iPhone 13 Pro Review: Boring, Yet Powerful

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Apple has repeatedly dropped bombshells on the tech market with its popular iPhone lineup, but over the years, they’ve been kind of hit or miss with what they have to offer.

For Apple fans, some of the minor drawbacks have been passable, and for everyone else, they’ve been a point of contention for years. 

However, as a user of both Android and iPhone, I see something different with the iPhone 13 Pro. It’s more than just a slightly upgraded version of last year’s model with a hefty price tag. It might just be the iPhone that bridges the gap between fanboys from both camps. 

The tech it houses is incredibly impressive, it has the power to be a professional tool or casual powerhouse, and it’s snappy enough to make everything from daily tasks to real work processes a breeze. 

That’s the basic rundown, but let’s go over what makes it such an impressive device in a lot more detail. 

Design & Build Quality

iPhone 13 Pro back

Visually, the design of the iPhone 13 Pro isn’t anything to write home about. It’s sleek, slightly futuristic with the three camera lenses in the back, and overall, on par with any other iPhone design. However, that’s not a bad thing. 

iPhone 13 Pro left side

Apple has always been good about ensuring the design and form of their devices are conducive for easy manipulation and comfortable use. 

iPhone 13 Pro bottom

Despite its fairly large size, it’s lightweight and easy to manipulate with one hand.

You shouldn’t have any problems holding it with one hand to watch a two-hour podcast while sipping on a Starbucks or pretending to work on that thesis paper with a deadline coming up. 

iPhone 13 Pro lightning connector and speaker grills

Overall, I don’t have any real qualms with the design visually or in terms of its performance. The only downside that comes to mind is that the unique camera lenses will certainly require a first-party case or a third-party case specifically designed for the iPhone 13 Pro.

iPhone 13 Pro camera

Then again, this is a hefty investment. So, shelling out for a special protective case straight from the manufacturer should be a priority, anyways. 

iPhone 13 Pro left side

Additionally, the 13 Pro gets a larger battery, although it’s only a 10% improvement over the outgoing model. In terms of thickness, that means a very slight change from 7.4mm to 7.7mm; you’d barely notice the difference.

iPhone 13 Pro right side

The 13 Pro weighs over 200g now and went from 189g to 204g. Although the weight increase might not be noticeable, comparisons with other phones of similar size and proportions will certainly be jarring – the 13 Pro is heavier by comparison.

Display of the iPhone 13 Pro with waterdrops

According to IP68 certification, iPhone 13 phones are dust-proof and water-resistant, but not completely waterproof. They can withstand 30 minutes in 1.5 meters of water. Your iPhone 13 Pro should be fine going down to 6 meters of water.

Display

The display on the iPhone 13 Pro is an impressive upgrade from previous iPhone models. The screen itself is a 120-Hz screen, which is quickly gaining on the refresh rates of high-end PC monitors to create seamless visual experiences and smooth playback on video.

And if you use your iPhone for mobile gaming, you’ll appreciate the high refresh rate of both visually and for gameplay purposes. 

iPhone 13 Pro display left corner

The resolution of the screen is also impressive. Despite its 6.8″ size, it packs a 2532×1770 resolution. Looking at a spec sheet, that doesn’t seem overly impressive.

But in practice, it produces crystal-clear imagery that is perfect for on-the-go movie streaming without sacrificing the quality of a home television –minus the size of course-. 

Finally, this is one minor issue for the iPhone 13 Pro. If you’ve spoken to people who aren’t necessarily into Apple products, you probably know all about the jokes regarding the screens breaking if they’re touched by so much as a slight breeze. There’s a reason for that, and it’s not all bologna. 

iPhone 13 Pro display bottom right corner

With the 13 Pro, Apple has tried to add a bit of durability to the display with a built-in screen protector made from Apple’s proprietary “Ceramic Glass”. 

In theory, this makes the screen more well-protected than any other smartphone on the market, but in practice, I noticed it’s still prone to micro-scratches.

With the price tag attached to it, it’s not worth dropping the phone and seeing if it still suffers from the trademark weak screen, but hopefully, you take care of a device this expensive in the first place. 

Camera

iPhone 13 Pro camera

This is the meat and potatoes of any Apple device. While the fanboys of other brands swear by the versatility of their preferred options compared to Apple, no one can argue that Apple isn’t absolutely crushing the camera aspect of the industry. 

With your phone, this is a huge feature because you’ll be using it for selfies, capturing those precious moments of your life, and maybe even for professional photography or vlogging. 

Luckily, like every other iPhone model, the iPhone 13 Pro’s camera is at the top of the charts. 

Macro Photography

If you’re into taking close-up shots of the tiniest things, you’ll love the ultra-wide lens in the triple-camera system.

It’s perfect for macro photography and video recording, and it does it better than any other smartphone camera on the market. 

Smart HDR 4

Smart HDR 4 is a computational system the iPhone uses to bring your photos to life in ways you probably can’t pull off with fancy angles and clever lighting.

It determines exposure rates throughout a video or image capture to highlight specific areas, intensify shadows, and more to increase the visual quality of your captures with ease. 

Photographic Styles

Photographic styles are kind of like filters, but they’re not the silly nonsense you’ll find on Snapchat.

iPhone 13 Pro photography style vibrant warm
iPhone 13 Pro, wide lens with Photography Style: Vibrant Warm. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

You have five different photographic styles to choose from including the standard, rich contrast, vibrant, warm, and cool styles.

They’re designed to add more stylistic effects such as vintage aging, a warm glow, sepia, and other subtle changes that make a big difference without looking tacky. 

Give them a try, they’re super cool and fun to play with.

Night Mode

Getting proper exposure to night photos or videos has always been a difficult task for smartphones.

iPhone 13 pro night mode
iPhone 13 Pro Night Mode. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

But the iPhone 13 Pro has managed to combine Smart HDR 4 with its triple-camera system. This creates a night mode that perfectly exposes the environment without washing everything out or leaving the image covered in blurry darkness. Instead, you get crisp, clear imagery. 

Deep Fusion 

Deep Fusion is a low-light feature that uses the A13 Bionic Neural Engine. This engine automatically assesses your captured imagery and adjusts various settings to increase the texture and vibrancy of the image even in low-light situations. 

Portrait Mode

Portrait mode is perfect for selfies and other shots that need to be taller than they are wide. This is a minor feature found on a practically ever-modern smart device, but it’s still a nice feature to note. 

Portrait Lighting

The iPhone 13 Pro takes selfies seriously and includes a mode specifically designed to light your selfies to perfection.

Portrait Lighting is a key feature for any vlogger, self-enthusiast, or anyone else who cares what their more personal photos look like, and it’s not a common feature yet on other devices. 

True Tone Flash

If you’ve ever used an old or cheap flash feature, you know that flashing a photo can create washed-out or over-exposed images that simply don’t look right. True Tone Flash fixes that. 

Using a software algorithm and a combination of white and amber light, True Tone Flash can check the exact lighting and warmth of an image before you snap the picture.

And it will adjust the amounts of each light type to create a flash that preserves the natural look of the image while providing plenty of exposure. 

Panorama

The fan-favorite panorama feature that has been around since iPhone 4S makes its return with the 13 Pro model.

But it gets the added benefit of the phone’s triple-camera system and advanced software features. This helps it create more accurately detailed panorama images you’re sure to look at in awe. 

ProRaw

ProRaw is simply Apple’s version of the RAW image format. This format captures the most detailed images possible.

It’s a necessity for anyone looking to use the phone for professional photography. However, RAW photos do take up much more storage room than more compressed formats. 

Burst Mode

If you want to catch a whole sequence of movements without recording video, or you need to capture a hard-to-photograph subject with the best chance of getting a usable picture, Burst Mode is a feature you’re going to love.

It quickly snaps off ten photos per second, and in combination with the phone’s advanced focusing software, you’re sure to catch even the most delicate of subjects with ease. 

Video Quality

The iPhone 13 Pro is capable of bringing the same high-quality video recording features as it does traditional photography.

You probably won’t be shooting any feature films on it, but it’s more than enough for on-the-go vlogging, capturing special moments, and experimental projects without looking like you’re recording with a potato. 

However, it has made massive improvements over the previous iPhone 12 model in the video department. 

Apple has applied the same software used in the photography features to correct the tonal changes that plagued iPhone 12 videos, and it has removed the over-exposure problems entirely. Just these two fixes put the iPhone 13 Pro at the top of the class when it comes to video recordings. 

As a bonus, there’s a built-in screen recording feature. While not necessarily the same as on-camera recordings, screen recordings are useful, and the iPhone 13 Pro can pull them off without stuttering or other weird issues that affect other devices. 

Software

Besides the software I mentioned in the camera section, we have to talk about the main software running the show: iOS 15.2.

This is the standard iOS version that’s going to launch on your iPhone 13 Pro when you get it out of the box, and it’s a great upgrade over the previous versions.

There’s nothing too big to mention here, but there is a great deal of screen customization options added, some extra settings to fine-tune your visual experience, and of course, some minor menu changes you’ll need all of five seconds to pick up on. 

Overall, iOS 15.2 isn’t going to turn many heads, and if you’re familiar with previous iterations, you’ll feel at home with this one.

Luckily, the same snappy performance and overall reliability of iOS are intact. As of the time of this writing, iOS 15.3 is in the experimental stages, but you can expect a full download in the near future. 

Performance

The performance of Apple’s products has always focused on speed and user-friendliness with most of the tech side of things going into background features for cameras.

This is one of the things that attract Android fans the most since the iPhone runs faster and feels so much so smoother than most Android phones.

The iPhone 13 Pro comes with 6GB of RAM, and while there are some Android phones that blow that out of the water, it’s more than enough to handle every task you can possibly throw at the 13 Pro.

It boots quickly, loads applications and videos in a flash, can game smoothly, and overall has plenty of RAM for multitasking. 

A15 Bionic Chip

Then, you have the powerful A15 Bionic chip. Apple claims it’s 30% faster than any other mobile chip, and while it is quite snappy, I can’t verify the accuracy of that claim.

This chip is more than capable of handling multiple programs at once without sacrificing performance, it runs on 5 cores, and it has built-in features to make it provide far more accurate and snappy Google Maps calculations. 

The Neural Engine is another key performance factor. This 16-core circuitry chip uses machine learning to boost the onboard AI’s processing speed to absolutely staggering levels.

This helps it make much better use of the hardware it has rather than requiring an even higher price to supply the unit with more substantial hardware, and it boosts practically every feature of the phone. 

Finally, storage is important, and you have a number of options with this one. Storage is where most Apple products have left me a bit underwhelmed.

They were always low on storage space, and even when expanding the storage is an option, it simply wasn’t as easy as with other devices. 

Luckily, Apple has released a 128GB version that’s currently going for just under one grand. And there are incremental increases in storage and price until you reach the 1TB model which is currently around $1,500.

Of course, the MSRP is much higher, but you’re highly unlikely to buy straight from Apple as most people buy their phones through their carrier. 

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Battery Life

The battery life of the 13 Pro is considerably better than the previous model. With our tests, it can last just under 11 hours compared to the 8 hours of the iPhone 12. 

Over a typical day, I found myself regularly with a 50 percent charge at 10 pm. That’s after using it as my main phone throughout the day, making and receiving calls, sending texts and emails, browsing social media and the web, taking photos, and playing games.

On days when I didn’t use it quite so much, or I had low power mode enabled for most of the day, I could go to bed with battery levels as high as 65 percent.

In terms of charging speed, the iPhone 13 Pro is not the best out there. It’s unclear from Apple’s specs what the maximum charging power is for the iPhone 13s with USB-PD powered adapters, but tests indicate the iPhone 13 Pro’s fast charging can reach 23W.

According to Apple’s official specs, the iPhone 13 can achieve a maximum charging power of 23W when using USB-PD powered adapters, but tests show that the iPhone 13 Pro’s fast charging can reach a maximum of 23W.

Keep in mind the iPhone 13 Pro does not come with a charging adapter, so you’ll need to provide your own.

5G Connectivity

The iPhone 13 Pro does have the 5G connectivity of the 12 models, and it works exceptionally well when it does work.

Unfortunately, 5G hasn’t taken off everywhere, and you might have to revert back to good-old 4G occasionally depending on your carrier. 

Is the iPhone 13 Pro Still Worth Buying?

So, should you buy the iPhone 13 Pro?

Well, I would recommend it if you love photography, want a snappy phone built for speed and convenience, and want to take advantage of the stellar software support Apple has.

This is the iPhone that brings the line up to par with more high-end offerings from other manufacturers. 

However, Apple’s own proprietary nonsense is still there. There aren’t as many games or niche software available as there are on Google Play, and you still have to deal with buying an Apple charger and running your tunes and other favorite content through Apple’s apps. 

If you can deal with that, though, you’ll be getting one of the best phones on the market and an unmatched camera experience. 

iphone 13 pro review
iPhone 13 Pro
Verdict
It's hard to beat the iPhone 13 Pro when it comes to power, performance, storage, and an advanced camera system. Even almost a year after its release, the iPhone 13 Pro is still the best iPhone for power users.
Design
8.5
Display
9
Camera
9
Battery
8.5
Performance
9.5
Good Stuff
AMAZING triple-camera system
Snappy performance with machine learning
Acceptable hardware specs for the price
Variety of storage options
Major fixes over the 12
Bad Stuff
Proprietary Lightning port
Boring design, the notch should have been gone by now
Games and other niche software are still limited on iOS as a whole compared to other platforms
Huge price tag
8.9
Gotechtor Score

Herby has a healthy obsession with all things technology, especially with smartphones. He loves to rip things apart to see how they work.

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