Faster iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini shrink the notch, add battery life

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Faster iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini shrink the notch, add battery life
Say hello to the iPhone 13.
Photo: Apple

The 6.1-inch iPhone 13 and 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini are not the simple “speed bump” updates some had expected. Apple built significant enhancements into these two models, including a smaller notch, better cameras, more storage. And a faster processor, of course.

And all without increasing the price.

Note: This article covers the non-Pro handsets Apple just unveiled. For an in-depth look at the two iPhone 13 Pro models, read Cult of Mac’s “iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max bring 120Hz displays, big camera upgrades.”

iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini shrink the screen notch

A glance at the new models reveals that the screen notch has shrunk. While most iPhone users have become accustomed to the cutout, surely no one will protest it reducing in width. It’s 20% smaller than in previous Apple handsets.

And the display is up to 28% brighter. It gets up to 800 nits in outdoor usage.

But many of the features of these two handsets remain the same as the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini. That includes the screen sizes and resolutions.

Faster performance and better battery life

Apple upgrades the processor in each successive handset and 2021 isn’t be any different. The A15 Bionic is 6-core with a pair of high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores for reduced battery drain. There’s also a 4–core GPU. Apple says, “It’s the fastest CPU and any smartphone, up to 50% faster than the leading competition for graphics intensive tasks like advanced games.”

Speaking of speed, the iPhone 13 lineup features more 5G bands allowing it to connect to additional high-speed networks around the world. The handsets will support 200 carriers in 60 countries by the end of 2021.

Performance is moot when the power runs out. A larger battery as well as improvements to the processor and screen allow for longer times between recharges in these new models. Apple promises the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 will last up to 2.5 hours more on a single charge while the iPhone 13 mini will get an additional 1.5 hours.

The devices are still charged through a Lightning port, or through MagSafe wireless charging.

Add Portrait mode for video

Flip the iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 mini over and notice than the camera hump has been re-arranged, with the lenses arranged diagonally. There’s now a 12MP Wide camera with a new 1.7 um sensor and f/1.6 aperture. Apple promises better low-light performance, with 47% more light-gathering ability.

The 12MP Ultra Wide camera has a faster sensor with an f/2.4 aperture. It covers a 120 degree field of view.

But the standout feature of the camera in these handsets is Cinematic mode, which is portrait mode for video. The camera will focus on people and leave the background blurry. The user can choose who to focus on, or let the camera handle the job through facial recognition. 

And there’s Sensor Shift lens stabilization technology in basic these iPhone 13 versions, a feature previously only in the Pro models.

Those looking for additional camera features should turn to the iPhone 13 Pro series.

More storage at the same prices

Last year’s 6.1-inch iPhone 12 debuted at $799 for the version with 64GB of storage. The iPhone 12 mini launched at $699 with the same capacity. The 2021 models launch at these same prices but have 128GB of storage. Apple dropped the 64GB version, offering double the capacity at the same cost.

Apple California Streaming event: iPhone 13 comes in an array of five colors.
iPhone 13 comes in an array of five colors.
Photo: Apple

And there are new colors. The 2021 series is available in pink, blue, midnight, starlight and (Product)Red.

Preorders start on Friday, September 17, with customers receiving the first units on Sept. 24. 

If the iPhone 12 series turns out to be a reliable predictor, the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 will be the second most popular of Apple’s new models, beaten only by the iPhone 13 Pro Max. But the mini series hasn’t sold well and 2021 will supposedly be Apple’s last 5.4-inch handset.