I need a new iPhone. Is last year’s model good enough? [Ask ZDNet]

For iPhone owners, this is always a tricky question. It’s always a good idea to check your carrier’s incentives, which may end up making the cost of one model much better than you think. If you are considering switching carriers, now is the time to find out what kind of temptations they offer to get you to switch. You may end up with a new phone for a much lower price than you would have paid otherwise.

What model is right for you? We asked iPhone expert at ZDNet, Jason Cipriani, to help explain the differences:

Choosing between iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 can be tricky. Both phones are very similar. They both have two rear cameras, the same basic display technology, support 5G connectivity and run the latest iOS version. However, there are some key differences that are sure to help you make your final decision one way or the other.

Those differences boil down to the new processor, battery life, storage, camera features and – if that’s important to you – color options. The iPhone 13 comes with an Apple A15 processor, while the iPhone 12 has an A14 processor. Those numbers may not mean much, and while in my experience the iPhone 13 does better, it’s not something you should specifically look for unless your budget allows.

The iPhone 13 has a slightly better battery life (19 hours for the iPhone 13 versus 17 hours for the iPhone 12), and base storage has doubled for the non-Pro models to start at 128GB, instead of the iPhone 12’s starting point of 64GB.

The iPhone 13 camera also has a few new camera tricks, including Cinematic Mode, which adds depth to your videos. There is also a difference in the color options, with the 12 colors being brighter and more vibrant while the iPhone 13 colors are darker, but it still looks great.

Finally, the iPhone 12 is a very similar device to the iPhone 13. If you don’t care about color, storage, or a few extra hours of battery and performance drop, I think you’ll be happy with the iPhone 12. However, if any of these factors are important to you, the iPhone 13 is the best investment.

Side note: For those who struggle with a similar decision regarding the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro, you should know that there are some big differences between the two, especially when it comes to display technology.

Specifically, the iPhone 13 Pro line has what Apple calls a ProMotion display, which means the screen refresh rate is up to 120Hz compared to 60Hz on the iPhone 12 Pro. The effect of a faster refresh rate is that scrolling through long documents, in apps and even games, it all feels smoother. Battery life extends from 17 hours on the iPhone 12 Pro to 22 hours on the iPhone 13 Pro, and you gain the ability to take macro photos using the rear cameras.

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