PSA: iPhone 13 series is incompatible with most earlier cases

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PSA: iPhone 13 series is incompatible with most earlier cases
Note the difference in size of the camera hump on the iPhone 12 (on left) and the iPhone 13 (on right).
Photo: Apple

While the iPhone 13 has drawn some criticism for being a minor update, improvements to the cameras mean that none of the new handsets are compatible with tight-fitting cases designed for earlier models.

This is not unusual. But Apple’s 2021 models look so much like their iPhone 12 equivalents that it might be easy to think the exteriors are identical when they are not.

Blame the iPhone 13 camera hump

A review in Tom’s Guide spells it out, “The iPhone 13 Pro looks remarkably similar to the iPhone 12 Pro except for two key differences: the bigger camera hump and the smaller notch.“

If there’s any doubt, check the websites for case makers. These show that iPhone 12 cases do not fit the latest models. Take Apple’s own iPhone 12 Leather Case with MagSafe as an example. It’s listed as being compatible with the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 and 12 Pro but that’s it.

This applies to all four new models, from the 5.4-inch mini all the way to the 6.7-inch Pro Max. Those waiting for any iPhone 13 version might consider ordering a new case for it now.

At least there’s good reason

The camera hump is larger in Apple’s 2021 handsets but this was apparently necessary because of improved hardware.

Both iPhone 13 Pro versions offer significant camera upgrades, with better lenses and 3x optical zoom, up from 2.5x/2x in their predecessors.

And the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini got sensor-shift optical image stabilization for video. Apple promises 47% more light-gathering ability for better low-light performance.