The iPhone 13 event was a case study in Tim Cook-era product refinement


For the previous ten years, Tim Cook’s biggest accomplishment as Apple CEO has been vastly extra of the identical. More iPhones, extra iPhone equipment, extra apps, and a lot extra money. While the Mac and iPad have often fallen into disrepair, the corporate retains coming again with new causes to purchase its biggest hits yearly — and this yr’s iPhone 13 event is a near-perfect case study in how far refinement can take you.

As my colleague Jon Porter factors out, the iPhone 13 is successfully the iPhone 12S, an iterative, incremental replace to final yr’s telephones as a substitute of one thing that feels model new.

But oh, what an replace. What firm wouldn’t dream of having the ability to say they improved the processing energy AND the battery life AND the cameras AND the shows AND the storage capability AND the connectivity AND the design in the course of a single yr, all with out altering the worth one bit?

In 2021, the identical $829 you’d pay final yr now buys you twice the storage, a whopping 2.5 further hours of quoted battery life, extra 5G bands, and a further 175 nits of brightness over the iPhone 12, plus the 47 % bigger sensor and sensor-shift stabilization system that was beforehand solely accessible in the $1,099-and-up iPhone 12 Pro Max. A brand new cinematic video mode isn’t unique to the Pros, both (although clean 120Hz screens, a new macro images mode and ProRes video can be.) And whereas the corporate doesn’t provide any actual numbers to again it up, Apple claims even the iPhone 13 Mini will provide you with the quickest processor accessible in any smartphone in the marketplace.


The iPhone 12 and 12 Mini bento field of upgrades. Notch at decrease left.

Also, you possibly can’t say the design didn’t change in any respect. While the notch nonetheless exists, it’s smaller! (I just like the iPhone 13 Pro’s blue an terrible lot, too.) The solely tradeoff I can discover this yr — forward of our evaluations, that’s — is that the iPhone 13 lineup is oh-so-slightly thicker and heavier. You can discover our comparability charts right here.

This yr’s iteration is so compelling that I’m vaguely tempted to improve my completely good iPhone 12 Mini to get that higher digital camera with sensor-shift and a further hour or so of battery life. (I most likely gained’t, for the reason that announcement means the resale worth of my current telephone has probably already tanked, however I do fear Apple would possibly nonetheless lower off the Mini subsequent yr as a result of reportedly lackluster gross sales.) If I had an iPhone 11 or earlier, it’d be a no brainer — I’d undoubtedly be preordering one on Friday.

And whereas it would really feel legal that the brand new $329 10.2-inch iPad nonetheless makes use of a Lightning connector and first-gen Apple Pencil, Apple’s nonetheless issuing a first rate improve there with out asking for extra money — doubling the bottom storage from 32GB to 64GB, shifting from the A10 Fusion chip to A13 Bionic, and hopefully lastly placing a first rate front-facing digital camera (12MP, vs. simply 1.2MP!) onto its entry-level pill pc.


The new iPad Mini.

The story’s a little bit totally different with the Sixth-gen iPad Mini, thoughts, because it begins $100 larger than earlier than at $499. But the improve incentives are nonetheless sturdy: it’s a crystal-clear replace over its predecessor with a bigger and better decision 8.3-inch display screen regardless of its barely smaller and lighter body, with a magnetic connector to dock a 2nd-gen Apple Pencil. It’s received the A15 Bionic chip from the brand new iPhone 13, however with the additional graphics core you’ll solely in any other case fined on the iPhone 13 Pro. The digital camera’s larger and quicker at 12MP and f/1.8 (in comparison with 8MP and f/2.4), with 4K video for the primary time, and each the Wi-Fi 6 and 5G assist that the 2019 mannequin lacked. Just don’t go on the lookout for a headphone jack.

Apple is managing all of this throughout a pandemic and a international chip scarcity, and up to now there’s solely been a single indication that Tim Cook’s big manufacturing machine can’t sustain: The new Apple Watch Series 7 was rumored to be delayed as a result of manufacturing points, and whereas it reportedly overcame them, we don’t have any launch date for the brand new watch save “later this fall” and Apple’s being cagey concerning the particulars.


The Apple Watch Series 7.

A leaked spec sheet for the watch suggests it was speculated to ship in September alongside the brand new telephones, however the superb print says even its specs are “subject to change without notice,” and Apple didn’t reply to a request for remark concerning the doc.

The watch is why I say this yr’s event is a almost good case study: it’s not as clear why somebody would purchase the Series 7 over a discounted Series 6, regardless of the bigger and reportedly extra sturdy display screen. With the identical battery life and no motive to consider there’s extra processing energy or performance, plus a late begin, it could be the one inadequate iteration this yr.