Anton D. Nagy contributed to this “Apple’s best iPhone 13 is complicated” post.
I think the topic of picking a new iPhone usually goes in three ways. One: some people just want an iPhone, doesn’t matter which one, meaning the less expensive it is the better. Two: other people either want the successor to their current iPhone because they loved it or want to try another because they didn’t. I think the third category is the most interesting: people that want the best iPhone, and this is a tricky premise because we usually attribute price as a determining factor, and in the case of iPhones, it’s not that simple.
This year we have four iPhones, two regulars, and two pros, where for the first time ever, it’s really just two different phones with different size options. Thing is, the more I’ve spent the past few days comparing them, the more I realize that they’re not that much different, so it might just be that you don’t need to pay extra to get the best one for you.
I think the most important thing to consider is that in my opinion, these are the best iPhones Apple has ever launched. I know for many of you they look like an iteration of last year, and visually they sort of are, but think of this as the M1 launch, where it’s exactly what each product should’ve always been, even if baked under familiar hardware, and I say familiar because looks can be deceiving. I’ll have comparisons with the older models soon for you to understand where I’m going.
So to start, doesn’t matter which iPhone you pick, you get the same exact thing in the box. A phone, and a USB-C to lightning cable. You’d assume at least the Pro models get a couple of extra perks for the price difference, but not the case here. If anything they did go far more environmental this time as there’s no plastic to be seen here.
As for their differences, think of it this way, if you like small to medium phones that are light, the 13 series should be your pick. If you prefer a bit more heft in the medium range, or you flat out like large phones, the 13 Pro series is for you. Just keep in mind there’s a difference in price and features.
The 13 series is made of the same aluminum most high-end phones are made of, but the Pro series adopts stronger stainless steel. Now if resale value matters to you, I’d just recommend you pick a darker color if you go Pro as my 12 Pro Max After The Buzz proved silver doesn’t age as well as the aluminum. I do prefer the matte back of the Pro series though, but it’s not like if the regular 13 doesn’t handle fingerprints well in most cases. Color options are also owned by the regular 13 models for anyone looking for variety, even if I’d consider the Pro variants to have a more elegant finish.
Now from the front, their screens are nearly identical. Same flat finish, Same Ceramic Shield protection, same smaller notch for Face ID that pushes the earpiece higher, and nearly the same AMOLED panels across the board. This means all four models have amazing color accuracy, contrast and are all bright enough to handle outdoor visibility just fine. Where they vary is that the Pro models have LTPO panels that allow for variable refresh rate from 10 to 120hz. That means it’s more efficient at sipping power during moderate use, and smother as you add intensity. Now if that doesn’t matter to you, stack them side by side, and most of the time, you’ll feel all 4 have the same quality, and that same experience extends to the dual firing speakers on each unit.
Now as for the experience of using these phones, it’s interesting that regardless of which phone you pick, iOS 15 is pretty consistent. The icons will just be a bit more spread out between the Pro Max and the mini, and naturally, the text will be larger, but even if there are resolution differences since their pixel density doesn’t vary much, you only get a bit more content on the Pro Max, and not really the 20% their size differences imply. The Pro and the Regular share the same numbers though, so both are identical. This is good because you’re not really getting a watered-down experience with the mini. You can feel confident that if this size works for you, so will the experience. It’s not good because it means a lot of wasted space on the Pro Max. I do wish there were some sort of multi-window user interface or Apple Pencil support for such a large canvas. It’s the reason I feel the 13 or 13 Pro are the sweet spot because you get a massive screen on a package you can handle with one hand.
Even down to the spec sheet, it’s crazy to see that all phones now start at the same storage. They all get the A15 Bionic which is so far second to none. They now all start at the same amount of storage and picking more costs the same price difference. All flavors of 5G are now standard, and the same goes for their IP rating and wireless connectivity. And sure the regular variants get two fewer gigs of RAM and one less GPU core, but I seriously can’t tell the difference in day-to-day use. Load the home screen with all the widgets you want, move around different screens and you won’t be able to tell one is better than the other. Unless you’re scrolling down menus or playing a game that supports a high refresh rate, the experience is solid on all four iPhones. Maybe what you will notice is that battery life did get better. I’ll leave my final verdict for our full reviews of each, but so far, I’m ending days just fine on all units, even the mini.
Maybe the spot where most think they’ll find major differences is in the camera department, because if you look at the spec sheets, the Pro Models don’t just have an extra focal length, but they also have better optics, and perks like Pro RAW, ProRes, and a Macro Mode that the regular models don’t. That said since the regulars have the same sensor as last year’s 12 Pro Max plus the sensor shifting stabilization, I think you’re in for a surprise.
During the day you won’t notice much difference from a distance. Whether you use the ultra-wide or the standard camera, their results are nearly identical, and even if you wanted to punch into 3X digital on the 13 just to match the Pro, I’d say those digital shots are pretty decent. You just can’t punch into 15X like you can on the Pro, but even that’s not as usable. The problem is close-ups where I have a love-hate relationship with the Pro as I love the shallow depth of field, and it forces the macro mode automatically, without a way to switch it off. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool as you get closer, but not compared to the 13 when you don’t.
Where you will notice the optical differences is in low light. I’d say both smartphones perform admirably from their primary sensors in very tough conditions. It’s when you switch to the Ultra-wide that the 13 Pro takes far less time to take a shot, but then the results aren’t that much better. Same thing if you punch in, as on both this is really just a digital crop.
Portraits and selfies are literally the same as those modules are identical across the board, with some pretty good separation and detail.
Even if you were to jump to video, the results are nearly identical in detail, stabilization, and color reproduction. I’d trust any of these four iPhones to serve as my B camera so long as I have good light, and the same can be said about the 4K at selfie performance from the front camera. Now I’m skipping cinematic on all phones because it only supports 1080p HDR, which I can’t portray on this 8-bit video, and it’s also capped at 30fps, which in my opinion is not a cinematic framerate. Even if ProRes is a differentiation between Pro and Regular, that’s sadly not available at the time of this comparison.
To conclude, I think you now understand why I’m as shocked as I am. You’d think there would be many differences between them, but it turns out that regardless of which iPhone you pick, you’re still getting an iPhone in every sense of the word. There’s really nothing here I’d call watered down at all. Yes, there are differences, but I can’t say that any would be considered a step back between one lineup or the other.
Obviously, I have to pick one, and that’s harder than it sounds. See as much as I feel the mini is too good for its size, I need reading glasses, so that kills it for me in day-to-day use. As much as I love the added real-estate of the Pro Max, I do a lot of commuting and one-handed use is not really its cup of tea. If either of those extremes works for you, go for it. Really the best middle ground is either the 13 or the 13 Pro, and where what you have to consider is how much you care about stainless steel, an extra camera lens, added photography and video perks, and 120hz on the display.
In my case, I’m a creator, so going 13 Pro is a no-brainer. For me the more focal lengths I get the better but stay tuned for our full reviews coming soon to shed more light on my full experience using each phone. Now in your case, that might not be necessary. If you’re looking for the best iPhone money can buy, I think all 4 devices fit the bill. The question is which one matches your needs most.
Apple’s 14-inch MacBook Pro, Samsung’s M7 Smart monitor and more are on sale
We start today’s deals with the latest 14-inch MacBook Pro that is currently getting a $100 discount over at Adorama.com. This means that you can get your new laptop for just $1,899. This model features a 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display, Apple’s latest M1 Pro Chip with 8-core CPU and 14-core GPU, 16GB RAM, and 512GB storage space in Space Gray. You can also get the same model at Amazon.com, but this option will only get you $50 savings. And if you want to score better savings, you can check out Apple’s 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro that is receiving a $130 discount, meaning that you can get yours for $1,169. This model comes with 256GB storage, 8GB RAM, and Apple’s M1 chip.
Samsung’s M7 Series 4K Smart Monitor is seeing a 23 percent discount over at Amazon.com, leaving this 32-inch 4K UHD monitor available for $347. This will be a great compliment for your new MacBook, as it will provide users with a larger canvas to increase their productivity and multi-tasking options. The larger 43-inch model is also on sale, and you can get yours for $520 after an $80 discount. And after you’re done with your work, you can easily stream your favorite content from Netflix, HBO, Prime Video, and more. You should also consider getting a new WD Elements Desktop Hard Drive HDD with 12TB storage space that sells for $247 after a 21 percent discount, which translates to $63 savings for anyone interested.
Other deals include the Razer Kiyo Pro Streaming Webcam that now sells for $130 after a 35 percent discount if you’re interested in a new webcam that supports 1080p at 60FPS. The EVGA X20 Gaming Mouse is another great option to consider, as it is now available for $60 after a massive 50 percent discount. And you can also check out the EVGA Z20 RGB Optical Mechanical Gaming Keyboard that sells for just $75 after an insane 57 percent discount that will save $100 to anyone who chooses to purchase one.
WhatsApp transfer chats option lets you move conversations from iPhone to Android
Back in August, WhatsApp let Samsung users transfer chats and backups from iOS to Android, but the feature was mainly limited to Samsung branded devices, and it wasn’t widely available on other smartphones. That’s all changing today, as WhatsApp now is letting any device transfer chats and other conversations to iOS and Android.
Google officially announced that WhatsApp’s new chat migration tool will now officially be available for all Google Pixel devices and that it’ll soon arrive to even more smartphones that launch with Android 12. It’s great to see that the feature will no longer be limited to only Samsung devices, and that any Android 12 smartphones will be able to migrate data over other devices, but it’s weird to see it being limited to Android 12.
Luckily, transferring conversations from WhatsApp is relatively simple and straightforward. You’ll be able to go to the Settings > Chats > and select Move Chats to Android on an iOS device. You just need to make sure that WhatsApp is up-to-date on both devices, and that you have a USB-C to lightning cable ready. Once you’ve gone through the steps, you’ll be greeted with a QR code that you’ll have to scan to start the migration.
Google mentioned that other phone manufacturers would be able to support the new feature when they update their devices to Android 12, which means that many more devices will start supporting this functionality in the near future, but sadly there’s no timeframe given, as it’ll likely depend on each and every OEM – some may be faster than others, and some devices will never receive Android 12. Google also stated that any and all devices that ship with Android 12 will support the feature by default, and users will be able to ready to use it right out of the box without requiring any additional steps.
Best iPhone 13 Pro MagSafe Cases: Spigen, NOMAD, MOFT, and more
When Apple introduced MagSafe for iPhone last year, there was a lot of excitement around the revival of the technology everyone loved on MacBooks. A year later, MagSafe is still around, with accessories supporting the standard now becoming widely available in the form of uniquely designed docks or mounts for tripods, cars vents. But if you put a case on your iPhone, the effectiveness of its magnets may reduce, and this is where MagSafe comes in. Thus, in this article, we have listed some of the best MagSafe cases for iPhone 13 Pro that you should consider buying.
Best iPhone 13 Pro MagSafe Cases
Apple Silicone Case
If you’re looking to add barely any weight to your device while ensuring it has some protection against falls, the Apple Silicone Case is the one to pick. The soft-touch material does feel great in hand, and the microfiber lining on the side will keep your phone scratch-free and clean. Another advantage of owning this case is precise cutouts and compatibility with every feature your iPhone has to offer, even MagSafe.
Spigen Mag Armor
The Spigen Mag Armor is the option to get if you want to add more robust protection to your device while giving it a muted look that doesn’t stand out too much. Its defining factors are the raised lips across the front and textured sides. Spigen is known to have a high standard for quality, and this will be apparent in how tactile the button covers feel. The TPU Case also features the manufacturer’s Air Cushion Technology to dampen the vibrations and reduce damage from falls.
NOMAD Sport Case
The NOMAD Sport Case follows in the line of the Mag Armor but adds a little more protection with its rugged bumper design and a lot of character with its glossy yet grippy backplate. The manufacturer claims the case will provide 6ft drop protection, perfect for withstanding the challenges an active lifestyle may throw at your phone.
It achieves MagSafe compatibility via the addition of neodymium magnets hidden behind its microfiber lining. Another bonus feature is its included NFC Card, which can share data (like contact info, online profiles) with just a tap.
Apple Leather Case
The Apple Leather Case is an official accessory that matches the quality of the Silicone but does it one better with the use of Leather. These cases are lightweight and will feel great in your hands. Their availability in five distinct colors is also appealing.
But keep in mind, while these cases are MagSafe compliant, using these accessories could leave a mark on the case material; it’s a fact that Apple accepts and issues a warning to its buyers. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for options that have some personalization, the Leather Case is one you can’t go wrong with, as it does patina with time.
NOMAD Modern Leather Case
The NOMAD Modern Leather Case is another option to consider if you want the niceties of the material without losing out on the protection of a bumper. It uses Horween Leather from the United States, which the manufacturer says will develop a rugged patina; they even have an image showing what your case should look like overtime on their website.
This unit from NOMAD takes protection even further ahead of the Sport Case by getting a rating for 10ft of drop protection. Other than that, it features the same neodymium ring of magnets and NFC Card for sharing data.
NOMAD Modern Leather Folio
The NOMAD Modern Leather Folio picks up right where the Modern Leather Case left off by adding a folio cover to the TPE bumper. The accessory is covered in the same Horween Leather and will also develop a rugged patina. It has a 10ft drop protection rating, neodymium magnets, and NFC Card.
The Folio part of it adds three card slots and another for storing cash. A point to note here is that NOMAD issues a warning to possibly use a screen protector to avoid micro scratches from any stored cards.
Good on you NOMAD, thanks for the warning!
Spigen Ultra Hybrid Mag
If you’re in the market for a clear case, the number of options that support MagSafe without compromising quality are limited. The Spigen Ultra Hybrid Mag slots itself into this segment. It’s available for less than half the cost of Apple’s MagSafe Clear Case, uses a TPU Bumper with a hard polycarbonate back, and has magnets that can have different paint visible to your eye. Meaning your grey phone can have a dark-colored segment and not a high contrast white. For protection, this case features a raised lip and Spigen’s Air Cushion Technology.
PITAKA MagEZ Case 2
The Pitaka MagEZ Case 2 is the case to get if you’re looking for a slim option to go with your iPhone 13 Pro. Its made with Aramid Fiber and has a texture that you can feel at all times. It’s different from the other options on this list in the sense that it leaves the buttons on either side uncovered, along with the top.
PITAKA markets it as being only 0.06 inches, so to improve MagSafe functionality, they include magnetic strips. It fits into their line of sleeves and car mounts and offers the best compatibility with them. The manufacturer will be adding a Pro version of this case to its portfolio soon.
OtterBox Defender XT
The OtterBox Defender XT is the case to pick if you’re looking to get an accessory that can withstand more than the traditional abuse a smartphone may face. The manufacturer claims the case is rated to survive five times as many drops as the MIL-STD-810G 516.5 standard certifies it to withstand. It’s available in plain black and two dual-tone options.
On the protection front, apart from the rugged design, it features raised edges to protect your screen and camera; and the large port cutouts have flap covers to ensure no dust or lint gets in to cause damage.
The case also has an optional holster accessory which you will have to place a request for from OtterBox.
Which iPhone 13 Pro MagSafe Case would I pick?
Now, if you ask me for my top pick, I prefer having my phone feel sleek and lightweight. The iPhone 13 Pro has enough heft to it due to the stainless steel body. Thus, I’d probably go with Apple’s original leather case. I have one for my iPhone 12, and it’s been great for the little bit of time that I’ve owned it. It barely adds any weight, and the machine aluminum buttons on it look and feel great. While I baby it, I have started seeing creases forming on it and feel that they add character to it.
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