Apple iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: what’s the difference?

Apple hasn’t departed from its retro-futuristic design language with the iPhone 13. Just as the iPhone 12 shipped with a flat-panel chassis (aping Apple devices of a decade ago), so the iPhone 13 continues the same trend: streamlined aluminium around the edge, hardy glass on the back. Sure, it’s familiar, but it’s also slick and sufficiently distinctive.

There’s still a sturdy Ceramic Shield up front, protecting a 6.1in display – the same diagonal as the iPhone 12 (more on that below). And the iPhone 13 also occupies the same space in your palm as its predecessor, measuring an identical 146.7mm tall by 71.5mm wide. From a distance, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re the same smartphone.

But the iPhone 13 does ship with a few subtle styling tweaks versus the iPhone 12. Probably the most noticeable change for long-term users of last year’s model is the cutout at the top of the display. No, it’s not gone – but it is 20% slimmer than before, and only marginally taller. That width reduction makes the notch look noticeably neater than it does on the iPhone 12. Whether it means anything for usability remains to be seen; we’d love to see the extra space utilised for additional icons in the status bar, but this isn’t something Apple has addressed as yet.

The other design updates require a keen eye to notice. The Apple iPhone 13 is actually slightly thicker than the iPhone 12, with a depth of 7.65mm – an increase of 0.15mm. This is probably slim enough to go unnoticed in everyday use, but thick enough to mean your current iPhone 12 case might not fit if you choose to upgrade. The iPhone 13 is also 11g heavier at 173g. Only with hands-on time will we know how noticeable these changes are.

Finally, the camera array on the rear has been rearranged, so that the iPhone 13’s two lenses now align diagonally, rather than sitting in vertical stack like they did on the iPhone 12. It’s a minor change, which presumably has more to do with tech than aesthetics – although it does have the happy effect of making the back of the phone look a little less left-side heavy.

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