iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13: how much of an upgrade is the 14?

iPhone 14 on the left, iPhone 13 on the right on a split colored background
(Image credit: Future / Apple)

Apple's September 7 'Far Out' event gave us a slew of new iPhones, watches and even some AirPods to enjoy, but now that the iPhone 14 is official, we can see how well it directly stacks up against its 2021 predecessor, the iPhone 13.

The iPhone 14 was arguably the most modest of this new generation when Apple showcased the phones at its special event in Cupertino. It certainly looks like the iPhone 13 and even uses familiar silicon, rather than the new top-tier A16 Bionic chips you'll find in the iPhone 14 Pro models.

As such, whether it has what it takes to find its way into our pick of the best iPhones to buy right now remains to be seen but this comparison should at least help you point your bank balance at the iPhone you think offers what you need.

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13: price and availability

The iPhone 13 started at $799 / £779 / AU$1,349 when it launched in late 2021, but as is so often the case, now that the iPhone 14 range is here, the 13 has enjoyed a welcome price cut.

Both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 can be had with the same 128GB, 256GB or 512GB storage options, with the iPhone 13 now starting at $699 / £749 / AU$1,229, while the new iPhone 14 starts at $799 / £849 / AU$1,399.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will also notice that, although the iPhone 14 doesn't cost any more than its predecessor did when it first launched in the US (yay!) customers in other markets including the UK and Australia are getting charged more for the equivalent iPhone one year on (boo!).

The iPhone 14 range was announced on September 7, with pre-orders kicking off from September 9 and on-sale availability from September 16.

Those keen to get their hands on the new base iPhone should check out our rundown of iPhone 14 deals to get the best value out the gate.

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13: design

While the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max switch out the notch for the new 'Dynamic Island' cutout, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus both share in a very familiar design to last generation.

As such, there's very little to set the iPhone 14 apart from its predecessor; a phone with a flat display, a large notch at the top of the screen, a metal frame, and a glass back, with a diagonal dual camera setup in the top left corner.

The iPhone 13 in a yard

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The 14 is marginally thicker than the 13, thought to be as a result of a larger battery, although Apple hasn't formally revealed its capacity. Beyond that, it's the same height and width.

In truth, perhaps one of the only ways to quickly set the two models apart is with the assorted colorways both phones come in. The iPhone 13 can now be had in six finishes (with the sixth joining a little after launch): pink, blue, Midnight, Starlight, green and red.

The iPhone 14 launches with five color options: purple, blue, Midnight, Starlight and red. There's every chance that the 14 will get its own sixth color come spring next year but as far what that color might be, we don't yet know. We'd love to see a new green or the return to yellow on an iPhone though.

For those asking 'is the iPhone 14 waterproof?' Apple committed to adding water resistance to its phones starting with the iPhone 8 back in 2017 and that carriers right through to today's models too.

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13: display

The iPhone 13 laying on a table

(Image credit: TechRadar)

If you were holding out hope of the 13 Pro's super-smooth 120Hz high refresh rate trickling down to the standard iPhone 14, you're out of luck.

Both the iPhone 13 and 14 share in a familiar notched 6.1-inch 60Hz OLED screen, with a resolution of 1170 x 2532, a peak HDR brightness of 1200 nits and Dolby Vision support. In both cases the screen is also protected by Apple's Ceramic Shield toughened cover glass.

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13: cameras

On paper, both phone sport a 12MP main and a 12MP ultrawide on their backs, along with a 12MP front-facing snapper, but the iPhone 14 edges out in front, in terms of both hardware and post-processing, on the camera front.

That main 12MP sensor on the 14 is larger than that of its predecessor, packing bigger 1.9µm pixels paired with a wider f/1.5 aperture and new generation of sensor-shift OIS (optical image stabilization), which Apple claims offer a collective 49% improvement in low light performance.

The 2022 iPhone also showcases Apple's new Photonic Engine, which applies its existing Deep Fusion image processing and compositing into the photo capture process, meaning less compression on the colors and details in a final shot.

The iPhone 13 in a yard

(Image credit: TechRadar)

It's unclear whether this is simply a software addition that Apple could transpose to the iPhone 13, but as it stands, it looks like it'll remain an iPhone 14 series exclusive.

Selfie fans will also benefit from the first autofocus front-facing camera on an iPhone with the one found on an iPhone 14, which Apple again promises a 38% improvement to low light shots, compared to the 13's selfie snapper.

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13: specs and performance

Amidst the various upgrades that Apple dress the iPhone 14 with over the 13, the chipset wasn't as big of a leap as we've seen in previous years, with both phones technically sporting the same A15 Bionic processor.

The A15 was introduced with the iPhone 13 family but it's odd for the company to place it into its next generation of smartphone too. For those after a true performance jump, you'll have to cough up for the iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max, which tout Apple's new top-tier A16 Bionic chip.

The silver lining, despite the smaller upgrade in silicon is that those toying between and iPhone 13 and 14 (especially those who are keen mobile gamers) might want to opt for the newer device, simply because it's using the five-core GPU version of the A15 that was exclusive to the iPhone 13 Pro models (the standard iPhone 13's A15 features a four-core GPU) when they launched.

US users should also come to terms with the fact that the iPhone 14 is devoid of a SIM tray, instead connecting via eSIM, while the iPhone 13 still accepts physical SIM cards (although eSIM is also supported there too).

One intriguing new feature exclusive to the iPhone 14 is 'emergency SOS via satellite', which lets users (only those in the US and Canada, at launch) send texts and location info to emergency services when out of cellular or WiFi range. So for those with a penchant for the great outdoors, the 14 does deliver a little extra peace of mind in that regard.

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13: battery

The iPhone 13 being charged up

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Although Apple doesn't serve up specific battery capacities when it launches each iPhone it does often suggested figures for certain tasks, which paired with the increased thickness of the 14 over the 13, all but confirms that there is a bigger cell inside the newer model.

Apple quotes 19 hours of local video playback from the iPhone 13, but 20 hours on the iPhone 14, while audio playback jumps from 75 hours to 100.

Charging remains the same in terms of both speed and standard, with both models offering 20W wired charging via Lightning, up to 15W wireless charging, 7.5W reverse wireless charging and MagSafe compatibility too.

iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13: takeaway

To look at, these phones are nearly indistinguishable from one another, while the under-the-hood changes aren't substantial enough that anyone already sporting an iPhone 13 should really consider picking up its predecessor.

As for those looking to upgrade from an older model or outside the Apple ecosystem, there's a case to be had for both devices. If you want the best camera on a non-Pro iPhone, have serious battery anxiety or frequently find yourself in perilous situations without cell service, the iPhone 14 is the clear winner; for everyone else, the iPhone 13 feels like a minor downgrade at worst and at best, a better deal.

Alex Walker-Todd
Senior Phones Editor

Alex joined as TechRadar's Senior Phones Editor in June 2022, but brings over a decade's worth of experience to the role, with an expertise in smartphones, tablets and wearables. He's covered keynotes hosted by the biggest brands and attended the launches for some of the most influential mobile products of the last few years. His experience was amassed at some of the most reputable consumer technology publications out there, including GSMArena, TechAdvisor and Trusted Reviews. Alex is currently holding out hope for the Pixel Watch's success and is excited for the advancements coming to the world of foldable phones in the near future.

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