Should you buy Apple’s smaller-notch iPhone 13 and 13 mini phones in 2024?

You can buy the iPhone 13 or 13 Mini if you dig Cinematic photos.

Should you buy Apple’s smaller-notch iPhone 13 and 13 mini phones in 2024?
iPhone 13

It's been two years since Apple released the iPhone 13 and 13 mini phones. They caused quite a stir with their sleek smaller notch design, A15 Bionic chipset and powerful features. They brought the A15 Bionic chip, expanded 5G support, and excellent camera hardware from the iPhone 12 Pro Max to smaller phones at lower price points. Still going strong today, both clocking in under ₦800,000 ($600), they might be the perfect choice for your next upgrade.

Now, you might be thinking, "Isn't the 13 just a bigger version of the 13 mini?" Well, that's mostly true. Both phones share tons of awesome features, but there are a few key differences to consider, especially when it comes to size and battery life. In this review, we'll take a look at the key features of both phones to help you decide which iPhone 13 (standard or mini) is the perfect fit for you, especially if you're considering an upgrade from an older iPhone.

Design (iPhone 13 and 13 mini)

For iPhone 12 and 12 mini owners, the design changes in the 13 and 13 mini models might feel more evolutionary than revolutionary. We're talking about a trimmed-down notch, a camera layout shuffle, and a delightful new colour option that adds a touch of excitement.

Apple has managed to shave 20% off the notch housing the front camera. It's a welcome improvement, but it remains noticeably larger compared to the tiny punch-hole cameras on some Android phones. However, the iPhone's notch packs Face ID technology, which is more secure than those under-display cameras. Until Apple finds a way to shrink it further, the notch is a trade-off for superior facial recognition.

The most striking design difference lies in the rear camera arrangement. Apple replaced the vertical stack for diagonally placed lenses. This, however, does make the camera bump a bit bigger and slightly prone to wobbling, and unfortunately, it means your iPhone 12 cases won't fit anymore.

Aside from the camera change, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini retain the familiar design language of their predecessors. We're still looking at anodised aluminium and glass frames with flat edges, protected by Apple's "ceramic shield" on the front that’s supposed to be more rigid in staving off scratches and nicks. Both phones are slightly heavier and thicker than before, but maintain the same display sizes of 6.1 inches and 5.4 inches respectively.

It's worth noting that the iPhone 13 weighs more than the Galaxy S21 despite having a smaller screen. However, the combination of a glass back and polished metal frame does give it a more premium feel.

Overall, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini offer a refined take on the design introduced with the iPhone 12 series. 

iPhone 13 in Blue | ZDNET

Display (iPhone 13 and 13 mini)

The iPhone 13 and 13 mini retain the sharp, vibrant displays of their predecessors, but miss out on the faster refresh rates found in the iPhone 13 Pro models. While Apple claims a 28% increase in brightness, the difference is subtle in everyday use.

If you're upgrading from an iPhone 12, the display experience won't feel drastically different. It's still a fantastic panel for watching videos or enjoying games. However, those who've experienced smoother 90Hz or 120Hz displays on other phones might feel a slight lag during scrolling or fast-paced games.

The key display difference lies in the size options: 5.4 inches for the 13 mini and 6.1 inches for the standard 13. This translates to a larger canvas for displaying content, with more space between app icons and a bigger keyboard on the iPhone 13 and a one-handed champion for the 13 mini considering its compact size. Reaching the top of the screen for the Control Center is effortless, and swiping gestures feel more comfortable with a firm grip.

Beyond size, both phones share the same display technology, offering brighter panels compared to the iPhone 12.

Ultimately, the choice between the 13 and 13 mini comes down to your display size preference. If you prioritise a phone that disappears in your pocket and excels in one-handed use, the 13 Mini might be your perfect match. If a larger display for media consumption is more important, the 13 is the way to go.

13 and 13 mini side-by-side of a brighter display view |Petapixel

Camera (iPhone 13 and 13 mini)

The iPhone 13 and 13 mini comes with a few camera upgrades that photo enthusiasts will like. Thanks to the A15 Bionic chip and improved image signal processor, the iPhone 13 tackles low-light situations with ease.

But low-light prowess isn't all. Apple's clever HDR algorithm ensures balanced exposure across the entire frame, preserving details and keeping colours looking natural. The new ultrawide lens lets in more light for expansive shots, without blowing out highlights. While Google's Pixel phones might still be the king of capturing every shadow, some may prefer the iPhone 13's cooler colour tones, which can create a more natural-looking image.

In both phones, Apple introduces Photographic Styles, a set of pre-made filters that subtly adjust the look and feel of your photos. Choose from "Vibrant" for richer colours or "Cool" for a more muted aesthetic. These styles are like training wheels for editing, letting you find your personal touch without getting bogged down in complex adjustments.

The most exciting addition to the iPhone 13 camera is Cinematic mode. This feature uses the A15 chip's power to create a depth-of-field effect in videos, similar to Portrait mode for photos. Imagine your friend in perfect focus while the background melts into a beautiful blur – that's Cinematic mode in action! You can even tap on the screen to shift the focus during recording, adding a touch of Hollywood magic to your home videos. While undeniably cool, Cinematic Mode is still under development. Sometimes it struggles to keep your chosen subject in focus, especially if they're moving around a lot. Also, it's currently limited to 1080p resolution, so don't expect dazzling 4K cinematic masterpieces just yet. 

Moving on from the rear cameras, the front-facing camera also benefits from Cinematic mode and Photographic Styles, letting you personalise your selfies to perfection. These camera improvements are backed by some serious muscle under the hood. The A15 Bionic chip and improved image signal processor deliver processing power on par with the iPhone 13 Pro models. The main sensor is also bigger and faster than previous iPhones, allowing for more light capture and sharper results.

To be fair, the iPhone 13 doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the Pro models, like a telephoto lens or the super smooth ProMotion display. But for most users, the core camera upgrades deliver a significant leap in photo and video quality.

The iPhone 13 mini (on top) features a diagonal camera set-up, while the 12 mini stacked its cameras vertically | Rhiannon Williams

Split-view images captured on iPhone 13; on the left, a close-up of vibrant red leaves in daylight, and on the right, a twilight cityscape with glowing buildings on the right, showcasing the camera’s dynamic range. | PetaPixel

Performance and Battery Life (iPhone 13 and 13 mini)

Apple doesn't disappoint with the addition of the A15 Bionic chip. This powerful chip ensures smooth multitasking, fast app launches, and buttery-smooth frame rates even in demanding games. The high-resolution Super Retina XDR display complements the gaming experience with its sharp visuals and immersive environment. Storage also gets a welcome bump—the base model now starts at 128GB, offering double the storage of previous base models.

Both iPhone 13 models handle everyday tasks effortlessly, whether you're switching apps, editing photos, or uploading to social media. Benchmarks show similar performance between the mini and the regular iPhone 13, so any slowdowns you experience are likely due to an internet connection rather than the phone itself.

A key difference between the iPhone 13 and most flagship phones is the display refresh rate. While the iPhone 13 displays are beautiful, they lack the high refresh rates that offer smoother scrolling and animations. Users coming from phones with faster screens might notice this difference.

The iPhone 13 speakers are reliable for everyday use. Voices are clear in videos, and you can enjoy background music without a problem. They'll even do in a pinch for streaming music, although the larger iPhone 13 delivers richer and louder sound.

And to keep you powered through your day, the iPhone 13 boasts a battery life that can last close to two days on a charge with competitors like the Pixel 5 and Galaxy S21.

For the battery life, Apple claims the iPhone 13 and 13 mini offer up to 2.5 and 1.5 hours more battery life than their predecessors, respectively. The mini does show improvement, lasting almost a full day on light use. However, its video playback time falls short of the average smartphone. This is a trade-off for the mini's compact size, which many users find ideal for one-handed operation.

iPhone 13 playing Heroes of the Dark | Apple

Software (iPhone 13 and 13 mini)

The iPhone 13 series runs iOS 15, offering a range of new features that enhance the user experience. While some features like Focus modes (customisable notification profiles) are available across iPhone models, others take advantage of the iPhone 13's hardware.

When you open relevant apps like Photos or Tips, the iPhone 13 highlights new features, such as Memories set to music from Apple Music. This helps you discover the full potential of your device.

Apple revamped Safari for easier navigation with one hand. This is a welcome update, especially for users who prefer Safari over other browsers like Chrome (which still has the address bar at the top). You can also switch back to the traditional Safari layout if you prefer.

iOS 15 is optimised for the A15 Bionic chip, ensuring the iPhone 13 runs demanding apps smoothly. Features like Live Text in Photos, which uses the A15 chip's power for on-device image analysis, benefit from this optimisation.

While iOS 15 is the current operating system, the iPhone 13 is future-proof and will be compatible with upcoming software updates like iOS 18.

iPhone 13 features


  • Stunning Display: Both the iPhone 13 and mini boast bright and beautiful displays, perfect for enjoying photos, videos, and games.
  • Camera Powerhouse: The camera system is a major strength, offering excellent photo and video quality, including the impressive Cinematic mode. 
  • Improved Battery Life (Regular iPhone 13): The standard iPhone 13 delivers a significant battery life boost over its predecessor.
  • Solid Performance Across the Board: The A15 Bionic chip ensures smooth performance for all tasks, from everyday use to demanding games.
  • Mini's Increased Storage: The iPhone 13 mini finally ditches the 64GB base storage, offering a welcome jump to 128 GB.
  • Mini's Compact Design: The iPhone 13 mini is a stylish and lightweight option for users who prefer a phone that's comfortable to use in one hand. It doesn't compromise on processing power, making it a powerful phone in a small package.


  • Mini's Battery Life: While improved, the iPhone 13 mini's battery life may not be ideal for heavy users, especially compared to the regular iPhone 13.
  • Missing Telephoto Lens: Both iPhone 13 models lack a telephoto lens, which is a feature found on some competitor phones and allows for zoomed-in photos without losing quality.
  • No High Refresh Rate Display: Unlike some competitor phones, the iPhone 13 display lacks a high refresh rate, which may result in less smooth scrolling and animations for some users.
  • Camera Shutter Lag (Potentially): There have been reports of some camera shutter lag in low-light conditions.
  • Price: Both iPhones are on the pricier side, especially the mini considering its smaller size.

Verdict: Should you buy the iPhone 13 phone in 2024?

Sit this one out, if you’re upgrading from a 12 model. You might not see a huge difference unless the Cinematic mode is calling your name.

Yes, if you’re upgrading from 11 and below. The iPhone 13 is still a solid pick in 2024. It competes well with the likes of Galaxy S22, offering top-notch performance, a strong camera, and impressive battery life. 

Choosing between the iPhone 13 and the mini? It boils down to size and battery. The mini is more portable but has a shorter battery life. If you’re after a compact phone and can get a good deal, the iPhone 12 mini is also worth considering.

So, should you buy the iPhone 13? Just weigh what’s important to you—camera quality, battery longevity, or the convenience of size.

Pricing and Availability in Nigeria

As you would expect, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini differ in price, with the 13 model sitting at the higher end and the iPhone 13 mini at the cheaper end. In Nigeria, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini prices have seen some changes since launch. Currently, the iPhone 13 128GB model is priced between ₦660,000/$441 and ₦760,000/$508, while the iPhone 13 mini 128GB ranges from ₦490,000/$328 to ₦550,000/$368.

Both phones are widely available and you can shop from authorised retailers and Jumia.

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