All three rear cameras have been upgraded. Apple says the wide’s new ƒ/1.5 aperture combined with 1.9μm pixels increases light gathering by 49% over the 12 Pro Max. In low light, this is a big deal. The phone shoots photos more quickly, triggers night mode less often, and gets you sharper snaps with better colour.
The telephoto’s jump from 2.5× to 3× might have S21 Ultra owners making snide remarks. But while the new iPhone cannot compete with Samsung’s 10× optical zoom, the 3× one beats its rival for image sharpness, colour balance and haloing. Equivalent to a 77mm lens, it’s ideal for portraits and ‘cinematic’ shots with depth compression. Just be mindful it takes in less light than the wide and so doesn’t work as well at night.
For us, though, the ultra wide is the real prize. A new autofocus system switches you to macro mode when you get very close to a subject. We’ve seen complaints about a ‘jarring’ shift between the 1× and 0.5× lenses, which can slightly affect framing, but it didn’t bother us and Apple’s planning an off switch anyway. Besides, gripes are countered by how this lens makes the mundane magical. It’s superior to anything like it we’ve seen on other phones.
Elsewhere, this phone retains optical image stabilisation and industry leading video capture, which now adds a ProRes option. For ProRes, you’ll need an iPhone with 256GB or more of storage to shoot 4K rather than 1080p, presumably because otherwise your phone would fill up too quickly. In all, the combination of hardware and software makes for the best camera system on a smartphone.
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max image gallery