Which Apple iPhone 13 Is the Best for Filmmakers?

Best iPhone 13 for video
We've got a helpful breakdown highlighting the differences between the iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro, and the iPhone 13.

If you’ve watched an NFL football game recently (or just about anything on TV or YouTube), you’ve probably seen ads for the new iPhone 13, which are aimed squarely at film and video professionals.

And while it’s nice to know that Apple is at least thinking about us in their marketing, it still might be a question to film/video folks as to whether or not smartphone filmmaking is ready to replace digital cinema cameras. Probably not, but maybe. 

However, this new iPhone 13 is getting more and more appealing when you start to look at some of the specs. Yet, there’s a lot of these specs and options to comb through, as even this new iPhone comes as three different offerings: the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

So today, let’s take a look at these three offerings to see which one might actually be the best smartphone for your video needs (whether those be commercial ones or just personal ones for your TikToks and Instagram stories).

The Different iPhone 13 Options

In the video above, which was produced by Apple, it’s nice to see the brand at least acknowledge that its multi-offering launch approach is at least a little bit confusing. Gone are the days of just releasing an iPod. Now we have to have iPod Minis, Nanos, Pros, and Max Pros, etc. It’s just good business, I guess.

But with this video, we do get some of the clearest explanations of features and specs that I’ve been about to find on the internet. Let’s go over some of the basics for each.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max

The largest and perhaps flagship iPhone currently offered by Apple, the iPhone 13 Pro Max has a huge 6.7” Super Retina XDR display (with Apple’s ProMotion). It also outshines the others with battery life (28 hours of video playback), but outside of price and size—nothing really else.

We also have some diverse recording and lens options with telephoto, wide, ultra-wide lenses, and cinematic mode in 1080p/30fps and Dolby Vision HDR recording up to 4K at 60fps. You can also get 6x optical zoom range in case you need it.

Here are the full specs:

  • 6.7” Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion
  • 5G superfast downloads
  • Telephoto, Wide, Ultra Wide lenses
  • Cinematic mode in 1080p at 30 fps
  • Dolby Vision HDR video recording up to 4K at 60 fps
  • 6x Optical zoom range
  • LiDAR Scanner for Night mode
  • A15 Bionic chip
  • New 6-core CPU
  • New 16-core Neural Engine
  • Up to 28 hours of video playback
  • Up to 1TB capacity

Price: Starting at $1,099

iphone 13 comparison

The iPhone 13 Pro

The iPhone 13 Pro is pretty much the same smartphone as the Pro Max, but with a smaller screen. It also has slightly less battery life (22 hours of video playback compared to the Max’s 28). Otherwise, all the specs listed above should be the same, so it would come down to your preference in size (as well as price).

Here are the full specs:

  • 6.1” Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion
  • 5G superfast downloads
  • Telephoto, Wide, Ultra Wide lenses
  • Cinematic mode in 1080p at 30 fps
  • Dolby Vision HDR video recording up to 4K at 60 fps
  • 6x Optical zoom range
  • LiDAR Scanner for Night mode
  • A15 Bionic chip
  • New 6-core CPU
  • New 16-core Neural Engine
  • Up to 22 hours of video playback
  • Up to 1TB capacity

Price: Starting at $999

iphone 13 camera

The iPhone 13

Now, this is where the drop-off begins. Not sure why Apple is even offering this "regular" iPhone 13 if not to at least let buyers feel better about their Pro purchase. It’s the same size as the Pro, and has the same lenses and recording modes, but doesn’t have the LiDAR scanner for the upgraded night mode photography, low light auto-focus, and AR controls.

It’s still a great smartphone video camera, though, and it’s $200 cheaper than the Pro (and $300 cheaper than the Pro Max), so it might be a good option for any smartphone videographer looking to save a bit on price. It also doesn’t have as much optical Zoom (2x instead of 6x), but it’s debatable how useful that really would be without stabilization.

Here are the full specs:

  • 6.1” Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion
  • 5G superfast downloads
  • Telephoto, Wide, Ultra Wide lenses
  • Cinematic mode in 1080p at 30 fps
  • Dolby Vision HDR video recording up to 4K at 60 fps
  • 2x Optical zoom range
  • LiDAR Scanner for Night mode
  • A15 Bionic chip
  • New 6-core CPU
  • New 16-core Neural Engine
  • Up to 19 hours of video playback
  • Up to 512GB capacity

Price: Starting at $999

iphone 13 video recording

Which iPhone 13 Is Right for You?

Still, the question remains as to (if you were going to invest in a new iPhone) which one would be right for you and your video needs. As mentioned above, these options aren’t that different.

The biggest factors to consider are size, battery life, storage capacity, optical zoom, and low-light capability. Oh, and price, of course! If it were me, I’d probably lean to saving as much as possible and using the iPhone 13 for my video needs for the occasional shoots that might require smartphone video as either a backup, second camera, or gimmick.

However, if you are shooting more and more high-quality smartphone video as part of your professional career, then the iPhone 13 Pro Max would probably be your best bet as you load it up with capacity and as many external bells and whistles as possible.

If you’re interested in gleaning some more advice from Apple and its marketing team, here’s a breakdown of the points addressed further in their guided tour video from above.

  • 00:00 - Introduction
  • 00:12 - Four new iPhone models
  • 01:25 - Video 
  • 01:31 - Cinematic mode: Adding dramatic depth effects
  • 02:56 - Improved low-light performance
  • 03:36 - Durability: Ceramic Shield and water resistance
  • 04:10 - Battery & Display
  • 04:29 - Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion
  • 05:06 - Photography
  • 05:15 - Photographic Styles: A new level of personalization
  • 06:06 - Macro photography with iPhone 13 Pro
  • 06:20 - 3x optical zoom on iPhone 13 Pro

Which iPhone are you interested in, though? Do you think one of these options might make you reconsider the value of smartphone videography?

Let us know in the comments below!     

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1 Comment

Which? The one that has the XLR input and flip out screen. And don't forget the dual card slot!

September 20, 2021 at 11:01PM

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Regis.U
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