iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 — Let’s play spot the difference

While their exterior designs of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 are almost indistinguishable from one another, Apple has made several internal upgrades to the newest model of its flagship smartphone range.

Apple prides itself on creating lasting, iconic smartphone designs, which means it sometimes only makes small refinements from one generation to the next.

This time around, there is no doubt that Apple has again played it safe.

The chassis of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 have the same shape — rounded corners with flat edges — and are made from the same material.

The easiest way to tell the difference between the two phone models would be to look at the arrangement of their rear dual-camera systems.

On the iPhone 12, the lenses are placed vertically, while the iPhone 13’s bump has them in a diagonal arrangement.

Apart from this, you would have to look closely to see the 20% smaller notch at the top of the display on the iPhone 13.

The only other changes are a 10g increase in weight, which would be difficult to feel in hand even if you held both phones, and the new pink colour replaces green.

The circles on the left show the different camera arrangements on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini (top) and iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini (bottom). On the right, the difference in the sizes of the notches can be seen.

The picture changes when looking at the new specifications and features of the iPhone 13.

What is difficult to compare at this stage is the promised performance increase that comes with the iPhone 13’s new A15 Bionic chip.

Apple normally shares details on how much faster a new chip is than its predecessor.

For example, at the launch of the iPhone 12 last year, it said the A14 Bionic was 15% more powerful and 30% more power-efficient than the A13 Bionic in the iPhone 11.

This time around, it said the A15 Bionic was 50% faster than the leading competition — not a useful comparison when its rivals’ chips run on a different OS.

According to Apple, the A15 Bionic’s graphics processor will be the fastest in any smartphone.

However, a verdict on this will have to wait until the new chip can be benchmarked.

iPhone 13 colours

The chip isn’t the only major hardware upgrade.

Despite keeping the same megapixel count, the camera has been upgraded with night mode on all cameras, support for sensor-shift optical image stabilisation (OIS), and a new Cinematic Video mode.

Apple also said it revamped the internals to make space for a larger battery that can last up to 1.5 hours longer for the iPhone 13 Mini and 2.5 hours longer for the standard iPhone 13.

One other interesting addition is support for dual eSIM.

The Lightning port seems like it’s going nowhere for the time being, despite Apple announcing a USB-C port for the iPad Mini at the same event where it announced the iPhone 13.

The table below summarises the new features and hardware in the iPhone 13 compared to its predecessor.

iPhone 13 upgrades over iPhone 12
Unchanged New
Display size
Display resolution
Refresh rate
Number of cameras
Camera pixels
Charging speed
Cellular and wireless connectivity support
Lightning port
Chassis design
Ingress Protection level
Brighter display
New A15 Bionic processor
128GB storage replaces 64GB
Dual eSIM
New Cinematic Video mode allows for focus-shifting recording
Night mode on all cameras
Sensor-shift OIS supported on the wide camera
20% smaller notch
Diagonal rear camera arrangement
Bigger battery
Pink colour replaces green

Full specifications

iPhone 13 iPhone 12
OS iOS 15 iOS 15
Display Mini: 5.4-inch
Standard: 6.1-inch 2,532 x 1,170 OLED 60Hz
Mini: 5.4-inch
Standard: 6.1-inch 2,532 x 1,170 OLED 60Hz
Processor A15 Bionic A14 Bionic
Storage 128GB / 256GB / 512GB 64GB / 128GB / 256GB
Rear Camera 12MP + 12MP 12MP + 12MP
Front Camera 12MP + SL 3D 12MP + SL 3D
Network 5G 5G
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6 Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6
Biometrics Face ID Face ID
Protection level IP68 IP68
Battery and charging Mini: 9.57Wh
Standard: 12.41Wh
20W wired
15W wireless
Mini: 8.57Wh
Standard: 10.78Wh
20W wired
15W wireless
Dimensions Standard: 147 x 72 x 7.65 mm (174g)
Mini: 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.7mm (141g)
Standard: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4 mm (164g)
Mini: 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4mm (135g)
Price TBC for South Africa Standard: R18,999
Mini: R15,999

Now read: Google’s Pixel 6 Pro details leaked

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iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 — Let’s play spot the difference