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Ting Tested: iPhone 13 review

Top left corner of the iPhone 13 with a

Upgrading to a new device always feels like a special occasion: a fresh start, a chance to chart a new path and experience something different. Moving to iPhone 13 from iPhone XR, that feeling was definitely palpable. Personally, however, that feeling did dissolve in a very short amount of time. At a high level, it seems that because Apple does such a great job of supporting all their devices that the experience of moving to a newer device feels like slipping into a warm bath — familiar and comforting. 

First impression

In moving from iPhone XR, the first notable thing about iPhone 13 is the squared-off candy bar shell. Of course, iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 users will experience no real change, but coming from the rounded edges of the XR, iPhone 13 is more easily gripped, plus feels sturdier and more comfortable.

User experience

Shell aside, it’s hard to notice anything different in the nuts and bolts of the applications and the user experience. Am I experiencing a faster processor? Is the screen brighter or adjusting to light in a more useful way? Is the sound quality any better? As a non-videophile or audiophile, it’s very difficult for me to say there is anything remarkably different about the everyday usage of this phone versus my iPhone XR.


Of course, coming from a device that’s been used for 3 years and with a battery health of 86% (current capacity compared to original capacity), there is an immediately noticeable improvement in battery life. Cruising through the day, and sometimes two days, on a single charge is a big difference from scrambling at night to find a plug. It’s hard to recall how many hours I got out of the XR out of the box, but iPhone 13 certainly delivers a lot of juice.

Camera quality

Drum roll please! Bulbous lenses popping off the back of the phone aside, it seems like iPhone 13 does not disappoint on image quality in any way. Thus far, video quality has delivered beyond anything I’ve ever owned. The level of video clarity really does stand out compared to my iPhone XR — it feels like a reasonably significant leap. Fooling around with the automatic depth of field focus on videos is pretty neat, but as I’m not filming any Scorsese-level productions, the utility of it is not super high. This may be just my interpretation, but while standard photos and portraits are also very clear and sharp, the difference here seems less than the improvement in video quality when compared to older models. However, the Ultra Wide camera is certainly a great option that proved super useful on a number of occasions.

Adding it all up

While it’s always astounding to realize the power and capability of a device like iPhone 13, the price seems lofty when considering that the delta of improvement feels quite small. This becomes more stark when you further consider that some older model devices come in at nearly half the price of iPhone 13. Were I in the market and not super particular about having the latest option, I think it would be very easy to slide into a model one or even two years older than iPhone 13 and not feel like I’ve lost out on much. Of course, there is always something to be said about future-proofing and having underlying hardware that may unlock new features in the next release. If that’s top of mind, then perhaps iPhone 13 is still the right phone for you. 

Take a look at our iPhone 13 mini review for similar capability in a smaller package, and test drives of iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max for upgraded cameras and larger displays.