Not much is guaranteed these days, but you can still count on a new iPhone that comes out every fall – and the temptation to upgrade that comes with it. The new iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro look like Apple’s best phones yet, with the company’s fastest processors, new camera upgrades that enable professional-quality video capture and promise of a few more hours of autonomy compared to previous models. .
If you hold onto an aging iPhone, the iPhone 13 will be an obvious upgrade that is likely to deliver a major improvement in performance, battery life, and camera capabilities. But if you’ve just bought an iPhone in the past few years, the question of whether to upgrade is a bit more complicated. Here’s who should and shouldn’t upgrade to the iPhone 13, plus some tips on getting the best trade-in deals if you’ve decided to take the plunge.
You hold onto a pretty old iPhone
IPhones are built to last when it comes to software support – the major iOS 15 update coming this month will work with phones dating from the 2015 iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Just because your old iPhone is still technically performing doesn’t mean that it still performs well, and if you find that your device is starting to show its age, it’s probably time to take the leap.
“Given the improvements in battery life, cameras, and cellular modems, I would recommend upgrading to an iPhone X or earlier,” said Avi Greengart, company president and senior analyst. of Techsponential technological research. “Not only will you get faster performance, better images (especially in low light conditions), and much longer battery life, but you’ll also likely get better reception. ”
You are serious about photos and especially video
All of Apple’s recent iPhones take great photos, and the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 remain great options for capturing your family vacation and shooting fun stories on TikToks and Instagram. But if you are someone who uses their iPhone to take photos and videos at a professional level, the iPhone 13 and especially the iPhone 13 Pro may be worth upgrading for cameras only.
Along with a host of technical specification improvements designed to offer things like better zoom and low-light performance, the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro both offer new camera features like Photographic Styles (essentially filters). specials to improve things like color and contrast) and a Cinematic Mode. This last feature seems to be one of the most important, as it allows you to adjust what the camera focuses on during and after video capture. This could come in handy for amateur filmmakers who want to easily add immersive and movie-like focus effects while shooting scenes with multiple people.
There are also a few features exclusive to the Pro camera, including the ability to take spectacular photos in portrait mode in night mode and the ability to shoot and edit in ProRes, a video standard commonly used in movies and commercials. In short, if photography or videography is a serious hobby, side activity, or even a job for you, the iPhone 13 models look like some of the best camera phones ever.
You care about 5G
The iPhone 13 is only the second iPhone to support 5G, the latest lightning-fast cellular connectivity standard available from most major carriers. We had mixed results with 5G when testing on the iPhone 12 – you’ll definitely notice faster speeds under the right conditions, but ultra-wideband 5G (the fastest version of the standard) is still limited. to very specific areas, and the most common national 5G is a fairly modest improvement over 4G. Still, those with an iPhone 11 or older may want to consider taking the leap in order to have a fully future-proof iPhone once 5G becomes more of a thing.
“Carrier networks have changed a lot over the past five years, and new iPhones include not only 5G, but all the other combinations of frequencies that networks use these days to provide coverage and capacity,” explains Greengart.
You want the smoothest screen on an iPhone
One of the most important new features of the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max in particular is their 120Hz ProMotion display, which is up to twice as smooth as 60Hz displays on recent iPhones. To put it in real terms, you’ll notice a lot more fluidity when scrolling through web pages or flipping through your camera roll, and your favorite shows, movies, and games will be able to play more smoothly.
This feature is adaptive too – in order to save your battery life, the high refresh rate kicks in automatically when you scroll quickly, but not when you read, say, a text message. This type of screen has impressed us on Android phones for years, so if you’ve been waiting for Apple to finally catch up before upgrading to the iPhone, the 13 Pro or 13 Pro Max might be for you.
Your only problem is battery life
We’ve all been there – after a few years of owning an iPhone, you notice its battery starting to drain faster than usual, sometimes strangely as the launch of a new model approaches. But while it’s tempting to buy a brand new phone just for battery life, keep in mind that you may be eligible for a battery upgrade depending on the phone and the plan. guarantee you have.
If your iPhone is still under warranty or on an AppleCare + plan, you can have your battery replaced for free. All iPhones come with a one year limited warranty. AppleCare + plans vary in price depending on your phone model, but include a battery replacement if your iPhone’s battery is below 80% of its original capacity, in addition to coverage for multiple cases. damage or loss every 12 months. If you’re out of warranty, a battery replacement will cost you $ 69 for all major iPhones dating back to iPhone X, and $ 49 for both versions of iPhone SE as well as iPhone 8 through iPhone 6. .
Note that the A15 iPhone 13 series processors promise a noticeable increase in battery life (up to two and a half hours longer than their respective iPhone 12 models), so you’ll be good for the future if you invest only for battery life. . But if you’re pretty happy with the performance of your current phone and just want longer endurance, then replacing the battery is worth considering.
You want something that looks radically like your iPhone 12
The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro each have a few small design improvements over last year’s model, including a slightly smaller notch where the front camera is located. But other than that, you get pretty much the same stainless steel and matte glass design as on the iPhone 12 range, and even the colors offered on the 13 and 13 Pro are very similar to what we’ve seen before. There are a few small differences – the iPhone 13 comes in pink and the iPhone 13 Pro has a lighter variant in Sierra Blue – but those with a newer iPhone looking for something really cool might want to hold out.
Related: Why am I skipping iPhone 13 and keeping my iPhone 12 Pro.
If you’ve decided to take the leap, there are several ways you can get the iPhone 13 while saving money through trades and carrier offers. IPhone 13 pre-orders begin September 17 and start shipping September 24. Here are some of the best exchange options we’ve found so far.
- Apple: You can trade in your old smartphone when purchasing the iPhone 13 directly from Apple, whether you sign in to a carrier or buy it unlocked. You’ll get the most value when trading in the iPhone 12 series (up to $ 400 to $ 790, depending on the model), while older iPhones like the iPhone 6 and 7 will fetch you between $ 30 and $ 100. $. You can even trade in some Android devices, such as the Galaxy Note 20 (up to $ 400) and Google Pixel 5 (up to $ 315). And even if you don’t trade, you can pre-register on Apple’s site now for the best chance of avoiding long waits for Apple’s phone on September 17th.
- IPhone Upgrade Program: If you still want to have the latest iPhone, Apple’s iPhone upgrade program is also worth considering. This plan starts at $ 35 to $ 54 per month for the iPhone 13 lineup and allows you to upgrade to the next model once you’ve made 12 monthly payments. The upgrade program also includes AppleCare + coverage and allows you to connect to any of the major carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon).
- AT&T: AT&T customers can get the iPhone 13 at no upfront cost (or at least a pretty big discount) depending on what they trade in. The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Mini can be picked up for free with a qualifying trade-in when paired with an unlimited plan, while the 13 Pro Max and standard iPhone 13 can be purchased for as low as $ 99 at the same. conditions. As with most operator offers, these prices depend on your subscription to a monthly plan.
- Verizon: Verizon is offering up to $ 800 off any trade-in iPhone 13 model, plus up to an additional $ 500 for new customers to cover change costs. It’s basically a free iPhone 13, although you probably have to trade in a newer model to get the full value.
- T Mobile: T-Mobile is also looking to attract customers with a “free” iPhone 13. The carrier will offer the new iPhone at no upfront cost with a Magenta MAX plan (which starts at $ 57 per line and has unlimited data) and a qualifying trade-in. As part of its “Forever Upgrade” promotion, the operator is also promising up to $ 800 off a new iPhone every two years as long as you subscribe to Magenta MAX.
- Decluttering: If you prefer to retail your iPhone 13 and sell your old device separately, Decluttr is a reliable option for getting decent trade-in money. You can currently get up to $ 537 for the standard iPhone 12 and up to $ 362 for the iPhone 11, just to name a few examples. Decluttr will provide a shipping label for all the products you sell, although you must provide your own packaging. You can get paid by direct deposit or your PayPal account, or choose to send the money to charity.