Can you be excited about the iPhone 13? We tried • The registry

Review Smartphones aren’t very exciting anymore, but Apple insists that its mutually optimized operating system, online services, and proprietary silicon combine to deliver an exceptionally fine experience.

I decided to put this claim to the test with unusual and extreme workload, and general smartphone tasks.

For the extreme workload, I chose to use the iPhone to run Zwift, a cycling simulation game that ingests real-time information about a rider’s power and cadence, streamed over Bluetooth, and combines these efforts with simulated speeds in a virtual world.

I also connected to a bluetooth heart rate monitor, bluetooth headphones so I could listen to a podcast while training, and plugged the iPhone into a Lightning to HDMI cable to view Zwift on a 28 inch monitor. instead of the 6.1-inch screen of the iPhone.

This is a workload that my primary laptop – a 6th gen Lenovo X1 Carbon powered by Core-i5 – comfortably handles after taking a minute or two to warm up. I generally spare the PC from audio streaming, preferring my smartphone for this chore.

Zwift booted faster on the iPhone 13 than it did on the PC, and didn’t miss a beat in a 90-minute test with all those devices connected. Not a pixel of Zwift’s video output has been buffered or spread, and not a word from the podcast I’ve listened to has been mutilated. The data went from my trainer to Zwift without error. My heart rate monitor, prone to stalls on the PC, remained connected throughout.

The phone also found and paired with my accessories faster than my PC and reconnected more reliably on subsequent rides.

It was a pleasant surprise to see a smartphone handle a workload that pushes a PC so comfortably. It also showed the limitations of the device, as 90 minutes with all those Bluetooth connections running took up a third of the iPhone’s battery capacity. It didn’t heat up the phone but left the battery a bit more prone to draining than it was before the torture test.

The iPhone 13 wasn’t the only one to suffer after prolonged use of a grueling workload. I have often observed that such sessions leave the battery of a handset a bit bruised. Before the torture test, the iPhone 13 still had a lot of juice at the end of a workday. Sometimes it would end up on the bedside table at a little less than 20%.

The battery drained at about 8% per hour while zooming or streaming videos over Wi-Fi. Constant use of GPS with the screen turned off consumed about 5% of the battery per hour.

I ran the GPS with the iPhone on the back of a cycling jersey on a four hour hike and it survived the blazing sun, drizzle and more of myself sweaty than it is only reasonable to ask readers to imagine it.

Overall the phone is tough. I used it to broadcast the morning radio news in my bathroom without ever worrying about it falling victim to steam, a stray splash, or the groping of wet hands on the squashing tiles. screen.

Getting to the start line with the iPhone turned out to be surprisingly complicated. My last phone upgrades have been Android to Android and Samsung to Samsung. In this world, a new phone quickly clones itself and even manages to move some passwords to the new handset.

Apple’s Android-to-iPhone migration application has been less successful. The same was true for a tool that lets you migrate an account from an iPad to a new iPhone.

The effect of the poor migration experience was a solid three week overlap between phones as I found the time to recover passwords and go through the necessary security steps to make sure apps on the financial services allowed me to transact with the Apple handset. It was a bit disappointing.

The same is true of Apple’s preference for the Face ID biometric system.

Facial biometrics are not the right choice for this mask wearing moment. In my testing, local rules required QR code registration and the wearing of masks in almost any environment outside of the home. So a weekly shopping spree meant a lot of QR scans.

The iPhone 13’s reliance on Face ID means many repeated mask removals (with occasional frowns from passers-by) to activate a recording app.

Face ID works well even in very low light, or when wearing sunglasses or a hat. It integrates well with third-party applications.

But that will not allow the creation of a masked biometrics.

It’s annoying because Apple Pay uses Face ID. During the deep lockdown, I found myself using a charge card just to avoid repeated unmasking trial and error.

I am convinced that a fingerprint reader would be more practical in 2021, and for many users until 2022 and beyond.

Rather, the Face ID experience set the tone for the entire phone. When it wasn’t asking if I’d like to use a password instead of my face, iPhone reminded me that iCloud was full, which meant I couldn’t save.

The fact that the machine didn’t quickly pair with my Samsung Bluetooth headphones – an app was needed to get them to talk – looked like another signpost aimed at always making me consider a deeper journey into Apple Country.

The same goes for the curious inclusion of a USB-C to Lightning cable in the box (but no charger). This is an odd choice because the installed base of USB-C chargers is much smaller than that of USB-A devices.

The camera is excellent, but I found it tended to overwhelm. The shot below of a thunderstorm shows rays of sunlight that I couldn’t see with the naked eye, but which adapt very well to the silhouettes of plants and the lights of neighboring houses.

IPhone 13 weather photo

Click to enlarge, or here for the complete unretouched photo

I love what the camera found in the photo below: it spotted spider webs on the fence posts, the textures of its many layers of paint, and in the background clearly shows the tiles from my porch and even the glow of a dark green garden pipe. These shades are rather better than the output from the mid-range phones I’ve used. iOS has some nice editing tools that go beyond the Android alternatives I’ve experimented with.

IPhone 13 front fence shot

Click to enlarge, or here for full unretouched photography.

The device’s 2,532 x 1,170 display delivers beautiful, distinct and crisp colors that make reading easy, video clearly visible, and arcade games achievable.

I found that some games felt like they had progressed over other versions I’ve played – could they take advantage of Apple’s AI-infused silicon to make life more difficult?

For most of the day, the iPhone 13 doesn’t stand out. Browsers display pages well and quickly; email clients behave as expected. Messages is a powerful SMS client.

Overall the phone is excellent – but I’ve never been as excited about the phone as I have been when a mid-range handset does it brilliantly at an impressive price, a super premium foldable handset creates great value. new possibilities or a more marked upgrade improves the smartphone experience.

Zwift’s performance was impressive but didn’t bring the handset into a new category in the same way that Samsung’s Dex desktop environment opened up new possibilities.

The iPhone 13 comes closest to that kind of emotional reward of heightened satisfaction with its battery life, which is so strong that it has banished battery anxiety from my daily routine – even now days. rare where I bounce between meetings.

For iPhone admirers, this new machine will undoubtedly represent a pleasantly clear continuity. But if you’re looking for something to make you enjoy the smartphone again, you might not get what you want from the iPhone 13. ®

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