iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro camera: Do you need the latest model? Amy Davies compares the iPhone 14 Pro with the iPhone 13 Pro.
The latest iPhone 14 Pro comes just 12 months after the iPhone 13 Pro, so it’s perhaps therefore not surprising that the differences between the two are relatively minimal. This begs the question of which is better – especially if you’re either in the market for a new iPhone, or you’re considering whether or not to upgrade from the 13 Pro to the 14 Pro.
In this piece we’ll be taking a look at how the two camera systems on each iPhone stack up, putting them head-to-head to see how each perform to give you a better idea of which one is worth your hard-earned cash.
Let’s get started…
iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro: Camera Specs
Both the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro feature a triple-lens camera array on the back of the phone. You get a standard, an ultra-wide and a telephoto lens with each, but there are some differences between the sensors and the lenses.
The main sensor for the iPhone 14 Pro sees a 48 megapixel sensor for the first time in an iPhone. As standard, images are still output at 12 megapixels, thanks to pixel binning. This should make it perform better in terms of detail, and also work better in low light. You can access the full 48 megapixels if you shoot in raw format. By contrast, the iPhone 13 Pro’s main sensor has 12 megapixels.
While the main lenses for the iPhone 14 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro are both 24mm equivalent focal length, the 14 Pro’s has a slightly narrower f/1.78 aperture, compared with f/1.5 for its predecessor. Reports suggest that the sensor is not only higher in resolution, but also bigger in physical size, so that shouldn’t have too much of an impact for low-light shooting. Both phones use sensor-shift optical image stabilisation, but for the 14 Pro, the technology is now in its second generation.
An ultra-wide lens appears on both models, offering a 13mm equivalent focal length. For some reason, the iPhone 14 Pro’s ultra-wide angle lens is f/2.2, compared with the iPhone 13 Pro’s f/1.8. This could have an impact on low-light shooting, but other specifications, such as the “Photonic Engine” found in the newer model could compensate for that.
The telephoto lens for both models is 3x – or 72mm equivalent, and both have an f/2.8 aperture, so we expect these to be pretty much the same. One new function for the iPhone 14 Pro is the ability to access a 2x “lens” directly within the native app – this is not a real lens, but rather an in-camera crop which makes use of the 48 megapixel lens.
Both models keep other specifications, such as macro photography (which is automatically activated when you bring the camera close to a subject), Night mode (also automatically activated, but this time when the phone detects low light), Portrait mode and Apple ProRAW, which creates DNG files. The native camera app between the two models appears to be the same also.
The front-facing camera for both models is a “TrueDepth” 12 megapixel device, but the newer iPhone 14 Pro has an f/1.9 aperture (compared with f/2.2) and boasts autofocus for the first time.
So to sum up here, the main differences between the cameras on paper are a new 48 megapixel sensor for the main camera, slight differences in aperture, the addition of the Photonic Engine and a new “2x” option.
In the real world though, the differences are a little more subtle and harder to spot – as we’ll see in the examples highlighted below.
iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro: General image quality
Comparing images taken in good light reveals that there’s very little noticeable difference between the two models – perhaps unless you start really scrutinising at pixel level. Certainly, on the phone screens, image quality between the two look very similar. You can click the images to view full-size sample photos!
If you take the majority of your smartphone shots of landscapes, travel, portraits and the like, there’s not a huge amount to differentiate between the two.
Where you might see a difference is if you want to make use of the 48 megapixel sensor on the 14 Pro for highly detailed shots – remembering that you’ll need to photograph in raw in order to output at 48MP. With the iPhone 14 Pro you can also take advantage of the “2x” zoom option directly within the native camera app, which gives you a bit more flexibility.
The ultra-wide lens has a slightly narrower aperture for the iPhone 14 Pro, but in ordinary daylight conditions this doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. Both manage to keep the image relatively distortion free too.
Overall, the iPhone 14 Pro is probably slightly better compared with the iPhone 13 Pro for general photographic usage – but if you already have an iPhone 13 Pro, it’s unlikely you’ll notice too much of a difference.
iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro: Low Light
In low light, it’s easier to see the differences a little more, but they’re still relatively slight.
The iPhone 14 Pro has both Deep Fusion as well as the new “Photonic Engine” which are designed to help with low-light shooting. As a result, it seems that the images are ever so slightly better with the iPhone 14 Pro. You also get the advantage of the quad-pixel sensor using pixel binning to improve performance when using the 1x lens or the 2x setting (which essentially crops into the centre of the 1x sensor).
Despite having a slightly narrower aperture, the iPhone 14 Pro’s ultra-wide-angle lens still produces excellent night-time images, which appear to be slightly better – probably due to the better computational photography element.
The shots from the 3x camera show the biggest difference with the iPhone 14 Pro giving softer images with less noise.
Overall again, it’s a slight improvement, but probably not enough of a one to make you immediately jump from the 13 Pro to the 14 Pro if you already have one.
iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro: Macro
Macro is a feature which was introduced for the first time with the iPhone 13 Pro. It activates automatically if you get close to a subject, switching to the ultra-wide-angle lens to produce the images.
Both produce excellently detailed shots in this mode, and once again, it’s very difficult to spot a clear difference between the two, although the iPhone 14 Pro image does give us a warmer image.
iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro: Portrait
Portrait mode has been available for iPhone models for quite some time. Despite the name, it can be used for other subjects and in recent years, the algorithms have been upgraded to cope well with other subjects such as pets.
Both phones produce pleasing results, with natural looking bokeh in the background for shallow depth-of-field shots. This is especially the case when the subject is reasonably well defined. It works well for both people and other subjects.
The benefit of the iPhone 14 Pro is the new “2x” option is available directly in Portrait mode, which means you can choose between a 1x, 2x or 3x point of view depending on how much of the background environment you want to display. With the iPhone 13 Pro, you only get 1x or 3x, so although the quality between the two is pretty much equal, the 13 Pro is slightly less flexible.
iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro: Video
Video specifications between the two phones are very similar. Both offer 4K at up to 60fps in the normal video mode. There’s also “ProRes” video recording, which is something designed to appeal to advanced video creators. This is available in 4K, but only if you have a 256GB or above model.
A slight change is to “Cinematic” mode, which allows you to record videos with a shallow depth of field effect, which is now available in 4K for the iPhone 14 Pro, compared to Full HD for the iPhone 13 Pro.
Another new feature for the iPhone 14 Pro is “Action mode”, which promises to deliver better image stabilisation when recording movies in shaky situations. This is intended to take on the likes of the GoPro market and will be a big plus for some people, and completely irrelevant to some. In practice, it doesn’t seem to make a huge amount of difference if the “action” it is compensating for isn’t particularly extreme, but it becomes more noticeable if you move the camera around a lot more – such as while jogging.
Otherwise, both have slow-mo video, both use Dolby Vision HDR and both offer video functions such as Time-lapse with stabilisation.
iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro: Screen and Design
The iPhone 14 Pro uses pretty much an identical design to its predecessor, the iPhone 13 Pro.
As such, both offer a 6.1-inch screen, which is a Super Retina XDR display. The iPhone 14 Pro has an ever-so-slightly higher resolution at 2556×1179 pixels, compared to the 13 Pro’s 2532×1170 pixels. Both are 460ppi, and both offer refresh rates of up to 120Hz. The iPhone 14 Pro promises to be brighter in outdoor conditions but placing the two phones side by side doesn’t result in any majorly obvious differences to the naked eye.
The physical dimensions of the phones aren’t exactly identical, but they’re close enough to be hard to spot any obvious differences when looking at them. The iPhone 14 Pro measures in at 147.5 x 71.5 x 7.85mm and weighs 206g. Meanwhile, the 13 Pro is fractionally shorter and thinner, being 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm, and weighing 203g. You’ll probably find any existing case you’ve got for the 13 Pro fits a 14 Pro.
A new feature for the iPhone 14 Pro is an “always-on” display, whereby the phone can display things such as the time and other widgets like weather even when the screen is “off”. There’s also a new “Dynamic Island” in place of the notch at the top of the screen, which transforms into different things depending on what you’re doing at the time.
If you’re keen on the bigger iPhone 14 Pro Max, the differences are again extremely minimal in terms of screen and design between it and the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro: Battery Life and Capacity
Apple famously keeps specs such as physical battery size to itself, but we can see from the quoted battery life how the two compare.
The two appear to be almost identical, but with the iPhone 14 Pro promising 23 hours video playback, compared to 22 hours for the iPhone 13 Pro. In real-world usage, the difference appears to be completely unnoticeable.
Both offer fast(ish) charging (with a separately sold 20W charger), and wireless charging.
Both models offer 128GB as the minimum capacity, with 256GB, 512GB and 1TB also available. You’ll need 256GB or higher if you want to use ProRes video recording at 4K.
iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro: Price
As soon as new Pro models become available, Apple removes the old ones of its website for sale – but that doesn’t mean you can’t get hold of them elsewhere, and if you want to save even more cash, second-hand iPhone 13 Pros should be easy to get hold of now too.
You can pick up an iPhone 14 Pro for £1,099 (128GB), £1,209 (256GB), £1,429 (512GB) or £1,649 (1TB). Add £100 on to all of those figures for pricing of the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Meanwhile, retailers such as Currys, show the iPhone 13 Pro available for £949 (128GB), £1049 (256GB), £1,249 (512GB) or £1,449 (1TB). A quick scan of second-hand sites reveals iPhone 13 Pros available for as little as £810.
That’s a huge saving to consider, especially if you’re thinking of upgrading from something like the iPhone X, 11 or 12, and would still consider the 13 to be a big enough upgrade. You’ll also be doing your bit for the environment too by not buying new.
iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro: Verdict
There is a lot to like about the new iPhone 14 Pro, but for photographers, the upgrade is pretty incremental and image quality between the two isn’t huge. Design, battery life and storage is almost identical between the two as well.
Video features show a bit more of a disparity, so if you’re somebody who shoots a lot of movies, then the iPhone 14 Pro could be for you. That’s especially true if you’re keen on the Action Mode or the 4K Cinematic Mode.
If you already own an iPhone 13 Pro, unless you desperately want some of the new features (or perhaps some of the new non-photographic features), then it’s probably worth holding on to it until at least the iPhone 15 Pro comes out and “skipping” a generation.
Similarly, if you’re thinking of upgrading from an older iPhone, such as the iPhone X, iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro, then opting for the iPhone 13 Pro will still get you a good upgrade without the expense of the newest model. That’s especially true when you consider the great deals which can be picked up on the second-hand market.
Read our full iPhone 14 Pro review
Read our full iPhone 13 Pro review
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