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What just happened? Apple unveiled two new Pro-tier iPhones, the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max, today during its California streaming presentation. These premium models represent the best of what Apple has to offer in a smartphone, and it starts with the new A15 Bionic CPU.
Apple’s latest custom silicon features two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. There’s also a new 16-core Neural Engine capable of 15.8 trillion operations per second and a five-core GPU that’s up to 50 percent faster than the leading competition. In fact, Apple claims it’s the fastest graphics subsystem in any smartphone, ever.
Like last year’s models, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max ship with 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch OLED displays, respectively. This time around, however, Apple has included an all-new Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion. This technology allows the display to automatically sense what’s happening on the screen and adjust the refresh rate accordingly, from 10Hz all the way up to 120Hz.
The display is protected by Apple’s Ceramic Shield coating, with a textured matte glass covering on the rear. A surgical-grade stainless steel band encompasses the new Pro models, which are offered in four colors including graphite, gold, silver and sierra blue. The front-facing notch that houses the TrueDepth camera system is 20 percent smaller, no doubt a bonus for those that are averse to the notch.
The new iPhone Pro models also retain the same IP68 water resistance as last year’s offerings.
Aside from the bigger displays, most likely look to a Pro model iPhone for its rear camera system. This year’s models feature three cameras.
The 77mm telephoto boasts a six-element, f/2.8 aperture lens with a 3x optical zoom while the wide-angle utilizes a seven-element lens with an f/1.5 aperture. The ultra-wide camera employs a six-element lens with an f/1.8 aperture, and all have a sapphire crystal lens covering for enhanced scratch resistance. In total, you get 6x optical zoom range across the entire system, and all cameras feature Night mode.
Apple says the wide-angle camera has a larger sensor with 1.9 µm pixels to reduce noise. Combined with its f/1.5 aperture, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max afford a “massive improvement” in low-light situations: up to 2.2x when compared to iPhone 12 Pro and nearly 1.5x when compared to iPhone 12 Pro Max.
(A close-up image of a leaf captured using the iPhone's new macro mode.)
The new ultra-wide camera, meanwhile, enables macro photography for the first time on an iPhone. This mode features a minimum focus distance of just two centimeters, allowing you to get closer to your subjects than ever before. The macro function also extends to video to include Slo-mo and Time-lapse.
Speaking of video, Apple has introduced a new Cinematic mode which records in Dolby Vision HDR and is highlighted by rack focus, allowing for focus transitions between subjects. You can elect to let the feature adjust the focus automatically, or manually control the transitions. And, you can even adjust focus after a video has been captured, à la Lytro.
The new Pro iPhones also support ProRes, the video codec Apple introduced way back in 2007 for post-production work.
(Recording video on the iPhone 13 Pro).
Notably, Cinematic mode is limited to 1080p at 30 frames per second for recording videos with shallow depth of field. 4K video can be captured at up to 60 frames per second, and ProRes video tops out at 4K 30fps (or 1080p at 30fps if you have the 128GB model).
As for battery life, the standard Pro model is rated for up to 22 hours of video playback while the Pro Max can hold out for up to 28 hours. According to Apple, this is 1.5 hours and 2.5 hours longer than last year’s models, respectively, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max now offers the longest battery life of any iPhone.
Notably, there was no mention of support for LEO satellite communications as was rumored late last month.
Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max go up for pre-order on September 17 starting at 5 a.m. Pacific. Pricing starts at $999 for the 128GB iPhone 13 Pro, and $1,099 for the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Both will be available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities (the latter, for the first time). Look for them to launch on September 24.