I've always wanted to mimic Andrew Kim's photo of the iPhone 5S from here. Still haven't nailed it.

I’m sort of enjoying this whole “break the review into many blog posts” thing. Instead of this giant post for everyone to need to make time for, things are broken into bite-size chunks which only take a minute or so to read. They’re also much, much easier to write.

Today: ProMotion and battery life on the iPhone 13 Pro. You’ll have read a great deal about these two features already, namely:

  • ProMotion is Apple’s name for a variable refresh rate for the iPhone 13 Pro’s screen. This enables the iPhone to slow down the display’s refresh rate when pixels aren’t moving around and speeds up the refresh rate when pixels are spinning around quickly. This makes for ultra-smooth animations when scrolling text and imagery and for moving back and forth between home screen pages. It also enables the iPhone to sip power when the display doesn’t need to refresh at the highest rates. Which leads me into…
  • Battery life is off the charts with the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max. A combination of a more efficient A15 Bionic chip, ProMotion, and a thicker chassis with a bigger battery have enabled the iPhone 13 Pro to reach new battery heights. Apple touts up to 20 hours of streamed video playback. (Video playback is a terrible bar for measuring battery life.)

Again, you knew this stuff already. I have but two small anecdotes to add to the giant conversation around ProMotion and battery life.

First, ProMotion is the iPhone 13 Pro’s first impression. And they say the first impression is the most important impression to make. (I don’t know if they actually say that. But I’m saying it.)

In my case, that first impression has lived strong and continues to impress. To the point that I feel ProMotion is being underserved in general conversation across the internet. Where I didn’t know my iPad’s ProMotion option was turned on, I immediately wondered if something was wrong with my iPhone 12 mini. Now, I knew the 13 Pro came with ProMotion, but I didn’t expect the difference to be so jarring.

I spent a good 30 seconds just flipping back and forth between home screens, admiring the fluidity of the ProMotion transition. Tapping an icon for the UI view to expand up and out of the app icon is noticeably beautiful. Sliding messages or emails in and out is slick and efficient. That entire app pile-in each time you unlock your iPhone has never looked so fancy.

Give me half an iPhone of a pre-ProMotion display and a current ProMotion display and I’d be able to tell them apart in under a second. The difference is incredible and I will never, ever be able to go back.

Second, I think I have battery anxiety. I don’t think — I know. I don’t know how to overcome it other than to push an iPhone to empty while at home with no plans whatsoever to leave the house.

I received my iPhone 13 Pro on a Wednesday. On Thursday, my wife and I ran into the city to run some errands. This is a 1.5-hour drive, through long stretches of little to no cellular coverage. In the city, most places sport 5G-connectivity. I generally don’t need Maps navigation, but I do need to Google search a few places while venturing around. Lastly, I constantly check my iPhone to stay on top of email, messages, and the stock market.

My iPhone 13 Pro came off the charger around 6:30AM and didn’t return until 11:00PM that night. I had 40% battery left over. In this case, I wanted to push the battery even further, so I spent the majority of the evening reading articles on the iPhone.

Undoubtedly, this would have killed the iPhone 12 mini — I’ve had trips to Winnipeg where the mini is down to 60% midway through the trip without having even been touched.

This is the extent of the battery testing I’ve done. It’s anecdotal, but it’s the only way I can get over that back-of-my-head fear of running out of battery life. (If you want to know why I’m so afraid of running out of battery, let’s have a beer sometime.) Pushing the iPhone through the most strenuous day I can to see what I have in the end is my key to dealing with battery anxiety.

The iPhone 13 Pro’s battery life is insanely better than my former iPhone 12 mini. It’s not as good as the 13 Pro Max, but it’s good enough to get over my anxiety. It’s exactly whaat I need.

I am finding it surprisingly difficult to keep the dust away from the camera lenses. The cameras are so large that getting a cloth between them is tricky.

As I progress through this “review”, I am doing my best to highlight features that matter to me, features that have an impact on my everyday life, and features that make my family go “Oooo” and “Ahhh”.

ProMotion is one of those “Ooooo” and “Ahhh” features.

Battery life is a “fewf” feature. A “sigh of relief” feature. A feature that puts my nerves to rest and let’s me live my day.

I put myself under stupid stress carrying around that 12 mini for an entire year. Stupid stress.

Don’t do that to yourself.