Decoding The Apple iPhone 13 Series: There Is A Lot More Than Just Diagonal Cameras

The annual Apple iPhone launch that everyone looks forward to. Some with the excitement for understanding which one they should buy, some with half-baked opinions for uninformed commentary on social media. Nevertheless, not to get sidetracked, Apple has unveiled the new iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max. With the Apple iPhone 13 Mini, the smallest iPhone in the line-up, the experiment continues. Significant changes under the hood with the new processor not only being the most powerful one in the world of smartphones, but also helping bring along serious upgrades for photography. And where significant changes weren’t needed, subtle improvements have made their presence felt. The displays, for example, across all iPhones, till you factor in ProMotion in the Pro iPhones. And the gorgeous new Sierra Blue for the iPhone 13 Pro phones.

Price And Availability: In case you haven’t noticed, 2021 and the Apple iPhone 13 series is the first time the new iPhones are going on sale in India at the same time as other markets, including the US. You can preorder the iPhone 13 Mini and indeed the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max on the Apple India Online Store from 5:30pm on September 17, with sale going Live on September 24. Secondly, the price points of the new iPhone 13 series remain the same as the iPhone 12 series from last year. Prices start at Rs 69,900 for the entire range. Two things here. First, that means the prices of the iPhone 12 should get some recalibration in the coming days, making it more affordable. Secondly, the expected annual inflation hasn’t happened, even though Apple has increased the entry-spec storage capacity across all iPhones—it is now uniform at 128GB across all the iPhone 13 phones, with the iPhone 13 Pro now going all the way up to 1TB storage.

Apple A15 Bionic: The Apple A15 Bionic is the fastest processor in the world of smartphones, and further extends the leads it has over anything else that Qualcomm, Samsung and MediaTek make, for instance. The A14 Bionic held the same mantle last year, just that the A15 Bionic further extends that advantage. This is as much as 50% faster than the closest competition, that is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 series. Graphics are also 30% faster. Mind you, there are two variants of the A15 Bionic at play here. The iPhone 13 Mini and the iPhone 13 get this in the 6-core CPU and 4-core GPU options while the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max run the iteration with the 6-core CPU and 5-core GPU—with all iPhone 13 models getting the new 16-core Neural Engine as standard. This can perform 15.8 trillion computations per second, including camera features such as Smart HDR 4 and Cinematic mode.

Camera Upgrades For iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini: The Apple iPhone 13 series, across the board, gets significant photography upgrades. Particularly good news for the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 Mini, which now have sensor-shift optical image stabilization as well as Smart HDR 4. For folks who refuse to understand what Apple is referring to with the diagonal cameras—it is basically a readjustment of the camera architecture and the placement of the lenses by 45 degrees to fit the larger optical hardware as well as sensor-shift optical image stabilization. The new hardware also means the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini cameras capture more light than before. To be able to fit this in the iPhone 13 Mini is even more remarkable. The Cinematic video mode, also available on the Pro phones, can be deployed to shift focus from one subject to another in the frame—and one way it works is the detection of head movement of the subject in focus. Clearly, a lot more than just the cameras being placed diagonally.

Camera Upgrades for iPhone 13 Pro And iPhone 13 Pro Max: Last year was a big upgrade for the camera systems on the Pro iPhones. This time around, there are significant additions, on the hardware and software side of things. New apertures for telephoto, wide and ultra-wide, 6x optical zoom range instead of 5x, digital zoom up to 15x instead of 12x and something called Photographic Styles. Video recording options get the Cinematic Mode for shooting shallow depth of field videos, ProRes videos up to 4K and more optical zoom as well at 3x instead of 2.5x as before. The new A15 Bionic with the Smart HDR 4 as well as new image processing algorithms should make for a definite step forward in photography performance. The new Photographic Styles options—vibrant warm, Rich Contrast, Vibrant and Standard should be a lot of fun, with controls for tone and warmth available as well. And that’s also driven by the new image processing in place.

Battery Charge Should See Longer Runtimes: Apple has spoken extensively about the better battery life stats, across all the iPhone 13 series phones. The iPhone 13 gets 2.5 hours of more battery run time than an iPhone 12, while an iPhone 13 Mini gets 1.5 hours of more use compared with the predecessor. It is also 2.5 hours more for the iPhone 13 Pro Max and 1.5 hours more for the iPhone 13 Pro. A lot of the real-world results will be available when I get to use the iPhone 13 devices as regular phones, but there is a combination of optimizations with the A15 Bionic as well as the iOS 15 software, which are making the iPhones a lot more frugal.

ProMotion Displays: The iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max retain the same Super Retina XDR real estate and resolution, but there are two significant changes here. First, the ProMotion fast refresh rate feature makes its way from the iPad Pro series to the iPhone for the first time. This will, based on what’s on the screen at the time, alter the screen refresh rate between 10Hz and 120Hz. Secondly, the new iPhone 13 Pro screens are brighter as well than before, in typical and HDR usage modes. The TrueDepth camera systems are more compact than before, which slims down the notch too.

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