iPhone 13 in 2024: Should You Purchase?

Key Takeaways

  • The iPhone 13 is a good budget option in 2024 due to its iconic design, powerful processor, great cameras, and all-day battery life.
  • The iPhone 13 only costs $599 for the 128GB variant.
  • If you’re open to getting a refurbished model, you can also consider the iPhone 13 Pro, but you’d have to increase your budget.

Apple’s iPhones are among the best smartphones money can buy but the latest models aren’t cheap. Fortunately, the iPhone 13 makes makes an excellent budget option since it provides a great balance between performance and price. Here’s how the iPhone 13 stacks up in 2024.

The iPhone 13’s Design Doesn’t Feel Outdated in 2024

iPhone 13's front and back panel.

Take a look at how the iPhone 13 looks and feels compared to other smartphones in the segment. Even though the handset came out in 2021, it looks and feels very similar to its successor, the iPhone 14 from 2022, barring the absence of the physical SIM tray on the latter.

The iPhone 13 ships with a 6.1-inch OLED screen, or what Apple calls a Super Retina XDR display. The screen’s brightness maxes out at 1,200 nits while viewing HDR content and you get a pixel density of 460 pixels per inch, which is on par with what you get on the latest iPhone 15.

The Face ID and other sensors reside in a larger notch than what you would see on the latest model, but it’s still smaller than what you’ll see on the iPhone 12 or older models. Moreover, the symmetrical bezels and aluminum framing exude a premium, iconic feel that Apple still uses today.

iPhone 13 in six different colors.

So what compromises do you need to make to save a couple of hundred dollars? Turns out, Apple bumped up the peak brightness for HDR content to 1,600 nits on the iPhone 15. Further, the phone comes with the new pill-shaped Dynamic Island notch that debuted on the iPhone 14 Pro series. Checkout how iPhone 15 compares to iPhone 13 in our detailed guide here.

Are these downgrades worth saving $200? Personally, I wouldn’t think twice about it especially when upgrading from the iPhone X or older. Additionally, you get to choose from six different colors.

Plenty of Processing Power With 5G Connectivity

A banner celebrating Apple's A15 processor.

Moving on to the second most important question: does the iPhone 13 have enough horsepower to handle the multitasking demands of 2024?

The smartphone ships with a six-core A15 Bionic, one of the most powerful mobile processors in the market. Per Nanoreviews SoC ratings, the A15 Bionic stands in 10th place. Keep in mind that we’re talking about a chip that came out more than two years ago.

The processor can handle almost everything you throw at it. Whether it’s multitasking, gaming (with decent 3D performance), 4K video editing, regular browsing, going through emails, and making phone calls. The iPhone 13 can still take it all.

Creative image of the iPhone 13 playing a video game on screen.

So whether you’re a power user, like me, or you simply want to rest assured that you’re getting your money’s worth, Apple’s 2021 flagship puts forward a strong case.

The cherry on the top is the 5G connectivity, as the phone is compatible with sub-6GHz and mmWave networks for the best connectivity. Find out more about which iPhones have 5G.

Great Cameras Compared to the Competition

Screengrab of an iPhone with the Cinematic Mode editing options on screen.

Cameras are yet another aspect of the iPhone 13 that doesn’t disappoint. It doesn’t have a 48MP primary shooter like the iPhone 15, nor a telephoto lens like the Pro models. However, compared to its competition, the dual 12MP cameras on the handset hold up pretty well.

Take regular pictures with the wide lens at 1x, which is suitable for most users. Then there’s the 0.5x ultrawide lens that captures a wider field of view. Keeping the fancy tricks of the newer models aside, the iPhone 13’s cameras take great pictures and videos.

Whether it’s a bright sunny day in the park or an indoor party, the handset shoots great images with excellent dynamic range and natural colors. If you like contrasty or more punchy colors, you can experiment with different Photographic Styles. You also get Portrait Modes that add different lighting styles when taking pictures with a shallow depth of field bokeh effect.

The Night Mode takes care of low-light scenarios, while the Cinematic Mode provides smooth autofocus and an aesthetic bokeh effect in videos. You can record stable 4K videos in up to 60 frames per second. In terms of audio recording, a DXOMark review suggests that the phone “outshines its predecessors by providing clear, precise, and rich midrange,” along with powerful bass.

Power Through With iPhone 13’s All-Day Battery Life

Thanks to the 5nm architecture, the A15 Bionic chipset delivers flagship-grade performance and remains battery-efficient at the same time. Apple states that the iPhone 13 provides up to “19 hours of video playback” on a single charge.

For users, however, that should mean a complete day of typical usage. That includes browsing the internet, listening to songs, shooting a couple of photos and videos, using social media apps, and streaming your favorite web series or movie.

You can enable Low Power Mode which will extend battery life considerably at the expense of turning off certain features like 5G, higher brightness levels, and more.

Charging an iPhone on the wireless charging pad on top of the UGreen 100W 2-in-1 GaN Charger.
Joe Robinson / How-To Geek

You can charge the iPhone 13 to 50% in 30 minutes with a 20W power adapter, which is sold separately. Further, for charging the device on the go, you get MagSafe wireless charging up to 15W and Qi wireless charging up to 7.5W.

With iOS 17.2, Apple also added support for Qi2 wireless charging. Now, you can get up to 15W wireless charging speeds using Qi2-certified products. This is a major plus point, especially since Apple’s MagSafe power banks or chargers are not the most affordable options on the market.

You Still Get Plenty of Software Updates

The iOS 17 logo over a pair of iPhones.

Generally, iPhones get five to six years of major operating system updates. Given the iPhone 13 came out in 2021, it should still get another three to four years of iOS updates. For a $599 smartphone, that’s pretty rare. Even if you get the iPhone 13 in 2024, you won’t feel obliged to get another phone until at least 2027.

Yes, you might miss out on specific features that require more processing power than the iPhone 13 can handle, like recording Spatial Videos (a feature currently limited to the iPhone 15 Pro). However, you will still get the best of the latest iOS versions and accompanying security updates.

Who Should Upgrade to the iPhone 13?

iPhone 15 in pink color beside the iPhone 13 in pink color
Shikhar Mehrotra / How-To Geek / Apple

All in all, the iPhone 13 is one of the best smartphones on the market under $600, even in 2024. You get a phone with a sharp design, a beautiful screen, a capable processor, excellent cameras, 5G connectivity, and an all-day battery life. This is a winning combination for most users.

I recommend the handset to anyone using an iPhone 8 or the iPhone X. If you’re struggling with poor battery life on the iPhone 11,consider upgrading to the iPhone 13. If you’re an Android user with a three or four-year-old device and want to purchase an iPhone, the iPhone 13 could be a great entry point for you.

Also Consider a Refurbished iPhone 13 Pro

The back panel of an iPhone 13 Pro.
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

The iPhone 13 Pro offers a few advantages over the regular iPhone 13. For instance, the frame is stainless steel with a textured matte glass back. It ships with a slightly more powerful version of the A15 Bionic chipset with five GPU cores and 6GB of RAM instead of 4GB on the regular model.

You also get an additional telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom and a few more hours of battery life. The iPhone 13 Pro comes with a 120Hz ProMotion display for silky smooth motion. However, since Apple discontinued this model in 2022, your only option is to find a refurbished product in good condition.

You can always purchase a used iPhone from someone you know has kept it in good shape and e-commerce platforms often list refurbished iPhones. For example, you can get a pre-owned iPhone 13 Pro (128GB, unlocked) at Best Buy for $679.99. The site also provides multiple color and storage options to select from.

You can contact your nearest Best Buy or Walmart to figure out whether they have the required model on show and walk in to check it yourself. There’s also the official Apple Refurbished store. We’ve covered all the things you need to check when buying a used iPhone in a separate article.

If you’re open to increasing your budget over $600, and you’re fine with a refurbished model, the iPhone 13 Pro is a great option.


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