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Apple iPhone 13 Pro Selfie review: Excellent video selfies

Reading Time: 10 min read
99
selfie

The iPhone 13 Pro sits just below the flagship iPhone 13 Pro Max in Apple’s 2021 iPhone series and comes with a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display and up to 1TB of internal storage. It’s powered by the same A15 Bionic chipset as the Pro Max and also features the same rear triple-camera setup. The front camera is shared across all 2021 iPhone models and offers identical headline specs to the iPhone 12 series: A 1/3.6″ sensor combined with an f/2.2-aperture fixed-focus lens.

Has Apple managed to improve performance without making big changes to tech specs? Read on to find out how the Apple iPhone 13 Pro performed in our DXOMARK Selfie tests.

Key front camera specifications:

  • 12 MP 1/3.6″ sensor, 23 mm equivalent f/2.2-aperture lens
  • 3D sensor
  • Cinematic mode for recording videos with shallow depth of field (1080p at 30 fps)
  • HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60 fps; 4K video recording at 24/ 25/ 30/ 60 fps; 1080p HD video recording at 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps

About DXOMARK Camera tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone camera reviews, DXOMARK engineers capture and evaluate over 3000 test images and more than 2.5 hours of video both in controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera’s default settings. This article is designed to highlight the most important results of our testing. For more information about the DXOMARK Camera test protocol, click here. More details on how we score smartphone cameras are available here.

Test summary


Apple iPhone 13 Pro
99
selfie
102
photo

95
video

Pros

  • Accurate target exposure on face
  • Wide depth of field
  • High level of detail in indoor and outdoor conditions
  • Quite accurate depth estimation
  • Wide dynamic range and accurate target exposure in video
  • Accurate video white balance
  • Wide focus range means all subjects are in focus in group  video selfies.

Cons

  • Luminance noise
  • Occasionally inaccurate skin tones, especially in backlit indoor scenes
  • Slight anamorphosis artifacts (perspective distortion on faces)
  • Low subject exposure when using the flash
  • High noise levels in video, especially in low light
  • Residual motion in walking videos
  • Loss of detail in low light videos

With a score of 99 the Apple iPhone 13 Pro makes it into the upper regions but not quite to the top of the DXOMARK Selfie ranking. Overall performance is very similar to last year’s iPhone 12 series – not a surprise given the similar front camera hardware.

Still, Apple has managed to improve things slightly and with a Photo score of 102 the 13 Pro is one point better than the 12 Pro, thanks to accurate subject exposure, a wide depth of field and good detail in bright light and indoor shooting. On the downside the 13 Pro is a little noisier than its predecessor.

The difference is a little more noticeable for video (95 vs 93), making the iPhone 13 Pro one of the best devices in this category, only one point shy of the top score. For Video Apple managed to improve exposure and the color response is now more stable. The new device also has a wider dynamic range in video.

Photo

The Apple iPhone 13 Pro achieves a Selfie Photo score of 112. In this section, we take a closer look at each sub-attribute and compare image quality against competitors.

Exposure and Contrast

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

86

90

Huawei P50 Pro
Best: Huawei P50 Pro (90)

In these tests we analyze target exposure, contrast, and dynamic range, including repeatability across a series of images. Tests are undertaken in a wide range of light conditions, including backlit scenes and low light down to 1 lux. The score is derived from a number of objective measurements in the lab and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

Target exposure on the face is generally accurate. These samples show the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s exposure performance in an outdoor scene.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro, accurate target exposure for the face
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, accurate target exposure for the face
Huawei P50 Pro, accurate target exposure for the face

Color

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

84

99

Huawei P50 Pro
Best: Huawei P50 Pro (99)

In these tests we analyze color rendering, skin tones, white balance, and color shading, including repeatability across a series of images. The score is derived from a number of objective measurements in the lab and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

Color is generally good but our testers observed some inaccuracies in backlit mixed lighting conditions. These samples show the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s color performance in an indoor scene.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro, orange skin tone rendering
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, orange skin tone rendering
Huawei P50 Pro, accurate skin tone rendering

Focus

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

91

97

Huawei P50 Pro
Best: Huawei P50 Pro (97)

In these tests we analyze autofocus accuracy and shooting time, including repeatability, in the lab. We test focus failures, depth of field, and tracking of moving subjects using perceptual analysis of real-life images.

This graph compares the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s focus performance at varying subject distances.

The iPhone 13 Pro’s fixed-focus lens captures high levels of acutance at all distances

Texture

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

72

79

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro
Best: Asus ZenFone 7 Pro (79)

In these tests we analyze texture on faces and objects, including objects in motion, in a range of light conditions, using several lab test setups and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

This graph shows the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s texture performance in the lab across different light levels.

Texture comparison: High levels of detail are generally captured in outdoor (1000 lux) and indoor (100 lux) lighting conditions.

These samples show the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s texture performance in an outdoor selfie at a shooting distance of 55 cm.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro , texture, 55 cm
Apple iPhone 13 Pro , crop: high level of detail
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max , texture, 55 cm
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max , crop: high level of detail
Huawei P50 Pro, texture, 55 cm
Huawei P50 Pro, crop: high level of detail

Noise

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

62

90

Huawei P40 Pro
Best: Huawei P40 Pro (90)

In these tests we analyze noise on faces and objects, including objects in motion, in a range of light conditions, using several lab test setups and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

This graph shows the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s noise performance in the lab across different light levels.

Visual noise is a metric that measures noise as perceived by end-users. It takes into account the sensitivity of the human eye to different spatial frequencies under different viewing conditions.

Noise comparison: Luminance noise is visible in most tested conditions.
These samples show the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s noise performance under indoor lighting conditions.
Apple iPhone 13 Pro, visual noise
Apple iPhone 13 Pro, crop: noise is visible
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, visual noise
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, crop: noise is visible
Huawei P50 Pro, visual noise
Huawei P50 Pro, crop: noise is well-controlled

Bokeh

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

75

Highest Score

For these tests we switch to the camera’s bokeh or portrait mode and analyze depth estimation, bokeh shape, blur gradient, and repeatability, as well as all other general image quality attributes mentioned above. The score is derived from perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s bokeh mode performance in an outdoor scene.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro, accurate depth estimation for the subject
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, similar results to the iPhone 13 Pro
Huawei P50 Pro, no blur gradient but very good depth estimation

Artifacts

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

83

86

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Exynos)
Best: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Exynos) (86)

In these tests we check images for optical artifacts such as vignetting, flare, lens softness in the corners, distortion, and chromatic aberrations, as well as for processing artifacts such as ghosting and fusion errors, hue shift, and ringing.

These samples show slight instabilities in distortion correction over consecutive shots. The camera was mounted on a tripod to capture these samples. If you look closely at the edges you can see the field of view is slightly wider on the left image.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro, slightly wider field of view
Apple iPhone 13 Pro, slightly narrower field of view

Video

In our Video tests we analyze the same image quality attributes as for still images, such as exposure, color, texture or noise, but we also include such temporal aspects as speed, and smoothness and stability of exposure, white balance, and autofocus transitions.

NOTE: The sample video clips in this section are best viewed at 4K resolution

The Apple iPhone 13 Pro achieves a Selfie Video score of 95. A device’s overall Video score is derived from its performance and results across a range of attributes in the same way as the Photo score. In this section, we take a closer look at these sub-scores and compare video image quality against competitors.

Exposure and Contrast

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

86

90

Huawei P50 Pro
Best: Huawei P50 Pro (90)

These video samples show the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s video exposure performance under indoor lighting conditions.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro, accurate target exposure with wide dynamic range. Exposure adaption is also fast and smooth with no visible instabilities

Huawei P50 Pro, lower face exposure

Color

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

87

99

Huawei P50 Pro
Best: Huawei P50 Pro (99)

These video samples show the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s video color performance in an outdoor scene.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro, pleasant and natural skin tone rendering with neutral white balance

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, very similar to the iPhone 13 Pro with slightly higher saturation

Huawei P50 Pro, cold white balance with inaccurate rendering on fair to medium skin types

Focus

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

89

97

Huawei P50 Pro
Best: Huawei P50 Pro (97)

These video samples show the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s video focus performance in a group selfie shot outdoors.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro, extended depth of field with all faces in focus

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, extended depth of field with all faces in focus

Huawei P50 Pro, depth of field is even wider than both iPhones.

Texture

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

73

79

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro
Best: Asus ZenFone 7 Pro (79)

Texture preservation in video is good, but slightly surpassed by the other devices in this comparison.

These video samples show the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s video texture performance under 100 lux lighting conditions and a distance of 55cm in the lab.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro, the level of detail is good, but lower than the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, the level of detail is good, but lower than the Apple iPhone 13 Pro

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon), high level of texture with lots of fine detail captured

Noise

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

56

90

Huawei P40 Pro
Best: Huawei P40 Pro (90)

These video stills show the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s video noise performance in indoor light conditions.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro, strong luminance noise is visible in all conditions and especially in low light

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, strong luminance noise is also visible but it’s slightly better than on the 13 Pro

Huawei P50 Pro, noise reduction is very efficient, even in extreme low light videos

Artifacts

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

87

Highest Score

For video artifacts, we check for the same kinds of artifacts mentioned in the Photo section, along with such video-specific artifacts as frame rate variation in different light conditions, judder effect, and moving artifacts (artifacts such as aliasing, color quantization, and flare can often be more intrusive when moving than in a still image).

This graph shows the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s ringing video output. This curve displays the normalized edge profile of the maximum ringing in the field.

Ringing: lab measurements show the iPhone 13 Pro displays more ringing than some of its competitors but no other serious artifacts are visible in its videos

Stabilization

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

78

In these tests we analyze residual motion when handholding the camera during recording, as well as when walking and running with the camera. We also look for stabilization artifacts such as jello effect, sharpness differences between frames, and frame shift (abrupt changes of framing).

This sample clip shows the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s video stabilization in outdoor conditions.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro, some residual motion is visible in the background on videos captured whilst walking

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, very similar stabilization behavior to the Apple iPhone 13 Pro

Huawei P50 Pro, stabilization is more effective compared to both iPhones with less residual motion visible

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