iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max review: Apple saved the real upgrade for the Pros
A phone can be endowed with the fastest processor in the world, but if it’s saddled with a slow screen, it could still feel sluggish — especially when compared to a similarly equipped device with a faster panel. That’s why the iPhone 13 Pro’s most important new feature is its ProMotion display.
But ProMotion is only included on the Pro and Pro Max models this year, making it one of the features that differentiate them from the iPhone 13 and 13 mini, not to mention last year’s 12 Pro. For an extra $200 to $300, the Pro series also offers an additional telephoto camera, a new macro photography mode, as well as more power and endurance. But are the iPhone 13 Pro’s new cameras and screens worth the extra money?Apple
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Before we get into those features, though, there’s one thing you should consider: weight. At 204 grams (7.19 ounces), the 6.1-inch 13 Pro is heavier than both the 12 Pro and the iPhone 13. The 13 Pro Max, which has a 6.7-inch screen, outweighs last year’s Pro Max and Samsung's Galaxy S21 Ultra. While I didn’t mind the regular Pro, it was uncomfortable to use Apple’s biggest flagship one-handed for more than a few minutes at a time.
In addition to being heavier than last year's models, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are a bit thicker, too. They also have larger rear camera modules and slightly smaller display notches. Otherwise, Apple hasn’t strayed far from the 12 Pro’s design. These phones have similar stainless steel enclosures with glass coverings, and are rated IP68 for water and dust resistance.
Even the colors available are familiar: The typical trio of graphite, gold and silver are now accompanied by Sierra Blue. Personally, I prefer this paler shade to the Pacific Blue offered on the last generation.
Display and audio
I realized something when I started testing the iPhone 13 series last week: Basically everything I do on a phone requires scrolling. That includes browsing social feeds, looking for the right component on a spec sheet, reading through old conversations, creeping on my Instagram viewers and reading articles, to give you a non-exhaustive list.
This is why Apple’s new ProMotion screen on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max is a big deal, and also why it’s kind of annoying that it took the company so long to adopt this technology in the first place. Google was already a little behind when it added 90Hz panels to the Pixel 4, after companies like ASUS and OnePlus had already introduced higher refresh rates. Nowadays, this tech isn't just for premium, top-tier Android devices either.
This is hardly the first time Apple is late to adopt a new technology. But it is worth emphasizing that the faster screens on the iPhones make a real difference. Like many Android phones, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max adjust their refresh rates depending on what you’re doing. They can go as low as 10Hz when you’re looking at a static image, or up to 120Hz for scrolling and compatible games.
The benefits might not be obvious at first, but when you go back to a slower screen, you’ll quickly notice the jagged artifacts they produce.
Aside from ProMotion, the iPhone 13 Pro’s OLED displays are also 25 percent brighter than their predecessors, which is nice for outdoor reading. But without a side-by-side comparison, the difference is subtle at best.
Regardless, I enjoyed watching the visual perfection that is Doja Cat’s Kiss Me More music video on the iPhone 13 Pro’s True Tone display. The rosy, cotton-candy hues looked vibrant and her individual lashes were clear. The stereo speakers also did a respectable job of delivering crisp audio with adequate bass. Other things like voices and instrumental background music in videos and games all came through clearly as well.