Skip to main content

iPhone 13's stunning cinematic mode has a big drawback

An image of the apple 13 pro max showing the camera module. The top half of the phone is pictured, against a yellow background
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's new ‘cinematic mode’ is one of the big new features on the iPhone 13 range, but it has an annoying drawback that could limit its usefulness.

As highlighted in a tweet by YouTuber Erfon Elijah, the iPhone 13’s cinematic mode only works in 1080p resolution, and at 30fps to boot. There’s no option for 4K, or the 24fps frame rate, both of which the iPhone 13's camera can handle in other modes.

The official iPhone 13 tech specs and iPhone 13 Pro tech specs pages call this out as well, so it's not as if Apple is hiding this info. But this limitation is still a bummer. 

See more

Cinematic mode is available on all four iPhone 13 models, and is designed for people who want to take make their videos look more immersive and professional. The idea is that people can capture “cinema-style moments in video with a beautiful depth-of-field effect.”

In simple terms, the camera mode will automatically track the subject, making movie-style focus changes on the fly. It’s essentially Portrait Mode for video, with a few extra features added for good measure, like the ability to switch focus to various subjects based on what's going on in the frame. It’s also not to be confused with ProRes mode, which is only available on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max

ProRes is an “an advanced video codec used widely as the final delivery format for commercials, feature films, and broadcasts, to offer higher color fidelity and less compression.” In other words Cinematic Mode is an effect, while ProRes is a format.

ProRes is available in 4K and 30fps, provided you have a phone with at least 256GB of storage, so it's not clear why Cinematic Mode is limited to 1080p. This is disappointing for anyone who had hoped to be able to record 4K video with that  bokeh effect Cinematic Mode can add.

So that’s another thing we can add to the list of upgrades we want to see for the iPhone 14. Let’s just hope Apple can make it happen by this time next year.

Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.