The key differences between the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro

The key differences between the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro

New kid

iPhone 13 Pro

from $999 at Apple

Pros

Up to 1TB in storage
ProMotion display
Cinematic mode
A15 Bionic chip
Incredible battery life

Cons

Not much different
Very expensive
Are the camera specs overkill?

It’s the latest and greatest — but is it worth buying ahead of 2022 when a major refresh is likely to occur? Perhaps, especially if you want to make professional-looking videos. There’s nothing better.

Older model

iPhone 12 Pro

from $999 at Best Buy

Pros

Pacific Blue!
Basically, the same materials
Watch for that price drop

Cons

Great, but no longer the best iPhone camera system
Now a year older
No Cinematic mode
No 1TB option

Last year’s Pro model still packs a punch, and when the price begins to drop, it might be the one to consider. Besides, it’s the only one available in Pacific, not Sierra Blue! Supplies are limited, however.

Every iPhone Pro model is the best iPhone Apple has ever made … until it isn’t a year later when Apple buries it and releases something new. So is the case of the iPhone 12 Pro, the flat-out incredible device, which arrived on the scene in the fall of 2020 and is now no longer available for purchase through Apple. For most folks looking for a Pro model, the iPhone 13 Pro is undoubtedly the one to purchase. However, as the remaining iPhone 12 Pro stock price begins to drop, it might be worth your time to look at the older model. After all, there isn’t that much of a difference between the two.

iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: Breaking things down

Most of the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro differences come down to the camera system. The newer model also offers a ProMotion display and a 1TB option for the first time. There’s also a next-generation processor inside and a significant jump in battery life between charges.

iPhone 13 Pro
iPhone 12 Pro
Design
Ceramic Shield front + Glass back and aluminum design
Ceramic Shield front + Glass back and aluminum design
Colors
Silver, Graphite, Gold, Sierra Blue
Silver, Graphite, Gold, Pacific Blue
Processor
A15 Bionic chip
6-core CPU with 2 performance and 4 efficiency cores
5-core GPU
16-core Neural Engine
A14 Bionic chip
6-core CPU with 2 performance and 4 efficiency cores
4-core GPU
16-core Neural Engine
Display
6.1‑inch OLED ProMotion display, up to 120Hz refresh rate
6.1‑inch OLED display, 60Hz refresh rate
Camera
Triple lens 12-megapixel wide and 12MP ultra-wide rear, 12MP TrueDepth front
Triple lens 12-megapixel wide and 12MP ultra-wide rear, 12MP TrueDepth front
Camera Aperture
Telephoto: ƒ/2.8 aperture
Wide: ƒ/1.5 aperture
Ultra Wide: ƒ/1.8 aperture
Telephoto: ƒ/2.0 aperture
Wide: ƒ/1.6 aperture
Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture
Camera Zoom
3x optical zoom in
2x optical zoom out
6x optical zoom range
Digital zoom up to 15x
2x optical zoom in
2x optical zoom out
4x optical zoom range
Digital zoom up to 10x
Storage
128GB, 256GB, 512 GB, 1TB
128GB, 256GB, 512 GB
Battery
Up to 22 hours video playback
Up to 17 hours video playback
IP rating
IP68
IP68
Cinematic mode
Yes
No
ProRes video recording
Yes
No
Photographic Styles
Yes
No
Size and weight
5.78 x 2.81 x 0.30 inches, 204g
5.78 x 2.81 x 0.29 inches, 189g

The iPhone 12 Pro series surprised many when it was announced last year in the middle of the pandemic. The iPhone 12 series overall offered MagSafe and a Ceramic Shield front for the first time and 5G compatibility. The iPhone 12 Pro series pushed things even farther with a LiDAR Scanner, surgical-grade stainless steel, a Pro 12MP camera system.

All those things about the iPhone 12 Pro series have been carried over to the iPhone 13 Pro. In most cases, the parts and technology are the same. However, things differ once we turn to the processor and camera system.

iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: The main advances

The iPhone 13 Pro, like the overall iPhone 13 series, offers an industry-leading A15 Bionic chip with a 6-core CPU with 2 performance and 4 efficiency cores, 5-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine. All this translates into up to 50% faster graphics performance and the ability to perform up to 15.8 trillion operations per second. So, in the most basic terms: Yes, this is the fastest iPhone ever produced!

The improved camera system is where the iPhone 13 Pro really shines compared to the iPhone 12 Pro series. Both generations include a Pro 12MP camera system (Telephoto, Wide, and Ultra Wide). However, from here, the differences become more clear. The aperture on these cameras on the iPhone 13 Pro is much improved over last year’s model. Additionally, zoom nearly across the board is oh-so-much-better, as you can see in the chart above.

And then there’s the new Cinematic mode exclusive to all four of the iPhone 13 series devices. Heavily promoted by Apple, the new tool adds depth to video-taking, more in line with what the professionals have been doing for many years with much more expensive equipment.

Cinematic mode is joined by ProRes video recording, which offers high color fidelity and low compression, letting you record, edit, and deliver broadcast-ready content on the go. And then there’s ProMotion, which offers a display refresh from 10 to 120 times per second with and all kinds of frame rates in between. As Apple explains, “you’ve never felt anything like it.”

The improved camera system is where the iPhone 13 Pro really shines compared to the iPhone 12 Pro series.

Finally, battery life has been radically improved this year, with the iPhone 13 Pro promising 22 hours between charges, which is five more than last year’s model. All this means, the iPhone 13 Pro is sure to soon make our list of the best iPhones on the market.

Like last year’s iPhone Pro, the iPhone 13 Pro is available in Silver, Graphite, and Gold. New this year is Sierra Blue, which replaces the Pacific Blue found on the iPhone 12 Pro. It’s a much lighter blue on this year’s model.

iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: Still much to love

At the time of this writing, third-party vendors haven’t yet begun to discount the iPhone 12 Pro. However, the iPhone 12 Pro will become much more attractive for a certain type of Pro user when those drops in price begin to show up.

If you’re looking for a high-quality iPhone that’s resistant to the elements that still includes a three-camera system — and comes in Pacific Blue — the iPhone 12 Pro might be the one for you. Otherwise, with no discounts offered, go with the newer model, the iPhone 13 Pro.

What about 2022 and the iPhone 14 Pro?

Design-wise, there aren’t many changes between the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro. This, coupled with early rumors, suggest next year’s iPhone 14 series could prove significant. You’ll need to decide whether that changes your decision on whether to buy an iPhone 13 Pro or older (and discounted) iPhone 12 Pro this year.

iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: Which should you buy?

For most folks, the obvious choice is the iPhone 13 Pro since it’s the newest of the Pro models. With it, you’ll get to experience all of the latest bells and whistles, including Cinematic mode, more battery life, an improved camera system, and much more.

The only reason you should consider purchasing an iPhone 12 Pro at this point is price. If you happen to find a huge discount on the recently retired model, you’ll need to decide whether the new features on the iPhone 13 Pro are worth the extra price. If you don’t plan on shooting many videos, feel 17 hours between battery charges is still great, have no need for 1TB of storage, and aren’t in love with Sierra Blue as a color choice, you might be better off picking the older model.

The best for now

iPhone 13 Pro

What’s not to love?

from $999 at Apple

The newest best-in-show iPhone offers incremental updates from last year’s model. Get this model if you want the best camera system available and want 1TB of storage.

Nearly as good

iPhone 12 Pro

Find a deal, one to consider still

from $999 at Best Buy

There’s not much of a dropoff between this year’s model and this one. If you find yourself able to save lots of cash, it might be a better choice to go with the iPhone 12 Pro.

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