iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: what really changes from one to another?

As usual in the final stretch of the year, Apple introduced the Apple iPhone 13 series in September. The new models -- there are four -- came with little change from their predecessors. And yet, there's that question: is it time to buy the iPhone 13 or the Apple iPhone 12 is the best option now?

To help with this decision, Canaltech has prepared a comparison between the base models of Apple's last two generations of mobile phones. Here, you understand well the differences in specifications and what it means for actual use.

The idea is not exactly to point out which one is the best to buy but to help understand what changes between each generation. That said, let's compare Apple iPhone 13 vs Apple iPhone 12.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: design and construction

The iPhone 13 is practically the iPhone 12 with two external changes: the smaller notch at the front and the layout of the slightly modified rear cameras.

Moreover, Apple did not touch anything else, keeping the sides straight and all the locations of buttons and connectors. Even in the dimensions, there is only a change in thickness, approximately 0.3 mm larger in the new model, and weight, with 10 grams more in the new generation.

  • iPhone 13: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.7 mm, 174 g;
  • iPhone 12: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4 mm 164 g.

Upfront, Apple finally reduced the space occupied by the "fringe" on the screen after four generations without messing around in this area of the phone. The main difference is for the games, because the notch takes up less display space, and frees the visualization of elements on the side.

Unfortunately, however, notifications follow with the same problem: the right side still has the same three markers (battery level and Wi-Fi and cellular network signals), while the left follows only with the clock.

The camera module on the back of the iPhone 13 is the most noticeable difference from the iPhone 12 (Image - Canaltech/Ivo)

Already on the back, the camera module had all its elements repositioned. Instead of two lenses in a vertical row, they are now diagonal, which allowed the use of larger sensors in both.

The LED flash, which was next to and at the height right between the two cameras, now closer to the top. Finally, in place of what was once the camera below is a noise reduction microphone.

Both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 have aluminum sides and a gloss finish on the front and back, but there is a difference in the colors of each model.

The 12 you can find in purple, blue, green, white, black, and red, while 13 has — for now — one less option, and the five already available are pink, blue, midnight (black), shards (white/cream), and red.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: screen

The technical specifications of the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 displays are the same as it is the same display in both generations. There is a difference in the size of the notch, 20% less wide in the newer model and slightly higher", and there is also a novelty in brightness, which can be higher in the latest device.

  • iPhone 13: Super Retina XDR OLED 6.1-inch with Full HD+ resolution (1170 x 2532 pixels), HDR10;
  • iPhone 12: Super Retina XDR OLED 6.1-inch with Full HD+ resolution (1170 x 2532 pixels), HDR10.

The iPhone 12 reached 625 nits of typical brightness intensity, which is the maximum brightness of the device without any extra function to give again in lighter environments.

The iPhone 13 goes a little further, with 800 nits in this same situation. However, the peak of both is 1200 nits, so outdoor use should not have a very clear difference between the two.

Moreover, they are mobile phones with screens that enter the list of the best in the industry today in every way.

The sharpness of the image is impeccable, with a density that is around 460 pixels per inch. The colors are very well calibrated and are usually very realistic, without pulling too much for the warm tones or cold tones.

In addition, both offer scratch-resistant ceramic glass, oleophobic coating, True Tone technology, and wide color tint. HDR10 support ensures the best contrast for watching movies and series and plays with high quality.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: setup and performance

As usual, Apple has released a new chip along with the new generation of iPhone this year. The new A15 Bionic, however, does not have much higher speed than its predecessor, the A14 Bionic, and is manufactured with the same 5-nanometer lithograph.

That is, there is a performance improvement, but nothing noticeable for most users.

  • iPhone 13: Apple A15 Bionic (5 nm), Hexa-core processor (2x 3.22 GHz Avalanche + Blizzard 4x), Apple 4-core GPU;
  • iPhone 12: Apple A14 Bionic (5 nm), Hexa-core processor (2x 3.1 GHz Firestorm+ 4x 1.8 GHz Icestorm), Apple 4-core GPU.

And this is evident with the benchmark results, which scored a little higher on the iPhone 13 than we had ever seen on the iPhone 12.

While the new model scored 10,238 points with 61.3 fps in Wild Life Unlimited by 3D Mark, its predecessor achieved 9,140 points and 54.7 fps in the same test.

In the Extreme version, the result was 2,344 points with 14 fps in the new model, against 2,083 points and 12.5 fps on the iPhone 12. Better results, but not so significant.

But the reality is that the iPhone always hits the market with plenty of power —so it lasts so many years without choking, even with the heaviest use.

What then changes from iPhone 13 to 12? In the sem, you would have an extra year of gross performance to spare in case you opt for the newest. But that only pays off if you plan to keep the device for three to four years.


What can be a real advantage on the iPhone 13 is the storage space, since it has options from 128 GB to 512 GB. The iPhone 12 starts at 64 GB and only reaches 256 GB on the model with the most storage.

As for the operating system, the iPhone 12 comes out of the box with iOS 14 installed, but can be upgraded to iOS 15 in the latest version, also available on iPhone 13. There is no interface difference or software features between these two models.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: cameras

Apple announced a "new, more advanced dual-camera system to date" when it released the iPhone 13, which however has technical specifications almost identical to its predecessor. However, Apple's new phone has a 1.7μm main photosensor, while the iPhone 12 is 1.4μm.

  • iPhone 13: 12 MP (f/1.6, main) + 12 MP (f/2.4, ultra-wide); 12 MP (f/2.2, front);
  • iPhone 12: 12 MP (f/1.6, main) + 12 MP (f/2.4, ultra-wide); 12 MP (f/2.2, front).

This increase in sensor size, made possible by the new 45° angle positioning between the two lenses, allows the capture of up to 47% more light. In addition, Apple has included optical image stabilization by sensor displacement, to reduce shakes at capture time.

Photos were taken with iPhone 13

The super wide-angle has a faster sensor to capture more detail in dark areas. There's not much difference in the quality of photos between iPhone 13 or iPhone 12, except perhaps for low-light, slightly sharper photos on the newer model.

The front camera can record selfies with a pattern similar to the main one. The level of detail is excellent, the colors are realistic and the dynamic range is very good.

There is, again, not much difference between iPhone 13 or iPhone 12, both with very good self-portraits, which do not hide marks on your face but also do not exaggeratedly highlight them.

But the big news of the cameras is in the video recording, with the arrival of cinema mode. It is a depth effect with blur between people on the board, as we see in movies.

iPhone 13 can smoothly transition between focusing on a person in the foreground and background. This is done automatically, in case those who are in the foreground look back, or manually if you tap the screen. This mode still records in HDR Dolby Vision.

Photos were taken with iPhone 12

Moreover, the two models offer the same resolution and frame rate options as the previous generation, reaching 4K at 60 fps, with multiple capture options that consume less space, too. The cinematic mode only records at 1080p at 30 frames per second.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: battery

The load capacity increased again between generations after a few years of fall. On the iPhone 13, it's 3,240 mAh of charge, an increase of just over 400 mAh from the 2,815 mAh of the iPhone 12. According to Apple, this means a two-hour increase in video playback by 17 hours.

Our tests have pointed out that the iPhone 13 can reach at least 18 hours of playback on Netflix if you always keep the screen at medium brightness. Of course, the result may change depending on the strength of the network signal and several other factors, but there is certainly a gain in day-to-day use.

But what does that mean in real use, since no one goes 10 hours without stopping watching movies or series on Netflix and the like?

Both can deliver a day without needing a recharge, but the iPhone 13 has a bigger leftover. That is, on days that you require a little more of the device, it can reach the end without turning off.

Of course, depending on its use, it may be until the iPhone 13 lasts two days without needing recharging. But it depends on the number of applications installed, network signal strength, active screen time, and several other factors. The iPhone 12 also comes to this period with some people.

Even so, it is better to wait for a day of quiet use for both.

iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: what's it worth?

iPhone 13 is almost the same as its predecessor (Image: Ivo/Caltech)

The iPhone 13 is more for an iPhone 12s than in fact a new generation. But Apple has seemingly given up on the idea of skipping the numbers only every two years —not least because the profound changes have taken even longer than that to happen.

There are some one-off changes, such as a reduced notch, improved camera hardware, and the new chip even faster. But all these little changes in the actual user experience, which already has on the iPhone 12 an excellent phone to use for many years. And it pays less in last year's generation than in the current one.

For those who have money to spend on any smartphone, you can opt for the iPhone 13 without fear. But then I would indicate going a little further, departing for the iPhone 13 Pro, which has even more advanced camera features, plus GPU a little more powerful.

But if your goal is only to buy the best iPhone possible with minimal money to invest, the iPhone 12 is still good size: it has 5G, the screen is excellent, the battery has a good life, the cameras are great

iPhone 12 rear cameras sit on top of each other (Image: Ivo/Caltech)

It is important to keep an eye on the prices of each model and also on availability. The iPhone 13 still suffers a bit from low inventories and has a greater demand for being the novelty of the moment.

On the other hand, the iPhone 12 appeared in good promotions during the weeks following Black Friday and also began to get harder to find.

The price of the iPhone 13 has already come to be below the R $ 6,000 on offer black Friday, but it is more common to be close to R $ 6,500 or even a little above. But it's for the 128 GB model, its cheapest version.

The iPhone 12 also came to be below R $ 4,600 on Black Friday and can be easily found between R $ 4,800 and R $ 5,000, in the version of 128 GB.

You can search for the 64 GB model, but the savings will be low, considering you can save a lot more apps, photos, and files at 128 GB. The price is around R $ 4.500.

Lineesh Kumar

"Lk Techsky is Expertise in covering technology news, reviews, producing quality tech videos, graphic designing, VFX editing, and more..." facebook instagram linkedin

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