iPhone 13 and 13 Pro in the first test: photo comrades with a faster heartbeat


The iPhones 2021 can be seen as a typical “s” update, ie as a generation that Apple would have called “iPhone 12s” a few years ago. Because we already know a lot from last year: the four model series, the angular housings, the display sizes. Two iPhones with a screen diagonal of 6.1 inches – namely with and without the addition “Pro” – are initially vying for the buyers’ favor. Until the siblings come and steal the show from both of them. More on that at the end, but first about the chip that all versions have.

It is “faster than the competition”, says Apple about the new A15 Bionic, which works inside all iPhones from this fall. The scene quickly noticed that Apple is probably reluctant to compare it to the A14. However, one should not draw the conclusion from this that there has been no improvement in performance: In our benchmark tests, the iPhones performed around 10 to 20 percent better than their predecessors from 2021. The iPhone 13 Pro scores most clearly with a 26 percent higher frame rate in the GFX Bench Metal (1080p Manhattan Offscreen; you will soon read the measured values ​​in a detailed test on heise + and in Mac & i issue 5/2021). In contrast to the iPhone 13 without Pro, this variant offers a five-core instead of a four-core GPU. It should ensure sufficient performance, especially for gaming and the new camera functions (see second page).

While the performance of the faster chip can easily be overlooked in everyday life, the new display of the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max is a feast for the eyes. Apple was able to visibly increase the brightness. The refresh rate of up to 120 Hertz now available was long overdue in view of the Android competition (Samsung scoffed shortly after the Apple event on Twitter, not entirely without good reason). Yes, even the Pro iPads have been offering the more fluid display of moving content for four years.

It is not only gamers who benefit from the frame rate that is now twice as high. Even when scrolling from a website like this one, you notice how smoothly the text flows on the new Pro iPhones, while it jerks slightly on the models without Pro and earlier generations.

Mobile communications are also running like clockwork: in the keynote a few days ago, Apple boasted that the new iPhones were supporting additional mobile communications providers and frequency bands. Nothing will change in practice in Germany. The iPhone 12 already supports the essential frequency bands and mmWave technology does not exist in this country. Thus, in 2020 and 2021 in Germany, Apple will only sell devices without the antenna for the high-frequency signals.

The lenses of the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 protrude even further from the housing.
(Image: Sebastian Trepesch)

While the models of last year, according to the most beautiful Apple marketing parlance, enabled “super-fast downloads” and “streaming in the highest quality” via cellular networks, the 13 series devices even achieved “ultra-fast downloads”, but only “streaming in high quality”. But nobody has to fear a supposed regression. In Hanover, we achieved up to an impressive 984 Mbit / s for downloads and 143 Mbit / s for uploads via the Telekom 5G network. For comparison: Last year it was 279 Mbit / s (Vodafone: 448 Mbit / s). This improvement in the last few months was not brought about by the new Apple devices, but by the network expansion. This confirmed our renewed measurement with the iPhone 12, it is now also sucking data from the network at these “ultra-fast” speeds.

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