iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: Here are the biggest differences (2023)

By Philip Michaels

published

Here's how the iPhone 13 compares to the iPhone 12 based on our iPhone testing

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: Here are the biggest differences (1)

An iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12 face-off remains relevant even after the iPhone 14 introduced four new devices to Apple's lineup. Even with this reshuffle of the best iPhone rankings, both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 remain on sale at reduced prices. So it helps to know what sets these different models apart.

The iPhone 13 is the newer of the two phones, having arrived in 2021. Apple currently features two versions — the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 and a smaller 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini. Though it's not as recent as the iPhone 14, either iPhone 13 model can claim to have better chipset, cameras and battery life than earlier iPhones — including the iPhone 12.

But the iPhone 12 still holds an advantage over most of the more recent models — it's cheaper, as Apple continues to drop the price on this 2020 phone.

Assuming you're fine with an older iPhone, you have to ask what's more important — more features or a lower price? That's down to you, but we can help you figure it out.

We've tested and used every iPhone, so trust us when we say that the iPhone 13 improves upon the iPhone 12 in almost every significant way. But the biggest improvements you'll spot with the iPhone 13 comes in the form of longer battery life and better displays.

For the bigger picture, here's how the iPhone 13 compares to the iPhone 12, building on the foundation set by those older phones. And if you're curious about Apple's latest models, our iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 12 comparisons look at how everything stacks up now that the iPhone 14 is upon us.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Specs

iPhone 13 mini iPhone 13 iPhone 12
Current price$599$699$599
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Screen size5.4 inches6.1 inches6.1 inches
Resolution2340x10802532x11702532x1170
ProcessorA15A15A14
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), 16MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.4)
Front camera12MP TrueDepth (ƒ/2.2)12MP TrueDepth (ƒ/2.2)12MP TrueDepth (ƒ/2.2)
ColorsRed, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, PinkRed, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, PinkWhite, black, blue, green, purple, [Product] Red
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)8:4410:338:25
Size5.2 x 2.5 x 0.3 inches5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches
Weight4.97 ounces6.14 ounces5.78 ounces
Water resistanceIP68IP68IP68
(Video) iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 - Every Single Difference TESTED!

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Price and availability

Following the iPhone 14 release, Apple kept the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 12 as the discounted options in its phone lineup. That means the iPhone 13 Pro models have gone away, as has the iPhone 12 mini.

Apple typically drops the price of returning models by $100, and that's what happened here. That puts the iPhone 13 as the most expensive older model at $699. The iPhone 12 now costs $599, the same price as the iPhone 13 mini. Basically, Apple has decided that the bigger screen on the iPhone 12 is as valuable as the newer features on the more compact iPhone 13 mini.

In the case of the iPhone 13 and 13 mini, you get more storage for your buck than you do with the base iPhone 12 model. Those two iPhone 13 models start with 128GB of storage instead of the 64GB the iPhone 12 offers.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Design and display

From a design standpoint, there's not much difference between the iPhone 13 vs. the iPhone 12, save for one very visible exception. That would be the notch on the iPhone 13, which is smaller than what graces the iPhone 12 — 20% smaller, in fact, according to Apple. Otherwise, the look of the phones is the same, with the same flat edges and Ceramic Shield displays for greater durability.

The newer models do weigh a bit more — probably because of the bigger batteries Apple has included with the iPhone 13 — and there are new color options. A Pink model joins the black (Midnight), white (Starlight), blue and Product [RED] colors on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini. The new color for the iPhone 13 Pro lineup is Sierra Blue, which joins graphite, gold and silver options. Since the iPhone 13's 2021 arrival, Apple added green options to the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro models.

It's the displays where Apple has made the biggest changes from the iPhone 12, though the AMOLED panels used in the iPhone 13 lineup are the same size as their predecessors. Instead, Apple delivered brighter displays — 28% brighter than the iPhone 12's screens by Apple's math. The iPhone 13 and 13 mini can produce 800 nits of brightness while the iPhone 13 Pro models crank things up to 1,000 nits.

In testing, we recorded 795 nits of brightness for the iPhone 13 and 788 nits for the iPhone 13 mini. That's certainly better than both the iPhone 12 (569 nits).

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: Here are the biggest differences (3)

Sadly, none of the remaining iPhone 13 models offer what was the biggest display feature added to last year's phone lineup — the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max both included ProMotion displays. That means they could dynamically adjust their refresh rate between 10Hz and 120Hz to reflect your onscreen activity. The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini remain stuck at 60Hz, the same as the iPhone 12, as Apple considers faster refresh rates an exclusive feature for its Pro phones.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Cameras

Cameras turned out to be a big point of difference between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12, even if the number of lenses went unchanged from phone to phone. It's what Apple did with the camera hardware that makes the camera experience completely different on the iPhone 13.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: Here are the biggest differences (4)

Both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini offer a 12MP main camera that had the biggest sensor ever used in a dual-camera iPhone, at least at the time of release. Apple says that the iPhone 13's camera lets in 47% more light than the iPhone 12 camera for sharper pictures. These two iPhone 13 models sport the sensor shift optical image stabilization feature Apple added to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and the ultrawide lens captures more detail in the darker areas of your images.

Night Mode works on both remaining iPhone 13 Pro cameras.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: Here are the biggest differences (5)

We haven't done a formal head-to-head camera face-off between any of the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 models. But in some photo comps, you can see how the iPhone 13 handles low-light photography a little bit better than its predecessor. In the shot of hydrangeas below, the leaves look pinker in the iPhone 13 shot, and there's brighter leaves surrounding the petals.

One other area worth highlighting is Cinematic mode, a video shooting feature available on all iPhone 13 models. This mode automatically adjusts focus when you're shooting video, shifting between objects in the foreground and background as your filming warrants. You won't see a feature like this on the iPhone 12.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: Here are the biggest differences (6)

(Video) iPhone 13 Vs iPhone 12 In 2022! (Comparison) (Review)

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Performance and 5G

The iPhone 13 models are all powered by the A15 Bionic processor, an upgrade from the A14 Bionic chip found in all the iPhone 12 models. Considering the A14 was the fastest system-on-chip we've tested, that translates to a pretty powerful performance for the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini compared to the iPhone 12.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: Here are the biggest differences (7)

Having tested the iPhone 13 models, we found that the new chipset is faster than the A14 inside the iPhone 12, though there's not a dramatic iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12 gap. In Geekbench 5, for example, the iPhone 13 recorded single- and multicore scores of 1,684 and 4,129, respectively. Both of those results were better than the 1,593 and 3,859 results posted by the iPhone 12.

Those are synthetic benchmarks, though. In real world testing, the gap was more narrow. We use Adobe Premiere Rush to transcode a video, timing the results. The iPhone 13 was faster at this than the iPhone 12, but only by a second or so.

(Interestingly, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are also using an A15 Bionic chip, though it's the one with the 5-core GPU used by the iPhone 13 Pro models. As a result, you'll still see improvement in our iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13 benchmarks.

The iPhone 12 boasted some of the best 5G compatibility around, but Apple says the iPhone 13 models support even more 5G bands. As of the dawn of 2022, Apple says 5G support on the iPhone 13 models doubled to more than 200 carriers in 60 countries and regions.

The iPhone 13 ships with iOS 15 pre-installed. The iPhone 12 models debuted with iOS 14, but by this point, they're running iOS 15, just like their successors. These days both phones run iOS 16 quite capably.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Battery life and charging

Apple doesn't disclose battery sizes when it announces new phones, so battery sizes are unofficial and pulled from teardowns of the different phones. We certainly know that the iPhone 13 power pack is bigger than what the iPhone 12 offers and that the newer phone lasts longer on a charge.

Here's how battery life broke down in our testing across each iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 model. We test phones by having them surf the web over 5G until they run out of juice.

iModeliBattery life (hours:mins)
iPhone 13 Pro Max12:16
iPhone 12 Pro Max 10:53
iPhone 13 Pro11:42
iPhone 12 Pro9:06
iPhone 13 10:33
iPhone 128:25
iPhone 13 mini8:41
iPhone 12 mini7:28

As you can see, each of the iPhone 13 models outlasted their iPhone 12 counterparts in our battery test, with improvements ranging from modest in the case of the iPhone 13 mini to outstanding for the iPhone 13. Both the iPhone 13 Pro models have earned a place on our best phone battery life list where we recognize phones that hold out for more than 11 hours on our test.

Charging speeds are unchanged from the iPhone 12 — 15W MagSafe wireless charging and 20W wired charging. As with the iPhone 12, the iPhone 13 models ship without an included charger.

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Verdict

You expect phones to improve from one generation to the next, but the differences in our iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12 comparison are quite stark. The better storage options, faster processor and camera improvements would be enough to make this a significant upgrade. Throw in improved battery life and last year's update proved to be a big step up from last year.

As good as the iPhone 12 models were, they're no match for what iPhone 13 delivers. And that's great news if you're in the market for an iPhone right now.

Most shoppers will likely favor the 6.1-inch iPhone 13, as it has the larger screen. If you do prefer a more compact mini form factor, though, the iPhone 13 mini is the only option you have, outside of the iPhone SE 2022 and its outdated design.

Of course, the iPhone 14 looms over everything now that it's here. The new phones mark an even bigger improvement over the iPhone 12 and may inspire some envy among iPhone 13 owners, especially when it comes to the new iPhone 14 Pro editions. Still, our task at hand is to help you with an iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12 decision, and in that area, the iPhone 13 is better in almost every way other than price.

Be In the Know

Get instant access to breaking news, the hottest reviews, great deals and helpful tips.

(Video) iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 - REVIEW - Is It Worth the Upgrade?

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: Here are the biggest differences (9)

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.

More about smartphones

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 — early rumors and what we want to seeThis Google app can make you money — and you should really try it

Latest

(Video) iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: Don't Make a Mistake

5 things you need to know before buying a leaf blower
See more latest►

Topics

Smartphones

3 CommentsComment from the forums

  • BillAlex70

    My wife is not a "tech" type person. She's currently using an XR. Thoughts on getting her a 12 pro or 13 pro...(getting the pro because I'm sick of her crappy photos). I think the 12 pro if I can get one on a great deal.

    Reply

  • AngelHaby

    BillAlex70 said:

    My wife is not a "tech" type person. She's currently using an XR. Thoughts on getting her a 12 pro or 13 pro...(getting the pro because I'm sick of her crappy photos). I think the 12 pro if I can get one on a great deal.

    So uh are you saying that all of her photos are of you?? haha:p

    Reply

  • AngelHaby

    admin said:

    We're taking an early look at how the iPhone 13 compares to the iPhone 12 based on current rumors.

    iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Biggest differences to expect : Read more

    (Video) iPhone 13 Vs iPhone 12 Full in-depth Comparison | What Should You Buy? | Mohit Balani

    Thanks so much for the article, very thorough.

    Reply

FAQs

What is the major difference between iPhone 12 and iPhone 13? ›

Apple says that the iPhone 13's camera lets in 47% more light than the iPhone 12 camera for sharper pictures. These two iPhone 13 models sport the sensor shift optical image stabilization feature Apple added to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and the ultrawide lens captures more detail in the darker areas of your images.

Is it worth upgrading iPhone 12 to 13? ›

iPhone 13 vs.

If you have an iPhone 12, there's little reason to upgrade right now. That's because the iPhone 12 has a lot in common with the iPhone 13. They both have 5G support, a vibrant OLED 6.1-inch screen, a fast processor, great cameras and MagSafe accessory support.

Is it worth upgrading to iPhone 13? ›

The ‌iPhone 13‌ is still highly capable for everyday use, and ‌iPhone 14‌ shares the vast majority of the ‌iPhone 13‌'s most versatile features, such as the A15 Bionic chip, OLED Super Retina XDR display, Ceramic Shield, Night mode, MagSafe, and IP68 water resistance, so it may be better to wait for a more substantial ...

Is iPhone 12 still worth buying in 2022? ›

A cheap iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, or 12 Pro Max is absolutely worth buying in 2022. In fact, here at Swappa, we'd argue that any of these four models are a better buy in 2022 than they were in late 2020 (when they were first released). The reason they are a better buy in 2022 is that they are significantly cheaper.

Is iPhone 13 camera better than 12? ›

On both the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, it is twelve megapixels with an f/1.6 focal aperture. At first glance, they look the same, but the iPhone 13 has a new sensor, and it achieves: Capturing 47% more light: which translates into better night shots and clearer details in bright sunlight.

Should you buy the iPhone 12 now or wait for the 13? ›

You should still wait. Apple usually reduces the prices of previous iPhone models when introducing new models, just like it did with the iPhone 12 last year. The 64GB iPhone 12, for example, got a price cut to $700 from $800 after the iPhone 13 was announced. The iPhone 11, meanwhile, dropped to $500 in 2021.

Is the iPhone 13 a success? ›

The popularity of the iPhone 13 was the key driver, helping propel the global smartphone market as a whole to record annual revenue of $448B.

What's so special about the iPhone 13? ›

Compared to the standard iPhone models, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max feature a stainless steel frame, 120Hz ProMotion displays, and triple-lens camera systems with improved Wide, Ultra Wide, and Telephoto lenses and higher-end photography options like macro capabilities, and the ProRes video format.

Should I buy iPhone 13 now or later? ›

There are not many options available in the market which feature all-round great performance at an impressive price. So, the iPhone 13 really is the smartphone to buy this year.

Is it worth buying iPhone 13 or wait for 14? ›

There could be some battery and certain software optimizations as well. The iPhone 14 will launch with iOS 16 out of the box. So, if you are confused about which between iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 you should buy, I would suggest going for the iPhone 13 since it offers great specs for a cheaper price.

Which iPhone should you choose in 2022? ›

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

It comes with every feature Apple offers, including the most capable cameras; the largest, brightest screen; and the biggest, longest-lasting battery. We gave the iPhone 14 Pro Max the highest review of any recent model. It's our Editors' Choice for 2022 iPhones.

Is iPhone 13 still worth buying in 2022? ›

While the iPhone 14 is better and features several improvements, the previous one and its variants remain viable in 2022. The iPhone 13 was released in the fall of 2021 with different variants and has since sold very well. It comes with all the advancements that consumers can identify with Apple's flagship product.

How many years iPhone 12 will last? ›

Overall, you can expect a regular iPhone to be in your life for somewhere between two and three years.

Which iPhone has the best camera quality? ›

The iPhone 13 Pro is not just the latest and great iPhone, it's also the best iPhone for photographers right now. Its triple-lens setup boasts a standard, ultra-wide, and telephoto configuration, with 26mm, 13mm, and 78mm equivalent focal lengths respectively.

Which iPhone has the best front camera quality? ›

iPhone 14 Pro has the best selfie camera on a smartphone, according to DxOMark.

How long can iPhone 13 battery last? ›

The iPhone 13 includes up to 19 hours of video playback, up to 15 hours of streamed video playback and up to 75 hours of audio playback. You can compare the battery life of various models on this website.

Is iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 the same? ›

The iPhone 12 is powered by Apple's A14 Bionic processor, while the iPhone 13 features the newest and most powerful A15 Bionic chip inside. Both devices feature 4GB of RAM inside. Both the A14 Bionic and A15 Bionic chips feature 6-core CPUs with 2 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores.

Why is the iPhone 13 better than the iPhone 12 Pro? ›

But the iPhone 13 Pro has an even better feature up its sleeve. Namely, its processor. It has an A15 Bionic chip with a five-core GPU, whereas the iPhone 12 Pro has an A14 chip with a four-core GPU. The iPhone 13 Pro is the first of its kind to have a chip this powerful, but that's not a surprise.

What makes the iPhone 13 different? ›

Compared to the standard iPhone models, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max feature a stainless steel frame, 120Hz ProMotion displays, and triple-lens camera systems with improved Wide, Ultra Wide, and Telephoto lenses and higher-end photography options like macro capabilities, and the ProRes video format.

Which model iPhone is the best? ›

What is the best iPhone? After weighing all the available models and options, the iPhone 14 Pro Max stands tall as the best iPhone overall. It features the latest A16 Bionic processor, the best iPhone camera system to date, and a dynamic design that laps even last year's lineup.

What iPhone has the best camera quality? ›

The iPhone 13 Pro is not just the latest and great iPhone, it's also the best iPhone for photographers right now. Its triple-lens setup boasts a standard, ultra-wide, and telephoto configuration, with 26mm, 13mm, and 78mm equivalent focal lengths respectively.

What does the iPhone 13 do that the 12 doesn t? ›

While the ‌iPhone 12‌ and ‌iPhone 13‌ feature cameras with similar specifications, the ‌iPhone 13‌ offers Dolby Vision HDR video at a higher frame rate, Cinematic mode, and Photographic Styles, as well as hardware improvements such as a larger sensor and sensor-shift stabilization.

Is Apple 13 worth buying? ›

iPhone 13: Price

There are not many options available in the market which feature all-round great performance at an impressive price. So, the iPhone 13 really is the smartphone to buy this year.

Videos

1. iPhone 13 vs 12 - Months Later
(Nick Ackerman)
2. iPhone 13 Vs iPhone 12! (Quick Comparison)
(Simple Alpaca)
3. iPhone 13 Vs iPhone 12 Pro! (Comparison) (Review)
(Simple Alpaca)
4. iPhone 13 or iPhone 12 Pro Max - Which is Better
(Nick Ackerman)
5. iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 in 2022🔥| Don't Make Mistake! (HINDI)
(GadgetsLife)
6. iPhone 12 vs iPhone 13 in 2022 Full Comparison
(Nabeel Nawab)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Trent Wehner

Last Updated: 02/05/2023

Views: 6231

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (76 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Trent Wehner

Birthday: 1993-03-14

Address: 872 Kevin Squares, New Codyville, AK 01785-0416

Phone: +18698800304764

Job: Senior Farming Developer

Hobby: Paintball, Calligraphy, Hunting, Flying disc, Lapidary, Rafting, Inline skating

Introduction: My name is Trent Wehner, I am a talented, brainy, zealous, light, funny, gleaming, attractive person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.