Apple unveils iPhone 13 Pro with 120Hz refresh rate, new cameras, better battery life

The devices start at $999 and go on sale next week.

Apple today unveiled its new iPhone 13 Pro with a number of improvements compared to the previous generation. For this version of the device, Apple focuses more on specs than it does on design, aligning with an ”S” upgrade more instead of a traditional numbered upgrade.

The biggest improvement Apple touts with the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max are the cameras. Both devices sport triple sensors on the back comprised of a main 12MP f/1.5 lens, a 12MP f/1.8 ultra-wide, and a 12MP 77mm telephoto. The main camera has a larger sensor with 1.9 µm pixels that will produce less noise, capture more light, and increase shutter speed. Low-light photography will also be significantly improved, up to 2.2x compared to the previous models.

The ultra-wide camera on both the 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max gets a new trick: macro photography. Apple says the minimum focus distance of the new sensor is 2 centimeters which will allow you to get closer to a subject than ever before on an iPhone. The ultra-wide lens is also capable of capturing a whopping 92 percent more light in nighttime scenarios.

The telephoto lens is also getting upgraded with 3x optical zoom for up to 6x physical/digital zoom. Across all three lenses, Night mode will be available as well as Smart HDR 4, Apple ProRAW, Deep fusion, and more.

Video quality is also seeing improvements on the iPhone 13 Pro series thanks to a new feature called Cinematic mode. It utilizes rack focus to make your videos seem like they were shot for movies by allowing you to switch focus between your subject and its background automatically. For creatives, the feature can be controlled both while shooting and in post-production through iMovie (on both iOS and macOS) and Final Cut Pro. By default, Cinematic mode will shoot video in Dolby Vision HDR.

Apple is also introducing ProRes on the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max. It’s a new video codec that’s typically used as the final format for content like commercials and feature films. It allows the video in question to offer higher color fidelity and less compression overall. Leaning on the new A15 Bionic processor, Apple is able to add it to the iPhone, making it the “only smartphone in the world to provide an end-to-end workflow — capture, edit, and share in Dolby Vision or ProRes.”

Somehow, I’ve gone this long without mentioning the screens. The iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max have the same-sized 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR panels, but now, they come with ProMotion. This means that thanks to LTPO OLED technology, the iPhone 13 Pro line can boost its refresh rate to 120Hz, just like many other smartphones have done for years. It’s a variable refresh rate, too, meaning it’ll buck the rate down depending on which kind of content is on your display and whether your scrolling or staying still.

In addition, Apple says the displays on the Pros are up to 25 percent brighter than the previous models, reaching as high as 1,000 nits. The notch at the top is 20 percent smaller as well.

Performance is also seeing notable improvements on the iPhone 13 Pro line thanks to that new A15 Bionic processor. Apple says it’s comprised of a new six-core CPU with two new high-performance cores and four new high-efficiency cores. It’s up to 50 percent faster than the competition, while graphics also see a 50 percent speed increase thanks to a Pro-exclusive five-core GPU.

Apple is also promising longer battery life on the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max. The former is expected to have an additional hour and a half on a full charge compared to the 12 Pro, while the latter will have an extra two and half hours compared to the 12 Pro max. Both devices stick with Lightning ports and Qi wireless charging. MagSafe is also here, although it doesn’t seem that there are any major improvements in that area.

Rounding things off, Apple says the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max have improved 5G support thanks to additional bands. The rest of the iPhone 13 Pro is nearly identical to the previous generation with a nearly-identical design, Ceramic Shield on top of the screens, the same Face ID sensors, and the same IP68 certification. There is a new 1TB storage option, though, in case you need as much space as you can get.

Apple says the iPhone 13 Pro will start at $999 while the 13 Pro Max will start at $1,099. The device will go up to $1,499 and $1,599, respectively, for their maximum storage capacities. The phones will ship in graphite, gold, silver, and a new sierra blue finish. They go up for preorder this Friday, September 17th, and officially launch September 24th.

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