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iPhone 13 Pro review

Not only the best iPhone ever but also the one with the “biggest camera upgrade,” that would be this year’s iPhone 13 Pro, which we have here in Max size. Joining these bigger, better cameras, we’ve got a high refresh rate display, plus battery, the mandatory chipset upgrade – the 13 Pro Max ticks all the boxes to improve everything that matters. We are here to see how much.

Advances in the camera system begin with a new head unit with a larger sensor and a brighter lens. The ultra-wide module also has a brighter lens but with autofocus, a first for an ultra-wide iPhone. Then there’s the telephoto lens, which offers up to 3x improved range, but with a slightly darker lens. Upfront, things remain the same, and no, the 20% reduction in notch size doesn’t count.

Finally, giving in to market trends, Apple has equipped the 13 Pro and Pro Max with 120 Hz displays, or rather ProMotion. They are of the adaptive type, theoretically capable of varying refresh rates to reach up to 10 Hz to conserve battery power. This adds to an impressive set of display features, including DolbyVision support, great brightness, and excellent color reproduction.

All 2021 iPhones come with increased battery capacity, and in the case of the 13 Pro Max, that’s an 18% increase, 2.5 hours more than last year’s Pro Max in Apple metrics, or “longest runtime of the battery in an iPhone.» and all that.

As usual, a new year means an updated chipset and, along with the newly named processor cores and a higher clock frequency, the A15 in the 13 Pros also comes with an additional GPU core. A bit related, the 13 Pro Max can come with up to 1TB of storage, which should come in handy for iPhone filmmakers if no one else.

These are some of the other most important specifications.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Features at a Glance:

Body: 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.7mm, 240g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass), glass back (Gorilla Glass), stainless steel frame; IP68 water/dust resistant (up to 6m for 30 minutes), Apple Pay (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX certification).
Display: 6.70 ″ Super Retina XDR OLED, 120 Hz, HDR10, Dolby Vision, 1000 nits (typical), 1200 nits (peak), 1284x2778px resolution, 19.47: 9 aspect ratio, 458ppi; Wide color gamut, true tone.
Chipset: Apple A15 Bionic (5 nm): Hexa-core (2 × 3.22 GHz Avalanche + 4xX.X GHz Blizzard); Apple GPU (5-core graphics).
Memory: 128GB 6GB RAM, 256GB 6GB RAM, 512GB 6GB RAM, 1TB; NVMe.
Operating system / software: iOS 15.
Rear Camera: Wide Angle (Main): 12 MP, f / 1.5, 26mm, 1.9 µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, Sensor Shift OIS; Telephoto: 12 MP, f / 2.8, 77mm, PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom; Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, f / 1.8, 13mm, 120˚, PDAF; Depth: TOF 3D LiDAR scanner.
Front camera: Wide angle (main): 12 MP, f / 2.2, 23 mm, 1 / 3.6 «; Depth: SL 3D.
Video capture: Rear camera: 4K @ 24/30 / 60fps, 1080p @ 30/60/120 / 240fps, 10-bit HDR, Dolby Vision HDR (up to 60fps), ProRes, cinematic mode, stereo sound recording; Front camera: 4K @ 24/25/30 / 60fps, 1080p @ 30/60 / 120fps, gyro-EIS.
Battery: 4373 mAh; 20W fast charging, 50% in 30 minutes (announced), USB Power Delivery 2.0, 15W MagSafe wireless charging, 7.5W Qi wireless fast magnetic charging.
Miscellaneous: face ID, accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, compass, barometer; NFC; Siri natural language commands and dictations, ultra-wideband (UWB) support.

Unpacking the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

This one is easy, not much to unpack. The slim packaging introduced in 2020 (with minimalist content, too) is now followed by removing the plastic sleeve as this year’s contribution to the environment.

The iPhone 13 Pro I reviewed came in gold, which is not my color of choice, but you work with what you have. Both the front and the back are protected by ceramic glass, and there is a square stainless steel strip along the sides, which differentiates it in quality from the cheaper aluminum of the iPhone 13.

All standard buttons are present, including the Ring / Silent switch and volume buttons on the left and the side button on the right to activate Siri and toggle the screen on and off. There are also bottom-firing speakers on either side of the Lightning port. As I’ve pointed out with other iPhone 13 models I’ve reviewed, it’s disappointing to see Apple keep sticking with Lightning, especially when most people largely have USB-C devices. But keep I’m hoping that Apple will make the switch for next year’s model.

The iPhone 13 Pro measures 5.78 x 2.81 x 0.3 inches and weighs 7.2 ounces. Those are roughly the same dimensions as the iPhone 12 Pro (5.78 x 2.82 x 0.29 inches), but it tips the scale to almost an ounce heavier (6.66 ounces) due to the extra capacity of the battery and telephoto lens, both of which they are welcome additions that are worth the extra weight. In terms of usability, I found it to be just as usable as the iPhone 13 – you can navigate with one hand and reach for the screen. It’s only with the Pro Max that you start pushing the limits of one-handed use.

iPhone 13 Pro in hand

Like all other iPhone models, iPhone 13 is IP68 compliant, dust and water-resistant. I confess that it came into play more often than I expected because the phone spills in the park while juggling the devices during testing. This is how it also picked up a gouge on display despite the ceramic glass protecting the front. It is usually not visible unless a light is reflected off it and does not affect usability. And if you’re more careful than I am and don’t do a circus act in the park (or you’re using a case or screen protector), you probably don’t suffer from this problem.

There aren’t too many in terms of physical differences between the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro. According to Apple, the TrueDepth sensor has a 20% smaller notch on the screen, which is true, but it’s also a bit deeper, and from what I could see, it doesn’t add a significant amount of usable screen real estate. There is always Face ID, which I generally found to be right or wrong when wearing a face mask. You can do alternative face scans to make it work better, but it’s not that safe either, so I decided not to go for it.

iPhone 13 Pro notch.

On the back, the sensor array is quite similar to last year’s. There is a vaguely square chamber and three chambers. The only noticeable difference is that each camera sensor is larger, and the camera bump sticks out a bit more. That’s a fair trade for the improved camera performance in my estimate.

There are many selling points for the iPhone 13 Pro, but one of the biggest is the display, and we’re not just talking about size. Like the iPhone 13, it is a 6.1-inch Super Retina OLED display with great color accuracy, 2532 x 1170 resolution, and 460 pixels per inch. Its sharp and bright viewing angles are excellent; it can hit 1,000 nits in brightness and punch up to 1,200 nits for HDR content. Outdoor visibility is excellent even in direct sunlight, and the display also supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

That’s all great, but what sets it apart is the 120Hz promo screen. The promo is a technology that first made its way to the iPad Pro series in 2017, allowing Apple to increase the refresh rate to 60Hz. Standard at 120 Hz for different types of content. This has become standard on Android flagship phones, but it’s a technology Apple has been slow to adopt outside of the iPad Pros, so it’s great to see it on both the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.

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