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
Digital Content Editor
Read More
September 17, 2021
4 min read

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

The iPhone 13 ranges in price from $1,349 to $1,719 (depending on storage), while the iPhone 13 Pro will set you back between $1,699 and $2,569. For comparison’s sake, we’ll be using the 128GB iPhone 13 (which replaces the 64GB variant as the cheapest storage option) and 13 Pro for our price comparison.

If cost is the most important factor to you, you can save a significant amount of money by going with the iPhone 13, which is $1,349 – $350 cheaper than the iPhone 13 Pro with the same 128GB storage. Though neither model is what we would consider budget-friendly, the iPhone 13 is considerably more affordable.

Winner: iPhone 13

iPhone 13 Mini$1,199$1,369$1,719-
iPhone 13$1,349$1,519$1,869-
iPhone 13 Pro$1,699$1,869$2,219$2,569
iPhone 13 Pro Max$1,849$2,019$2,369$2,719

iPhone 13 and 13 Pro plans

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: Camera

Both the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro’s camera systems have had a massive upgrade this year, with a particular focus 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. It 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 calling this one a tie for now.


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. The new Super Retina XDR display includes ProMotion, which 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 coprocessor. Basically, all that means the iPhone 13 Pro’s display is faster, smoother, more responsive, and even brighter.

It’s a clear win for the Pro.

Winner: iPhone 13 Pro

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro: Performance

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. In fact, they haven’t even given us the standard screen time estimates. All we know is that the iPhone 13 will last up to two and a half hours longer than the iPhone 12, and the iPhone 13 Pro will last up to one and a half hours longer than the iPhone 12 Pro.

Once again, it’s too close to call, so it’s a tie for now.


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 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 XR vs iPhone X 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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