Cameras iPhone 14 Pro vs. 13 Pro: All the ways they’re different

This story is part of Focal Point iPhone 2022CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice on Apple’s most popular product.

Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro has several camera systems and performance improvements that have led to stellar reviews, which includes a 48-megapixel sensor and the company’s new image processing technique called the Photonic Engine. This immediately puts the iPhone 14 Pro at an advantage over last year. iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Maxat least on paper.

But do these new hardware and software features really make a difference in the real world?

To find out, I compared the cameras on both phones in a variety of challenging situations in San Francisco. All of these photos were taken in the default camera app on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro, both with the latest version of iOS 16.

You can learn more in a deep dive on the Specific improvements to the iPhone 14 Pro camera system, by my colleague Stephen Shankland. CNET’s Patrick Holland also has a Great analysis of the photos of the iPhone 14 Pro and how the Photonic Engine helps improve photo quality in challenging lighting conditions.

iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro

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The 48-megapixel sensor of the iPhone 14 Pro captures more details

On the hardware front, the biggest change between the two phones is the 14 Pro’s new 48-megapixel sensor in the main wide camera that’s also physically larger than the previous iPhone, making such a big difference in quality of The photo like increase in megapixels The 13 Pro uses a 12-megapixel sensor.

Using a technique called pixel binning, iPhone 14 Pro groups four pixels together to capture 12-megapixel photos with more detail. You can also shoot a full 48-megapixel image if you shoot in Apple’s ProRaw format, and that gives photographers more flexibility when it comes to editing and retrieving shadow and highlight detail, among many other benefits.

In good lighting, the 12-megapixel shots from both the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro look similar at reduced magnification, and it might not be as easy to tell the difference. When you push a bit, the advantages of the 14 Pro’s new sensor and image processing become clear.

In the images below that I captured in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the tree trunks are more defined and sharper in the iPhone 14 Pro photo than in the 13 Pro. Areas of fine detail, such as grass, they also retain much more resolution. You can click the full resolution image from the iPhone 14 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro for easier comparison.

The iPhone 14 Pro’s lens on the main rear camera also has a wider field of view than the 13 Pro’s: 24mm vs. 26mm. This means you can get a little more out of your shot, which can be especially useful for landscape photography.

The iPhone 14 Pro can take photos with a 2x zoom

The iPhone 14 Pro also has another trick up its sleeve: the 48-megapixel sensor can also take 12-megapixel photos with an effective 2x optical zoom. You will see a new 2x option in the camera interface. That crops the center of the higher-resolution image to immediately give you more flexibility with focal length—no need for a fourth lens. The iPhone 13 Pro can also take 2x zoom photos, but it uses digital zoom and doesn’t have the same quality or level of detail as this new technique.

I find the new 2x option on the iPhone 14 Pro helps with portrait mode. Instead of just offering 1x and 3x options like on the previous phone, you can also take portrait mode photos at 2x. This results in more natural shots for my eye. I find it more flattering on facial features than 1x wide gaze, or 3x magnified perspective.

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iPhone 14 Pro vs. 13 Pro: Night and low light mode

iPhone 14 Pro has a new image processing pipeline to help improve shots in medium to low light. Combined with the larger sensor, I can see the difference compared to the iPhone 13 Pro in all the photos I took at dusk. In the photos below, notice the detail captured in the tree branches by the horizon.

The newer phone also has better noise reduction in low light conditions, without turning on night mode. Dynamic range is also improved in low light, capturing more shadows and bringing out detail than the previous phone.

Specifically for night mode shots, both phones use similar shutter speeds ranging from 1 to 3 seconds depending on lighting conditions. The iPhone 14 Pro image below has a more accurate white balance overall and slightly better detail when zoomed in.

Action mode is the star of iPhone 14 Pro video recording

Both the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro record in 4K at up to 60 fps. The video image looks similar when shooting on the main rear camera. But the iPhone 14 Pro unlocks additional video tools like Action mode. This is like having a gimbal attached to your phone to deliver smooth results when you move, except you don’t need any additional hardware, it’s all done on the phone.

Action mode scales your image slightly and downsamples the resolution from 4K to 2.8K. But I think the results are incredibly impressive, especially when compared to the same video shot on the iPhone 13 Pro.

I’ve chased my pup, run along the beach, and taken a fast-moving tracking shot in front of a waterfall in the park with Action mode, and the results were remarkable. The video image of the iPhone 14 Pro looks as if you were shooting with a stabilizer, smoothing out even sudden jerky movements. Video on the iPhone 13 Pro looks much shakier. You can see those examples of modes of action in the video below or at the top of this page.

The iPhone 14 Pro has big camera improvements, but the iPhone 13 Pro is still impressive

Apple’s latest iPhone has some significant advantages over last year’s iPhone 13 Pro when it comes to photo and video capture. Importantly, you don’t have to consider yourself a serious or professional photographer to take advantage of that 48-megapixel sensor. But the iPhone 13 Pro is still at the top of its game in most other areas, and it still offers one of the best phone cameras you can get.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max feature sweeping changes like Dynamic Island, a new 48-megapixel camera system, and Apple’s new A16 Bionic processor. All of these updates come together to create an experience that feels fresh and fast compared to previous generations.

Read our review of the Apple iPhone 14 Pro.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

The iPhone 13 Pro is the best phone Apple produces, and it received a stellar score in our review. The new smartphone adds a third rear camera with 3x optical zoom (versus 2x on the iPhone 12), a stainless steel body, and a ProMotion display with refresh rates up to 120Hz for smoother scrolling.

Read our iPhone 13 Pro review.

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