iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: Which One Should You Go for?

28 October 2021

Robert Duke

Blue iPhone 12

The iPhone 13 is finally here, but is it any different from the iPhone 12, and is it worth the extra money compared to last year’s model? Find out below…

Which performs better?

As you’d expect, the iPhone 13 outperforms the 12 when it comes to processing power. The latest handset offers a 10% to 25% improvement in performance depending on the task (and that’s impressive, considering that the iPhone 12 was already at the top of the benchmarking charts). Will this make a noticeable difference in your day-to-day usage? Not generally; but it will handle high-demand tasks like gaming and video streaming slightly better. 

Also, if you go for a Pro or Pro Max version of the 13, you’ll get the added benefit of a 120hz screen refresh rate (the max available on the iPhone 12 was 60hz), which makes the display smoother than any other phone on the market. That’s a huge benefit from our perspective.

In terms of the cameras, the iPhone 13 rear array captures around 50% more light than the iPhone 12, so you’ll be able to take better photos in dim settings than ever before, and the front-facing cameras have received a similar upgrade. Having seen a few side-to-side examples, the 13 does seem to capture images with more clarity and depth of colour than the 12, so if you’re serious about photography, it’s worth keeping in mind.


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They’re both beautiful, and even though they look very similar, there are a few minor tweaks with the iPhone 13. The most noticeable are changes are the smaller notch around the front-facing camera (which gives you more screen space), and different button placements around the edges, and the diagonal (rather than vertical) alignment of the rear camera lenses on the standard 13 and the mini. At a push, we’d say the iPhone 13 looks slightly more refined, but there’s not much in it. 

Also, due to the slight differences in the physical profile (the iPhone 13 is fractionally thicker and heavier), iPhone 12 phone cases won’t fit on the new handsets. Worth knowing if you’re considering an upgrade. 

The iPhone 13 and mini are available in a pretty jazzy range of colours, including pink, blue, black, aluminium/white and PRODUCT(RED). The equivalent iPhone 12s are available in blue, green, black, white, purple and (PRODUCT)RED. 

The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max colours are, predictably, a little more understated but also closely match last year’s options, including silver, graphite and gold. There are light-blue versions of both, with the iPhone 13’s Sierra blue being slightly lighter than the iPhone 12’s Pacific Blue.

Does the iPhone 13 offer any other big upgrades or new features?

On top of the usual improvements in processing power, display and camera quality, there are a few new things they’ve added and upgraded on the iPhone 13 which push it beyond the 12.

5G connectivity has been upgraded, which means it can reach more bands for more consistent high-speed performance. Great news if 5G is available in your area. 

Reaching a full charge takes the same amount of time, but you’ll get around 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours of extra charge in total compared to the iPhone 12, which is a decent increase.

One of the real selling points of the iPhone 13 is the increased storage available. Where the iPhone 12 only offered a range of 64GB to 512GB, the new iPhones range from 128GB to 1TB, so you’ll get more bang for your buck. 

There’s also an exciting new feature for video recording called Cinematic mode, which allows you to add a blur to the foreground or background to emphasise objects in view. Sure, it’s a bit of a work in progress and doesn’t always hit the mark (Apple will improve it over time with updates), but when it works – it really is striking. 

Which should you go for?

Both the iPhone 13 and 12 are premium handsets, so you’re going to need to shell out a lot of dough either way. iPhones do become slightly cheaper in the year after launch, and you can currently get equivalent versions of the 12 for around £100 cheaper than the 13.

The 13 Pro and Pro Max do take things to a different level in terms of performance, and the visual comfort of the 120hz refresh rate on the display makes a real difference, even with normal day-to-day usage. 

For those who already own the iPhone 12 (and possibly the iPhone 11), we wouldn’t necessarily recommend an upgrade, unless you’re one of those people who simply has to have the latest cutting-edge technology. For everyone else, the iPhone 13 might just be worth the extra outlay compared to the iPhone 12. 

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