iPhone 13 models compared: Why you should go Pro

Why you should go Pro with iPhone 13


Drake iPhone 13 Pro meme
iPhone 13 Pro is worth the extra $200.
Image: Cult of Mac

If you’re planning to upgrade to iPhone 13 this year, you should probably spend the extra cash on iPhone 13 Pro. This year’s refresh widens the gap between the different iPhone models on offer — and makes going Pro an even better decision than in previous generations.

It’s not just new camera tricks and a nicer design you get for your money, like with iPhone 12 Pro last year. With iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max, you’ll also enjoy a smoother-than-butter ProMotion display, and an even more powerful A15 Bionic processor.

iPhone vs. iPhone Pro

We’re used to having to pay more for iPhone Pro models that pack additional features. That’s been the norm for several years now. Typically, you don’t miss out on too much if you settle for a standard iPhone variant.

Last year’s iPhone 12 Pro offered a Telephoto lens with 2X optical zoom, a LiDAR Scanner that very few people have likely used all that much over the past year, ProRAW photo support, and a slightly nicer design.

The differences between iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro the year before were similar, though getting an OLED display on the latter was certainly a good reason to fork out more of your hard-earned cash.

If you opted for a standard iPhone model in recent years, then, you didn’t really miss out on all that much. But with iPhone 13, the Pro model gives us more (and even greater) reasons to ignore its slightly cheaper siblings.

iPhone 13 makes going Pro a great decision

Yet again, a nicer, stainless steel design and better cameras are reasons to go Pro this year. And the camera differences are a lot bigger than in previous years. You don’t just get a Telephoto lens with more (3X) optical zoom.

You also get an amazing macro mode that gives you the ability to take close-up photos and videos of detailed subjects like never before on iPhone. And more advanced lenses that let in significantly more light.

The Wide camera sensor on iPhone 13 Pro features an f/1.5 aperture, whereas the Wide sensor on iPhone 13 is f/1.6. The Ultra Wide on 13 Pro uses an f/1.8 aperture versus a significantly smaller f/2.4 on the standard model.

These are big differences that allow iPhone 13 Pro to take brighter, more vibrant photos. The upgrades should greatly improve Pro models’ performance in low-light settings.

iPhone 13 Pro is faster

iPhone 13 Pro also shoots ProRes video for the first time. That’s the same standard widely used throughout the professional cinema industry, and it gives you greater control over your videos in post-production.

iPhone 13 Pro is faster, too. For the first time, you get a beefier chip for spending a little more money. It uses the same A15 Bionic as regular iPhone 13, but with an additional GPU core (five versus four) for greater performance.

It’s likely the faster GPU is necessary for things like ProRes video shooting and editing, and some of the other camera tricks offered by iPhone 13 Pro. But it also means smoother performance in graphically intensive apps.

iPhone 13 Pro is smoother

And then there’s ProMotion, which makes iPhone 13 Pro’s dazzling Super Retina XDR faster and smoother than ever before. Boy, have we been waiting a long time for this feature (previously exclusive to iPad Pro) to come to iPhone.

ProMotion allows iPhone’s display to reach a whopping 120Hz, and that higher refresh rate makes a noticeable difference in many everyday situations. Whether you’re scrolling a webpage, flicking through photos, or playing games, it’s all going to look a lot better on iPhone 13 Pro.

And don’t worry about battery life. ProMotion also allows an iPhone’s display to drop down to just 10Hz when you don’t need speed — again, like on iPad Pro — so it’s incredibly efficient.

You might be wondering what all the fuss is about if you’ve never used iPad Pro or a 120Hz display. But the additional speed makes a huge difference, and once you’re used to it, it’s hard to go back to a 60Hz screen, where everything feels a little rougher and less responsive.

Go Pro if you can

When combined together in one sweet package, these differences make iPhone 13 Pro well worth the extra $200 versus the regular iPhone 13. Heck, the ProMotion display alone is worth $200 for most iPhone users. They probably just don’t know it yet.

If you’re planning to upgrade your iPhone this year, then, go Pro if you can. You’ll be missing out on a lot more if you don’t.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.