Over the last few weeks, I’ve outlined a variety of my first impressions of the new iPhone 13 Pro. From ProRAW (which didn’t actually debut on the iPhone 13 Pro), to Cinematic Mode, to ProMotion and battery life, I’ve been very impressed with the iPhone 13 Pro so far. I actually use my iPhone again.
There are many other facets to an all-encompassing device, though. And it’s hard to truly review a device like this after only a few weeks. Perhaps this is why Marques Brownlee’s 47-minute review of the iPhone 12 Pro earlier this year resonated with so many people. Brownlee’s comments came after months and years of using the device.
Case in point: I sort of praised the iPhone 12 mini last year. At the time, I was smitten with a small iPhone I could take everywhere, use with one hand in an instant, and not notice it in my pocket.
Then I truly discovered the 12 mini’s horrid battery life and I completely shut off from the phone. I barely used it, opting to simply carry it with me instead. It brought unnecessary anxiety to my life. And it cut into my productivity.
For these reasons, I’ll provide much shorter thoughts on the iPhone 13 Pro at this point. I’m not ready to review the device yet. Give me a few months to see how it settles in.
Here are a few more first impressions from my first month with the latest Pro iPhone from Apple.
I wrote this about macro photography over on The Sweet Setup:
First, you need good light. Macro Mode operates in the ultra-wide camera, which has the technically inferior camera when compared to the wide and telephoto cameras. You need reasonably good light or the iPhone simply won’t lock focus. I’ve had a few instances where the iPhone locks focus, I’ve pushed it further, and the iPhone switches back to the wide camera. This only seems to happen in low light.
Second, you need a steady hand. I must have a slight, slight tremor in my hand, as very few of my handheld macro shots come out sharp and pristine. In low light, you’ll need a tripod and a steady finger to ensure tapping the shutter button doesn’t jar the iPhone.
Third, though Macro Mode photos can be shot in ProRAW, I’ve found the ProRAWs to be a little flimsier when editing. I chalk this up to the poorer ultra-wide camera (among other elements). Details aren’t maintained as well in shadows and highlights as they are with the wide camera. The subject matter of course differs, but it’s indeed more difficult to edit a macro ProRAW.
All three hiccups are outweighed by the fourth camera in your pocket. Where we had an ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto before, we now have a fourth macro camera for capturing entirely new elements of our world.
That’s a long quote, so you should just head over to read the entire piece on The Sweet Setup. My impressions a few weeks after writing these words holds true: For the new macro mode to really take off on the iPhone 13 Pro, you need good light, a steady hand, and just a tad more patience when editing the ProRAW photo.
Keeping this all in mind though, having a fourth camera in your bag trumps every other nitpick I could come up with.
Simply put, the iPhone 13 Pro now ships with four cameras: an ultra-wide, a wide, a tele, and a macro camera. This opens up a new world of iPhoneography. There’s no quality level that really matters here — the very fact you can trumps all nitpicks.
I’m excited to put the macro mode to the test next summer — this photography style screams for mother nature’s help, which is already barren and dead for the winter in these parts.
Until next year.
Size and Weight
I pre-ordered the iPhone 13 Pro Max, convinced I could make the spectrum-scaling move from 12 mini to 13 Pro Max in a year. After a month with the iPhone 13 Pro, I’m glad I didn’t try to go cold turkey.
The 13 Pro is a truly magical middle ground between the diminutive iPhone mini and the monstrous Pro Max iPhone. It provides enough screen real estate to edit photos in Lightroom or Photos, enough width to comfortably thumb-type lengthier messages or emails, and enough height to comfortably read a 7,000 word article.
What surprises me, even now, is the difference in weight between the 12 Pro and the 13 Pro. My wife’s 12 Pro feels like a toy compared to the 13 Pro. The 13 Pro is indeed thicker, but it feels so much more dense as well.
And the 12 Pro made the 12 mini feel like a lightweight toy.
There has been a bigger psychological jump for me between the 12 mini and the 13 Pro in terms of weight than in terms of overall body size.
Here’s an interesting anecdote:
In the fall, winter, and spring months, you’ll catch me wearing a sport jacket more often than not. Sport jackets are the best piece of clothing in the world. They provide a professional, classy, polished look with extra utility.
Namely, they provide pockets.
Sport jackets come with a variety of pockets — a front-facing breast pocket for a pocket square, two side pockets (best when they are patch pockets), and likely two or more interior breast pockets. Bulky items, like a thick wallet, are best placed as low as possible on an interior pocket, if one is available. I’ve always carried my iPhone on an interior breast pocket — the length of the iPhone nicely blends in with the length of the sport jacket, and you can barely notice an iPhone in the pocket.
I’ve stopped carrying my iPhone in a breast pocket. It’s simply too heavy. It pulls down on my left shoulder.
It’s just there, all day long. Pulling down.
By the end of the day, I’ll have a slight headache.
I carry my iPhone in my back pants pocket now. This is much, much less convenient.
I’ve read numerous folks talk about the stainless steel band on the Pro model iPhones and complain about the fingerprint situation. Indeed, these stainless steel bands are fingerprint magnets.
But coming from a year of the 12 mini (with a glass back and aluminum band), the fingerprint situation on the stainless steel Pro iPhone band is substantially better than the fingerprint situation on the glass-backed regular iPhone.
I’ll happily take a stainless steel band over a glass back.
Also, the latest Dark Cherry Apple Leather Case is probably the best colour Apple has ever released. I don’t have that many fingerprints on my iPhone.
Typing and Productivity
I spoke about battery life in a prior blog post, which may well be the sole factor for my increased use of the iPhone. Without worry about a battery dying by the end of the day, I find it much easier to let go and use the iPhone as I need it.
I can also properly type on this larger iPhone.
Messages, emails, chats, short blog posts, tweets, and even Google searches — all of the above have noticeably improved in effectiveness. I find it nice to hop out of my seat during the day, stroll around the office with my iPhone in hand, and manage my calendar or hammer out quick emails all from iPhone. I’ve never done this before.
If there’s an underlying theme to all my first impressions, it’s how withdrawn my iPhone usage became over the last 12 months. I had an iPhone I couldn’t use physically or mentally. Physically — smaller touch targets, specifically with the keyboard, led to poorer accuracy and effectiveness of the on-screen keyboard, which led me to wait until I was in front of my Mac or an iPad to complete the task at hand. And mentally — reduced battery life meant I was constantly cognizant of how much power I had left before the end of the day. I simply opted to not use the iPhone.
This also spread into the camera. I was one of those guys who thought I could jettison the telephoto camera and be OK with the poorer camera system. Fast forward only a few months and I realized I had no optical zoom beyond 1x. When given the choice, I grabbed my wife’s iPhone 12 Pro to shoot all photos, even if my 12 mini was ready to go in my pocket.
The iPhone 13 Pro has rectified all of these situations. I no longer worry about battery life. I can type on this iPhone. I can shoot photos effortlessly with this iPhone. I can edit photos on this iPhone. I can tweet on this iPhone. I can write short blog posts on this iPhone.
Yeah, I could do all these things on the 12 mini. But I didn’t.
Now I do. And that’s all the difference.