iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13: Which iPhone should you buy?

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13
(Image credit: Future)

An iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13 comparison doesn't just tell you how Apple's phone has changed year over year. With both phones on sale at Apple, it can help you decide which of the best iPhones to buy.

At first glance, the iPhone 14 looks pretty much identical to the iPhone 13 — so much so that some have felt the new iPhone looks like a fairly underwhelming upgrade. (Reports are that iPhone 14 Pro demand is heavy as the Pro models boast more significant new features.) Still, there are plenty of notable iPhone 14 upgrades, including a bigger and brighter main camera sensor, safety features like Emergency SOS via satellite and Crash Detection and a slightly more powerful version of Apple's A15 Bionic chipset.

However, the iPhone 13 features a discounted price and with its feature set still intact, it remains one of the best phones around. This iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13 guide will help you decide which phone is better for your needs. 

iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13: Cheat sheet

  • Design: The design of the iPhone 14 and iPhone 13 is nearly the same, though the iPhone 14 loses the SIM Card tray.
  • Price: The iPhone 14 starts at $799 while the iPhone 13 comes in at $699. The new 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus costs $899 for its base model, and Apple lowered the price of the iPhone 13 mini to $599.
  • Performance: Both the iPhone 14 and iPhone 13 use the A15 Bionic chipset, but the new model has the 5-core GPU found in the iPhone 13 Pro. The iPhone 13 has a quad-core GPU. 
  • Cameras: The iPhone 14 has 12MP main and ultrawide cameras, just like the iPhone 13, but Apple introduced the new Photonic Engine this year. This elevates lighting in photos to brighten images, especially in low light. 
  • Video: The iPhone 14 sports Action mode, which is video stabilization on steroids. It's ideal for situations where the subject or videographer are in constant motion.
  • Battery life: Battery life on the iPhone 14 got worse, however, down to 9 hours, 28 minutes in our testing from the iPhone 13's 10 hours, 33 minutes. The iPhone 14 Plus fared much better at 11 hours, 57 minutes.
  • iOS 16: Both the iPhone 14 and iPhone 13 run iOS 16, though the latter needs to update to it. This version includes sweeping changes to the lock screen and a bunch of other neat features.

iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13: Specs

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Row 0 - Cell 0 iPhone 14iPhone 14 PlusiPhone 13iPhone 14 mini
Current starting price$799$899$699$599
Screen Size6.1 inches6.7 inches6.1 inches5.4 inches
Display resolutionSuper Retina XDR OLED (2532x1170)Super Retina XDR OLED (2778x1284)Super Retina XDR OLED (2532x1170)Super Retina XDR OLED (2340x1080)
Max display brightness1200 nits (HDR)1200 nits (HDR)1200 nits (HDR)1200 nits (HDR)
ProcessorA15 Bionic chip with 5-core GPUA15 Bionic chip with 5-core GPUA15 Bionic chip with 4-core GPUA15 Bionic chip with 4-core GPU
Rear cameras12MP main (f/1.5); 12MP ultrawide (f/2.4)12MP main (f/1.5); 12MP ultrawide (f/2.4)12MP main (f/1.6); 12MP ultrawide (f/2.4)12MP main (f/1.6); 12MP ultrawide (f/2.4)
Front camera12MP TrueDepth camera (f/1.9) with Autofocus12MP TrueDepth camera (f/1.9) with Autofocus12MP TrueDepth camera (f/2.2)12MP TrueDepth camera (f/2.2)
Battery lifeUp to 20 hours video playbackUp to 26 hours video playbackUp to 19 hours of video playbackUp to 17 hours of video playback
ColorsMidnight, Starlight, Blue, Purple, and (Product) RedMidnight, Starlight, Blue, Purple, and (Product) RedPink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight, Green and (Product) RedPink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight, Green and (Product) Red
Size5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches6.3 x 3.1 x 0.3 inches5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches5.2 x 2.5 x 0.3 inches
Weight6.07 ounces7.16 ounces6.14 ounces4.97 ounces

iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13: Price and availability

iPhone 14 Plus shown on table

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The standard iPhone 14 costs $799. That had been the iPhone 13's price, which is now $100 cheaper at $699.

Apple gave the iPhone lineup a huge shakeup for the iPhone 14 launch by killing the iPhone mini. Instead, there's a 6.1-inch iPhone 14 and a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus, which costs $899.

The Plus is very similar to the iPhone 14 and the only notable differences are the screen size and battery. (Our iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 14 Plus comparison goes into greater depth on what's the same and what's different.)

All that remains of the iPhone 13 lineup on Apple's store is the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 and the 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini, which is $599. The iPhone 13 mini joins the iPhone SE 2022 as the last remaining compact phone in Apple's lineup.

iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13: Design

iPhone 14 Plus shown held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 14 looks very similar to the iPhone 13. Both are made of glass and aluminum with glossy backs. The iPhone 14 has a Ceramic Shield on the front glass for added durability, just like the previous model. Based on drop tests involving the iPhone 14 Plus, though, it sounds like the new models are still prone to damage from drops, so you'll want to get one of the best iPhone 14 cases or the best iPhone 14 Plus cases, just as the best iPhone 13 cases helped prevent damage.

The iPhone 13 changed the rear camera module layout from vertically stacked lenses to diagonally arranged ones on the back. iPhone 14 sticks with that approach. Up front, the new phone uses the slightly smaller notch that we saw on the iPhone 13 instead of the Dynamic Island cutout that the iPhone 14 Pro models now utilize.

iphone 13 from the back

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 14 comes in five colors: Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Purple, and (Product) Red. The iPhone 13 colors include Pink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight, Green and Red. 

Apple has done away with the physical SIM tray on U.S. iPhone 14 models, which means that the iPhone 14 is an eSIM-only phone. So if you want a SIM card tray, the iPhone 13 might be a better choice for you. 

iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13: Display

iPhone 14 Plus shown on table

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 14 and iPhone 13 have practically identical 6.1-inch OLED displays, featuring HDR support, 800 nits of brightness and 1,200 nits of peak brightness with HDR content. In our testing with a light meter, the iPhone 13 proved slightly brighter at 795 nits to the iPhone 14's 757 nits.

Color reproduction remained similar, too, with the iPhone 14 managing 117% of the sRGB spectrum and 83% of the more challenging DCI-P3 gamut. For reference, the iPhone 13 could do 110% and 78%, respectively. To the human eye, that distinction is pretty hard to see.

The iPhone 14 lineup gives you the option of going bigger if you want with the iPhone 14 Plus, which gives you more real estate with 6.7 inches, the same size as the iPhone 14 Pro Max. This panel fits more content on screen at once and is more immersive for watching videos.

iphone 13 mini display on leaning against pot

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

However, if you prefer smaller phones, the iPhone 13 mini is still a good option with its tiny 5.4-inch display. Something that compact may not be ideal for gaming or for long bouts of reading, but most people can easily use it one-handed.

Across the board, the displays on the iPhone 14 lineup look rather similar to the iPhone 13 lineup's. We wish Apple had gone with a higher refresh rate for the iPhone 14, like 90Hz, but you're stuck with 60Hz either way.

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13: Cameras

iPhone 14 Plus shown held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Some of the biggest upgrades included with the iPhone 14 involve its cameras. Like its predecessor, the new iPhone 14 models feature a pair of rear 12MP cameras — one a main lens, the other an ultrawide shooter. But this time, the iPhone 14's main sensor is much larger with bigger pixels (1.9 microns), and with a faster f/1.5 aperture and sensor-shift image stabilization.

All of this adds up to better photos and video, delivering better detail and less noise. Night mode is also improved with the exposure now twice as fast. The Photonic Engine feature helps improve low-light performance across all of the cameras. Indeed, all those changes helped the iPhone 14 land on our list of the best camera phones.

iphone 13 mini zoomed in on camera array

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The front camera on the iPhone 14 has also changed. This new TrueDepth camera has an ƒ/1.9 aperture that is supposed to help in low light. In contrast, the iPhone 13 makes do with an f/2.2 aperture. And you get autofocus for the first time on a front iPhone camera with the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus.

In terms of video, Apple has introduced a new Action mode that is designed to add better stabilization to videos taken on the go on the iPhone 14. The feature is extremely impressive. 

Don't discount the iPhone 13's camera, though. It's still very good in comparison to the iPhone 14, providing superb photos in many situations, even low-light. The iPhone 13 mini has the same camera system as its big brother, making it the best compact camera phone you can get today.

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13: Performance

iPhone 14 Plus shown held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A new iPhone normally means new chipsets, but for the first time in the iPhone's history, this is not the case for the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus. Apple has stuck with the high-end A15 bionic that powered last year's iPhone lineup, though it's not the exact same silicon that the iPhone 13 used. 

Instead, the A15 Bionic powering the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus is the same chip found in the iPhone 13 Pro. That means a 5-core GPU for boosted gaming performance compared to the iPhone 13 and its 4-core GPU. 

iPhone 14

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Our iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13 benchmarks show what that means for the new phones. On Geekbench 5, the iPhone 14 posted better single- and multicore results (1,727 and 4,553, respectively) compared to the iPhone 13 (1,684 and 4,192). The iPhone 14 also had a higher frame rate score in 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited test — 69 fps to the iPhone 13's 60 fps result.

One area where the two phones were indistinguishable involved our real-world video transcoding test. In fact, the iPhone 13 transcoded a 4K video  2 seconds faster than the iPhone 14 did.

The bottom line? You'll see a slight performance boost if you opt for the iPhone 14 over the iPhone 13.

iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13: Battery life and charging

iPhone 14 Plus shown held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 14 is rated for up to 20 hours of video playback, 16 hours of streamed video and 80 hours of audio. The iPhone 13 is rated for 19 hours, 15 hours and 75 hours, which means a boost to battery life — at least on paper.

Sadly, in our battery testing, where we have a phone surf the web continuously over cellular until it runs out of power, the iPhone 14 fared worse than its predecessor. While the iPhone 13 approached 10.5 hours when we tested that phone, the iPhone 14 could only manage 9 hours and 28 minutes — about half-an-hour behind the average for smartphones.

If you want a long-lasting phone, opt for the iPhone 14 Plus and its bigger battery. That 6.7-inch device held out for 11 hours and 57 minutes, an excellent time that lands it on our best phone battery life list.

All of the iPhone 14 and iPhone 13 models charge at a rather measly 20W. That's much slower than most of the Android competition. For example, the iPhone 14 took about half an hour to get back just half of its battery (54%). The iPhone 14 Plus? 46% in 30 minutes. The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini aren't much different at 51% and 58% in 30 minutes, respectively.

iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13: Safety features

Share location via satellite iPhone 14

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to safety features, Apple has brought some significant changes to the iPhone 14. This includes improving the phone’s thermal performance and a new Emergency SOS via satellite feature that will let you get help even when there is no cellular connection. Apple spent a lot of time highlighting this addition, as it could prove to be lifesaving in the worst of circumstances. The iPhone 13 will not get access to this.

Also new and exclusive to the iPhone 14 is Crash Detection. This is self-explanatory as the iPhone 14 can detect a car crash and call for emergency services. We think it's odd that Apple would exclude the iPhone 13 from such a useful safety feature, but the iPhone 13 still features the SOS mode when you hold down on the power button.

iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13: Software

iOS 16 lock screen

(Image credit: Apple)

The good news here is that both the iPhone 14 and iPhone 13 run iOS 16. The latter requires an update since it launched with iOS 15 last year, but the iPhone 14 runs the latest software out of the box.

That means both phones have access to things like the new lock screen customizations, edit and undo send in Messages, and much more. If you want learn all you need to know about Apple's newest mobile operating system, check out our iOS 16 review.

Since they run essentially the same chipset, there aren't many discrepancies in general software between the iPhone 14 and iPhone 13. You get basically the same experience outside of the cameras.

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13: Bottom line

iPhone 14

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 14 brings some big upgrades like SOS Emergency satellite connectivity, Crash Detection and improvements in low light photography. Even with those improvements, though, you'll still find many similarities to the iPhone 13.

This includes the A15 Bionic chip, the display (with the exception of the larger iPhone 14 Plus model) and the overall design. With iOS 16, the iPhone 13 also gets all of Apple's latest software features, including the customizable lockscreen display. 

iphone 13 from the back

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We like the iPhone 14 a lot, even if the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are the more impressive upgrades. And if you upgrade to the iPhone 14 from an older phone, you'll notice some big improvements. (Anyone with an iPhone 13 from last year is advised to stay put.)

The question is, if you've got an eye on your budget, would the iPhone 13 be a better choice to upgrade now that it costs $100 less? Certainly, you'll give up some performance and camera gains that the iPhone 14 would deliver, and those Emergency SOS via satellite and crash detection features aren't coming to Apple's older phones.

So, yes, the new iPhone 14 is an excellent flagship, but the discounted iPhone 13 is still a great value. 

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.

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