The truth is that smartphones peaked a few years ago. After so many advances, miniature computers have reached incredible speeds. Their screens have become more prominent and brighter, and their cameras produce look like wizards. The problem with so much incredible innovation is that upgrades are so iterative that it has become . That’s especially the case with Apple’s iPhone 13, which may be the most incremental .
Theis just 10 percent faster than last year’s models. (For context, in 2015, the iPhone 6S was more than 70 percent faster than its predecessor, the iPhone 6.) Its flashiest new feature, a higher screen “refresh rate” on the $1,000-plus models, makes motion look smoother when opening hardly a game-changer. Innovations on also appear to be slowing. 13 cameras as “dramatically more powerful” and the iPhone’s “most advanced” ever, mainly because they can capture more light and reduce noise. But in my tests, the improvements were marginal.
This is all to say the annual phone upgrade, which companies likeand ad campaigns to gboostsales for the holiday shopping season, has become a mirage of tech innovation. In reality, the upgrades are now a celebration of capitalism in the form of ruthless incrementalism. What better way to illustrate that slow march than with smartphone photos? To test the iPhone 13 cameras, I bought a special tripod to hold two phones side by side so I could snap roughly the same pictures of my simultaneously. I compared shots taken with the new iPhones, last year’s iPhone 12, and a three-year-old iPhone XS. When I got the results, I was genuinely surprised by how well the iPhone XS camera stood against the newest models. And the iPhone 13’s camera was barely better than the iPhone 12’s.
Enough words. Let my dog photos guide you on the latest iPhone. To compare photos shot in daylight, I took all the phones and my dogs, Max (he’s the more miniature) and Mochi (she’s the brown Labrador), to a park in Richmond, Calif. In one test shot of them sitting next to each other in the shade, the iPhone 13 and 12 photos were hardly distinguishable. The iPhone 13 did a somewhat better job of capturing shadows. In a test comparing the $1,000with the iPhone XS, the $1,000 model released in 2018, both photos of the dogs in bright sunlight looked clear and detailed. I will grant you that the iPhone 13 Pro produced images with more vibrant colors.
But in one test on a shaded path in the middle of the woods, the photo taken with the iPhone 13 Pro made Mochi look blown out by the sunlight; the shadows and lighting captured by the three-year-old iPhone looked more natural. Apple disagreed with my assessment. (You be the judge.) The improvements in the new iPhone cameras were most visible in lowlightmode, which captures multiple pictures and then fuses them thile madjustingcolors and contrast. Max’s lowlight shots perched on a balcony just after sunset looked clearer when taken with the iPhone 13 Pro than with the iPhone 12.