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Which iPhone 13 should you buy?

·Technology Editor
·6 min read
In this article:
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Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 13 is coming Sept. 24, and that means you’re likely asking yourself which version of the company’s latest and greatest you should pick up. Like the iPhone 12, the iPhone 13 is available in four different varieties.

There’s the iPhone 13 mini, the iPhone 13, the iPhone 13 Pro, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Each one has its pros — no pun intended — and cons, whether that’s size, camera, or screen type.

They also vary, WIDELY, in price. We’re talking $699 for a base version of the iPhone 13 mini and $1,599 for an iPhone 13 Pro Max with 1TB of storage. To that end, I’m here to help you decide which iPhone 13 is best for you. Let’s get started.

  • iPhone 13 mini — For the budget-minded iPhone fan who won’t be watching much video

  • iPhone 13 — The all around go-to for most iPhone users

  • iPhone 13 Pro — For people who want the top iPhone camera capabilities

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max — For the iPhone lover who wants it all in a huge package

The iPhone for people who want to travel light

The iPhone 13 mini is the smallest of Apple’s quartet, making it the go-to for people who don’t necessarily want a big-screen phone taking up space in their pockets or purses, but do want something that’s fast and sports a great pair of cameras.

The iPhone 13 mini’s 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR display is sure to provide exceptional clarity and color. But for users who are looking for more real estate for watching videos, this isn’t the best option available.

Apple has unveiled the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini. (Image: Apple)
Apple has unveiled the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini. (Image: Apple)

In fact, the iPhone 12 mini has reportedly had trouble delivering on sales, so the iPhone 13 mini might be the last of its kind. Still, the iPhone 13 mini has the makings of a potent, but petite, powerhouse.

And with a starting price of $699 with 128GB of storage, the mini is the least expensive of the new iPhones.

The iPhone for, well, everyone

The iPhone 13 mini might be a great option for fans of smaller phones, but for everyone else, the iPhone 13 is likely your best bet. Starting at $799 with 128GB of storage, the iPhone 13 offers all of the features found on the iPhone 13 mini, including improved wide-angle and ultra-wide angle cameras with better low-light capabilities and sensor shift technology, as well as Apple’s A15 Bionic processor.

The new iPhone 13 gets improved wide-angle and ultra-wide angle cameras. (Image: Apple)
The new iPhone 13 gets improved wide-angle and ultra-wide angle cameras. (Image: Apple)

The iPhone 13 also gets Apple’s new Cinematic video mode, which can automatically change the focal point of your videos between subjects depending on how they’re positioned in the frame. It looks like a particularly interesting feature for people who love capturing family videos, and even aspiring videographers.

The iPhone 13 also brings along a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display, making it relatively compact, yet large enough for watching tons of video or falling down your next TikTok rabbit hole.

I’m currently using the iPhone 12 Pro, which also has a 6.1-inch display, and I spend hours watching videos on it despite having a perfectly good 55-inch TV in my living room. I have no idea why, either.

For my money, this is the iPhone 13 to go with for the vast majority of consumers.

The iPhone for people who want more

The iPhone 13 might be shaping up to be the go-to iPhone for this generation, but if you’re like me, you probably want a little bit more out of your smartphone. That’s where the iPhone 13 Pro comes in. Starting at $999, it’s not as easy on the wallet as the mini, but not as pricey as the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

And that extra cash you’ll pay brings big benefits over the base iPhones. Like the iPhone 12 Pro, the iPhone 13 Pro includes three cameras, an ultra-wide angle, wide angle, and telephoto.

The iPhone 13 Pro has an dramatically improved camera over prior generations of iPhones, and  Apple is banking on selling the new smartphone. (Image: Apple)
The iPhone 13 Pro has a dramatically improved camera over prior generations of iPhones. (Image: Apple)

All three also have improved low-light capabilities compared to the iPhone 12 Pro, and the iPhone 13 Pro’s ultra-wide angle camera can be used for macro photography, which lets you capture fine details of subjects as close as 2cm. The 13 Pro also includes Cinematic video mode and portrait video mode, which lets you add a bokeh effect to your movies.

Basically, if you’re most interested in getting a great smartphone camera, the iPhone 13 Pro is an excellent choice.

Then there’s the A15 Bionic. Apple has goosed the chip for the Pro model by giving it a 5-core graphics processing unit compared to the base iPhone’s 4 cores. That means you’ll see an improvement in graphics over the standard iPhone for things like games and video apps.

And then there’s the Pro’s storage options. The base iPhone 13 Pro starts out with 128GB of storage, which is a solid amount for most people. From there, your options grow to 256GB, 512GB, and an incredible 1TB. I have no idea what the average person needs 1TB of storage on their phone for, but hey, if you’re comfortable dropping $1,499, go for it.

The iPhone for people who need extra everything

The top-of-the-line iPhone, the iPhone 13 Pro Max, takes the iPhone 13 Pro and pushes its screen size to a monstrous 6.7 inches. Like the iPhone 13 Pro, the Pro Max gets three cameras with improved low-light capabilities including a 3x telephoto, and Cinematic video mode.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max also gets the Pro’s beefed up A15 Bionic chip with its more powerful graphics processing unit. And let’s not forget those storage options ranging from 128GB to 1TB.

The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max get dramatically upgraded cameras and high-performance displays. (Image: Apple)
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max get dramatically upgraded cameras and high-performance displays. (Image: Apple)

There’s the longer battery life. Plus, its screen supports Apple’s ProMotion technology, which speeds up the refresh rate to 120 times per second for smooth scrolling, and cranks it down to 10 times per second when you’re looking at images or reading text.

It’s that absolutely massive display, though, that makes the iPhone 13 Pro Max worth a look. I’m notorious for living a life of excess. I drink too much Diet Coke, eat too much peanut butter, and bought a car I couldn’t afford right out of college. So the iPhone 13 Pro Max is just the kind of ostentatious purchase I’d make if I were in the market for a smartphone — especially since I watch video on my phone so much.

If you’re the kind of person who wants a big screen, powerful performance, and impressive cameras, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is likely the phone for you. For everyone else, the iPhone 13 is a solid option.

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