Apple iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are all about the new cameras and 120Hz display

Nothing spectacular here but the flagship iPhones are now rock-solid offerings at the same prices.

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You almost always know what you’re going to get with an Apple iPhone – a steady upgrade. And so it is with the new iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, whose biggest updates come in the form of the display and the camera.

In terms of design, any change is negligible. It’s the same housing offered in the same sizes – 6.1" and 6.7" – and it sports the same IP68 water resistance as well. Well, apart from the front camera housing that is, which is 20 per cent smaller than its predecessor. There’s also a new colourway called sierra blue colour as well.

The new Sierra Blue colourway. Image: Apple
The new Sierra Blue colourway. Image: Apple

Internally, the new A15 Bionic retains the same 5-nanometer die process as the A14 Bionic but with updates for the two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. Apple is claiming a 50 per cent lead over its leading competitors for CPU and GPU performance, but then again, I don’t think anybody really is counting and disputing the lead at this point.

On the inside, Apple has added more 5G bands (not that we’re going to be travelling much), and they’ve added a 1TB storage option as well (not that we’re going to be eating much after paying for that).

Both models will each get a larger battery, which according to Apple, offers up to an extra 1.5 hours of battery life for the 13 Pro over the 12 Pro and an extra 2.5 hours for the 13 Pro Max. It remains to be seen what the average numbers are like, given the new feature coming up.

And it’s something that many smartphones already have: an adaptive 120Hz display (10-120 Hz). The new Super Retina Display with ProMotion will make the iPhone’s already buttery-smooth UI even more responsive. Apple says the new display, at 1000 nits, is the brightest display on an iPhone ever.

All about the cameras

New phone, new tri-camera array. Image: Apple
New phone, new tri-camera array. Image: Apple

The pro camera system also gets a rework with new Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto cameras, which also work hand in hand with the new ISP on the A15 Bionic. Sensor-shift optical image stabilisation is now available on both models.

The bread and butter Wide camera has a larger, 1.9 µm pixel size sensor and a larger f/1.5 aperture for improved image quality in low-light situations. Apple says it’s up to 2.2x better when compared to iPhone 12 Pro, and nearly 1.5x when compared to iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Taken with Ultra Wide camera in low light. Image: Apple
Taken with Ultra Wide camera in low light. Image: Apple

The Ultra Wide camera now has a much wider ƒ/1.8 aperture and a new autofocus system. Apple says it adds up to a 92 per cent improvement in the form of brighter and sharper images in low-light environments. And thanks to the new lens design and ISP on the A15 Bionic, it can now take macro pictures from as near as two centimetres away from the subject. Macro is also available on video, including Slo-mo and Time-lapse.

As for the telephoto: There’s less fanfare around the new 77 mm Telephoto camera, but nonetheless, it has slightly more reach than its predecessor (65 mm), which is the most useful bit, really.

Much of the new camera system’s perks lie in the improved integration of hardware and software. Photographers will surely be interested in the new Photographic Styles, a feature that lets you create presets that work together with Apple’s multiframe image processing. It’s different from a filter as the adjustments are applied to specific parts of a photo, as opposed to an adjustment that affects the whole picture.

For video, Cinematic mode is a doozy – it helps you take cinema-style footage by applying depth effects and automatic focus changes. What’s cooler is that you can now change the focus and adjust the depth of field even after recording in the Photos and iMovie apps (updates for iMovie and Final Cut Pro for Mac in the future) – it’s the only phone that can do that right now.

Additional features include:

  • All cameras can now use night mode
  • Smart HDR 4 with improved colour, contrast, and lighting for subjects
  • Better low light performance for video
  • End-to-end pro-grade video workflows in Dolby Vision and ProRes (future iOS update, 128GB models limited to 1080p 30 fps instead of 4K 30 fps)

Pricing and Availability

The Apple iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max will be available in graphite, gold, silver, and sierra blue at Apple stores, authorised resellers and select telcos. Pre-orders start at 8 p.m. on September 17 and the phones will go on sale on September 24.

The good news (kind of) is that prices for this iteration of the flagship iPhones are somewhat stable, with prices more or less on par with last year’s models.

iPhone 13 Pro
  • 128GB: $1,649
  • 256GB: $1,819
  • 512GB: $2,149
  • 1TB: $2,479
iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • 128GB: $1,799
  • 256GB: $1,969
  • 512GB: $2,299
  • 1TB: $2,629
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