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7 reasons why Apple's new iPhone 13 lineup could be worth the upgrade

Sept. 14, 2021
6 min read
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It's that time of year again.

On Sept. 14, Apple hosted its annual iPhone-focused keynote — streamed virtually from the company's headquarters and a variety of locations in California — which left customers with a selection of four models of the new iPhone 13, as well as new Apple Watches and iPads.

As a tech enthusiast, it's easy for me to get excited about this year's iPhone's upgrades, even though I'm currently using Apple's now-outdated 12 Pro Max model. The camera upgrades alone should give my flight reviews a big boost.

Others might be more on the fence about whether the new models are worth the splurge: "Do I really need the latest device, especially since my current one will receive the latest software enhancements?" is a question I hear often.

For many, especially travelers, there's more reason than ever to upgrade to Apple's latest iPhone. I'll touch on the key highlights below, so if you're thinking about moving up to an iPhone 13, keep on reading.

Check out TPG’s sister site, CNET, for more iPhone coverage!

All-day battery life

If you use your phone throughout the day, especially if you're on the road without access to power, you'll particularly appreciate the battery life improvements coming to Apple's newest devices.

(Screenshot courtesy of Apple)

Thanks to larger batteries and some on-device software enhancements, like intelligently switching between faster and slower cellular data networks, the iPhone 13 lineup boasts some of the longest battery life ever in an iPhone, ranging from 90 minutes to 2.5 hours longer than on the previous generation.

Better cameras

When I'm on the go, I'm always capturing photos — whether it's a new aircraft cabin or a mega-resort. In recent years, I've used my iPhone as my primary camera, and this year should be no different.

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Each of the four iPhone models features an all-new camera system, with a wide and ultra-wide lens on the 13 and 13 Mini models, and a third, more powerful, telephoto lens on the Pro phones.

(Screenshot courtesy of Apple)

The new lenses have larger sensors and capture more light, reducing noise and revealing more details in your photos. Plus, the cameras have enhanced software processing, which should help perfect all your shots.

New ultra-wide lens

Ever since Apple introduced the ultra-wide lens on the iPhone 11, it's increasingly become my go-to lens for shooting airplane seats or room tours. This year, the ultra-wide lens is getting a big boost across the lineup that should dramatically improve your pictures.

(Screenshot courtesy of Apple)

Along with a new autofocus, it captures much more light than before — 92% more on the Pro models — which, combined with the camera's Night mode, should make it easier than ever to grab the shot you're looking for, especially at night and in other low-light conditions.

If it's as good as the promo material makes it look, your photos just got a big upgrade.

A video boost

There's a new way to shoot video on the iPhone with Cinematic mode. This feature allows you to transition the depth of field between two subjects, adding a fancy touch to the videos you take. You can even change the focus or edit the filter levels after shooting.

(Screenshot courtesy of Apple)

Last year, Apple introduced Dolby Vision to the iPhone 12 Pro lineup, and this year it's adding ProRes, another advanced video-editing software that used to require advanced expertise. Now, you can make all your edits and exports directly on the iPhone.

Pro upgrades

The iPhone 13 Pro lineup inherits a similar form factor to last year's models but packs in some notable improvements that could make it appealing even if you don't need pro features.

(Screenshot courtesy of Apple)

With a new Super Retina XDR display that supports a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, your content will look great, regardless of whether you're browsing the web or playing a graphics-intensive game. The telephoto lens has an increased 3x optical zoom, allowing you to shoot clearer photos from far away.

Plus, the larger iPhone 13 Pro Max packs Apple's longest-ever battery life in an iPhone, which should make it the device of choice for those always on the road.

Expanded 5G availability

Last year, Apple brought 5G cellular connectivity to the iPhone, and this year, it's expanding the reach to more networks.

By the end of 2021, Apple claims that support for 5G will double around the globe, with more than 200 carriers worldwide in 60 countries. That should theoretically spell great news for those who travel internationally with their phones.

(Screenshot courtesy of Apple)

Of course, 5G speeds can vary dramatically based on where you're standing and what you're doing, but it's definitely an improvement over existing LTE networks.

Plus, the iPhone 13 lineup supports dual eSIM, meaning that you can download a digital SIM card when you're traveling internationally to minimize roaming charges, while also staying connected to your primary phone network connected through a digital SIM as well.

A storage boost without a price hike

Though Apple isn't lowering the price of the iPhone, it's also not raising it. Of course, the higher-tier phones remain quite expensive, but you can maximize your purchase by trading in an existing model and using the right credit card.

(Screenshot courtesy of Apple)

Plus, if you're planning to pick up the 13 or the 13 Mini, you'll enjoy double the amount of storage compared to last year's base models, which started at just 64GB. And, if you have a robust photo and video library, you can now buy a 1TB configuration of the iPhone 13 Pro, though it'll cost you an additional $200 over the 512GB version.

Bottom line

This year's iPhone lineup is the best one yet, especially for travelers who use their devices around the clock while on the road. Thanks to battery boosts, camera upgrades and expanded 5G availability, it could make sense to splurge on the iPhone 13, especially if you currently use an older model.

If you're planning to invest in the latest technology, be sure to check out our detailed guide to maximizing your iPhone purchase for ordering tips, credit card coverage and scoring the biggest return.

Featured image by (Screenshot courtesy of Apple)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023