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iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 11: Should you upgrade?

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 11
(Image credit: Apple)

This iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 11 comparison breaks down the differences between these two handsets. Though divided by two years, there still quite similar in many respects. This breakdown is just what you need if you're wondering whether the new iPhone is worth the upgrade. The short of it is that, yes, there are quite a few upgrades worth noting. However, there's the iPhone 14 to consider, which we expect to arrive in September, so now may not be the best time to jump in with either phone.

If you sat out the iPhone 12 upgrade cycle, you'll see in our iPhone 13 review and iPhone 13 mini review that they pack a number of worthwhile improvements. This includes brighter displays, longer battery life and much more capable cameras. 

But what exactly can you expect in terms of the models, design, price, and overall performance? And does it makes sense to upgrade after two generations?

If you're in the market for a new iPhone, the iPhone 11's discounted price of $499 is quite tempting, as you'll need to pay $799 to get the same size display from the iPhone 13. Although it's coming up to its third birthday, we still think so highly of the iPhone 11 that it seriously challenges the new iPhone SE (2022).

The iPhone 13 is for now the most up-to-date iPhone you can get. You definitely aren't going to miss out on any hardware or software features by buying it, but you will pay handsomely for the privilege.

With all four iPhone 13 models available to buy, it's time to decide. So be sure to read this entire face-off before you do so. If you're looking for the iPhone 13 Pros, check out our iPhone 13 Pro review and iPhone 13 Pro Max review

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 11: Specs

iPhone 13 mini iPhone 13 iPhone 11i
Debut price$699$799$499
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB64GB, 128GB
Screen size5.4 inches6.1 inches6.1 inches
Resolution/Brightness2340x1080/800 nits2532x1170/800 nits1792 x 828/625 nits
Rear cameras12MP main (ƒ/1.6); 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.4)12MP main (ƒ/1.6); 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.4)12MP main (ƒ/1.6), 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.4)
Front camera12MP TrueDepth (ƒ/2.2)12MP TrueDepth (ƒ/2.2)12MP TrueDepth (ƒ/2.2)
Digital zoom5x5x5x
ColorsRed, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, PinkRed, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, PinkBlack, green, yellow, purple, red, white
Size5.2 x 2.5 x 0.3 inches5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches5.9 x 3 x 0.33 inches
Weight4.97 ounces6.14 ounces6.84 ounces
Water resistanceIP68IP68IP68
Battery life8:4110:3311:16 (4G)

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 11: Models and prices

The iPhone 13 has four models in its lineup, including the 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini, 6.1-inch iPhone 13, 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max. For the sake of this comparison, we're focusing on the mini and regular iPhone 13.

The iPhone 13 mini starts at $699 and comes with 128GB of storage, while the iPhone 13 costs $799 with the same 128GB. You can upgrade to 256GB and 512GB of storage for $100 and $300 more, respectively, for both phones. 

The 6.1-inch iPhone 11 now costs just $499, and the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max have been discontinued. The iPhone 11 comes with 64GB of storage, with a 128GB option available for $549. 

The iPhone 13 is now available to buy and you can check out our iPhone 13 deals page for the best discounts on all of the new models. 

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 11: Design and colors

iPhone 13 colors

(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 13 has some important design differences versus the iPhone 11. For one, the notch is now 20% smaller, which gives up a bit more screen real estate. And just like the iPhone 12, the iPhone 13 sports a Ceramic Shield display that helps protect the phone from drop damage.

Both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 11 are IP68 water resistant, so you shouldn't worry about either phone getting splashed or taking a dunk in water. However, the iPhone 13's water resistance rating is a bit stronger — it can go up to 6 meters as opposed to 2 meters for the iPhone 11.

metropcs metro by t-mobile iphone 11

(Image credit: Apple)

If you're comparing the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 against the iPhone 11, it's nice to know that the newer model is a bit sleeker. The iPhone 13 measures 5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches and weighs 6.14 ounces, while the older iPhone 11 is 5.9 x 3 x 0.33 inches and 6.84 ounces.

The iPhone 13 has five color options, including red, starlight, midnight, blue and pink. There's also a new green color. The iPhone 11 has six colors from which to choose: black, green, yellow, purple, red and white.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 11: Displays

iPhone 13

(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 13's display offers a couple of advantages over the iPhone 11. For one, the brightness reached 795 nits, compared to 625 nits for the iPhone 11. So you should be able to better see the iPhone 13's display in sunlight.

And you get a sharper resolution with the iPhone 13 at 2532 x 1170 pixels versus 1792 x 828 pixels for the iPhone 11. Add in better contrast and the smaller notch, and the iPhone 13's screen is clearly better than the iPhone 11. The newest iPhone also uses an OLED panel versus the LCD on the iPhone 11. That means punchier colors and deeper blacks.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 11: Cameras

iPhone 13

iPhone 13 Pro Max dummy unit (Image credit: Apple)

This is where the iPhone 13 truly stands out against the iPhone 11. For one, the new ultrawide sensor lets in 47% more light than the iPhone 12. And the 12MP main wide-angle camera has sensor-shift image stabilization, a feature previously limited to the iPhone 12 Pro Max

In addition, the wide camera on the iPhone 13 has a f/1.6 aperture, while the iPhone 11 makes do with f/1.8, so you should expect better low-light performance overall.

You also get Photographic Styles with the iPhone 13, which bring personal preferences to your photos in real-time rendering. Think of it as a filter on steroids.

iPhone 11

(Image credit: Future)

The coolest new iPhone 13 camera feature is Cinematic Mode, which dynamically shifts focus and follows the subject of your video. If the subject moves, so will the focus. If the person looks away, the focus will shift to where the subject is looking.

The iPhone 13 video quality should be better overall, too, as it supports HDR Dolby Vision for better colors and contrast.  

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 11: Performance and 5G

iPhone 13 touch and gaming

iPhone 13 renders (Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 13 supports 5G, which the iPhone 11 lacks. That means you'll be able to tap into faster 5G networks that continue to grow across the country and the world. 

In terms of raw performance, the A15 Bionic once again delivers to be the fastest chip inside a phone. This 5nm chip should vastly outperform the 7nm A13 Bionic in iPhone 11, especially when it comes to graphics-intensive games and more demanding tasks like video editing. However, the A13 Bionic is fine for everyday use.

On Geekbench 5, for example, the iPhone 13 scored 4,129 and 1,684 on the multi-core and single-core tests. The iPhone 11 scored 3,251 and 1,333 respectively. And it took the iPhone 13 25.9 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p on our video editing test, compared to 45 seconds for the iPhone 11. 

The bigger performance leap comes in with the 16-core Neural engine in the iPhone 13, up from 8 cores on the iPhone 11. This aids everything from image signal processing to the Live Text camera feature in iOS 15.  

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 11: Battery and charging

The iPhone 11 lasted a great 11 hours and 16 minutes on our web surfing battery test, but that's over 4G. 5G connections tend to use more power. The 5G-enabled iPhone 13 lasted 10 hours and 33 minutes, which is a big improvement over the 8:25 from the iPhone 12.

The iPhone 11 and iPhone 13 both support 20W charging, which gets you to 50% in 30 minutes. We'd like to see faster charging. 

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 11: Bottom line

The iPhone 13 is not a dramatic leap forward compared to the iPhone 11, but it offers enough improvements to make upgrading worthwhile. The biggest changes in our book are 5G connectivity, the brighter display and enhanced wide and ultra-wide cameras, in additional to the computational photography features like Cinematic Mode and better Night mode. The storage bump for the base model is also a welcome change.

If you're holding out for something truly different, you might want to wait for the rumored iPhone 14, which is tipped to ditch the notch and perhaps offer under-display Touch ID. And if you're worried about getting the best bang for your buck and 5G, there's the new $429 iPhone SE (2022). But if you're looking to upgrade now the iPhone 13 looks like a strong choice. 

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.