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iPhone 13 Upgrade Advice Based on the Age of Your Current iPhone

No one doubts that Apple’s latest iPhone models are the most capable iPhones ever made. But how much better are they than your current iPhone? That’s the question that our friend Jason Snell at Six Colors set out to answer for the iPhone 13 lineup. He has published a guide that outlines what new features you can expect to find in an iPhone 13 or an iPhone 13 Pro, based on whether you own an iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, or second-generation iPhone SE. Obviously, the older the iPhone, the more significant the differences, but the article is a huge help in identifying exactly what aspects of your iPhone experience will be most improved.

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Comments About iPhone 13 Upgrade Advice Based on the Age of Your Current iPhone

Notable Replies

  1. It would have been nice if he had also included comparisons with the 7 Plus and 8 Plus models, which are larger and more capable than their non-Plus equivalents. For example, how do the sizes of the different iPhone 13 models compare to the size of the 7 Plus? The Mini is obviously much smaller, but what about the other ones?

    I can find this kind of info elsewhere, but given how otherwise comprehensive this article is, it’s disappointing that this was overlooked.

  2. From the article with emphasis added by me:

    Here’s an attempt to provide a little more of a big-picture overview for owners of older iPhones who are wondering what’s new in the iPhone 13. I’ve simplified matter a little—if you own a “plus” or “max” model of iPhone, obviously your phone will be a little larger, and you may want to consider the direct upgrade to the iPhone 13 Pro Max to continue with your large phone.

  3. Fair enough, I missed that. Given that there are only two models that this issue affects, it wouldn’t have made the article any longer to just state that in the relevant sections instead of pre-apologizing for leaving it out.

    Not that it matters much at this point. If you’re still using an iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, or 8 Plus, odds are good that you don’t want to switch from TouchID to FaceID, and the SE doesn’t suit your needs. That’s where I am right now. I had been hoping that this would be the year that the underscreen fingerprint reader would show up, but since it didn’t, now it’s being rumored for the iPhone 14. Fingers are crossed.

    I just put a new battery in my 7 Plus, and the only other compelling reason for me to upgrade right now would be for more storage. The other improvements just don’t appeal to me enough to put up with the loss of TouchID and the hassle of using FaceID in the pandemic era.

  4. Thanks for the info and the link, @jcenters.

    I am the proud owner of a wonderful iPhone XS, and I am loathe to give it up for several reasons. One of the main reasons seems not to be mentioned anywhere – 3D Touch is gone in the newer phones but lives on in my iPhone XS, and I love 3D Touch. The feel, responsiveness and speed of 3D Touch is marvelous, far quicker than Haptic Touch and with a nicer haptic “kick” of confirmation… so I’ll be holding on to my iPhone XS for as long as possible. (I should note that improved cameras don’t do anything for me – if they do for you, it looks like you are in for a treat with the new phones!)

    Does anyone else care about 3D Touch? I’m happy to be talked into Haptic Touch, but so far every time I try it at the SoftBank store or Bic Camera, it seems sluggish.

  5. @Quantumpanda

    I had my doubts about FaceID before switching from a 6 to a 12 mini, but now that I have it I would not want to have anything else.

    FaceID works so much nicer than TouchID. I just have to pick up my phone, look at it and it unlocks. It’s very natural and almost never fails. With my Apple Watch on my wrist it even works when wearing a face mask.

    TouchID I’ve had fail many times, because fingers were wet or dirty for example. When wearing gloves it never works.

    Just my experiences.

    I’m wondering, why do you not want to switch to FaceID?

  6. I can’t speak for @Quantumpanda, but I don’t like the idea that merely looking at the phone is enough to authenticate a transaction.

    If I’m making a payment (Apple Pay, buying an app, etc.), with Touch ID, I have to take an explicit action (touch the sensor) before the transaction will be authenticated. With Face ID, however, I only have to be looking at the phone when the authentication dialog pops up - which means I don’t have the option to change my mind and cancel the transaction.

    I may have to start using a camera cover on my phone to prevent this from happening, but that makes the result far more aggravating than Touch ID ever was, since I’ll need to uncover it whenever I unlock the display (or just forget the whole thing and go back to using a pass-code).

  7. I’m actually glad it’s gone. Having to press so hard on the screen caused the RSI in my forearm to flare up. Plus, it only worked on certain iPhones and didn’t work on the iPad at all. With Haptic Touch, I get the same functions on all of my devices, they’re easier to trigger, and I still get a nice “click” when I activate them.

  8. We’re going through an 18 month or so period now when FaceID failed while wearing a mask (unless you have an Apple Watch for the last 6 months, and the reliability of that was pretty good, but not perfect), when TouchID would have worked perfectly.

    I’d love it if/when Apple has dual authentication techniques, both Touch ID (if not on the display, then on the side button, like with the iPad Air and the new Mini) and FaceID. That would be perfect.

  9. That’s not how FaceID works for payments. For payments, you’re required to double-tap the side button as an extra confirmation. Merely glancing at the phone is not sufficient. That only works for unlocking.

  10. Oh, that sounds painful! Definitely not good. I am glad you have a better way now, @jcenters.

    I also use the entire keyboard as a 3D Touch trackpad to move the cursor and I heard that with Haptic Touch you must use the space bar for that. Not a big problem… not even small drama. But a thing to think about.

    Next time I’m near a iPhone sales counter I’ll try Haptic Touch again and see if there really is a delay compared to 3D Touch, and confirm the trackpad usage,

    Full confession… Maybe I’m just imagining these differences because I do like the size and feel of my iPhone XS and it is working wonderfully and my brain is trying to find a way to not let me upgrade.

  11. Yeah, you have to press and hold the space bar. It’s not too hard to adapt to.

  12. Not the way it works on my 12 mini. I need to double-tap the power button after FaceID authentication. If I don’t do the double-tap, no amount of glancing at the FaceID sensors will make the payment go through.

  13. But it’s still a kludge. Since the space bar is already at the bottom of the screen, it’s hard to use this technique to move the cursor further down.

  14. Note that iOS 15 improves text selection, editing, and navigation with a little magnifier above your finger. Imagine that my finger is on top of the world Wonderland here:

  15. I was also circumspect of FaceID before getting my 12 mini, but as @xdev and @Simon have pointed out, it’s very well thought through. Inadvertent authentication/payment is never a problem, yet intentional authentication (eg unlocking the phone or apps) is seamless and invisible.

    Even with the hassle of needing to manually input my PIN to unlock when at shops with a mask on, I wouldn’t go back to TouchID instead of FaceID. It’s so much better the rest of the time that it’s worth it. And I say this having spent the first half of the pandemic with the convenience of TouchID when wearing a mask.

  16. I’d like both actually. FaceID is great except for when it doesn’t work (masked or in bed) and then TouchID in the power button (as on the iPad) would be the perfect fallback.

    [And just before I hear watch again, no, I’m not buying watch just to get around FaceID limitations. I don’t like their watch and I’m sure not going to reward the lack of TouchID fallback on the phone by gifting them $$$ for a watch that I don’t like. Obviously, YMMV, but that’s my personal bottom line.]

  17. What is the deal with “in bed”? Is it low light or does it hate my messy hair?

    (first time with Face ID)


  18. Interesting question. In the past, Face ID has had no trouble working in the dark because it uses infrared. However, I tried to use my new iPhone 13 Pro last night under the covers in bed (so as not to wake up Tonya) and it failed repeatedly. My iPhone 11 Pro, which I haven’t sent back to Apple yet, worked fine. In the morning, I tried to repeat the scenario, but the iPhone 13 Pro worked fine. My best guess is that I was too close before—when I’m not wearing glasses, I hold the iPhone too close to my face for Face ID to work.

    But I do feel like there’s a possibility that something is slightly different with the iPhone 13 Pro. We’ll see over time…

  19. I think you’ve got the answer - distance with and without glasses. I wear contacts. It’s been ok with me with/without readers but I’m basically on top of it without my contacts. I’ll have to try it tonight when I remove them again.


  20. I have a question: for those with an iPhone 12Pro or the newer 13Pro, is the LiDAR “only” for night imaging or are there apps that allow use, for say, modeling, room dimensions, 3D building and other “interior” object capture? Thanks.

  21. There are apps that work in good lighting, in categories such as the ones you mention.

  22. Definitely the latter:

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