Should you upgrade to iPhone 13? We compare it to iPhone 12 through 7 to find out

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The is here. Apple launched the new devices on Sept. 24 on Sept. 17. That means many Apple devotees are facing a big question: Should I upgrade? If you’ve already read CNET’s reviews of the and and you still can’t decide whether to pony up the cash for Apple’s latest and greatest, it might help to see all the main differences laid out. So we compared all of the iPhones from the past five years, going all the way back to the iPhone 7. 

There’s no easy answer that applies to everyone and purchasing decisions will always vary depending on budget, how well one’s phone works right now and personal needs. But let’s lay out all the facts to make that decision as easy as possible. And if you want even more buying advice,  and , or even in 2021.


Apple’s iPhone 13 brings improvements in camera performance, battery life, and general speed. 


Should you upgrade to the iPhone 13 or not?

The short answer is that most iPhone 12 and iPhone 11 owners can probably skip this upgrade since their phone is probably still in great shape, and there isn’t a whole lot that meaningfully changes the experience. 

But those who own older models, particularly the and earlier, will likely have a lot to gain when it comes to camera features and battery life. Apple’s older iPhones dating back to the generation still support , which launched earlier this week (), but they won’t feel nearly as fast and powerful as more recent iPhone models. 

Here’s a closer look at how the iPhone 13 compares to its predecessors. 

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12, 12 Pro


The purple iPhone 12.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you have an , there’s little reason to upgrade right now. That’s because the iPhone 12 has a lot in common with the iPhone 13. They both have support, a vibrant OLED 6.1-inch screen, a fast processor, great cameras and MagSafe accessory support. The biggest reasons to consider upgrading are the camera updates — especially for shooting video — and the longer battery life.

All of Apple’s new iPhones, including the standard iPhone 13 and 13 Mini, are getting a new video shooting feature called Cinematic mode, which automatically switches the focus between subjects to give footage a more filmlike aesthetic. It looks like a neat trick for those who frequently use their phones for video projects, Fremdgehen and our reviewer Patrick Holland had a blast testing it out. Apple says that Cinematic mode takes advantage of the new , but it’s worth noting that Apple also has a history of bringing enhancements like these to previous iPhones through software updates. 

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