Advertiser Disclosure: At Slickdeals, we work hard to find the best deals. Some products in our articles are from partners who may provide us with compensation, but this doesn’t change our opinions.
Another year, another autumnal iPhone release. As Apple’s legacy smartphone pushes deeper into the double digits, performance expectations have never been higher — and rightfully so, iPhones aren’t cheap! It might be tempting to upgrade your older iPhone or another smartphone, but that decision should come after you’ve researched the finer details of how the iPhone 13 compares to previous models.
Don’t let us discourage you — if you are set on buying an iPhone 13 and know exactly why you want it, you are the most qualified person to make that decision. However, the iPhone 13 does have a few shortcomings worth knowing about. If you’re not completely sold on Apple’s latest creation, consider the top reasons why the iPhone 13 might not be worth it.
The iPhone 13 is Too Similar to the iPhone 12
The iPhone 12 was a definite improvement over the iPhone 11 in terms of display, as the Super Retina XDR panel boosted the 12’s pixels-per-inch figure from 326 to 458. If Apple was capable of making that jump in just one year, why is the iPhone 13 stuck at 460 pixels-per-inch?
Aside from a couple of minute ergonomic changes, all of the iPhone 13 variants are nearly the same size and resolution as their iPhone 12 counterparts. There’s something to be said for consistency (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it), but you may as well save a bit of money by picking up a discounted iPhone 12 instead.
Do You Really Need a Camera Upgrade?
Along with new display technology, camera innovations have been featured front-and-center throughout the debut of the iPhone 13. The diagonal dual-lens rear camera features a Wide and Ultra Wide lens on the iPhone 13 and 13 mini, while the Pro and Pro Max come with an additional Telephoto lens.
Photographers and videographers are likely to enjoy the addition of Photographic Styles’ smart filtering feature and the Cinematic Mode focus-shifting mode, but do you take enough high-quality staged photos and videos to justify the cost?
It’s Been a Rough Year for Tech Innovation
Over a year into the semiconductor chip shortage, we’ve seen all kinds of supply chain disruptions — next-gen consoles remain elusive, manufacturers are having trouble with toy production and companies like RTX and Nvidia have taken to re-releasing older GPUs to meet demand, since new models have become impossible to find.
Whether Apple is willing to publicly admit it or not, there’s no way that the world’s largest and most valuable technology company can weather a massive global commerce disruption without hitting a few snags.
According to SemiAnalysis, Apple’s CPU cores have been widely considered the best-performing consumer option for years. This well-deserved designation is bolstered by the exponential rate at which Apple has been able to expand the iPhone’s capabilities from generation to generation. We know that most companies have struggled to maintain output and sales during the year between the respective releases of iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, so it’s hard to believe that Apple had the material resources required to outshine last year’s iPhone.
5G is Still Not Worth It
Apple is a major proponent of 5G technology and has spent a great deal of time and effort hyping up its possibilities, especially when the company releases its latest technologies. While we are all excited to take a step into the high-speed future, 5G network infrastructure remains rather sparse. Apple’s excessive focus on 5G band innovation was one of our major qualms about the iPhone 12, and the situation hasn’t improved much between iPhone generations.
As long as Apple’s short-range mmWave modems are still routinely confused by trees and walls, 5G isn’t quite ready for primetime.
You Could Save on an Older iPhone Instead
You’re probably reading this Slickdeals article because you’re interested in saving money. It’s not always easy to find major discounts on smartphones (especially iPhones), but there are absolutely alternatives to buying a brand new iPhone at full price. Apple’s release schedule is usually predictable; with a little research, it’s easy to predict a rough timeline for when you should start shopping for smartphone deals.
Remember: New iPhone release season is the best time to save on the iPhones of yesteryear.
Still No Power Adapter or EarPods
Like its predecessor, the iPhone 13 ships without a power adapter or EarPods included. Apple claims that this glaring omission is part of its mission to “reduce package waste,” but this eco-friendly business decision doubles as a convenient money-sponge that forces you to purchase expensive Apple-certified accessories — or take a chance on third-party alternatives.
This may not be a new development, but it’s fair to say that the iPhone 13 lacks a few basic smartphone components.
The iPhone 13 Is Thicker and Heavier
Apple has carved out a niche for those who prefer a low-profile, svelte smartphone. This might be a major sell for iPhone users with larger hands (or who prefer a weighted grip), but phone size and weight are valuable considerations for an object that lives in your pockets and hands.
Does Your Lifestyle Require High Graphics Performance?
Apple computers and smartphones are the industry standard for most graphic designers, engineers, data scientists and other positions that tend to require a lot of processing power. However, you probably don’t need to utilize the full processing power of a 16-core Neural Engine if your phone is primarily used to FaceTime with your friends, Google recipes and scroll through social media.
The Competition Has Leveled Up
It’s hard not to get excited about the brand new 120Hz ProMotion display featured on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. Many lifestyle Apple users have criticized the company’s unwillingness to implement a higher refresh rate for years, so this is a great update for anyone willing to pony up $1,000 or more. If that doesn’t sound like you, great news — numerous Android smartphone manufacturers implemented this feature years ago and you have over a dozen cheaper alternatives to choose from.
Even looking past nitpicks over individual features, the iPhone 13 has not shown any meaningful evolution compared to its long lineage of similar-looking, feeling and behaving smartphones. While Motorola was developing a flip smartphone and Microsoft was hard at work creating a dual-screen smartphone, Apple moved a couple of cameras around and added a few colors.
Don’t Expect a Good Deal Any Time Soon
It was difficult to find a substantive iPhone 12 deal until soon before the 13 was announced, so it’s safe to say that it’ll be a while if you’re holding out for a major discount. For now, your best options are trade-in deals offered by wireless providers like T-Mobile and AT&T. The rules and requirements vary from deal to deal, but many require activating a new line or signing a long contract.
Perhaps You Should Buy a Laptop or a 4K TV
The iPhone 13 features OLED Super Retina HDR display, a 2,00,000:1 contrast ratio, TrueTone color balance and up to 1,200 nits peak brightness. That is all very exciting, but you know what also has an impossibly high contrast ratio? Any OLED TV. Sure, the A15 Bionic chip has five processing cores — but if you need that much power, why wouldn’t you use that money to invest in a decent computer capable of holding eight cores?
There are plenty of reasons to want or need these premium features in a smartphone, but it’s worth asking yourself if you’re purchasing the right tech for the right reasons.
Apple Doesn’t Seem Confident in the iPhone 13
Ahead of the iPhone 13’s release, Macworld’s Jason Snell spotted a curious omission during Apple’s unveiling of the brand new A15 Bionic processor.
Apple has typically been eager to demonstrate how and why its new chip surpasses the processing power of the previous version, but the company opted for vague figures instead of making any direct comparison. All that we know is that the A15 Bionic offers 50% better graphics and CPU performance “than the competition.” As a company that strives to be its own competition, why would Apple break from character during one of the biggest announcements of the year?
While this doesn’t necessarily mean that the A15 Bionic processor is weak, Apple’s lack of confidence makes it harder to justify spending $700 or more on brand new technology.
New iPhones Aren’t Going Anywhere
This probably won’t matter to anyone who associates autumn with standing in line at the Apple Store, but for the uninitiated — if you’re having trouble getting pumped over the latest iPhone, wait a year! As long as people keep buying them in record numbers, Apple will keep churning out brand new iPhones year after year. Don’t like the colors? Wish that the cameras were arranged differently? Afraid of the number 13? Just wait a year!
If you’re willing to wait until we start seeing more iPhone 13 deals, this is a perfect time to set a Deal Alert. As soon as the next iPhone deal pops up on Slickdeals, we’ll let you know.
Our editors strive to ensure that the information in this article is accurate as of the date published, but please keep in mind that offers can change. We encourage you to verify all terms and conditions of any product before you apply.