Yes, the new iPhone is better than the previous iPhone 12, we agree with that, however, is it any different that would motivate the users to upgrade it?
Flagship phones are providing only incremental improvements, which in turn makes us question our upgrade culture, and makes the flaws and tactics of the companies much more evident. Every one of us knows that the newest phone is only the newest within a small window of time, smartphones releasing left and right don’t even let the fact that you have the latest phone sink in.
Despite the competition in the smartphone industry being cutthroat, we as users are still not getting upgrades as the companies call them, I mean, the maximum upgrades we get from one iPhone to another is a new photography/videography mode, paired with increased built-in storage.
Even after knowing that fact, even for discerning shoppers, it requires serious willpower to resist the lure of a purple iPhone that is supposedly providing you with 1TB of internal storage. Companies have long persuaded many of us to upgrade our smartphones every two years because that is the limit of the software updates companies generally provide.
However, iPhone does better as models tend to get 6-8 years of iOS updates which are far superior to anything in the Android space. Don’t get fooled just by this though, because Apple knows well, that the majority of the users will not be able to restrict upgrading for the extra space or the improved chip or the enhanced camera capabilities, or the design changes.
If you take a closer look at this year’s iPhone 13 release, you could list out the upgrades you receive on a single hand, I doubt it will even take up all your fingers.
The new iPhone is better, but what makes it better is just repeated over the year
The Design Changes
You get an Olive Green color for the iPhone 13, that’s it, that’s all the design upgrades you get from iPhone 12 to 13. It still looks ugly with that notch; Apple just shift to a front punch hole camera setup.
The Display Upgrades
We get the same 6.1” super retina XDR display on both the iPhone 12 and 13, the upgrade is the bump to 120Hz refresh rate from the pathetic 60HZ in iPhone 12. The only other upgrade you get in the display department is the typical max brightness indoors shifted from 625 nits to 800 nits, whereas the peak brightness is the same at 1200 nits, which as a regular user, you won’t be able to understand the difference.
The Camera Upgrades
The major camera upgrade you receive is the Cinematic mode in 1080p at 30 fps for all the iPhone 13 models. If you own an iPhone 12 Pro or a Pro Max, you will receive a 2x and 1x optical zoom range respectively, when upgraded to iPhone 13 Pro or a Pro Max.
You get HDR 4 for photos on iPhone 13, along with sensor-shift optical image stabilization and Photographic styles, while the 12 has HDR3 and Optical Image Stabilization, except that, everything else including the sensors is identical on both devices.
What are Photographic styles you ask, it is a highly advanced filter, the phone will process the photos depending on the style you select, using Machine learning and Al, changing skin tones, adjusting backgrounds, everything a filter can’t do.
The Chip Upgrades
This could be considered the only major upgrade from the iPhone 12 to 13, as it is practically a mandate to upgrade the chipset. You get an A15 bionic chip in the iPhone 13, while the iPhone 12 has an A14 bionic chip.
Video Recording Upgrades
Cinematic mode for recording videos with shallow depth of field (1080p at 30 fps) is the only upgrade from the 12 to the 13.
The Front Camera
The situation addressed regarding the rear camera, the same is true for the front camera as well. It only gets Cinematic mode for recording videos with shallow depth of field (1080p at 30 fps), with Photographic Styles, and HDR4, everything else including the sensors is the same.
The Storage upgrades
The iPhone 13 starts from 128 Gb, while the 12 starts from 64 GB. According to MacRumors the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini still have 4GB RAM and the 13 Pro and Pro Max have 6 GB RAM which is the same for the 12 series as well.
The Power and Battery Upgrades
Only the Video playback and Audio playback upgrades we receive, which is bound to happen due to the new chipset. Yes, you have to buy the Adapter separately.
The Rest of the Nonupgraded Bunch.
There are no upgrades for Cellular and Wireless, Secure Authentication, Video Calling, Audio Calling, Audio Playback, Video Playback, Sensors, and Connector departments.
When considered in totality, we get only one general user noticeable display upgrade, a Base in-built storage upgrade, the Chipset upgrade, Increased video, and Audio Playback, and five new features for the Camera, which can’t be considered as actually upgrade to the Camera, as all of the sensors are the same. As there is always a possibility that Apple can grant these features to the 12 as well, with some future updates. It is just getting new features but the same sensors.
So, when taken in totality, there is a total of 5 upgrades, that is if we are generous enough to consider the new Cinematic mode in 1080p at 30 fps as a camera upgrade. On top of having the typical issues, every iPhone has, be it facing problems transferring files through Bluetooth or WhatsApp, or that Lighting Jack, or that God ugly notch on the display, though it is small it still looks ugly.
The Sad Truth About the Smartphone Market.
Mobile carriers have long persuaded many users to upgrade their smartphones every two years, offering two-year contracts linked to free or low-cost phone upgrades to run the two-year upgrade cycle without problems. That feeling of grabbing a new Phone for a couple of hundred dollars (or less) has helped perpetuate the rise of the facto two-year phone upgrade. Case in point: AT&T as well as Verizon marketed a “free” iPhone 12 last year for customers who bought unlimited plans along with a commitment to a multiyear deal. The trade-in deals were even better for this year’s release of the iPhone 13.
Up until a couple of years ago, smartphone manufacturers had us at the edge of our seats, waiting for the next design refresh, however, that’s isn’t the case anymore. Even while the release of the iPhone 13, the narrative was familiar, everyone and the grandmamas knew it wouldn’t be getting a major technical upgrade. There is nothing the iPhone 13 provides that is radically different from the 12. As salt in wounds, a number of these new iPhone features, like the 120Hz screen, already exist on Android phones, even on a few of the budget models, thus, reinforcing the notion of a decreasing technological gap in the smartphone sector.
According to Apple itself, the life cycle of a typical iPhone is now three years. So, the company times its new releases accordingly: we will only be seeing a major redesign every three years, not two, all we will have is a few more minor updates in between, which would help the iPhone fanatics to upgrade.
Do we think Apple couldn’t release a 120HZ refresh rate, 128GB base storage, or 1080p 30 fps until iPhone 13? This is just a tactic to show that changes have been made from the previous models until the actual major design and technical changes are released.
In the end, if the iPhone 13 is going to be your first iPhone, go ahead and buy it you couldn’t possibly go wrong, as it is one of the three best phones you can get right now. Not just Apple, nearly every smartphone company knows that all we need is to do is make minor changes paired with something we didn’t provide before to make people upgrade, this has caused if I may say so, the technological scene to progress slowly.
Smartphone innovation has stagnated, don’t think of this as a knock against the consumer electronics companies or the tech giants that design them. Maybe we have just reached peak smartphone, maybe this is as far as it has to go. It could be a major reason why the race to upgrade our phones is slowing.
When all the companies do is provide minor upgrades with already existing features, how will there be competition amongst them, if there is no competition in innovation, how will the technology progress. Amidst this lack of technological advancement in smartphones every year, only those who still believe in upgrading their phones every two years, or those who want to have the latest phones are the ones being fooled.
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