Which iPhone 13 Model Should You Buy? Here Are The Key Differences To Help You Decide

More From Vetted

As it’s done annually for more than a dozen years, Apple has just introduced its all-new lineup of iPhone smartphones, and they will begin shipping around September 24. Pre-orders began on Friday, September 17. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and scope out the best iPhone 13 pre-order deals from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Best Buy and more.

Meet the iPhone 13 in a smattering of dashing colors. But which should you buy?

So, what’s new with iPhone 13? From these new smartphones, you can expect a wide range of technological and software-based improvements, such as: a faster processor (utilizing Apple’s enhanced A15 Bionic chip), improved display, longer battery life, better durability, enhanced cameras, new casing color options, and in some cases, more internal storage space options.

If you’re looking to upgrade your current iPhone, or switch to the iPhone from an Android-based smartphone, you have a few key decisions to make—starting with which iPhone model will work best to meet your needs.

Regardless of which iPhone 13 model you choose, expect your new smartphone to be extremely powerful, customizable and versatile, making it a feature-packed communications, productivity, entertainment and healthy/fitness tool.

What the Latest iPhones Have in Common

All the latest iPhone models and hardware configurations have a few things in common. For example, they all run using the latest version of Apple’s operating system, iOS 15 version of Apple’s mobile device operating system. 

If you’re an experienced iPhone user, you’ll discover iOS 15 is chock full of new features and functions, including a few additional bundled apps, like Translate (a real-time language translation tool), that further expand what the smartphone can do right out of the box. Improvements and tweaks, including enhanced privacy controls, have been added to many of the bundled apps you likely already use and rely on, including Mail, Messages, FaceTime and Safari.

All the new iPhone models are fully 5G compatible. They’re already being supported by more than 200 cellular service providers worldwide. What this means is that regardless of where in the world you are, your new iPhone will be able to achieve the fastest wireless communication speeds possible. 

Right now, if you’re using an older smartphone that’s not 5G compatible, it’s even more important that you upgrade to a 5G smartphone sooner than later. They’ll allow you to utilize the ever-expanding 5G networks being launched by the various cellular service providers in the U.S. and abroad, so your smartphone will be able to take full advantage of the improved connectivity speed 5G offers.

Other features and functions that the new iPhone 13s have in common include their use of Apple’s Face ID sensor to unlock the phone and authorize Apple Pay purchases. All also utilize a ceramic shield front which helps to make the display more durable than ever before.

The newest phones offer improved water resistance, as well as splash, dust and dirt resistance, and are all compatible with MagSafe accessories and wireless charging options. Each also integrates perfectly with Apple AirPods, an Apple Watch, Apple AirTags, Apple iCloud, CarPlay, Apple Pay and all Apple services (such as Apple Music, Apple TV+ and Fitness+).

All the latest iPhones also continue to utilize a single Lightning Port on the bottom of the device, which can be used for wired charging or for directly connecting optional equipment to your smartphone, such as a flash drive for external storage.

The Key iPhone-Related Purchasing Decisions You’ll Need to Make

After deciding you want to acquire one of the new iPhone 13 models, there are a few questions to ask yourself that’ll help you determine which model is best for you. First, what size device will fit most comfortably in your hands, and what size display will you be most comfortable using. 

Next, focus on which of the casing color option is most appealing. Each iPhone 13 model comes in several colors. Which you choose is a matter of personal preference. The chassis color has no impact on the functionality of the phone whatsoever.

A more important decision, however, is how much internal storage you’ll need to handle all your apps, data, documents, files, photos, music and multimedia content. For example, if you plan to store a vast library of high-resolution digital photos, a massive library of 4K HD video you’ve shot yourself, or you want your device to hold a large collection of TV shows and movies internally, you’ll want to go with more internal storage, since the iPhone’s internal storage is not upgradable.

For the average iPhone user, 256GB of internal storage is plenty, especially if you’ll also be relying on Apple iCloud to sync and store much of your content in the cloud.

Consider how you’ll be using your iPhone to help determine your needs, and then focus on your personal preferences and budget when choosing which iPhone 13 model is best for you. 

Choose the Best iPhone for Yourself

The following is additional information about each of the new iPhone 13 models and the hardware configurations available for each. Keep in mind, if you want to save some money, upgrade to a 5G-compatible iPhone, but don’t care about having the absolute latest model iPhone, you still have the option of upgrading to an iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, or iPhone 12 Pro Max—all of which also run iOS 15. These older models lack some of the technological upgrades made to the iPhone 13 models, however.

iPhone 13 Mini

Buy iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini

As its name suggests, the iPhone 13 Mini is the smallest, lightest, and least expensive of the new models. It weighs just 4.97 ounces, measures 5.18 inches long by 2.52 iches wide by 0.30 inches thick, and it utilizes a 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display (offering a resolution of 2340-by-1080 pixels at 476ppi). 

Who Will Love This Phone and Why?

For anyone who wants a compact, yet cutting-edge phone that will easily fit in your hand or pocket, this smaller version of the mid-priced iPhone 13 may be just for you. It offers two 12MP rear-facing cameras—one with a Wide lens and the other with an Ultra-Wide lens.

From a photography and videography standpoint, these lenses are combined with internal technology that allow you to utilize almost all the functionality built into the Camera and Photos apps, so you can take and edit visually stunning shots in almost all lighting situations or shoot and edit video at 4K resolution video at up to 60 frames per second.

On the front of the iPhone Mini is a single 12MP camera that offers most of the same functionality as the rear-facing cameras when it comes to taking photos or shooting video, but this one is also designed to handle video calling. 

The iPhone 13 Mini’s battery life will last a full day and it supports wireless charging, charging via a USB to computer system or power adapter, or any of Apple’s MagSafe charging accessories.

What’s Missing from the iPhone 13 Mini

Due to its reduced physical size, the iPhone 13 Mini has a smaller display, although all the apps designed for iPhone will nicely accommodate the onscreen real estate that’s available. The phone also lacks a third rear-facing camera found in the iPhone 13 Pro models, which make these more expensive and larger models better suited to people serious about photography and videography.

iPhone 13 Mini Pricing & Options

The iPhone Mini offers five casing color options—pink, blue, midnight, starlight, and Product Red. The starting price is $699 for the 128GB version. For 256GB of internal storage, the price is $799, and for the 512GB version, the price of the phone is $999. 

iPhone 13 

Buy iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini

The iPhone 13 is very similar to the iPhone 13 Mini from a technological standpoint, except that it offers a larger, 6.1” Super Retina XDR OLED display (offering a resolution of 2532-by-1170 pixel at 460ppi). The phone itself weights 6.14 ounces, and it measures 5.78” height x 2.82” wide x 0.30” thick. 

Who Will Love This Phone and Why?

This is considered the mid-priced and mid-sized phone in the latest iPhone lineup. It’s designed for versatility, durability and easy transportability. This is the ideal smartphone for the “average” smartphone user.

What’s Missing from the iPhone 13 

The iPhone 13 lacks the third rear-facing camera that’s built into the iPhone 13 Pro models, as well as some of the more advanced camera technology built into these higher-priced phones. Apple has, however, done a really great job at adding features, functions and technologies into this phone that were not included in the iPhone 12, although from a cosmetic standpoint, the two phones are very similar.

iPhone 13 Pricing & Options

The iPhone 13 also comes in five color options—pink, blue, midnight, starlight and Product Red. The starting price is $799 for the 128GB version. For 256GB of internal storage, the price is $899, and for the 512GB version, the price of the phone is $1,099. 

iPhone 13 Pro

Buy iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max

For the past several years, Apple has added two “Pro” models to its iPhone line-up. These phones are a bit more expensive than the non-Pro models, but are packed with additional technology and features. For the first time, the Pro models are offered with up to 1TB of internal storage. 

From a size and weight standpoint, the iPhone 13 Pro measures 5.78 x 2.82 x 0.3 inches and it weights 7.19 ounces, so it’s the same physical size as the iPhone 13 but weighs slightly more. This phone, however, offers a 6.1” Super Retina XDR OLED display with ProMotion (offering a resolution of 2532-by-1170 pixels at 460ppi). 

The ProMotion technology built into the “Pro” model iPhones is new and allows the smartphone to automatically adapt the display’s refresh rate up to 120Hz. This adaptive ability reduces battery consumption and offers a smoother and more fluid visual experience when scrolling or viewing highly detailed graphic content that’s in motion.

Serious gamers, for example, will immediately notice an improvement in the display and its refresh rate compared to the iPhone 12 Pro models thanks to the ProMotion feature. For photographers and videographers, the Pro models include a third rear-facing camera, which is a 77mm Telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom. 

This third lens greatly expands the creative control you have when shooting still images or Dolby Vision HDR video at up to 4K at 60fps, using new features like Photographic Styles (for still images) and the new Cinematic shooting mode (for video). iPhone 13 Pro also offers the ability to shoot ultra-detailed (close-up) Macrophotography, where the lens can be just 2 centimeters from the subject.

Two other improvements made to the iPhone 13 Pro, compared to the iPhone 12 Pro, are the longer battery life – which has been extended by 1.5 hours – and the 20% smaller notch that houses the front-facing camera, along with a speaker, microphone, and other sensors.

Who Will Love This Phone?

Anyone who relies on their smartphone and uses graphic-intensive applications will certainly appreciate the improved display technology built into the iPhone 13 Pro. The display provides an even more immersive experience when watching TV shows or movies, for example, yet the phone itself retains the comfortable size, feel, and durability of the regular iPhone 13.

This phone is also great for both amateur and advanced photographers and videographers who want a capable camera system that fits into a pocket.

What’s Missing from the iPhone 13 Pro

The main difference between the iPhone 13 Pro and Apple’s top-of-the-line and flagship iPhone 13 Pro Max is the size of the display and battery, along with the physical size and weight of the handset itself. 

iPhone 13 Pro Pricing & Options

The iPhone 13 Pro comes in four shades—graphite, gold, silver, and Sierra Blue. The starting price is $999 for the 128GB version. For 256GB of internal storage, the price is $1,099, and for the 512GB version, the price of the phone is $1,299. For 1TB of internal storage, expect to pay $1,499. 

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Buy iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max

The iPhone 13 Pro Max replaces the iPhone 12 Pro Max as Apple’s most cutting-edge and advanced smartphone. It’s an upgraded and super-sized version of the iPhone 13 Pro, with a stunning 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion (which offers a resolution of 2778-by-1284 pixels at 458ppi). The ProMotion technology allows for an automatic screen refresh rate up to 120Hz. 

What this means is that whatever you’re viewing on the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s display will be more detailed and vibrant. Plus, with the added on-screen real estate, you’ll see more content at any given time. 

With the larger and more advanced display comes a bigger and slightly heavier handset, which many users absolutely love. This phone measures 6.33 x 3.07 x 0.30 inches and it weights 8.47 ounces.

The larger internal battery provides 2.5 hours of additional battery life (compared to the iPhone 12 Pro Max), and with up to 1TB of internal storage, you’ll seldom have to rely on cloud-based storage for apps, data, documents, files, photos, videos and other content—although using Apple iCloud, for example, is certainly recommended for remote backups and syncing data in real-time between all of your compatible Apple equipment, including your Macs, iPad and Apple Watch.

Who Will Love This Phone?

This is the iPhone of choice for anyone interested in capturing professional-quality digital photos or HD videos in ways not previously possible using an iPhone. In addition, whether you’re playing ultra-fast-paced and graphic-intensive games, watching the latest Hollywood blockbusters on the phone’s screen, or using apps that utilize visually detailed multimedia content, this is the iPhone that will provide the most impressive overall user experience.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Pricing & Options

The iPhone 13 Pro Max also offers four casing color options—graphite, gold, silver, and Sierra Blue. The starting price is $1,099 for the 128GB version. For 256GB of internal storage, the price is $1,199, and for the 512GB version, the price of the phone is $1,399. For 1TB of internal storage, expect to pay $1,599. 

Shop Around for the Best iPhone 13 Deals

As with all the new iPhones, a variety of trade-in, upgrade and other money-saving deals are currently available from Apple, the popular cellular service providers, as well as Apple authorized retailers. Check out the best iPhone 13 deals here, as you can already score some savings by pre-ordering.

At the same time you acquire your new iPhone, consider adding some useful accessories and options, including a MagSafe cover, Apple AirPods Pro ear buds, and AppleCare+ protection.

Apple AirPods Pro

I am an accomplished author, journalist, and photographer who specialized in consumer technologies. Please visit my website at www.JasonRich.com, and check out my eBook,

I am an accomplished author, journalist, and photographer who specialized in consumer technologies. Please visit my website at www.JasonRich.com, and check out my eBook, “iPhone 12 Pro Max Digital Photography” (www.iPhoneBookShop.com). An all-new edition for the iPhone 13 Pro Max is coming soon.