So, really, there’s only three things about this phone that are genuinely better than the regular 13.
And one of them, you could argue, maybe not that many people are actually gonna notice, but the other two are pretty big jumps.
And so, this feels like a pretty big upgrade disguised in the same design as last year.
So, I’ve reviewed the iPhone 13 already, it was earlier this week. There, I go over Cinematic
Mode and the new A15 Bionic, and a smaller notch, et cetera.
This Pro phone has all of that. But then on top of that, the three major things that this phone does better than the regular 13 would be the screen, the battery, and the cameras.
Now, you might be thinking, “Wait, Marques, that’s the same list of three things you said was better about
the 13 than the 12.” You’d be right, but this takes a bigger leap in all those things.
So, to start with the screen, the 13 Pro is the same size as the 13 and the 13 Pro Max is bigger, again, same sizes and
resolutions as last year, but now, there is a smaller notch.
Okay, looks a little better on the bigger screen, even though there is no more information on that extra screen, but then the display is actually noticeably brighter here, even versus the 13, it hits 1,000 nits max brightness versus the 800 on the 13, and even 1,200 nits peak with HDR, and it’s really good.
It’s viewable everywhere, outdoors, great responsive auto-brightness, and it’s still one of the most color-accurate OLED panels out there.
But what we’re really here for, finally, is Apple’s Pro phones now getting ProMotion, meaning, an adaptive high
refresh rate display.
- It’s about damn time.
- Now, this has been really
interesting to watch unfold
because it’s not just a matter of dropping 120 Hertz display into the phone and then calling it a day, there’s a couple of different
considerations, and nuances, and things to be able to do to do it well, and then there’s whether
or not people even notice.
That’s two different things. So, as a self-proclaimed pixel enthusiast, as someone who’s seen a lot of phones, Apple has done this really well and it’s, of course, an OLED, but it’s also an LTPO display, meaning it’s an adaptive variable refresh rate that can ramp up to 120 Hertz, but also now down to as low as 10 Hertz.
It actually has 12 different refresh rates that it cycles between, which is seven more than the iPad Pro. So, this helps it respond to exactly what’s happening on the display. So, if you’re watching a 24fps movie, the display only needs to refresh 24 times per second, but if you’re scrolling through a website or social media, it’ll be nice and smooth.
Maybe for gaming, it’s pinned at 120 Hertz, but if you’re just sitting on a home screen or reading some text, like an email, nothing’s happening on the screen, it can go all the way down to 10 Hertz, which can save battery.
So, this tech been around for years in other phones, and it’s great.
So, the interesting part is different phones ramp up at different times, and for different reasons, and different amounts. So, an example is like, no matter how high a refresh rate of an Android phone I have, it’s always 60 Hertz for Google Maps.
Anytime I open Google Maps, the whole rest of the phone: notification panel, using the app, it’s all 60 Hertz.
Probably to save battery ’cause it’s a GPS-heavy app, but that’s one thing it always does.
So, it turns out there have been a lot of places where people have noticed the iPhone doesn’t ramp all the way up to 120 Hertz.
In fact, a lot of places in third-party apps where it still stays at 60.
Now, I’ve noticed, just from using a whole ton of different apps, I was actually pretty impressed by how many are already using 120 Hertz animations.
And all of these apps, inside and out, felt smoother and more responsive.
Also, all of iOS is smoother and more responsive. But for those that don’t, Apple has put out detailed instructions on how to make it easy for
developers to update their apps to fully support ProMotion, exactly the way they want to.
So, when your favorite apps get updated, hopefully the developers include it.
But all that being said, will regular people who get this phone even notice ProMotion? And this is something
I’ve thought a lot about, especially since the announcement.
Of course, lots of other phones have gotten high refresh rate in the past, but because it’s an iPhone, this is for millions of people who have only ever seen a 60
Hertz phone their entire lives, this will be the first time they ever see a high refresh rate screen on a phone.
And so, this is the thing I’ve been talking about for so long.
So, when I actually first got this phone, I’ve started handing it to people, discretely, of course, but handing it to them like,
“Hey, do you notice anything different about this phone? Like, swipe around, maybe hold it next to your current phone.
Do you feel like it feels any different?” And I’ll be the first to admit, not as many people immediately noticed it as I was hoping.
Different people had different things about it that they noticed.
Like, there’s a really good video by Joshua Chang, where he did that same thing.
He handed the phone to a bunch of people and they all had different ways of explaining what they noticed. So, some of them didn’t notice, but some of them notice things like texts staying more
crisp on the screen while you’re scrolling.
Some people just straight up notice the better smoothness and touch responsiveness, and called that out. So, I’ll put it this way. Not everyone will notice
ProMotion right away, especially if they’re not looking for it, but…
But, I don’t have… I’m not crazy. It’s not like I have special eyes or anything. So, I guarantee you this, if you get somebody used to 120 Hertz or just high refresh rate in general and they use this phone for a couple weeks, couple months, and then you hand them back a 60 Hertz phone, they will notice that difference and they won’t wanna switch back to it.
Basically, I think people who buy this Pro iPhone and get used to ProMotion
won’t wanna switch back to a 60 Hertz iPhone, just like people who switched to a high refresh rate Android phone don’t wanna switch back either.
But also, I’m kind of hoping Apple doesn’t ship another 60 Hertz iPhone next year. They definitely could, but I’m hoping, 90 Hertz, at least, something like that. Either way, that’s my stance
on the high refresh rate, the ProMotion, in the Pro iPhones.
Clearly, the implementation, technically speaking, is pretty great. It’s super color-accurate, it’s very bright, it looks great, and it’s very smooth. So, despite the notch and some
apps needing to be updated, it’s one of the best-looking screens on any phone right now and, going with LTPO, led these phones with their
new high refresh rates, also be battery champs.
So, this is the second big thing about these new phones, which is, holy smokes, man! The batteries got really good.
Now, there’s a couple of different compounding factors that all pile on top of each other to make this happen. The fact that the ProMotion
dips below 60 Hertz to save you battery when you don’t need it is number one.
But number two, the A15 Bionic is more efficient than last year. And then the fact that these phones are actually slightly thicker and heavier to support an actually larger battery is a really big number three.
So, the battery inside the 13 Pro is about 11% larger than the 12 Pro and the 13 Pro Max cell
is about 18% larger than the 12 Pro Max.
That’s not a small amount and you can actually feel it in the weight. These new phones are about 20
grams heavier than last year and probably heavier than the phone you’re holding right now.
And the results have been dope. I’ve mostly been dallying the 13 Pro here and getting six, seven hours of screen on time.
No problem, never really killing the phone in a day, I consider that an A.
And David’s been testing the 13 Pro Max here at the studio and getting crazy endurance numbers!
He had a day with five hours of screen on time with 50% battery left, which is nuts. So, I’m gonna go ahead and put the iPhone 13 Pro Max right up at the top of the battery champ 2021 power rankings right now, alongside a bunch of other phones with the supermassive batteries,
like the ROG Phone 5 and the Moto G Power. So, screens, check. Batteries, check. But once again, the biggest change with these new Pro phones is the cameras, again. So, first of all, I really like that the 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max have the exact same set of cameras between them.
So, the phones are basically identical except for screen size and battery size, so that’s nice. But yeah, once again, big leap up with the Pro phones and their cameras, and they’ve got the
camera bump to go with it.
And it really is a massive, like, three-layer camera bump with this phone. If you don’t have a case on the phone, you’ll immediately notice it sits up higher, it rocks more from certain
corners on a table, and it just kind of looks at you funny.
Remember when we thought the iPhone 12 Pro had huge cameras? Yeah, no. This is next level.
These are much larger sensors and cameras in here. So, we’ve got triple cameras, still got LiDAR, and a mic, and a flash, and each of these cameras is better than last year in its own way.
So, the primary, 12 megapixel camera with that even larger sensor-shift stabilization is excellent. It’s remarkably consistent through various lighting in indoor and outdoor scenarios.
There’s also, of course, the photographic styles to choose from that I talked about in the previous video, I landed on a rich contrast as my favorite, and honestly, I’ve just left
it there for most of my photos.
Main thing y ou’ll notice that makes it better is the big sensor look that we had only in the Pro Max last year So this natural Bokeh is so easy no that you might find yourself
having to tap to focu just a little bit more just to make sure you’refocused on the right thing.
And you’ll find that you can get that natural background blur much easier It’s not always perfect it’s still tiny smartphone optics but the natural blu is better than fake Portrait
Mode blur every time.
So, it does a grea job not fringing, also like some other big smartphone sensors do.
The Telephoto is also better this year So it’s, once again, a bigger senso and it’s also now a 3x optical zoo instead of a 2x or 2.5x from last year and it looks almost as
good as the main sensor.
So, you’d love to see that That consistency between different camera gives you the confidenc to be able to switch between cameras like it doesn’t even matte which one you’re usin and that’s more true thi year than ever before.
Now, it’s no S21 Ultra You’re not gonna do tha deep double-digit zooming very well Some of the best periscope zoom literally look crisp at 10x while the iPhone is maxing out at 1 and it looks like a
watercolor painting there So, it’s gonna be up to you to decid if that’s something you care about havin in your phone or not.
And then last but no least, the Ultra Wide Again, closing in on th corner to corner sharpnes of the main camera, it’s not quite there but this is one area where I wa maybe hoping to see a higher resolutio because you’re spreading this pixel coun over such a wide focal range maybe 16, 24 megapixels even would have been cool to se just to get that true matching sharpness Nevertheless, the photos and video from the Ultra Wide are world-class literally tops among an Ultra Wides in any smartphone and it’s now also capabl of macro photography unlike the Ultra Wid in the 13 and 13 Mini.
And honestly, it’s pretty good So, you can get pretty close right up to about two centimeter minimum focus distanc and there’s a pretty goo amount of chromatic aberratio and fringing, and artifactin around the outside of the frames But as long as you’ve tapped a focus you can get a pretty good
close up right in the middle.
And it’s way bette than any crappy two-megapixel macro camer has ever dreamed of being Now, I mentioned durin the Impressions video the Pro phones are doin this auto-switching where if something come within about 14 centimeters of the camera it automatically switches t the Ultra Wide in macro mode.
Doesn’t tell you, and doesn’ let you manually switch back Honestly, it’s the most annoying par of using this camera to me I take plenty of close-ups of object because I have no friends, I guess And every time I switche to the Ultra Wide’s macro it produces an objectivel worse-looking photo.
So, Apple’s reached ou and they have said sinc that they do plan on adding a toggl to let you manual out of that Macro Mode I hope it gets added soon It should be a software update Can’t wait for it becaus my photos are suffering You know, there’s stil no Astrophotography Mod in the iPhone.
Even though in Night Mode you can sometimes see some star if you hold the phon still for long enough and there’s no Pro Mode for manual contro over photos or for videos That’s still gonna
require a third-party ap to really dig into that stuff.
What they did add is Cinematic Video Mode which I talked about in the 13 review To summarize, it’s a 1080p, 30fps HDR, video portrait mode And I really don’t think it’s the answe when it come to taking the rein and making the best video possible on your iPhone at least not yet.
I mean, if you wann tailor a whole entire shoo around focus racking then, yes, the iPhones wil punch above their weight class.
But, I find myself usin the Regular Video Mod or even third-party app to get the best vide out of the iPhone, still But you know what would actually hel to get better video out of the iPhone?
ProRes video Giant asterisk, that’ not on the phones yet So the Pro iPhones should also ideally, in a software update be getting ProRes video.
For those unfamiliar that’s a high quality video code that’s used all over th professional industry It’s pretty sweet should be awesome to b able to shoot ProRes vide from your phone, mix
it with other cameras bring it into your editor and just start chopping that.
Couple other small asterisks, though One, ProRes video would b 4K, 30 on every Pro iPhon except the 128-gig-based storage versions Those will max out at 1080p, 30fps It’s unclear if this is becaus you just fill up the storage too fas and they didn’t wanna let you.
There could be some merit to that 4K is big files, it’ like six gigs per minute You could theoretically fil up the whole phon in two hour if you just shot all day But also, it could b because the slower storage that’s typically used in lower-pricing lower-tiered models have less storage might not have supporte it in the first place It’s a high data rate One or the other, maybe
both, I don’t know.
But just know, as long as…If you’re planning on getting a Pro iPhon just to shoot 4K ProRes video you’ll have to get a least a 256 gig versio and you can actually go all the way u to one terabyte of total storage.
But the tough part abou having a one terabyte iPhone 13 Pr full of huge ProRes file is offloading that to you computer via lightnin at those awful speeds is going to take forever It’s not exactly a Pro workflow It’s so brutal that for all the big game Apple always talks abou USB-C, and the iPad and every other thing they do, and Thunderbolt it’s just never made it to the iPhone Matter of fact, let me use this as a segu for all the things that I wis this iPhone Pro had for $1,000.
Number one, USB Type-C Probably never gonna happen, but I can still dream. And then faster charging and I don’t mean the 27 watt that the Pro Max can apparently suppor from a higher-powered brick That’s not included in the box I mean, like, real 50 65-watt, maybe even highe wattage charging someday.
That, again it’s probably never gonna happe and I’ve made a whole vide about why Apple hasn’t done tha and some other things like high resolution cameras, et cetera.
I’ll leave a link below the like button But, nevertheless, Pro Max’s huge batter still takes a very long time to charge And I wish there was an all-black option.
Eh, minor detail there’s always a case or skin for that but there’s a couple other minor thing that didn’t quite fi into this full review So, you can turn down the refresh rate of the displa to 60 Hertz limited but it’s not in the Display setting like in every other phone it’s in Accessibility settings under Motion and then Limit Frame Rate.
I haven’t tested this fo more than about a few minutes but I have a feelin it won’t actually sav that much battery on this phone considering it’s actively bringing you dow below 60 Hertz all the time, anyway.
Then, if you’re usin a MagSafe Duo Charger which I actually do when I’m traveling the new camera bump on the 13 Pro is so bi that it actually gets pretty clos to the wireless charging coi to the point where if yo have a case on your phone, it actually pops the phone up slightly off the charger.
Now, it still works, but I’ be careful what case you buy just in case you get one wit a camera bump that’s too bi and now, suddenly, it doesn’t make contac with the charger anymore And then the new Sierra Blue color just so you know is a little paler in perso than it looks in the press materials and on Apple site.
Just warning you You know, it’s a slightly bluish silver not that that’s a bad thing just a warning I’ll try to show it as best I ca with all the footage from the shiny, new Raptor Camera So, the minor upgrade turns out to bepretty solid after all.