Apple’s recently launched iPhone 13 series includes four smartphones, ranging from the iPhone 13 Mini to the iPhone 13 Pro Max. The designs are unchanged compared to those of their predecessors, except for a smaller notch and a re-aligned camera setup for the two smaller iPhones. However, you get the expected upgrades in performance, better battery life, new camera modes, and new software features thanks to iOS 15. But is that enough to justify an upgrade if you have an older iPhone? Let’s find out in this iPhone 13 vs older iPhones comparison!
iPhone 13 vs iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and older
If you still have the iPhone 8 series or an even older Apple phone, it’s probably time for an upgrade. The four-year-old iPhone 8 and 8 Plus were the last Apple flagships to feature the classic iPhone design with large bezels and the Touch ID fingerprint scanner. The 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are tiny by today’s standards, with the iPhone 13 Mini being the best option if you’re hoping to maintain the same overall footprint.
You’ll get much better performance with the new phones. The displays are far improved, particularly if you splurge on the iPhone 13 Pro models that feature a 120Hz refresh rate. And while the iPhone 8 cameras were excellent for their time, you’re missing all the latest hardware and software features available on the newer phones. You also don’t get 5G support.
It's no surprise that the iPhone 13 series is better than the iPhone 8 lineup in every way.
The one thing you don’t have to worry about is the software package itself. Every iPhone going back to the iPhone 6S series is eligible for an upgrade to iOS 15 and most of its new features, except those that rely on hardware. However, while Apple does a great job optimizing its software for older phones, you might start to see some sluggishness with the iPhone 8’s A11 Bionic processor and 3GB of RAM.
It’s not surprising that the iPhone 13 series is better than the iPhone 8 lineup and older iPhones in every way. If you’re looking to upgrade, now is a great time to do so.
iPhone 13 vs iPhone X
The iPhone X was introduced alongside the iPhone 8 series back in 2017 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. The iPhone X was as revolutionary for Apple as the first iPhone, introducing a complete design overhaul with the notch and near bezel-less display. This design element has been present in every iPhone to date, with the exception of the iPhone SE 2020.
The iPhone 13 series is a worthy upgrade over the iPhone X.
Besides the design changes, everything we said about the iPhone 13 vs iPhone 8 holds here. The iPhone X comes with the same hardware as the iPhone 8 Plus — dual 12MP rear cameras, the Apple A11 Bionic SoC, 3GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage. It’s eligible for an upgrade to iOS 15 but will miss out on specific features that are only available on devices running the A12 Bionic or newer.
The iPhone X’s launch price of $999 was daunting at the time but is commonplace in today’s flagship world. The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro cost is quite enticing, and even the $1,099 Pro Max is reasonable for everything the phone offers. There’s no doubt that the iPhone 13 series is a worthy upgrade over the iPhone X.
iPhone 13 vs iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR
The iPhone X design and features went mainstream with the iPhone XS and XS Max. As before, the S-edition was an iterative update. It packed the latest processor, the A12 Bionic, upped the RAM, and introduced a higher 512GB storage option. The XS Max had the same hardware as its smaller sibling. Giving it its name was the huge 6.5-inch display, the first from Apple to cross the 6-inch threshold. It had a larger battery as well and provided better battery life.
Because of the burgeoning prices of the flagship range, Apple also introduced the iPhone XR. It offered flagship performance, and there were plenty of colorful options to choose from. However, the build quality and camera setup weren’t as good as the higher-end models, which allowed Apple to keep the price relatively low.
The iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR are three years old at this point, but some users might want to hold on to it for a little longer. The good news is that you won’t miss out on any iOS 15 features with these devices, as they are both powered by Apple’s A12. This SoC, combined with as much as 4GB of RAM, should keep things running smoothly as well. Of course, the iPhone 13 series is better across all aspects and definitely a worthy upgrade. But if you’re curious about the rumored big things Apple has in store for its 2022 flagships, there’s no reason why you couldn’t keep the XS series running for another year.
iPhone 13 vs iPhone 11
Apple started its Pro and Pro Max iterations with the iPhone 11. The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max featured identical hardware, with the only difference being the screen size — 5.8-inch vs 6.5-inch — and the size of the battery. On the other hand, the standard iPhone 11 had a display with a lower resolution and one less rear camera, with the Pro editions adding a telephoto lens.
Powered by the Apple A13 Bionic and backed by 4GB of RAM, the iPhone 11 series is still powerful enough to offer smooth performance with iOS 15 and use all the new software features. There are a few key differences that make the iPhone 13 the better of the two.
The iPhone 13 phones come with OLED screens that offer a better display experience than the LCD displays of the iPhone 11. You’ll also get better performance, more camera features, improved battery life, and better durability with the iPhone 13 series. The software experience will stay the same, though, and the iPhone 11 cameras are more than good enough even in 2021.
Unless you need the latest and greatest processing package and cameras, you can probably hold on to the iPhone 11 for at least another year. That said, this is where the trade-in values start to get good, with up to $500 for the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12
Apple made the jump from three phones to four with the iPhone 12 series with the introduction of the Mini. The Mini offered users a manageable size and, more importantly, a more affordable option.
Apple may not do S edition phones anymore, but the iPhone 13 series is quite an iterative update and not that different from the iPhone 12. But, there are a few notable upgrades that might tempt you to get the new phone.
The design differences between the two series are minimal.
In terms of design, things stay largely the same, except for a smaller notch across the board. The rear camera module is also more prominent on all four phones and in a new diagonal orientation on the iPhone 13 Mini and standard iPhone 13.
Speaking of the camera, the ultra-wide camera on iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max has been upgraded from an ƒ/2.4 aperture to ƒ/1.8, meaning it should perform better in low light conditions. The cameras on the non-Pro models stay the same. Another upgrade reserved for the Pro models is the new ProMotion display with a 120Hz refresh rate.
All four phones come with larger batteries than their predecessors. The base model storage has also been doubled, and the Pro models offer up to 1TB of storage. The iPhone 13 phones are also faster with the new A15 Bionic, but we’ll need to run our tests to see how much faster.
The iPhone 13 has plenty of upgrades on offer, but nothing that you’d urgently need if you already have the iPhone 12. If you really want to make the jump, though, you can get up to $790 off via trade-ins, so it’s not the worst option.
iPhone 13 vs older iPhones: Should you upgrade??
If you have an iPhone older than the iPhone 11, it’s probably time to consider an upgrade. You could potentially hold on to the iPhone XS series for another year since the A12 Bionic can handle all the new software features you get with iOS 15. However, the iPhone 13 devices bring considerable improvements to the table compared to phones like the XS and older. So it’s definitely not a bad time to upgrade.
Also read: Which iPhone is right for you?
Things are a little murkier with the iPhone 11 and even more so with the iPhone 12 series. Both ranges remain extremely capable and should run smoothly for more than a year or two. Unless any of the new iPhone 13 features are particularly enticing, you don’t have to splurge on the latest from Apple yet.
What might tempt potential buyers, though, are the excellent trade-in values. The iPhone 11 series could get you up to $500 off. On the other hand, the iPhone 12 series nets you a maximum discount of $790. Of course, keep in mind that you can get even more if you decide to sell your phone.
Will you be upgrading from an older iPhone to an iPhone 13? Let us know in the comments below!