40% increase over the iPhone 12 Pro’s A14 Bionic’s 11 trillion operations per second.

In our CPU-focused Geekbench 5 multi-core tests, the iPhone 13 Pro scored 4718, a 30% increase over the iPhone 12 Pro’s 3669.

We didn’t notice any stutters or pauses with the iPhone 13 Pro in general, no matter what we threw at it. However, the same can be said for the iPhone 12 Pro. If you upgrade from one to the other, you won’t notice much of a difference in performance, which is a testament to Apple’s chip design and ongoing support rather than criticism.

You have the same storage options as before, which are 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. However, for the first time, Apple has introduced a massive 1TB storage option.

According to Apple, the iPhone 13 Pro supports more 5G bands than the iPhone 12 Pro. However, we doubt that the vast majority of people will care.

Battery life: iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro

We were concerned last year when the iPhone 12 Pro debuted with a 2,815mAh battery, a decrease from its predecessor. Fortunately, the iPhone 13 Pro increases its capacity to 3,095mAh.

With a 120Hz display, you might think that the iPhone 13 Pro requires that extra power. However, thanks to the use of LTPO (low-temperature polycrystalline oxide) display technology and extensive software optimization by Apple, this screen is more efficient than the company’s previous 60Hz displays in many scenarios.

Apple claims that the iPhone 13 Pro has 1.5 hours more battery life per charge than the iPhone 12 Pro, and we don’t disagree.

In practice, the new phone has significantly better battery life than the iPhone 12 Pro and previous Pro handsets. We discovered that the iPhone 13 Pro can last a long day of high-frequency usage, with 10-20% of the battery remaining at the end of the day.

On lighter-use days, you may end up with about half a tank.

Apple has made no changes to the charging capabilities of the iPhone 13 Pro. We’re still talking about 20W wired, 15W wireless, and no charging brick included. In other words, it’s the same as the iPhone 12 Pro.

Takeaways from the iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro

This is an ‘evolution, not a revolution year for Apple’s iPhone family, as many predicted.

Make no mistake: the iPhone 13 Pro represents a significant advancement in several ways. It may appear nearly identical to its predecessor, but a significant speed boost, improved cameras, longer battery life, and a noticeably more fluid display all add up to a superior device.

The 120Hz refresh rate is the main story here. It’s a feature that the iPhone 12 Pro should have had a year ago, and it makes using the iPhone 13 Pro feel smoother and more ‘pro’.

Despite this, we wouldn’t recommend upgrading from the iPhone 12 Pro to the iPhone 13 Pro because the differences aren’t significant enough to justify the high price. The iPhone 13 Pro, on the other hand, is a more than worthwhile upgrade for anyone upgrading from an iPhone 11 Pro or earlier.

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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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