Despite my skepticism for the more restrictive nature of iOS and the lack of major design changes from the iPhone 12, I’ve become rather smitten with Apple’s $999 smartphone.
To narrow down why I like it, and to help people who are maybe between a Samsung Galaxy S22 and iPhone 13 Pro, here are the core things that have me still reaching for the iPhone instead of Android.
Brilliant 120Hz OLED display
Apple’s Retina displays have long impressed me, but the move to OLED panels for iPhones in 2020 — and now the adoption of 120Hz LTPO displays for the 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max — have given the phones properly awesome screens.
Now, there are plenty of Android phones with great displays, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra being a standout example. But the color calibration, balance, refresh rate and flat design of the 13 Pro’s screen just press my mental buttons; there’s also no need to really tweak the screen settings outside of the box — not that Apple gives you many options. And it might not be for everyone, but a 120Hz refresh rate really breathes extra slickness life into the Pro iPhones.
I do shut off True Tone however, as I feel that can sometimes make the colors a little muted.
Killer battery life
Every new phone touts great all-day battery life, but few really manage it without a little top up before my journey home from the office. But the iPhone 13 Pro has bucked that trend for me.
Most days I won’t need to charge the 13 Pro until late at night, with it often being left with some 30% charge to take me through part of the next day if I forget to juice it up. This was rarely the case with the Pixel 6 Pro or Oppo Find X3 Pro, two of my most used phones of 2021.
Obviously that battery life changes on my usage, with 5G downloads still greedily sucking up power. But whereas Android phones would run out of puff quickly or occasionally moan about getting too hot, the 13 Pro just ticked along nicely. Clearly Apple’s approach to efficiency has paid dividends here.
You can’t talk about a Pro iPhone without mentioning the cameras. And unsurprisingly, one of the best features of the iPhone 13 Pro is its trio of main, ultra wide and telephoto cameras; the deliver simply wonderful shots, flush with color, detail and clarity.
But there are plenty of phones that nail photography — just check out our best camera phones list. However, where the iPhone 13 Pro wins me over is with consistency. In fact, consistency overall is the one key reason why I've switched from Android to iPhone.
Every shot I take is pleasing. Sure the Pixel 6 Pro might win on pure contrast, but the iPhone 13 Pro never strays into the slight over-processing I feel Google’s flagship can run into. Nor are there any major shifts in colors or clarity when bouncing between the three rear cameras. I also like the portrait photos the 13 Pro produces.
There are phones that will take punchier 10 out of 10 photos at times when the iPhone 13 Pro simply delivers a very good photo. But shot after shot, the 13 Pro delivers 9s; that consistently combined with the neat camera app is hard to ignore.
Video is also class-leading, with excellent footage being served up from simple pointing and shooting. I’m not a huge videographer, but having a camera system that just nails Full HD and 4K videos is very much a point for Team Apple.
Build quality and design
For years Apple has produced well-made devices that just feel great. But Android phones from Samsung, OnePlus and now Google have arguably caught up. Nevertheless, there’s just something about the iPhone 13 Pro’s construction and design that really works for me.
Given the design hasn't really changed much from the iPhone 12 Pro, I had been ready to slam Apple for a lack of innovation with the 13 Pro. However, there’s clearly a reason Cupertino didn’t do much more than slim down the notch, because the iPhone 13 Pro feels great.
I think it's the combination of premium feeling materials, the flat-edges that aid grip without digging into one’s palms, and the matt finish on the back. But I also love the size of the iPhone 13 Pro. The 6.1-inch display isn't too big to give me embarrassing bulge in my pockets, yet still offers a large enough phone for me to tap out articles and assign news stories while I’m on the move. It also has a satisfying heft, which feels more premium than, say, the Galaxy S22.
And the neat way the flatscreen of the display fits perfectly with the contours of the chassis, is just lovely to behold. Normally I’m for curved display edges, but the flat edges here seem to work very well with the aesthetic of iOS 15; it really feels like the software and phone were properly designed in tandem, which Android phones don’t always manage to communicate.
Of course, I’d still like to see some more significant changes with the iPhone 14. But I’m pleasantly surprised how much I've warmed to the iPhone 13 Pro’s look and feel.
The curated ecosystem
I’ve often scoffed at Apple’s walled garden of the iOS ecosystem, with it lacking the range and flexibility of Android. And while I stand by that to an extent, I’ve found it very easy to gel with iOS.
Given the iPhone 4S was my first smartphone and I regularly use an iPad mini, I’m not new to iOS. But using the iPhone 13 Pro as my everyday phone I’ve become more familiar with its features and feel.
And while the strict curation and limitations of customization can feel restrictive, iOS is still a joy to use thanks to that walled garden approach. I can download pretty much every app with the knowledge I’ll get a reasonably smooth and neat experience, and that’s not to be sniffed at. I've also been rather impressed with the curation of Apple Arcade games; now, if only we can get Xbox Cloud Gaming through the Xbox Game Pass app.
This ecosystem expands onto other devices, too, with my iPhone easily syncing up with my iPad. And I recently got a pair of AirPods Pro, which connected to the iPhone 13 Pro in moments and just worked, unlike some other Bluetooth headphones where to get the best experience you really need to download an app.
I also enjoyed using AirPlay, which made connecting to my Sonos One speaker and LG C1 OLED TV dead easy, as well as let me play audio through both, which isn’t something I’ve found easy to do on Android. This combination of curation and connectivity has now got me seriously considering the Apple Watch 7.
Sure, iOS isn’t perfect — here are the 5 things that keep annoying me. But it’s been so easy to adjust to and is so well presented and consistent, that when combined with excellent hardware makes it easy to see why so many people still follow Apple.
While I won’t say I’m a full Android to iOS convert just yet, it'll probably take a heck of an Android device to see me move my everyday phone away from the iPhone 13 Pro.