iPhone 13 Pro Review

My first Pro iPhone: Pros and cons of the iPhone 13 Pro.

I’ve never gotten a Pro iPhone before, because I never felt like I needed it. Yes, I’d enviously eye the remarkable pictures my friends would post on social media that they claimed to take on their Pro or Pro Max, but I’ve always been happy to stick to the budget models, and my wallet has been, too. This year, however, I got the opportunity to try out the iPhone 13 Pro.

I went in with some hesitation. After all, none of us at iPhone Life were too enthused about the minimal upgrades to the Pro this time. Now that I’ve tried it out, I can confidently say I like it, but I’m not sure I’m sold. Here is my first-ever Pro experience.

Looks Aren’t Everything

I knew I’d be getting some kind of iPhone 13 before the new line was announced, so I was disappointed when I saw the limited color options. Coming off of a string of years where we saw colors like yellow, green, and lavender, the muted metallics of this year underwhelmed me. I reluctantly chose the gold iPhone 13 Pro, planning to pair it with a case I ultimately didn’t end up getting, and upon unboxing it, I wasn’t in love. I did end up finding a case that compliments it nicely, but I still can’t help looking wistfully back on color schemes gone by.

ProMotion Is Poppin’

With all the hubbub around the lightning-fast iPhone 13 Pro refresh rate feature dubbed ProMotion, I wondered if I would really notice it. Tech is fast. Pages load quickly. I have never accused my iPhone 11 of lagging, so what would ProMotion bring to the table? A lot, it turns out, and I’m still not sure if it’s good. The new refresh rate was almost dizzyingly fast in comparison to what I was used to. As I’ve continued to use it, I’ve gotten a bit more used to it, but I still think it’s a little too fast and a little too detailed.

Better Night Mode! Macro!

Now we’re getting to the good stuff. The two main things that made the Pro model interesting to me were the camera features: Night Mode (introduced with the iPhone 11 but greatly improved with the 13 Pro line) and new macro capabilities. I often struggle with justifying fancy features like this compared to the cost of the device. Am I going to use these features enough to make the fancier device worth it? In a word, no. Night Mode and Macro are both very fun features, and perhaps I’ll get so attached to them when the time rolls around for me to get a new iPhone I won’t be able to imagine life without them, but from where I’m standing they’re a luxury I could live without.

Still, they’re really, really fun. My photo needs are not high. I like taking pictures of my kid, my trips, and the books I’m reading. I have an Instagram with a modest following, and no real photography aspirations. However, Night Mode is fantastic for almost all low light situations. I don’t need to be taking artsy pictures of the moon to display in an art show; Night Mode is perfect for selfies with my daughter in the low light of evening lamps, or even just shooting a picture of the city outside my hotel room window when I feel like capturing my view. Macro not only allows for some cool new angles and texture play, but it also just lets me zoom in close enough to a subject to get the shot I was looking for, something that was lacking on my previous iPhone camera. So while both features offer some exciting options for those with an artistic vision to fulfill, those of us with more utilitarian needs also benefit from these features.

Same Size, More Storage, Bigger Battery

Local storage of 64 gigabytes is nothing to sneeze at, especially considering that’s double the storage of my old iPhone 11. Still, extra storage space by itself wasn’t a selling point for me, as I never ran out of my 32GB of storage. The deciding factor for me to get the iPhone 13 Pro was the fact that the screen is no bigger than my iPhone 11’s. The 13 Pro is a bit thicker and heavier, but in a pleasant and somewhat powerful way. I don’t want my iPhone to get any bigger than this, as I already struggle with fitting it into my pockets and holding it in one hand, so I appreciate I didn’t have to sacrifice any usability. But even better than not having to deal with a larger size is the amazing battery life.

My iPhone lasts all day! I thought as Apple expounded on the virtues of the Pro battery. How long should my iPhone 13 Pro battery last? But then I ended up in a situation where my daughter had a medical procedure and had to spend the next four hours flat on her back. My daughter is two years old. The task seemed impossible, until we realized she was content to lie on her back if my husband or I held my phone directly above her head and streamed endless Paw Patrol videos. So we did that for three whole hours (even a toddler with TV has her limits) and when we were done, my battery, which had already been used to send constant updates to my family, was only down to 66 percent. Three hours of video streaming hadn’t even taken up a full third of my iPhone’s battery. That’s pretty amazing.

Conclusion

Pros:

  • Excellent battery life
  • Night Mode and Macro
  • Manageable size
  • Greater storage capacity

Cons:

  • Higher price point
  • Limited color options
  • ProMotion is a bit jarring

The Final Verdict

Even though I’m not sure I’d go Pro next time, I’m glad I have my iPhone 13 Pro. It’s fun to see what I’m missing, and I have to admit, I’m proud to have such a good iPhone. I love the pictures I’ve taken with it, and Night Mode and Macro, while unessential, are super fun to play with. I don’t know if I’d recommend a 13 Pro over the regular 13 to anyone who didn’t have specific photographic needs, considering the price difference, but I’m definitely happy to have mine. I just wish it could have been purple…

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.

Topics

Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden–Both's picture

Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden–Both

Amy Spitzfaden Both is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life, an award-winning novelist, and an iPhone enthusiast. Over the past decade, her work in the publishing industry has included live coverage of industry events including the Yale Publishing Course and Magazine Innovation’s ACT 9 Experience, providing editing services for several start-up publishing houses, and acting as newsstand consultant for magazines such as The Old Farmer’s Almanac and The New York Review of Books. She graduated from M.I.U. with a Bachelor’s in Literature and Writing, and has gone on to publish two novels and two short stories. Her debut novel Untold won the 2014 Chelson Award for Fiction.
Writing everything from book reviews to skincare tips, Amy discovered a passion for bringing exciting and useful information to even the most casual researcher. The mix of usability and endless possibilities is what drew her to Apple products originally, and the more she learns, the more she loves.
Amy lives in New Hampshire with her husband and daughter. When she’s not writing or glued to her iPhone, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and creating her own tea blends.