The good news for buyers of the iPhone 13 series is that all four handsets promise significantly longer battery lives. The downside is that the change required putting in bulkier batteries that add to the weight and thickness.
Still, the increases are fairly marginal for an improvement that’s near the top of so many iPhone users’ wish lists.
iPhone 13: A battery tradeoff
During Tuesday’s product launch event, Apple promised that the iPhone 13 Pro Max can go up to 2.5 hours longer on a single charge than its predecessor. But there’s a cost. Last year’s iPhone 12 Pro Max weighs 8.03 ounces (228 g) and is 0.29 inch (7.4 mm) thick. By comparison, the iPhone 13 Pro Max weighs 8.46 oz. (240 g) and is 0.30 in. (7.65 mm) thick. That’s a 5% increase in weight, though the change in thickness may be nearly unnoticeable.
The iPhone 13 Pro is supposed to last an additional 1.5 hours from upping the battery size. It’s the same 0.01 inch thicker but weighs 7.19 oz. (204 g), up 7% from the 6.66 oz. (189 g) of last year’s model.
The basic, 6.1-inch iPhone 13 will last up to 2.5 hours more on a single charge than the 2020 version, according to Apple. There’s the same tiny increase in thickness but the weight goes from 5.78 oz. (164 g) to 6.14 oz. (174 g), a 6% increase.
And, finally, the iPhone 13 mini will get an additional 1.5 hours from its larger battery. As with the other models, the thickness goes from 0.29 inch (7.4 mm) to 0.30 in. (7.65 mm). But the weight jumps 5%, from 4.76 oz. (135 g) to 4.97 oz. (141 g).
Battery life is hard to measure
Unlike weight or size, there’s no easy metric for battery life. How long an iPhone lasts between recharges depends heavily on many factors: what applications are used, Wi-Fi or cellular or neither, how bright the backlight is, and many more.
Apple reports from its own tests that the iPhone 13 Pro Max can provide up to 25 hours of streaming video, an increase of a whopping 13 hours over the 2020 version. The iPhone 13 Pro is supposed to last up to 20 hours of video streaming, an increase of 9 hours.
The 6.1-inch iPhone 13 can supposedly show users up to 15 hours of streaming video, up 4 hours from its predecessor. The iPhone 13 mini is allegedly good for 13 hours of this on a single charge, up 3 hours.
While the slender increase in thickness may pass unnoticed on any of these handsets, the weight increases of 5% to 7% may not. But it’ll take hands-on reviews of Apple’s newest iOS handsets to be sure. And regular users’ reactions to the change will likely depend on whether Apple’s promises of longer battery life pan out in day-to-day life.