How to Preorder the iPhone 13—and Which One You Should Get

If you’ve been daydreaming about the iPhone 13 over the past few days, then you’ll be happy to know each of the four new iPhones are officially available for preorder. If you’re struggling to find the best deal, you don’t know which model to choose, or you’re wondering if you even need to upgrade, we’ve got you covered.

Below, we break down the differences between the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max, and have included details on how to preorder one of these shiny new slabs of glass (or multiple, we don’t judge).

Updated September 17: We’ve added additional details regarding pre-order deals for T-Mobile and AT&T.

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Is the Upgrade Necessary?

All four iPhone 13 models come with incremental changes over last year’s devices. Slightly longer battery life here, more internal storage there. That’s why we don’t think it’s a sound investment to upgrade if you currently own an iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, or iPhone 12 Pro Max.

That mostly rings true for anyone with an iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro. Unless you’re really into the boxier frame of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, have cash to spare, and want to future-proof your device with 5G connectivity, then you’re good with what you have. If you’re dealing with poor battery life, the first step is to try a battery replacement, which can go a long way in extending the life of your device for a nominal fee.  

Got an older iPhone? Then have at it! Snag that iPhone 13 with no regrets.

Photograph: Apple

Choose Your iPhone

The iPhone 13 offers some noteworthy improvements over the 2020 range. Each model includes the A15 Bionic chip for slightly better performance, plus longer battery life, more internal storage, improved camera sensors, and new colors. The 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max are the first iPhones with ProMotion, a 120-Hz refresh rate, which you can read more about here.

Just like last year, there’s 5G support, but it shouldn’t be the sole reason to get a new iPhone, since 5G availability is still rather sparse in the US and not that different from 4G LTE in day-to-day use. To see more differences between each model, Apple’s comparison tool can help. 

  1. iPhone 13 ($799): This is the iPhone most people should buy. In addition to a 6.1-inch OLED display on the front, the back is home to a dual-camera system equipped with sensor-shift stabilization for the main sensor, enabling sharper low-light photos and less shaky videos. A larger image sensor helps take brighter photos at night, and you’ll have access to Apple’s new Cinematic mode, which essentially brings the popular Portrait mode to video.
  2. iPhone 13 Mini ($699): If you’re looking for an iPhone that (literally) fits in the palm of your hand, the Mini’s 5.4-inch display will do the trick. But don’t let its small size fool you. This iPhone packs the same features you’ll find on the standard iPhone 13. Battery life may struggle though, even if Apple says it’s slightly longer-lasting this year.
  3. iPhone 13 Pro ($999): Those who want a new iPhone with all the bells and whistles should opt for the Pro. The good news is that the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max share the exact same features, so you’re really just choosing a size. In addition to everything mentioned above, there’s a telephoto zoom camera along with the other two. All of these cameras work with Apple’s Night mode for brighter low-light photos. The 6.1-inch OLED display has a 120-Hz refresh rate, which just means everything will look and feel buttery smooth. And you get new color options including gold, sierra blue, graphite, and silver.
  4. iPhone 13 Pro Max ($1,099): This is essentially the phablet of iPhones. With a 6.7-inch display and a large battery (that lasts two and a half hours longer than its predecessor), the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the most expensive and excessive option. It’s ideal for anyone who relies on their smartphone for everything, from reading ebooks to watching Netflix. Like the smaller Pro, you can film in Apple’s ProRes format, which gives you more editing control, and the telephoto camera also works with Cinematic Mode. The ultrawide camera can double as a macro camera (also on the regular Pro), so you can take photos of subjects super close-up.

Apple is still selling the iPhone 11 ($499), iPhone 12 Mini ($599), and iPhone 12 ($699), so if you don’t need the latest tech and want to save as much money as you can on a new iPhone, stick with one of these older models, which are still great. Read our Best iPhones guide for more details. 

How to Get It Unlocked

If the thought of signing a contract with a wireless carrier makes you want to scream, good. We always recommend you buy a phone unlocked. That way you won’t run into any issues if you need to switch carriers or just have it work painlessly abroad. That said, Apple says all the carrier versions it sells on its website are unlocked—except for AT&T when you purchase on an installment plan. 

You can also trade in an eligible iPhone to receive credit toward the iPhone 13. But check out our guide on selling your iPhone to get the most for your current device. 

Deals on Network-Locked Phones

If you decide to go with a carrier version, you’ll get $30 off the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini. That brings the Mini down to $699 and the standard 13 to $799. Here are a few promotions carriers are running on the new iPhones. 

  • AT&T is offering both new and existing customers up to $800 on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini and up to $1,000 off the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max when you purchase either on an installment plan with an eligible trade-in, and you need to be on an unlimited plan. It also comes with a $30 activation/upgrade fee. The savings come in the form of bill credits.
  • T-Mobile/Sprint is offering up to $1,000 off the iPhone 13 Pro with an eligible trade-in device and if you’re on a Magenta Max plan. You can also get up to $500 off the iPhone 13 series with an eligible trade-in. Those who buy any iPhone 13 model without an eligible device can get up to $800 off a second device when you activate 2 lines or more. The carrier is also offering up to $800 off when you upgrade to a new iPhone every two years after that with the Forever Upgrade program. New and existing customers also get up to $1,000 off the iPhone 13 series with 30 monthly bill credits on T-Mobile’s zero-interest Equipment Installment Plan if you trade in an eligible device on the Magenta Max or Sprint Max plan. The savings come in bill credits.
  • Verizon is offering up to $1,000 off the iPhone 13 series with select trade-in models (in any condition) when on select unlimited plans. You’ll see the savings in bill credits.

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