iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: Is the upgrade worth it?

You'll pay a few hundred bucks for those three extra letters...

Cheapest iPhone 13 plan
Cheapest iPhone 13 Pro plan
Cheapest iPhone 13 Pro Max plan
Georgia Dixon
Sep 08, 2022
Icon Time To Read5 min read

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Quick verdict

With last year’s iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, it was easier to recommend the base model for most people. However, with the iPhone 13 Pro’s massive update, it’s become a much more tempting proposition. Though the iPhone 13 has some fantastic new features and a more budget-friendly price, the Pro model’s stunning new display and powerful trio of cameras makes it our top pick of the two.

Every year, iPhone aficionados are faced with the same dilemma: which model should I get? If last year’s lineup was anything to go by, the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro are set to be the most popular of the four devices, but is the upgrade from not-Pro to Pro really worth it? We tossed the two models into the ring to find out which is worth your hard-earned cash.

Everything you need to know before purchasing iPhone 13

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: Price

If you've been holding off on the iPhone 13, there's good news. To coincide with the impending arrival of the iPhone 14, Apple have chosen to give last year's device its biggest post-launch price cut to date.

While the iPhone 13 at launch could cost you as little as $1,349 depending on the on board storage, the cost of picking up a new iPhone 13 today ranges from $1,229 to $1,749.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 13 Pro has been outright discontinued. The upside to this is that, so long as you're willing to shop around or opt for a refurbished handset, you'll save a lot on what a brand new iPhone 13 Pro could have cost you just a few months ago.

That said, if cost is the most important factor to you, the savings of going with the iPhone 13 (which starts at $1,229 as of September 2022) are clear. Though neither model is what we would consider budget-friendly, but the iPhone 13 is considerably more affordable than its Pro counterpart.

Winner: iPhone 13
iPhone 13 Mini
iPhone 13
iPhone 13 Pro
iPhone 13 Pro Max

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: Size

Since both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro have a 6.1-inch display, there's not much in the way size difference between the two. If you want a bigger screen, you'll have to pay the premium that comes with upgrading to the iPhone 13 Pro Max.


iPhone 13 and 13 Pro plans

If you're looking for the best postpaid plans for the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, you've come to the right place.

Most popular iPhone 13 plans

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: Camera

Close-up photograph of the iPhone 13 camera

Both the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro’s camera systems represent a massive upgrade over their iPhone 12 counterparts, particularly when it comes on video.

The base iPhone 13’s camera block has been redesigned, with Apple opting for a diagonal array. Both the 12MP wide lens and 12MP ultrawide lens have been upgraded with new sensors, capable of gathering 47% more light for less noisy, brighter shots. The iPhone 13 also introduces Cinematic mode, which brings film-level video to your fingertips. It’s kind of like Portrait mode for video.

As for the iPhone 13 Pro, the wide lens features a larger sensor for faster shutter speeds and noise reduction, capable of producing more detailed photos. The ultrawide lens, too, features a wider aperture and new autofocus system, which Apple says brings a 92% improvement for low-light shots. It’s also capable of macro photography for the first time ever on an iPhone. Additionally, the 13 Pro rocks a 77mm telephoto lens for improved portraits and video. There’s new photographic styles with AI-enhanced filters, ProRes advanced video codec, and of course, the same new Cinematic mode as the base iPhone 13.

For this bout, the clear winner is the Pro.

Winner: iPhone 13 Pro

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: Design

From the front, the two devices look pretty much identical. Heck, even from the side, they look the same. However, the Pro’s frame is actually stainless steel rather than the aluminium found on the iPhone 13. The iPhone 13 comes in pink, blue, midnight, starlight and (PRODUCT)RED while the 13 Pro comes in graphite, silver, gold and sierra blue.

In terms of durability, both maintain the same IP68 water resistance rating and tough Ceramic Shield front as last year’s lineup. Given they’re so similar, we’re pretty happy to call this one a tie.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: Display

Last year’s iPhone 12 and 12 Pro sported essentially the same display, but Apple has rewritten the playbook with the iPhone 13 lineup.

Though the base iPhone 13’s display is mostly the same as the iPhone 12’s, the Pro model has had a significant upgrade. While the two devices still share a Super Retina XDR display, the pricier Pro now includes ProMotion. This snappy-sounding feature is is Apple’s term for what is, essentially, an adaptive screen refresh rate between 10Hz and 120Hz, depending on your activity.

It also uses a more efficient OLED panel, new display engine, faster GPU performance and always-on touch processor. Basically, all that means the iPhone 13 Pro’s display is faster, smoother, more responsive, and even brighter.

In other words, it’s a clear win for the Pro.

Winner: iPhone 13 Pro

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: Performance

Cinematic mode

Both the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro are home to Apple’s latest A15 Bionic chip and therefore should offer similar performance.

However, one edge the Pro models have is a five-core GPU to the standard iPhone 13’s four-core GPU. Most users won’t be able to tell the difference, but it will probably translate to snappier performance when gaming and photo/video editing.

Winner: iPhone 13 Pro

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: Battery life

As per usual, Apple is staying mum on the new lineup’s actual mAh capacity.

When it comes to the standard screen time estimates, the iPhone 13 Pro has the edge. It comes minted for up to 22 hours of video playback, 20 hours of video streaming and 75 hours of audio playback for both models. In comparison, the iPhone 13 is good for up to 19 hours of video playback, 15 hours of video streaming and 75 hours of audio playback.

While the Pro has a slight edge, we're going to err on the side of saying this one is too close to call.


Which should I buy?

Last year, choosing between the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro was tough as there were only a handful of major differences.

With the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, however, the gap has widened quite significantly, and the Pro becomes a lot harder to argue against. If you’re happy to spend a bit of extra cash, we reckon the Pro is your best bet, though the iPhone 13 will more than satisfy most users.

Winner: iPhone 13 Pro

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro specs
ModeliPhone 13iPhone 13 Pro
ImageiPhone 13iPhone 13 Pro
PriceFrom $1,349
Display size6.1-inch6.1-inch
Display typeSuper Retina XDR OLED with HDR10, Dolby VisionSuper Retina XDR OLED with HDR10, Dolby Vision and ProMotion
ColoursStarlight, Midnight, Blue, Pink, RedGraphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra Blue
Resolution (Pixels)1170×25321170×2532
Display details1200nits peak brightness, Wide color gamut, True tone1200nits peak brightness, Wide color gamut, True tone, 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
ChipsetA15 Bionic (5nm)A15 Bionic (5nm)
Memory (storage/RAM)128GB/6GB 256GB/6GB 512GB/6GB128GB/6GB 256GB/6GB 512GB/6GB 1TB
Camera (rear)12MP, f/1.6 (Wide) 12MP, f/2.4 (Ultra Wide)12MP, f/1.5 (Wide) 12MP, f/2.8 (Ultra Wide)
Camera (telephoto)N/A12MP, f/1.8 w/PDAF OIS and 3x optical zoom
Camera (video)Up to 4K@60fps w/Dolby Vision and Cinematic modeUp to 4K@60fps w/Dolby Vision (up to 60fps) and Cinematic mode
Camera (selfie)12MP, f/2.212MP, f/2.2
Battery type and sizeLi-Ion (not specified)Li-Ion (not specified)
Wireless chargingYes, MagSafe 15w and Qi 7.5wYes, MagSafe 15w and Qi 7.5w
Georgia Dixon
Written by
Georgia Dixon
Georgia Dixon has over seven years' experience writing about all things tech, entertainment and lifestyle, with bylines in TechLife magazine, 7NEWS and Stuff.co.nz. In her spare time, you'll find her playing games and daydreaming about good food, wine, and dogs.

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