We expect significant improvements with each new generation of phones from various manufacturers. The industry is at a point where there isn’t much more than a smartphone can do – our personal devices already handle text and video communication, music, movies, games, Web browsing, news, social networking, banking, health tracking, intelligent device management, and even the occasional phone call. We haven’t seen any significant new functionality or use case that demands a leap in performance. Foldables aren’t really taking off, VR has limited appeal, and although 5G is faster and better, it isn’t yet changing usage habits.
So it’s no surprise that upgrade cycles have lengthened, and attention has shifted to lower price segments, benefiting from trickle-down feature improvements. Even Apple takes a year off from significant overhauls instead of delivering subtle refinements and quality bumps in critical areas with the iPhone 13 family. While the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max (Review) are the new top-end flagships that you’d buy if you want the absolute latest and best, the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini are aimed at mainstream buyers who wish to a brand new model, but don’t need advanced camera capabilities or don’t want to spend quite so much.
The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini are similar to the iPhone 12 (Review) and iPhone 12 mini (Review) from last year. The good news is that you get two of the headlining features of the far more expensive iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max – Cinematic Mode and Photographic Styles. You also get twice the storage and a faster processor at the same starting price. Still, on the downside, you don’t get features like a 120Hz display refresh rate or a macro-capable camera, which are now reasonably standard even on Android phones that cost a quarter as much. If you’re wondering whether it’s worth buying either the iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 mini, we’ll help you make that decision.