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iPhone 13 vs mini vs Pro vs Pro Max: which Apple flagship should you buy?

Apple released its latest smartphone family earlier this year and if you are not sure which handset is right for you – here’s how they all compare.

Published: Friday, 10th December 2021 at 9:54 am

This year, Apple released four new handsets as part of the iPhone 13 series, all with different sizes, pricing, cameras, displays, colours, and battery life.

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So it’s important to make sure you choose the one that’s best-suited for you. There’s no point purchasing the iPhone 13 mini if you love big phones – and there’s no point buying the large and powerful iPhone 13 Pro Max if the exact opposite is true.

So if you are considering picking up a new iOS handset but want to narrow down the best option for you, then you are in the right place, as we compare each model to list their similarities, key differences and what factors make each iPhone unique.

For hands-on impressions of the devices, make sure to read our iPhone 13 review, iPhone 13 mini review, iPhone 13 Pro review and iPhone 13 Pro Max review.

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Key differences at a glance

  • The iPhone 13 series is generally split into two camps when it comes to power and specs: mini and 13 on one side and Pro and Pro Max on the other.
  • The iPhone 13 and 13 mini do not have Apple’s ProMotion technology, which allows for refresh rates of up to 120Hz, giving smoother app scrolling.
  • The iPhone Pro and Pro Max have an additional telephoto lens, compared to just the 12MP Wide and Ultra-Wide lenses found on the 13 and mini.
  • The iPhone Pro and Pro Max have more battery life than the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini, adding a few hours to the total capacities available.
  • The two camps each have their own colour options this year, with the iPhone 13 and 13 mini coming in ink, blue, midnight, starlight and red, and the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max coming in sierra blue, silver, gold and graphite.
  • The iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max have a one terabyte storage option.
EE Cyber Monday

iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max have three camera lenses

Specs and features

It helps to split the new iPhone 12 family into two camps when comparing the line-up – with the mini and 13 on one side and Pro and Pro Max on the other.

Even so, there is a good amount of overlap when it comes to specs and features on the series, and Apple has done a good job of not making any of the handsets feeling underpowered compared to the hulking frame of the 13 Pro Max.

In fact, one thing that doesn’t ring true with the iPhones is that bigger always equals better. The 13 and the 13 Pro have the exact same 6.1-inch display size.

All of the iPhone 13 handsets have an OLED Super Retina XDR display, IP68-rated water resistance, an A15 Bionic chip, 5G connectivity, support for MagSafe add-ons, Qi wireless charging, Face ID and a 12MP TrueDepth front camera.

The differences between the two camps is a little more subtle, but you certainly get extra perks by going for the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max - including refresh rates of up to 120Hz, a LiDAR scanner for night mode pictures, a stainless steel design (instead of aluminium), an additional telephoto camera lens and more battery life.

Price

While the line-up looks familiar at a glance – all sharing a design almost identical to last year’s iPhone 12 series – pricing is definitely a major differentiator. Here are the starting prices for the iPhone 13 handsets, which will have 128GB of storage:

Storage

All four of the new iPhones have three storage options: 128GB, 256GB and 512GB. However, the Pro and Pro Max have an additional variant that gives you a massive 1TB (terabyte) of storage – and that extra room will be helpful if you are shooting high-resolution videos, which generally take up a lot more space on the device.

Apple iPhone 13 line-up

Battery life

While battery on iPhones will vary wildly based on how much the devices are being used throughout the day, it’s important to note that some models of the new line-up will certainly give you extra capacity and keep you going for slightly longer.

As a rough guide, Apple has measured how long each of the handsets can play a continuous video clip to demonstrate a rough guide to how each will perform:

  • iPhone 13 mini: up to 17 hours of video playback
  • iPhone 13: Up to 19 hours of video playback
  • iPhone 13 Pro: Up to 22 hours of video playback
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max: Up to 28 hours video playback

We can definitely see that the Pro Max comes out on top with closer to 30 hours of video playback compared to the mini’s 17 hours. But if you are constantly using the device to record clips, take pictures, and browse, all will come in lower. We found Apple’s iPhone 13 battery life claims to be broadly accurate in our reviews.

Cameras

The iPhone 13 and 13 mini each have a dual 12MP camera system, consisting of a wide and an ultra-wide lens. In comparison, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max have a triple camera system (still 12MP) that has an additional telephoto – this is a long-focus lens that lets you take better pictures of subjects further away.

Unlike the others, the 13 Pro and Pro have Apple ProRAW – which lets you shoot RAW images with additional benefits from the phone’s artificial intelligence and an extra 3x optical zoom, digital zoom up to 15x and a night portrait mode.

  • iPhone 13 mini: Dual 12MP system (Wide and Ultra Wide)
  • iPhone 13: Dual 12MP system (Wide and Ultra Wide)
  • iPhone 13 Pro: Triple 12MP system (Telephoto, Wide, Ultra Wide)
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max: Triple 12MP (Telephoto, Wide, Ultra Wide)
Apple iPhone 13

Display

While display size isn’t always an indicator that it’s a top-spec iPhone 13, there are some key differences in the screens of the latest family of Apple smartphones. The biggest difference – aside from literal size – is that the Pro and Pro Max each have “ProMotion” tech, which is a fancier way of saying up to 120Hz refresh rate.

The iPhone 13 and 13 mini have a 60Hz refresh rate. Broadly speaking, the higher the number, the smoother the performance will be on the smartphone’s display. It’s not a deal-breaker, but having a 120Hz refresh rate is always more preferred.

  • iPhone 13 mini: 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR (OLED) display
  • iPhone 13: 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR (OLED) display
  • iPhone 13 Pro: 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR (OLED), ProMotion
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max: 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR (OLED), ProMotion

The iPhone 13 phones also have different screen resolution and brightness:

  • iPhone 13 mini: 2340x1080 resolution, 800 nits max brightness
  • iPhone 13: 2532x1170 resolution, 800 nits max brightness
  • iPhone 13 Pro: 2532x1170 resolution, 1,000 nits max brightness
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max: 2778x1284, 1,000 nits max brightness

5G capability and connectivity

All four iPhone 13 handsets have 5G connectivity and are compatible with MagSafe accessories and Qi wireless chargers. If you want to find out more about Apple’s technology for magnetic accessories, read our full what is MagSafe guide.

All handsets have Dual SIM support and are not compatible with existing micro-SIM cards. They all still use Apple’s Lightning cable to charge instead of USB-C.

Design

Compared to last year’s 12 series, the new models have a slightly smaller notch on the front of the screen – but that’s where any drastic design changes end.

They retain the aesthetics of 2020’s line-up, with the main exception being the third lens on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max’s back modules. Black bezels run along the sides of all of the phones, and they all have a Ceramic Shield front.

While major differences are minimal, the standard 13 and mini frames are made with aluminium, while the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are stainless steel. They still look fantastic, but it’s just not a huge overhaul from their 2020 predecessors.

iPhone 13 vs mini vs Pro vs Pro Max: which should you buy?

The latest Apple phones have a lot of overlapping specs and features, but there are subtle upgrades that mean you still have to carefully consider which one is right for you. If you are a photography fanatic, you should stick to the iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max, which offer a 1TB storage option and an additional camera lens to play with alongside the enhanced 12Hz refresh rate and Apple ProRAW mode.

If you love smaller handsets and like casual photography without needing the latest top-of-the-line flagship specs, then the 13 mini is your clear choice.

On the other end of the scale, the same goes for the iPhone 13 Pro – which will suit anyone who wants a massive screen and the most powerful specs available.

But as we detailed in our review, it’s the iPhone 13 Pro that we feel represents the best option overall of this year’s range because “it combines next-level hardware with optimized software, all within a form factor that will suit most people.”

Stanislav Kogiku/Getty Images

Stanislav Kogiku/Getty Images

Where to buy iPhone 13 mini

Where to buy iPhone 13

Where to buy iPhone 13 Pro 

Where to buy iPhone 13 Pro Max

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For the latest news, reviews and deals, check out the RadioTimes.com Technology section. In research mode? Don’t miss our guide to the best smartphone. Want to buy a new Apple handset? We’re tracking the latest iPhone 13 UK availability.

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