Two months with the iPhone 13 Pro, a sleek phone with a stellar camera


The iPhone 13 Pro is a solid upgrade from last year’s iPhone 12 Pro thanks to better cameras with 3x optical zoom, improved battery life, and a super smooth display.

While many of the features are similar to the iPhone 12 Pro, what stands out about the new model is the excellent camera.

On my morning bike rides, I usually don’t stop to take pictures. But the breathtaking sunrise views from the Marina Dam and the iconic skylines of Marina Bay Sands and the Financial District beg to be captured on digital film.

It is also convenient. Pull out the iPhone 13 Pro, frame the shot, and press the shutter button. The camera does the rest, automatically paying attention to details like contrast, color, white balance, and more.

Computer photography powered by the A15 Bionic chip allows the camera to automatically choose the appropriate setting for the shot. The large image sensor also lets in a massive amount of light allowing for crisp, detailed photos in low light conditions, even at night.

The iPhone 13 Pro has a triple-camera rear system that includes 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle, wide-angle and telephoto cameras with a sapphire lens cover that promises to be scratch resistant.

With the autofocus feature of the ultra-wide camera, I discovered a new trick: macro photography which was previously available mainly on SLR cameras. I like that this feature is built into the camera app, with no additional settings or buttons to press.

PHOTO: Grace Chng

Just turn on the camera, get close to the subject, and take the shot. The phone automatically switches to wide-angle mode, which allows for close focus. It can also be used to take close-ups of flowers and other objects. Night shots using this feature also appear crisp and well exposed.

My first subject for macro photography was my French poodle Mulan. I pointed the phone’s camera close to his face and the ultra-wide camera sprang into action automatically, producing a detailed and crisp photo from a distance of just 2cm. Every hair and mustache of my French poodle Mulan was visible in the photo.

Another new feature that I like is Photographic Styles, which are a series of filter-like adjustments that can be made before taking a photo that doesn’t affect the skin tone of subjects. This feature gives a stylistic effect to photos. There are four options to choose from: vibrant, rich contrast, warm and rich, and cool.

Shot in Standard mode. PHOTO: Grace Chng
Shot with Rich Cool mode. PHOTO: Grace Chng

Vibrant captures the host in vivid and vibrant natural colors, Rich Contrast adds a more dramatic look that makes shadows darker and increases color and contrast. Warm adds a golden undertone to the subjects while Rich Cool uses blue undertones to achieve its signature cool look.

These are the only settings that need to be configured on the Camera app or in settings. The default setting is the Standard style unless it is changed. Once changed, the camera remembers it and will take photos in the new setting.

However, once the settings are changed, profiles cannot be canceled while editing.

Singapore city skyline at dusk. PHOTO: Grace Chng
Evening shot at Marina Barrage in Singapore. PHOTO: Grace Chng
Night shot by hand. PHOTO: Grace Chng

Apple also introduced a new cinema mode which adds a bokeh effect to videos. It gives a depth of field effect, providing automatic focus changes when there are multiple subjects in the frame. This makes the videos more immersive and dynamic.

The iPhone 13 Pro is one of a family of phones announced in September that includes the iPhone 13, 13 mini, 13 Pro, and 13 Pro Max. This review focuses only on the 13 Pro

Super smooth screen

The iPhone 13 Pro has the Super Retina XDR OLED display which is also in the iPhone 12 Pro. But it can get brighter, up to 1,000 nits and up to 800 nits in the iPhone 12 Pro. This makes reading much easier in bright sunshine.

The 120Hz refresh rate greatly improves the experience of using the iPhone 13 Pro. It’s much more responsive, which makes scrolling and animations a lot smoother.

The phone also sports a variable refresh rate that adjusts depending on what you’re doing. If nothing moves on the screen, the refresh rate will decrease, saving battery power.

Battery life

This is one of the main improvements in the iPhone 13 Pro. Apple estimates the battery life to be around 20 hours. For my daily activities, it usually stays strong with around 20% juice remaining after 16 hours of use.

This is for a combination of video and audio streaming, Zoom meetings, reading and browsing in addition to online chats and text messages

Notably, the battery drains the fastest when I’m listening to podcasts or audiobooks simultaneously and using a cycling app to track my rides. It can easily consume around 25% during the 90-120 minute cycle.

Specifications, look and feel

The iPhone 13 Pro has the familiar look of its predecessor, the iPhone 12 Pro, which I was using. It is almost identical except for some features and its weight. Most notable is that the notch on the screen is slightly smaller horizontally, but although Apple points out the size of the notch as an improvement, it’s still there.

Like last year’s iPhone 12 Pro, it sports a 6.1-inch screen but is now heavier at 203 grams, down from 189 grams. Aside from the weight, the phone has a nice feel. I found the 6.1 inch screen to be a good size which led me to watch more YouTube videos and Neftlix and Apple TV movies on the phone.

The disappointment is the significant camera bump, which means the cute iPhone 12 Pro cases purchased last year cannot be reused for this year’s phone.

The phone’s face protector is a ceramic protective glass that Apple claims is stronger than the glass featured in any other smartphone. I wouldn’t test this feature unless I wanted to upgrade to a new phone.

It is also water resistant up to 6m for 30 minutes. That’s good news for people who drink their drinks at the table since the new iPhone is resistant to accidental coffee spills.

The iPhone 13 Pro has flat, sharp edges. The stainless steel frame, unfortunately, makes it a smudge and fingerprint magnet. Because of this, my iPhone 13 Pro has a case, but it also makes it a bit bulkier and heavier.

The iPhone 13 is powered by the Apple-designed chip, the quad-core A15 Bionic processor, which Apple claims is the fastest chip in a smartphone. It has nearly 15 billion transistors for improved performance compared to its predecessor. It is very fast, providing computer photography which gives sharp and detailed images.

Availablity

Stocks of the 13 Pro are permanently available if ordered for delivery. For withdrawals, only certain stores or authorized resellers have stock. As of November 24, delivery will be made the week of December 4.

Prices for the 13 Pro start at $ 1,649 for the 128GB version. Storage reaches a new level of 1TB. Unless you’re a cinematographer who shoots a lot of video, 1TB is an astronomical amount of storage that can get you S $ 830 out of your bank account. The sweet spot, I think, is the 512GB version which will add an additional S $ 500, bringing the total cost to $ 2,149.

Conclusion

The downside is that with Singapore’s TraceTogether contact finder app, it would be nice to have an in-screen fingerprint sensor on the phone. Since wearing a face mask is always a necessity, Apple’s Face ID is less ideal for unlocking the iPhone.

Overall, the iPhone 13 Pro is an exceptional phone with a stellar camera. It might just be the most wanted Christmas present by Apple users because of its better camera, super smooth screen, and improved battery life.

About William Moorhead

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