Despite Apple launching four handsets in the iPhone 13 range at its September 2021 event, there is a distinct divide in the group. On the one hand, you have the two entry-level models – the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini – and on the other, you have two flagship models – the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Not only are the Pro models more expensive, but they come with a host of upgrades that improve on what has come before in a way that’s been designed to appeal to a different audience – a Pro audience of Apple power users.
The iPhone 13 Pro is the smaller, cheaper of the two Pro models, yet it comes with many of the same features and advancements seen on the iPhone 13 Pro Max. All in a smaller, 6.1-inch design.
In this iPhone 13 Pro review, we put the handset to the test to see whether the entry-level Pro is worth the investment.
- iPhone 13 Pro review: summary
- What is the iPhone 13 Pro?
- How much is the iPhone 13 Pro?
- iPhone 13 Pro features
- iPhone 13 Pro design
- iPhone 13 Pro screen quality
- iPhone 13 Pro camera
- iPhone 13 Pro battery life and performance
- iPhone 13 Pro set-up
- Our verdict
- Where to buy
- £949 (128GB); £1,049 (256GB); £1,249 (512GB); £1,449 (1TB)
- 6.1-inch, Super Retina XDR OLED display with ProMotion technology and Ceramic Shield protection
- IP68 (waterproof for 30 mins up to 6 metres)
- iOS 15
- 5G connectivity
- Apple A15 Bionic Chip with 16-core Neural Engine
- 12MP Pro system on the rear, with Telephoto, Wide and Ultra-Wide sensors
- 12MP TrueDepth camera on the front with support for FaceID
- Macro Mode, Cinematic Mode and Photographic Styles
- 22-hour battery life (video playback), 75-hour battery life (audio playback)
- MagSafe and Qi wireless charging up to 15W
- Incredible, professional camera setup
- Sharp, clear display
- Responsive and fast
- Excellent battery life
- Lacks some of the power and battery life of the iPhone 13 Pro Max
The iPhone 13 Pro is available to buy SIM-free with prices starting at £949.
The iPhone 13 Pro is the cheaper of the two “professional” handsets released by Apple at its September 2021 launch event. It sits below the larger, more powerful, more expensive iPhone 13 Pro Max and just above the slightly technologically inferior, more consumer-focused iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini. This means that it has a number of Apple’s most advanced mobile features, but in a form and at a price-point that should make it a tad more accessible.
As the successor to the iPhone 12 Pro, released in September 2020, the iPhone 13 Pro has the same 6.1-inch display, fitted with the same Super Retina XDR OLED panel. It also shares the same IP68 waterproof rating. It runs iOS 15, Apple’s latest operating system, and is powered by what Apple calls its “fastest, most efficient” processor – the A15 Bionic Chip with a 16-core Neural Engine, 6-core CPU and 5-core GPU.
On the rear is a 12MP camera system that combines a Telephoto lens alongside a wide and ultra-wide sensor. On the front is a 12MP True Depth selfie camera with the FaceID module built-in. Both camera setups have been optimised to support new modes, including Cinematic Mode and Photographic Styles. The front-facing camera setup – found in a now-smaller notch at the top of the display – also houses the FaceID sensor that allows you to unlock the device using your face. While the rear camera now offers a Macro Mode.
The entire iPhone 13 Pro hardware and software setup is said to have been optimised to help the battery last longer than on last year’s models, and Apple promises an extra 1.5 hours between charges, compared to the iPhone 12 Pro.
What does the iPhone 13 Pro do?
- Takes professional-style photos and up to 4K video thanks to a rear-facing Telephoto, Wide, and Ultra-Wide camera setup
- Offers advanced video and photo tools with Cinematic Mode, Photographic Styles and Macro Mode
- Supports biometric security with FaceID; can be used to unlock the hardware as well as apps and online accounts
- Allows for high-end gaming and augmented reality with the A15 Bionic chip powered by a 16-core Neural Engine
- iOS 15 brings spatial audio, a new Portrait mode, and new Focus features to help users reduce distractions when working, driving or sleeping, as well as Live Text, which allows users to copy text from images
- Media streaming with the Apple TV app installed by default. This app acts as a remote control for Apple TV streaming boxes; a library for video content purchased from the iTunes store; and a hub to find and watch Apple TV Plus shows (for subscribers)
- Netflix, BBC iPlayer, All 4, ITV Hub, SkyGo and Disney+ are available from the Apple App Store, as are millions of apps
- Lasts up to 22 hours when watching videos, or up to 75 hours over audio
- MagSafe compatible, offering peak power wireless charging, up to 15W, alongside support for standard Qi wireless charging hardware
- Support for 5G (when available)
- Smart Data mode saves battery life by automatically shifting iPhone to 4G when 5G speeds aren’t needed, while ProMotion mode preserves battery by automatically switching between the optimal screen refresh rates
- Available in silver, graphite, blue and gold
The Apple iPhone 13 Pro has an RRP of £949.
Is the iPhone 13 good value for money?
There was a time when spending a thousand pounds on a new phone was seen as excessive – and in many cases, still is, particularly when the phone in question isn’t the most advanced handset on the market, as is the case with the iPhone 13 Pro.
The iPhone 13 Pro offers enough additional features and performance upgrades to warrant being purchased over the iPhone 13 without making too many sacrifices when compared to the iPhone 13 Pro Max. We feel the addition of Cinematic Mode, Macro Mode and the improved refresh rate justify paying a bit extra on their own. It also offers a step-change in features and performance over the iPhone 11 range and previous models.
If you’re currently using and are happy with the iPhone 12 Pro, these changes may not be significant enough to warrant such a hefty outlay, certainly not so soon after last year’s purchase. Yet when you consider the sheer amount of technology that has been crammed into the iPhone 13 Pro and the new modes that are unique to the iPhone 13 Pro range, it does represent decent value for money, especially if you can get a good deal with a contract.
The iPhone 12 range introduced a host of hardware upgrades to the display, camera and connectivity, and the iPhone 13 Pro carries a number of these over. Albeit with a selection of upgrades and tweaks.
Firstly, it runs on the latest generation of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 15. This software comes with new communication features that let you share movies, music, or whatever’s on your screen in FaceTime and uses spatial audio to make these calls sound more natural.
It has new Focus features designed to reduce distractions and stop all but urgent interruptions when you’re working, sleeping, or with friends. Elsewhere, the Weather app has been redesigned to make better use of graphics when showcasing air pollution, rain levels and the hourly forecast. Meanwhile, Apple Maps now displays routes and walking directions with 3D and AR features.
From a productivity viewpoint, you can now search for photos directly from the Search bar at the top of the screen, and, thanks to the neural engine in the A15 Bionic Chip, you can now quickly and easily copy text from inside images. The latter has been a game-changer for us.
This new software has been optimised to work with the hardware as efficiently and effectively as possible. In addition to making sure the phone and apps are super fast, the battery life on the iPhone 13 Pro is optimised, too. Apple claims the iPhone 13 Pro will last up to 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12 Pro, and this doesn’t do it justice. You can read more about why the iPhone 13 Pro battery life is so good in the Battery section below.
The 12MP camera setup on the rear now comes with an improved Telephoto lens, which offers greater optical and digital zoom options and makes videos and images look steady thanks to more advanced sensor-shift optical image stabilisation. Both front and rear-facing cameras support Apple’s new Cinematic Mode and Photographic Styles, bringing professional and automatic focusing and editing tools to your videos and photos. We explain more about these additions in the iPhone 13 Pro camera section below.
Security-wise, there is a FaceID sensor embedded into the True Depth camera on the front of the device, and this camera and sensor now sit on a slightly smaller, redesigned notch at the top of the display.
The iPhone 13 Pro comes with a number of pre-installed apps. In fact, there are so many, they take up a total of 15.1GB of storage space alongside the iOS. These apps include Camera, Photos, Health, Messages, Mail, Music, Wallet, Safari, Maps, Siri, Calendar, iTunes Store, App Store, Notes, News, Weather, Reminders, Stocks, Calculator, Voice Memos and more. Plus free apps including iMovie, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, GarageBand, Apple Store, iTunes Remote, and Clips. Apple softens this blow a little by giving you 5GB of this storage back when you sign up to iCloud, but it’s still a pain.
As with all Apple products, it’s not possible to physically expand the storage on the iPhone 13 Pro, and the entry-level storage options are the same as last year’s, starting at 128GB. However, for the first time, you can buy an iPhone Pro with 1TB, taking the total number of storage options to four – 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB. You can remove any or all of the pre-installed apps if they take up too much room. You can also pay extra for iCloud storage, which starts at 79p a month for an extra 50GB up to £6.99 for 2TB. But that will be on top of paying for a phone that is already expensive as it is.
The biggest difference between the cheaper iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini handsets and their Pro equivalents is the fact the more expensive models are housed in aluminium rather than glass. This not only makes them feel more premium to the touch, but it also makes them feel more sturdy and robust.
As with those seen on the cheaper models, the notch on the iPhone 13 Pro is 20% smaller than on previous models and, seeing as the iPhone 13, and iPhone 13 Pro have the same size display, the impact (or lack thereof) of this smaller notch is the same.
The iPhone 13 Pro is a tad thicker and heavier than last year’s iPhone 12 Pro. The aluminium design gives it a more luxurious feel and, with that, it gives the illusion of being more sturdy and therefore heavy. However, in reality, the differences in thickness and weight are barely tangible. What’s more, this extra heft is a small sacrifice to make for having a more powerful battery, processor and additional 5G components inside.
The improved camera modules on the rear are positioned in the same way they always have been on Pro phones – two sensors on the left with a third sensor mid-right, below the flash. This high-tech setup does take up a fair chunk of room and protrudes enough to stop the phone from sitting flat on a surface even when it’s in a case.
Port-wise, it has a Lightning connector – sadly, there’s still no sign of the iPhone range getting USB-C ports like the latest iPads. Then there is a power button, which can also be used to enable Siri, on the right-hand side of the handset, opposite the volume buttons on the left. The speakers sit on either side of the charging port.
The iPhone 13 Pro has the same 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display seen on last year’s iPhone 12 Pro with the same 2532 x 1170-pixel resolution at 460 PPI. Contrast ratio and support for the P3 wide colour gamut remain, as does the use of True Tone technology that adjusts the white balance on screen based on the lighting conditions you’re in.
Yet, there are two noteworthy upgrades. The first is relatively minor – the iPhone 13 Pro has pushed the typical maximum brightness levels to 1,000 nits up from 800 nits. This makes it easier to read in direct sunlight and can help make colours more vibrant.
The second upgrade is more significant. The iPhone 13 Pro’s display comes with a new feature called ProMotion, designed to automatically choose the optimal refresh rate – between 10Hz and 120Hz – to suit whatever you’re doing. For reference, the displays on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini handsets only go up to 60Hz.
If you’re simply moving between apps or scrolling, ProMotion drops the refresh rate lower. If you’re gaming or drawing, ProMotion automatically increases it to make it more responsive. It was difficult to discern the differences during our testing, but the iPhone 13 Pro felt much faster and responsive across the board. It also seemingly brought battery benefits. By not running at a higher refresh rate than is needed, the iPhone 13 Pro used less energy on everyday tasks, saving it for the more energy-intense ones.
In terms of colours and clarity, the OLED panel on the iPhone 13 Pro really shines. Games and HD content look particularly great, and colours are vibrant and black tones look deep and dark. All of which improves contrast and adds a high level of detail. Elsewhere, the display has native support for Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG.
To protect this display, Apple has coated it with Ceramic Shield technology. As was the case with the Ceramic Shield on the iPhone 12 – and as it is now across the entire iPhone 13 range – Apple promises this shield gives the iPhone 13 Pro four times better protection and durability when dropped.
Apple calls the new camera setup found on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max its “biggest camera advancement ever.”
On the rear is an improved telephoto lens, alongside a Wide and Ultra Wide sensor. The latter has a 120° field of view, a larger ƒ/1.8 aperture and a new sensor with autofocus which enables the addition of Macro Mode on the iPhone 13 Pro – the first time macro shots have been possible on an iPhone without the need for an attachment. In particular, the new autofocus system works with a new 2cm minimum focus distance to let you capture images, as well as videos, much closer than before.
The new ƒ/1.5 aperture Wide camera is described as Apple’s largest sensor ever, capable of capturing 2.2x more light than the iPhone 12 Pro. While the new Telephoto camera has a 77mm focal length and 3x optical zoom.
What these improvements mean in practice is that the cameras capture better photos, even in low light and indoors, and from a larger range of distances than before. Macro Mode, in particular, has been a game-changer when photographing food, for instance, or capturing the detail in close-up scenes.
We have also relied far less on Night Mode with the iPhone 13 Pro camera setup. We’re big fans of Night Mode, but because you often need to apply a delay for the sensors on older models to capture the best shot, and this requires your subject to remain still, it wasn’t always suitable for capturing action shots. The new setup is much more capable of doing this, supported by the sensor-shift OIS technology.
This camera setup and iOS 15 also allow for two new features – Cinematic Mode and Photographic Styles. Cinematic Mode uses a technique used by cinematographers in feature films known as rack focus to switch attention between subjects, while adding a depth-of-field effect. This is available on both the latest iPhone Pro models, and it helps create superb, professional-looking footage even if you have limited experience or skill, like us.
Photographic Styles allows you to switch up the appearance of your photos to one of four new styles – Vibrant, Rich Contrast, Warm, and Cool. Beyond just applying a filter, Photographic Styles uses “deep semantic understanding” to make nuanced adjustments to light, brightness, contrast and more, all while taking each individual person’s skin tone into account. This makes a subtle yet highly impactful difference to images, particularly group shots.
In addition to Night Mode, the iPhone 13 Pro continues to support Deep Fusion and HDR video recording with Dolby Vision, and the latter now supports 4K at 60 fps on all cameras (up from 4K at 30 fps on the iPhone 12 Pro).
The True Depth camera on the front, which also houses the FaceID sensor, has had fewer upgrades and tweaks, but it does support Cinematic Mode and Photographic Styles, as well as Dolby Vision HDR recording up to 4K at 60 fps. A boon for vloggers.
Apple claims its new 6-core CPU, found across the entire iPhone 13 range, is up to 50 per cent faster than the competition. Yet on the iPhone 13 Pro, this CPU is also joined by a new 5-core Apple-designed GPU, said to deliver the same percentage speed upgrades.
During everyday tasks, these speed boosts aren’t discernible. Even when we ran our iPhone 12 Pro Max alongside the iPhone Pro 13, we didn’t notice differences in responsiveness. As in that’s to say, they were both incredibly fast, and we never experienced any lag that affected whatever we were trying to do.
That said, when we switched to playing graphic-heavy games, like Fornite, or streaming high-quality content from Netflix, the refresh rate on the iPhone 13 Pro coupled with the processor speed increases did make for a super-smooth super-fast experience, and we couldn’t fault it. Over both 4G and Wi-Fi.
In terms of battery life, Apple promises an extra 1.5-hours of usage when using the iPhone 13 Pro, compared to the iPhone 12 Pro, making it capable of lasting up to 22 hours when watching videos and up 75 hours when listening to audio.
We found the iPhone 13 Pro to surpass both of these Apple estimates. In our tests – in which we used the phone to stream at least one episode of Married at First Sight, send WhatsApp messages, play Sim City, and watch TikTok alongside a couple of audio calls – we averaged a highly impressive 32 hours.
Setting up an iPhone is always straightforward, thanks to an on-screen, step-by-step guide. If you’re an Apple customer, you can get the phone setup in minutes. If you’re moving from Android, the process is a little longer but still easy enough to navigate via the Move to iOS app.
With the iPhone 13 range, though, Apple has taken this a step further. Firstly, if you don’t have enough space on your current handset to back everything up, Apple now lets you use as much iCloud Backup space you need while you’re moving data to your new device. Meanwhile, Apple has also made it easier to move Photo albums, files and folders, and Accessibility settings to your new iPhone.
If you’re not already an Apple customer, you’ll need to create an Apple ID and manually download the apps you want, but you can get through the setup process and do this later, should you need to.
The iPhone 13 Pro represents the best option of the entire iPhone 13 range because it combines next-level hardware with optimised software, all within a form factor that will suit most people. The display is clear, bright and crisp but not so large, it can’t be controlled one-handed. The design is sturdy and robust. It brings performance and battery upgrades that elevate it about anything that’s come before, and the camera advancements alone are highly impressive.
The price will likely be a sticking point for many people, but if your budget can extend to it, you won’t be disappointed.
- Features: 5/5
- Screen quality: 5/5
- Design: 5/5
- Camera: 5/5
- Battery life and performance: 5/5
- Set-up: 5/5
- Overall rating: 5/5
iPhone 13 Pro off-contract
iPhone 13 Pro on contract
- Available from Sky for £33 a month and £0 upfront (36-month contract)
- Available from EE for £57 a month and £100 upfront
- Available from Vodafone for £57 a month and £49 upfront
- Available from O2 for £60.50 a month and £30 upfront
- Available from Tesco Mobile for £56.99 a month and £0 upfront
Can’t decide which is the best iPhone for you? We’ve put the iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 head-to-head to help you choose. Plus, don’t forget that Apple products should see good discounts during Black Friday 2021, so save our iPhone Black Friday deals page for later.