Apple threw down the first gauntlet of the fall 2021 phone release challenge on Tuesday. The company introduced the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini, both featuring anticipated camera upgrades and extended battery lives at a lower price than expected.
Google is set to respond in early October with its Pixel 6 phone, equipped with similar features and a new processor focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Should consumers buy the new iPhone?
Should you invest another $700 to $800 on a new phone and an extended service contract to pay for it? ConsumerAffairs did a survey of how tech writers feel about the new iPhone and there were mixed opinions.
Here’s how much love critics give the iPhone 13:
Not a giant leap over iPhone 12. Wired reviewers claim the iPhone 13’s changes are basically modest improvements. “The OLED displays are smoother, batteries last longer, and internal storage sizes are larger. So it's a lot like last year's iPhone, just nicer.”
Camera, camera, camera, camera. Apple may wax poetically about the camera upgrade, but in all honesty, the company says pretty much the same thing about its camera every time it releases a new iPhone.
A lot of attention is being given to the iPhone 13's new “Cinematic” technology that has the power to follow a subject and keep it in focus “so anyone can capture cinema-style moments, even if they aren’t a professional filmmaker,” says Apple.
Apple hired a top AI executive from Google to work on the new phone’s camera and, “partly as a result, its newer iPhone cameras have received higher ratings than the Pixel,” noted the New York Times’ Jack Nicas. But, at the end of the day, Nicas came away with this: the 13 is “better, but not by much.”
Is there that much of a difference between the 13 Pro Max and the 13 mini? If you decide to buy a new iPhone 13, the most important question to get answered is which model -- the Pro or the mini? “Notably, the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max now have identical camera systems, a departure from the different cameras featured in the iPhone 12 Pro and the 12 Pro Max,” wrote MacRumors. “As usual, the iPhone 13 Pro models have the best camera systems, while the more affordable iPhone 13 models have step-down cameras that lack some of the Pro capabilities.”
Bring it, battery lovers! Other than the camera, the most anticipated upgrade for the iPhone 13 was probably the battery life. Since we eat, work, and sleep with our phones at our side, battery life can make a considerable difference.
“Apple didn't share the size, but claims that the new battery along with iOS 15, the A15 chip and updated display adds two-and-a-half hours more battery life to the iPhone 13 compared to the iPhone 12,” said CNET.
In its test, CNET came away with enough evidence to say that the iPhone 13 mini should get an hour-and-a-half more than the iPhone 12 mini. “That's a significant increase. The battery life on the iPhone 12 Mini was a compromise some people weren't willing to make. So it's exciting to see the new Mini get such a big bump in just a year.”
Who’s got the better phone -- Apple or Android? Apple fans tend to be die-hards and so are Android lovers. But, if someone were thinking about switching platforms, what should they consider?
“When compared to the Android competition, Apple isn’t doing much to outgun them on the hardware front,” reports TheVerge’s Sam Byford. “Apple is never going to have the flashiest hardware, but it’s made some welcome improvements in areas that make sense, and thankfully it hasn’t locked any features to the Max-sized iPhone. We’re looking forward to seeing the results — as well as those of looming competitors like the Pixel 6.”