iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12: Which to Buy?

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12

Hey guys, today I will be comparing iPhone 14 with iPhone 13 and iPhone 12. And I will be looking at everything from their prices, design, performance, cameras, battery life and a lot more. So this article might be slightly longer, but don’t worry, it will be filled with useful information, which help make your purchase decision easier.

Price & Availability

All these phones are officially a part of Apple’s current lineup, and you can purchase them right now form Apple’s official website.

All color and storage options of the iPhone 12 and 13 are pretty easily available, whenever you wish to buy them. But since the iPhone 14 came out, it might be a bit difficult to find all of its color and storage variants in stock right now. It’s availability will of course get better as days and weeks pass by.

iPhone 12 is the most affordable of these 3 and it starts at $599 for 64GB of internal storage. iPhone 13 starts at $699 for the 128GB storage variant and the iPhone 14 is priced at $799 for 128GB variant. These are the official prices mentioned on Apple’s website, without any discount offers, at the time of writing this article.

Although the iPhone 12 is is the cheapest of all 3, I Strongly feel that you should not buy it at its full price of $599. You get just 64GB of storage at that price, and if you go with the 128GB variant, to match the storage on the other 2 phones, then the price is just $50 less than the base variant of the iPhone 13. But if you are getting huge discount at iPhone 12 then only you should buy.

iPhone 14 costs the most out of these 3, and if you are price sensitive, then your 2 options will be the iPhone 12 and the 13.

Design & Build

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 Design Difference

With their flat displays, boxy sides, and the aluminium frame, all 3 of these phone have a very similar design language.

We see a couple of differences between the design of the iPhone 12 and 13. Both the phones came with a notch, but the one on the iPhone 13 was visibly narrower than the one on the iPhone 12. And placement of the rear cameras is diagonal on the iPhone 13, to accommodate the bigger sensor, as compared to the vertical stacked position on the iPhone 12.

But when you look at the iPhone 14, it looks exactly similar to the iPhone 13. The only change visually between the iPhone 13 and 14, is the slightly bigger camera lenses on the back of the iPhone 14, and a slightly different flash.

If you like really like compact phones, you have the option to get the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 in their mini sizes. iPhone 12 mini is officially discontinued, but you can still find it at some of the online and off-line stores. iPhone 13 mini is however still a part of Apple’s official lineup and you can get it straight form Apple as well.

Sadly, there is no iPhone 14 mini this time. Apple has however made a Plus size available in the iPhone 14 lineup. If you wanted to get an iPhone with a 6.7-inch display but don’t want to spend as much on a Pro Max model, then you can go with the iPhone 14 Plus.

All 3 get the same Ceramic Shield glass at the front and aluminium frame. They even have the same water resistance rating of IP68.

Overall, design is almost same in all three devices, and even if you go with iPhone 12, you won’t feel like you are getting an outdated phone.

Display, Notch & Face ID

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 Display Comparison

Coming to their displays, all 3 get the 6.1inch OLED display with a resolution of 2532 x 1170 pixels, True Tone, and P3 Wide colour gamut. Apple calls it Super Retina XDR display.

Despite of completion offering higher refresh rate displays from before iPhone 12’s launch, we still get 60Hz refresh rate even on the latest iPhone 14. Yes, these 60Hz displays feel smoother than the 60Hz on any other phone in the market. But I think it is time Apple start bringing the 120Hz display to the non pro iPhones too.

All 3 can reach the same 1200 nits of highest peak brightness while watching HDR content outdoors, but the typical peak brightness on the iPhone 13 and 14 for non HDR content, is 800 nits (which is slightly above the 625 nits of typical brightness on the iPhone 12).

All 3 get a notch, and while it is a bit narrower on the iPhone 13 and 14, it could be just as in the way, while you are watching content as it is on the iPhone 12. You must have heard this a million times by now, but you do get used to it and forget that it’s even there. The only time that it might truly come in the way is while watching videos in full screen mode.

There is a notch on all these phones, because they get Face ID to unlock the phone instead of a fingerprint sensor. While I think an under display or side mounted physical fingerprint sensor would have been a great feature, I still love how fast, accurate and convenient the Face ID is to unlock your iPhone. If you go with he iPhone 13 or 14, it can now even recognize your face when in landscape orientation. On the iPhone 12, you still have to hold the phone vertical in order for it to scan and recognize your face.

Overall quality of these displays is TOP NOTCH. Colours look excellent, viewing angels and contrast are also really good. Basically if you use your phone to consume a lot of content, you will be really happy by going with either 3 of them.

Speakers

If you like to listen to your audio via the built in speakers, then you should know that the speakers on all 3 sound really good. I feel like the ones on the iPhone 13 and 14 are equally and have a similar kind of sound profile. While the one on the iPhone 12 is a less louder in comparison. It still sounds crisp and natural.

Unfortunately none of them come with a headphone jack, so you will either have to buy a lighting to 3.5mm jack adaptor if you want to keep on using your existing pair of earphones. Or switch to bluetooth earphones if you don’t want to blast audio via the built in speakers.

Performance

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 Performance

iPhone 12 gets the A14 Bionic chip with 6 CPU cores and 4 GPU cores, 4GB RAM, 64/128 or 256GB of internal storage, and a 2815mAh battery.

iPhone 13 gets the A15 Bionic chip again with 6 CPU cores and 4 GPU cores, 4GB RAM, 128/256 or 512 GB of internal storage, and a noticeably bigger 3240mAh battery. This A15 Bionic processor is so capable, that none of the Android manufacturers have been able to catch up to it even after one year, so Apple decided to just reuse it with a few modifications on the iPhone 14.

iPhone 14 comes with the A15 Bionic chip, but this one gets 6 CPU cores and 5 GPU cores, 6GB RAM, 128/256 or 512GB of internal storage, and a 3279mAh battery.

iPhone 14 is actually capable of performing more computations than the other 2, but do you really feel this difference in your daily life! Not unless you are using all these phones side by side. Yes, some apps do open faster on the iPhone 14 and 13, than they do on the 12. And iPhone 14 is capable of keeping more apps open in the background, thanks to the 2 extra gigs of RAM over the 12 and 13. But unless you are using these 3 phones side by side and looking for these differences, you won’t actually notice them in your day to day usage.

So you might ask, what is the use of getting the iPhone 14 with the latest processor?

It actually helps you get the same level of sustained performance for a longer time. If you again check the speed of all these phones after lets say 2 or 3 years, the iPhone 14 will still be performing at its peak while the other 2 won’t be able to keep up all that well.

Software & Updates

iPhone 12 shipped with iOS 14, iPhone13 with iOS 15 and the iPhone 14 now ships with iOS 16 out of the box. But as of this date, all of these are running on iOS 16, which is the latest operating system.

No matter if your phone is brand new or if it was launched 1,2,3,4 or even 5 years ago, all of them get the latest update on the same day. Since all of them are running iOS 16, over 90% of the features on all the phones are same. Each of them of course get a few features which are specific to them, or are available because of some new hardware additions. But no matter if you go with the iPhone 12 or 14, you will get the latest lock screen customization, all the new features added to iMessage, widgets not he home screen, Apple library, and so on.

Camera

All of them have a dual camera setup on their back, and form the outside they might look like the same set of cameras, just placed in a slightly different orientation. You might feel that they are more similar since all the cameras that you see on these 3 phones are 12 megapixel sensors. Yes, the even the ultra wide and the front facing ones.

But all 12 megapixel sensor are not created equally. Each individual pixel on the iPhone 12’s main camera has size of 1.4 micron. Individual pixels on the main camera of the iPhone 13 has a size of 1.7 micron. And the ones on iPhone 14 has a size of 1.9 micron. So as you see, the main image sensor has got bigger every year, and while this increase might not seem that big on paper, in terms of the actual size, the sensors have got a significant boost.

The front facing camera on the iPhone 12 and 13 are the same, but the one on the iPhone 14 is now a newer sensor, gets wider aperture and it also gets auto focus. So if you like to take a ton of selfies, iPhone 14 is clearly the one for you.

There is one camera feature on the iPhone 12, which is not present on the iPhone 13 or even the 14. And that’s the ability to turn SmartHDR on and off.

Battery & Charging

iPhone 12 gets the smallest battery, but with normal usage and not playing too many games, you can still squeeze out about 6 hours of screen on time from it.

iPhone 13 gets a 400 milliampere bigger battery than the iPhone 12, and combining that with better efficiency of the A15 chip, you can easily expect to get 7 and half hour of screen on time.

And the iPhone 14 gets an almost similar sized battery and backup out of it as the iPhone 13. Sometimes it does give me 15-30min more out of its battery compared to the iPhone 13, but that depends on the kind of app I use on that particular day.

If you are a gamer, you can easily reduce the screen on time by at least 2 hours on each of them. If you want the longest lasting battery then go with the iPhone 13 or 14.

For charging, all of them still use the lighting connector, and they support somewhat fast charging. All can reach 50% in 30min, if you use a 20 watt charger. They can be juiced up even faster with a 30-watt power delivery charger. All of them also support Qi and MagSafe wireless charging, and have the MagSafe magnets built in.

Conclusion

Which one do you think is the right iPhone for you? If your purchase decision is driven by the price and you just wanted to get the most affordable iPhone out of these 3, then iPhone 12 is your only choice. But keep in mind that its base variant comes with 64GB of internal storage.

If you are willing to spend a little extra, then I think the base variant of the iPhone 13 sits in the sweet spot, where it offers you the most amount of features for the least price. And I personally feel that its worth getting over the iPhone 12. There’s another point to consider here. If you are already using the iPhone 12, then I don’t think you should upgrade this year. You should keep on using it for another year at the very least, as it is still an excellent phone.

Now between the iPhone 13 and 14, I still think you should skip the iPhone 14 and just get the 13. The improvements that iPhone 14 brings over the 13 are just not worth the extra $100. It is basically the same phone.

I won’t go as far and say that no one should by the iPhone 14, after all its your money, and you decide where you want to spend it. But I won’t suggest you to go with the iPhone 14, unless you are a smartphone photographer who takes a ton of images everyday, and could tell a difference between the images from the iPhone 13 and 14, without pixel peeping. Or unless you absolutely want the Cinematic Mode in 4K, the new Action mode (which I feel is an Ok but not a necessary feature to have), or the new crash detection safety feature. For anyone else, I would say go with the iPhone 13.

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