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iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 13 | Buyer’s Guide

a hand holding a phone

Apple’s brand is one of the most popular and identifiable in the world, but for some people, new iPhones can be a bit too pricey to justify getting them at launch.

Now that the iPhone 12 and 13 have dropped in price, they have become desirable options for people in the market for a new mobile device. While the 13 series is more advanced, both iterations of the iPhone are relatively modern and impressive smartphones. Here is a rundown of the base iPhone 12 and iPhone 13.

How Are the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 Different?

While Apple keeps an impressive consistency between its iPhone models, there are some notable differences between the 12 and 13.

Both models are the same size at 6.1 inches and are also 5G compatible, meaning they are future-proof from a network connectivity perspective. The resolution is the same; both are also rated IP68 for water resistance.

The color options for the iPhone 12 include white, black, green, red, blue, and purple; the 13, on the other hand, comes in Alpine Green, Sierra Blue, Graphite, Gold, and Silver.

Because of the similarities, it can be difficult to tell which one gives you more for your money. Here is what you get with each phone specifically:


The most notable difference between the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 13 is the chipset utilized. The iPhone 12 has an A14 Bionic chip, while the iPhone 13 has a newer A15 chip.

This means that processing power, including GPU, CPU, and AI performance, is significantly upgraded with the iPhone 13. Speed is faster, and the display is more consistent. That said, the A14 chip was already among the most powerful chipsets of its time and still packs a punch compared to the chipsets used by other companies.

As discussed, both phones are Bluetooth, WiFi, and 5G compatible; however, Apple has stated that the iPhone 13 is compatible with more 5G bands. The future is 5G and LTE, and as it becomes more prominent, it will be essential to have a solid 5G-enabled phone.

Regarding software, the iPhone 13 is slightly easier to use with iOS 16 and other new features; however, models as far back as the iPhone SE and iPhone XS can run the OS, and the 12 is also compatible.


The price is going to be the most significant difference here. The iPhone 13 comes in at $699, and you can pick up the 12 for $599. That hundred-dollar difference is nothing to scoff at, especially with all the similarities between the two phones.

A $599 price tag puts the iPhone 12 parallel with the iPhone 12 parallel with the Google Pixel 6, which is known for being a phone that strives to be more affordable than the phones phones Apple and Samsung come out with. This makes the iPhone 12 a compelling phone for its price, especially given how few phones can match that level of quality with modern 5G compatibility for only $599.

$699 is still less expensive than many of the other premium phones out there. While it stays under a thousand dollars, many more advanced features exist in the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

As a result, it is still a good option for people who want to spend less, just not as impressively cheap as the iPhone 12.


The phones are almost identical, aside from a smaller notch on the top of the iPhone 13 compared with the 12. Both have ceramic shield displays and the same basic design.

The iPhone 13 does have significantly increased brightness capabilities, which does put it over the iPhone 12, with its Super Retina XDR display that Apple claims outperforms traditional OLED benchmarks.

Both have a resolution of 2532x1170 and a pixel density of 460 PPI, giving you mostly the same experience as far as the screen goes. Both phones offer a 60Hz refresh rate. The iPhone 12 is slightly lighter, but the phones are the same size and will feel mostly the same.


The 12 and the 13 sport a 12MP main camera, but the ultrawide on the 12 is 16MP, while on the 13, it is also 12MP. It is worth noting that the iPhone 13 takes in significantly more light than the iPhone 12, making it much better for night photography or pictures taken in dark places with low light and night mode.

The 13’s telephoto rear camera helps with image stabilization, varied photographic styles, and autofocus. However, both phones offer great optical zoom and front cameras and are compatible with Face ID options.

One big leg up the camera system includes a cinematic mode on the iPhone 13. This mode automatically focuses and blurs certain assets to ensure that your video looks as good as possible. It is a great all-in-one video-creating tool that the iPhone 12 does not have.

The iPhone 13 supports ProRes and Dolby Vision HDR video recording, with 4k resolution and 30 fps (frames per second. The 12, though not supporting ProRes, offers the same 30 fps video playback options.

Battery Life

Another significant improvement of the iPhone 13 is the upgrades to battery life and charging capabilities. When actively streaming video on both models, iPhone 13 can get you around two more hours of power without charging. Regarding charging, both phones are identical: 15W MagSafe wireless charging and 20W wired charging. Fast charging speeds are also very consistent between the two; both come with a USB-C charger. This means that overall, the iPhone 13 just has a better battery performance, with more hours for the same amount of charging.

Which Should You Buy?

The question of which phone you should buy is difficult due to the subtle differences between the two. The iPhone 13 is a superior phone, but not by a considerable margin. Its A15 Bionic chipset offers the most significant change, with an impressive performance that rivals any phone on the market today.

It also has an improved camera system and much-improved charging speeds, adding icing to the cake. It has all the features of the iPhone 12 but with a refined overall presentation and some enhanced features.

However, the iPhone 12 is a hundred dollars cheaper, which is a significant number. The lower price puts it in the lower-to-middle tier of existing smartphone prices. This makes it much stiffer competition for phones like the
that emphasize being cheaper than the iPhone.

In other words, both phones will give you a great experience, but choose the iPhone 12 for price and the iPhone 13 for functionality. Additionally, each comes in other options, including:

  • iPhone 12 Mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13 Mini
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max

The Bottom Line

Neither iPhone is the clear winner because they are simply too alike. Inevitably the iPhone 12 will become obsolete before the iPhone 13. With the iPhone 14 Pro Max, the iPhone 11 is a step closer to this, but we are a ways from that happening to the 12 series. Overall, both are good options as of 2024. They both offer 5G compatibility and very advanced chipsets, so you can’t go wrong with either.

Next time you need a new smartphone, use Navi to make sure you are making the right choice. Navi uses wireless industry insights to help you pay for what you need without spending too much on the things you do not. Navi can help you compare phone plans and find the best phone deals to ensure your mobile phone experience is optimized to be the best. Use Navi today to make sure you choose the best iPhone for your needs.

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