IPhone 13 Pro First Impressions and New Orleans Camera Test [Gallery]

Over the years, my iPhone update ritual has developed a few patterns. My routine involves convincing myself not to preorder, driving to any distant retail store that has launch day inventory, and ending up in New Orleans to test the new camera system.

This year is no exception. I sold my 128GB silver iPhone 12 Pro Max to a local buyer who thought I was joking when I said the charging block no longer comes in the box. Then I traveled 90 minutes to a Best Buy that had a 256GB blue Sierra iPhone 13 Pro ready to pick up.

The Apple Store was an option, and I’m sure the reservation system is great for both customers and employees, but it wasn’t as flexible for me as driving to a designated parking spot and having someone bring the iPhone.

The new unwrapped packaging combined with someone walking over to my car to deliver it creates such a casual shopping experience that it almost feels like buying someone’s iPhone on Facebook or something. If opening CD packaging in the late 90’s was that easy …

Anyone, some first impressions:

  • The iPhone 13 Pro feels compact and dense when used as a camera (as a good camera should be)
  • Sierra blue is incredibly difficult to perceive online or in photos and videos; I wasn’t sure what I would like, but it’s darker than I expected.
  • The iPhone 12 Pro Max had slightly higher camera specs than the iPhone 12 Pro; It’s nice that both Pro models have the same camera system this year, even if the camera plateau is comically disproportionate to the size of the smaller phone’s body.
  • ProMotion, Apple’s variable refresh rate display technology that can reduce or even double the refresh rate, is a fantastic feature for year-over-year enhancers who can see it and invisible to those who can’t; luckily I am in the first camp, but I have also done demonstrations for people in the last camp.
  • Photo Styles, which allows you adjust the tone and warmth of your camera, may be my favorite feature; I’ve been switching between vibrant and high contrast so far (but who thinks this won’t make it to the iPhone 12 eventually?)

Here’s a similar shot with each built-in style before adjustments:

Macro photography and cinematic video are two things that I haven’t spent enough time evaluating, so we’ll talk more about those features in the future. For now, I will share some photos that surprised me from my walk through New Orleans.

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