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The Apple iPhone 13 is one better than the iPhone 12

US gadget giant Apple has done its traditional September refresh of its iPhone line-up and the new ones are a bit better than their predecessors.

There was once a time when iPhone launches generated genuine excitement. After all, Apple effectively invented the modern smartphone category and is known for its innovative industrial design. This writer even used to work in the evening just to get his coverage out sharpish! Now, however, it feels more like a solemn duty, born of Apple’s size rather than innovation, to note the annual incremental iPhone spec upgrades.

Having resisted fragmentation of the iPhone brand for years, Apple now unveils no less than four variations on the iPhone theme, with the cheaper, smaller mini version joining the bigger, more expensive Pro and Pro Max. The headline of the press release for the amateur ones notes a better camera, chip and battery life while the Pro PR merely claims they are ‘more pro than ever before’.

“Our customers rely on iPhone every day, which is why we’ve made iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini more powerful, more capable, and more fun to use,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s SVP of Marketing. “Both phones have beautiful designs, industry-leading performance, and advanced camera systems with impressive computational photography features, all with incredible durability, water resistance, and a big jump in battery life to ensure customers can depend on their iPhone when they need it.

“iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max make up our most pro iPhone line-up ever with the biggest advancement for our camera system, the best battery life ever in an iPhone, and the fastest performance of any smartphone, setting a new standard for iPhone and enabling incredible experiences never before possible.”

Yeah, sure, whatever. If you’re an iPhone user due for an upgrade then you’ll buy one of them and if you’re not you probably won’t, that’s the long and short of it. Apple’s size and installed-base means all it has to do to keep making obscene amounts of money is not drop the ball, which is a clear disincentive to innovation, especially when you consider its strategic pivot towards rinsing captive iOS users for digital tat (not to mention the Apple tax).

“The iPhone remains a core lucrative product for Apple as it represents a gateway to other devices and more importantly services,” said tech, media and telco analyst Paolo Pescatore. “Biggest challenge will be maintaining a premium for what some users will see as incremental upgrades. Apple has done a superb job of differentiating between the new iPhone 13 range. The new features among the Pro devices clearly justify a premium.”

It all comes down to specs at the end of the day, but to be fair to Apple the same is true of the rest of the smartphone industry. So let’s just cut to the chase and summarise them in a table. The main justification for the Pro price premium seems to be the camera and there’s no sign of support for satellite connectivity yet. They’ll all start shipping on 24 September.

iPhone 13 mini iPhone 13 iPhone 13 Pro iPhone 13 Pro Max
Starting price £679 £779 £949 £1,049
Display 5.4″ 6.1″ 6.1″ 6.7″
Storage 128-512GB 128-512GB 128GB-1TB 128GB-1TB
Weight 140gms 173gms 203gms 238gms
Chip A15 A15 A15 A15
Camera Dual 12MP Dual 12MP Triple 12MP Triple 12MP
SIM nano & eSIM nano & eSIM nano & eSIM nano & eSIM

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