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Apple iPhone 13 Pro review: A lesson in refinement

(Pocket-lint) – “If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it,” the saying goes – but that’s not something Apple fans, pining for more innovation, more wow factor, will want to hear.

So will such fans be able to cope with that approach from Apple in 2022 with the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max – a phone that seems to be more about minor refinements over the previous generation than any huge changes? Upgraders might not be best pleased, but those who are in the market for the ultimate iPhone might think otherwise.

Our quick take

“That looks like your last phone,” was the comment we got when showing family members the iPhone 13 Pro. And they would be right. Unless you look closely, you’ll be hard pushed to notice the differences over its predecessor.

Start to use the iPhone 13 Pro, however, and you’ll slowly begin to notice those small but important changes. The increased battery life is an obvious benefit, the smoother screen experience is great (and the more entry iPhone 13 lacks this ProMotion feature), and that updated notch is less noticeable too. It’s just better all-round.

Ultimately, it feels like Apple’s 2021 iPhones are all about refining rather than offering anything brand new. While that’s not exciting for those eager to get all the new toys and tech, the iPhone 13 Pro is still as refined an Apple phone as you can buy. So, if you’re in the market for an upgrade from an older generation, it’ll feel genuinely impressive.

Currently, the Apple iPhone 13 Pro remains the best iPhone you can buy with all the latest and greatest features. It might be more than six months old now, but that’s not an issue. It remains an excellent performer in all areas, and, if anything, it’s got better thanks to the new feature that have come with iOS updates since it launched.

The main reason not to buy the iPhone 13 Pro now is the potential its successor could offer – even if we don’t know what that is yet. There are a number of reports suggesting the iPhone 14 Pro could see a bigger design refresh than the iPhone 13 Pro experienced, though, so waiting until later in the year for the new iPhone Pro could offer some more exciting changes.

For all intents and purposes the Apple iPhone 13’s design is the same as its predecessor. It could easily have been called the iPhone 12S for its lack of differences, really, but there are changes for those who look closely enough.

On the front, the notch that houses the front-facing camera, Face ID smarts, and other sensors, has shrunk by around 20 per cent – delivering a much narrower yet taller cut-out.

This technology allows the display to automatically adapt the refresh rate to match the content on the screen. It starts at 10Hz and goes all the way up to 120Hz, just like you’ll find in most Android phones from the last couple of years, adapted depending on the kind of content that’s on the display. Older screens would typically be 60Hz only, so you’re getting a potential doubling of frames for enhanced smoothness.

That 120Hz top number is particularly exciting for gamers because it can result in smoother graphics, depending on the game. The benefits can also be seen elsewhere, such as when you’re doom scrolling on social media, surfing the web, or generally using any app that has plenty of on-screen movement.

It certainly makes for a smoother experience, although just as some people can’t see the benefits of Ultra-HD over HD until it’s pointed out, some possibly won’t notice the upgrade they are enjoying. Side-by-side with the iPhone 12 Pro you absolutely will, but that’s not how these devices are used in real life.

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Ajmal Solangi is a Tech writer specializing in the intersection of tech and reviews. He likes tech news, mobile unboxing, reviews, gadgets, and more.

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