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iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13: Is 14 luckier than 13?

You know summer has ended when Apple unveils its latest series of iPhones. This year, it’s the iPhone 14‘s turn to take center stage, offering a number of improvements to its predecessor from last year, the iPhone 13. This includes a pair of upgraded rear camera lenses and a new Emergency SOS Over Satellite feature. However, with a very similar design and the same internal processor, does it really warrant an upgrade if you already own last year’s model? We find out in this comparison test pitting the new iPhone 14 against the veteran iPhone 13.

Specs

iPhone 13 iPhone 14
Size 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.7mm (5.78 x 2.81 x 0.30 inches) 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.8mm (5.78 x 2.81 x 0.31 inches)
Weight 174 grams (6.14 ounces) 172 grams (6.07 ounces)
Screen size 6.1-inch Super Retina OLED 6.1-inch Super Retina OLED
Screen resolution 2532 x 1170 pixels (460 pixels per inch) 2532 x 1170 pixels (460 pixels per inch)
Operating system iOS 15 (upgradeable to iOS 16) iOS 16
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Tap-to-pay services Apple Pay Apple Pay
Processor Apple A15 Bionic Apple A15 Bionic
RAM 4GB 4GB
Camera Dual-lens 12-megapixel wide and 12MP ultrawide rear, 12MP TrueDepth front Dual-lens 12MP wide and 12MP ultrawide rear, 12MP TrueDepth front
Video 4K at up to 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240 fps 4K at up to 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.3
Ports Lightning connector Lightning connector
Fingerprint sensor No, FaceID instead No, FaceID instead
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 3,240mAh

Fast charging (20W charger sold separately)

MagSafe wireless charging (15W)

Qi wireless charging (7.5W)

TBC

Fast charging (20W charger sold separately)

MagSafe wireless charging (15W)

Qi wireless charging (7.5W)

App marketplace Apple App Store Apple App Store
Network support All major carriers All major carriers
Colors Black, blue, green, white, and red Midnight, Purple, Starlight, blue, red
Prices $699+ $799+
Review score 4.5 out of 5 stars News

Design, display, and durability

iPhone 13 held in hand.
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

If you’ve seen the iPhone 13 before, then you already know exactly what the iPhone 14 looks like. Apple has made no real design changes this time out, with the iPhone 14 sporting the same squared sides of its predecessor and the same camera module with the two rear lenses arrayed diagonally. It still looks sharp, but it’s obviously not going to win any innovation awards.

Exactly the same goes for the newer phone’s display. At 6.1 inches and featuring a Super Retina XDR OLED, it even contains the same number of pixels as the iPhone 13: 2532 x 1170. Users will therefore enjoy the same crisp and clear visuals regardless of their choice, although neither boasts a 120Hz refresh rate (like the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro).

Rounding off their equality, both devices are just as durable as each other. They each feature Ceramic Shield glass, as well as an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. No prizes for guessing that this round is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Performance, battery life, and charging

iPhone 13 bottom.
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Again, you’re going to find it difficult to separate the iPhone 14 and iPhone 13 in the performance stakes. Both house Apple’s A15 Bionic processor, and both run on 4GB of RAM. The A15 is still a very speedy chip, so both will perform very well for 99% of tasks, but don’t expect the iPhone 14 to do anything the older device can’t.

They also come with the same amount of internal memory as standard: 128GB. This can be bumped up to either 256GB or 512GB with both phones for a little extra outlay. Neither offers a slot for microSD cards, so don’t go too crazy with the photos and downloads.

Turning to the battery, Apple is claiming the iPhone 14 can manage 20 hours of video playback. It isn’t, however, sharing the exact size of the new phone’s battery, so we can’t directly compare it with the iPhone 13 until we complete a full review. Similarly, Apple has said that the iPhone 14 can recharge to 50% in only 30 minutes, but this is something we’ll have to see for ourselves first.

Winner: Tie

Cameras

iPhone 13 cameras.
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

It’s here where things become semi-interesting. The iPhone 14 has the same basic dual-lens rear camera setup, but Apple has updated the lenses themselves in subtle ways. Its 12-megapixel main (wide) lens features a larger sensor and slightly more pixels, along with an f/1.5 aperture (as opposed to the f/1.6 aperture on the iPhone 13). It’s rounded off by a 12MP wide-angle camera (identical to the iPhone 13’s) and a new 12MP front camera with autofocus and low-light photography improvements.

At this early stage, it isn’t possible to say that these minor upgrades offer a significant improvement in photograph quality. That said, Apple is promising “2.5x better” low‑light photos using the main wide lens and “2x better” low-light pics on the ultrawide. Still, without getting our hands on the new devices, we can’t corroborate this just yet.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

Man holds an iPhone 13 Pro with the iOS 16 logo on screen.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The iPhone 14 runs on iOS 16 right out of the box, while the iPhone 13 will be updated to this new operating system very soon. This makes them equal in the software department, with iOS 16 providing a number of helpful new features, such as customizable lock screens and an un-send/edit feature for iMessages.

In terms of updates, the iPhone 14 will be supported for one more year than the iPhone 13. However, because Apple tends to support its mobiles with core software updates for around six years, this difference isn’t going to hurt many people in practice.

Winner: Tie

Special features

iPhone 13 viewfinder close up.
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

In the past, you may have struggled to find a difference in special features between an iPhone and its immediate successor. This is not quite the case this time around, despite the iPhone 14 and iPhone 13 being nigh-on indistinguishable in many other respects. The iPhone 14 comes equipped with a brand new Emergency SOS Over Satellite feature so that it can send emergency messages even without a phone signal (it uses satellites instead). On top of this, it also has a Crash Detection feature that works by detecting sudden rises in G-force (and sounds associated with car accidents).

Such features could potentially be life-saving for a fair number of people, so even though the iPhone 14 has no other new special features, these two additions give it the win.

Winner: iPhone 14

Price and availability

The Apple iPhone 14 will be available to pre-order directly from Apple start on September 9. It starts at $799, with the 256GB and 512GB models costing $899 and $1099, respectively. It will be supported by all major networks and sold widely online.

The iPhone 13 can still be bought from Apple, with its starting price being bumped down to $699. It’s also supported by all networks and still sold widely.

Overall winner: Apple iPhone 14

Yes, there is really very little in it, but the iPhone 14 gets the win. Its two new emergency features may make a real difference to the lives of at least some people, while there remains a possibility — which we still have to test for — that its cameras and battery will be better than the iPhone 13‘s. Of course, the designs, displays, software, and performance of both phones are more or less identical, so if you already own an iPhone 13, there really isn’t any need to upgrade.

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