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iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Which should you choose?

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 13 Pro image of both phones
(Image credit: Future)

Choosing between the iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 13 Pro isn't an easy task as both phones have their merits and shortcomings. The standard phone is less feature packed, but the Pro phone has a heftier price tag. 

Overall, Apple's iPhone 13 is an excellent phone for almost every user, while the iPhone 13 Pro offers an extra camera and more 'pro' features. 

You may now want to have a look at the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro instead of these models though. The iPhone 13 Pro is no longer being produced, which will make it much harder to find in stock going forward. While the iPhone 13 is still on sale, the iPhone 14 is definitely an upgrade (albeit just a small one) that costs the same as the iPhone 13 did at launch, so if you're prepared to spend the same amount, there's not much reason to look at the 2021 model.

Check out our iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 14 Pro for more on the latest iPhone models, and our iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro to see how the old models compare to the new. But putting that aside, read on to see which phone is best for you in the iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 13 Pro showdown. 

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Specs

iPhone 13 mini iPhone 13 iPhone 13 Pro iPhone 13 Pro Max
Starting price$699$799$999$1,099
Storage128, 256, 512GB128, 256, 512 GB128, 256, 512, 1TB128, 256, 512, 1TB
Screen size5.4 inches6.1 inches6.1 inches6.7 inches
Resolution/ppi2340 x 1080/4762532 x 1170/4602532 x 1170/4602778 x 1284/458
Adaptive refreshNoNoUp to 120HzUp to 120Hz
ChipA15 BionicA15 BionicA15 BionicA15 Bionic
Rear camerasDual 12MP (Wide, ultrawide)Dual 12MP (Wide, ultrawide)Pro 12MP (Telephoto, Wide, Ultra Wide)Pro 12MP (Telephoto, Wide, Ultra Wide)
ZoomNone / 5x digitalNone / 5x digital3x optical / 15x digital3x optical / 15x digital
Front camera12MP TrueDepth12MP TrueDepth12MP TrueDepth12MP TrueDepth
ColorsRed, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, PinkRed, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, PinkGraphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra BlueGraphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra Blue
Size5.2 x 2.5 x 0.3 inches5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches6.3 x 3.1 x 0.3 inches
Weight4.97 ounces6.14 ounces7.2 ounces8.5 ounces
Water resistanceIP68IP68IP68IP68
Battery life8:4110:3311:4212:16

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Prices and storage

Available to buy right now, the iPhone 13 mini starts at $699, the iPhone 13 at $799, the iPhone 13 Pro at $999 and the iPhone 13 Pro Max at $1,099. In the U.K. those prices are £679, £779, £949 and £1,049 respectively. 

Storage-wise, the 64GB option has been dropped, with all four phones starting at 128GB then having 256GB and 512GB versions. But the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max gets one advantage here, in the form of a massive 1TB model.

As always, the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 have a big price advantage, but if lots of storage is important to you, you'll want to look at the Pro models. But they are far from cheap, so we suggest you look at our dedicated iPhone 13 deals page for the very latest sales.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Design and colors

iphone 13 mini leaning against vintage shoes

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The good news here is that all four new iPhone 13 models get smaller notches. In fact, they've been reduced by 20% — which means you’ll get a little more screen real estate whichever one you're using. 

That aside, the design of the iPhone 13 range isn't massively different from that of the iPhone 12 models. Size-wise, they're all near-identical to last year's models, other than being a tiny bit thicker (0.30 inches rather than 0.29). 

That means the iPhone mini 13 measures in at 2.53 x 5.18 x 0.3 inches, the iPhone 13 at 2.82 x 5.78 x 0.3 inches, and the iPhone 13 Pro at exactly the same as the iPhone 13. The iPhone 13 Max, meanwhile, is a whopping 3.07 x 6.33 x 0.3 inches.

Both also have a new camera array on the rear — more on that below — and it's here that the design differences can clearly be seen. The iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 have two main lenses arranged diagonally whereas the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max have three lenses arranged over a larger camera module.

The color options for the two phones are also wildly different. The iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 get five hues: Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Pink and (PRODUCT)RED. The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, meanwhile, only get four choices, but to our eyes at least they're more subtle and attractive. Here, you can pick from Graphite, Gold, Silver and Sierra Blue.

Finally, the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max have a textured matte glass rear, whereas the iPhone 13 and 13 mini have a standard glass finish.

Ultimately, there's not much in it when it comes to design, and it's unlikely that it'll sway your decision as to which model to buy.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Displays

iphone 13 pro display on leaning against books

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

All four iPhone 13 models keep the same screen sizes as they did previously, with the iPhone 13 mini sporting a 5.4-inch display and the standard iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro both having a 6.1-inch screen. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is the biggest of course, and has a 6.7-inch display. 

All four models make use of Apple's new Super Retina XDR OLED displays. On the iPhone 13, the display has a typical outdoor brightness of 800 nits and a peak level of 1200 in HDR mode, making for a hike of 28% in brightness. Comparatively, the displays on the iPhone 13 Pro Max models are 1000 nits in typical outdoor use and can also hit a peak of 1200. 

But the biggest difference between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro handsets is that the latter models have a ProMotion display that sports an adaptive refresh rate, allowing the display to go from a speedy 120Hz to 10Hz in order to conserve battery life. 

It’s disappointing that Apple didn't give all four iPhone 13 handsets a 120Hz display, as we see such high-refresh rates in plenty of affordable Android phones. But it’s certainly a feature that helps the Pro models stand out from the standard iPhone 13. 

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Cameras

iphone 13 pro back showing camera array

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

All four iPhone 13 models deliver impressive phone photography, and the iPhone 13, 13 Pro, and 13 Pro Max have all earned a place on our best camera phones list. 

But there are notable differences between the pair of rear cameras on the iPhone 13 and the trio of snappers on the iPhone 13 Pro models. 

The iPhone 13 has a new sensor in its 12MP main camera, which lets in 47% more light for improved night-time photography, while the 12MP ultra-wide camera gets a faster sensor. Both of these cameras are configured in a diagonal line rather than a vertical one as seen on the iPhone 12. And they deliver impressive results, with bright and colorful shots and improved night time photography on the ultra-wide camera, as well as four times more scene capture. 

Sensor-shift optimisation has now been included in the iPhone 13 models, where previously it was an iPhone 12 Pro Max feature; this allows the lens to move and thus better cope with uneven changes of movement. 

iPhone 13 Pro Max review

iPhone 13 Pro camera module (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 13 Pro models get similar upgrades, but on paper at least they're more impressive, with wider apertures on the main and ultra-wide cameras and a LiDAR scanner to tap into for night-mode portrait shots. 

The ultra-wide camera now offers what Apple claims is a 92% improvement in low-light photography, and it also has support for a macro mode, allowing users to get close ups of very small objects. It's with the macro mode where the iPhone 13 Pro phones beat their standard siblings, offering better extreme close ups. Just bear in mind, the macro mode can at times be fiddly to use, with it being fussy and jerky when triggering automatically, but Apple is working on a fix.

Meanwhile, the telephoto camera on the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max, something the iPhone 13 lacks, has received a solid upgrade. The new 77mm telephoto lens now has a 6x optical zoom range, with a digital zoom of up to 15x. This new telephoto camera not only beats the iPhone 13 by its mere inclusion, but also offers more zooming capabilities than the iPhone 12 Pro, and with a wider f/1.5 aperture, it lets in more light too.  

Much like last year, the iPhone 13 Pro models have the edge over the standard iPhones when it comes to camera specs; the question is whether you’d want to fork out a good bit more money for the extra lens and some advanced features.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Video

iphone 13 pro back in hand with wood background

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

All four iPhone 13 handsets can capture video at up to 4K and 60 frames per second. And all phones put in solid point-and-shoot video performance, as has bene the case with the past few generations of iPhone. 

There's also a new “Cinematic” mode for capturing videos with smart near-instant autofocus between differnet subjects, as well as more dramatic depth-of-field effects; think portrait mode video but more powerful. But do note that this mode only works on 1080p videos. And in our real-world tests, we found the Cinematic mode isn't perfect with it taking a little longer than expected to recognize faster moving subjects. 

Aside from the extra telephoto camera, the iPhone 13 Pro has the advantage in video by being able to capture using ProRez, Apple's new high-quality, lossy video compression format aimed at people who want more control over editing their videos yet don't want to swamp phone storage with uncompressed videos. However, if you only have the 128GB iPhone 13 Pro, then ProRez is limited to shooting 1080p videos at 30 fps, rather than 4K at the same frame rate. 

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Performance

iPhone 13 playing a video

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

All iPhone 13 models come with the new Apple A15 Bionic chip. Built on a 5-nanometer process, the chip comes with six processor cores: two for demanding tasks and four for more less rigorous workloads to increase efficiency. Overall, Apple claims the A15 Bionic offers 50% faster performance than the leading competition; here's looking at you Qualcomm. 

But it's on the graphics side that we see some disparity between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro. The former has four GPU cores, while the latter has five. Apple claims the iPhone 13 offers 30% better graphics performance than leading Android phones, but noted that the extra core in the A15 Bionic for the iPhone 13 Pro handset will offer 50% more graphics performance than rival chips. Although, it should be noted that it has had Bluetooth issues in some cars.

In our testing, the iPhone 13 scored 4,129 on the Geekbench 5 multi-core test and 1,684 in the single-core test. The iPhone 13 Pro outperformed it but only just scoring 4,718 and 1,733 respectively. That's not really a big enough difference to notice any real performance disparity in everyday use. 

In graphics testing, iPhone 13 hit 55.9 fps in the 3DMark Wild Life benchmark, while the iPhone 13 Pro managed a very impressive 70 fps. Clearly, that extra GPU core is working hard. So if you want the best gaming performance, then you'll want to go for the iPhone 13 Pro, not that the standard phone will let you down either.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Battery

iphone 13 pro display on laying on desk

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

All four iPhone 13 handsets have been given a battery boost, though Apple never reveals the actual capacity of its phones’ battery packs. 

And in our testing, which involves continuous web surfing over 5G with the display set at 150 nits of screen brightness, that has borne fruit. The iPhone 13 mini lasted 8 hours and 41 minutes, the iPhone 13 managed 10 hours and 33 minutes, the iPhone 13 Pro reached 11 hours and 42 minutes, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max topped the charts with a battery life of 12 hours and 16 minutes. 

So if you want the best battery life, then the iPhone 13 Pro models are the phones to go for, but the iPhone 13 still beats the iPhone 12 for electrical endurance. 

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Buy now or wait?

It's been more than six months since the launch of both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, so you might be thinking about waiting for the iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro

Well if you need a new iPhone now, say if yours in broken, then both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro are well worth getting; in fact Roland Moore-Colyer has even made the switch from Android to iOS thanks to the iPhone 13 Pro. And if you get either iPhone 13 model, you can now benefit from the scope to carry out your own repairs, thanks to Apple's new iPhone Self Service Repair kits.

If you decide to wait, then it's looking likely that the iPhone 14 Pro will be the phone to get as it's tipped to get more significant upgrades than the standard next-gen iPhone. According to the rumors so far, the iPhone 14 may only be a minor upgrade over the iPhone 13, whereas the iPhone 14 Pro could have a significant redesign

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 13 Pro: Verdict

iPhone 13 Pro Max

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Overall, all four iPhone 13 models are relatively iterative upgrades over their predecessors. But they are nevertheless the best iPhones you can buy today. 

In our iPhone 13 review, we conclude it's the best iPhone for most people, while the iPhone 13 mini is a good choice only for people who prefer a smaller phone. If you're willing to splurge, the best phone period is the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which could make this choice rather tough. 

If you want the very best in phone photography, performance and display from Apple, then you'll want the iPhone 13 Pro or 13 Pro Max; just be prepared to pay a hefty price for the latter. If you can live without a 120Hz and telephoto zoom, the regular iPhone 13 should suffice.

Formerly Editor in Chief (U.K.) on Tom’s Guide, Marc oversaw all gaming, streaming, audio, TV, entertainment, how-to and cameras coverage, and was also responsible for the site’s U.K.-focused output. He is now U.K. Editor in Chief on TechRadar. Marc previously edited the tech website Stuff and has tested and written about phones, tablets, wearables, streaming boxes, smart home devices, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, games, TVs, cameras and much more. He also spent years on a music magazine, where his duties mainly involved spoiling other people’s fun, and on a car magazine. An avid photographer, he likes nothing better than taking pictures of very small things (bugs, his daughters) or very big things (distant galaxies). When he gets time, he also enjoys gaming (console and mobile), cycling and attempting to watch as much sport as any human can. He's also fallen in love with Wordle over the past six months and is the author of our today's Wordle answer column, in which he supplies hints and strategy tips for the mega-popular word game. Given he's completed every single Wordle so far and only lost once, and analyzed every Wordle answer in search of patterns, he's well qualified to help you safeguard your streak.