iPhone ProMotion in SloMo: 120hz vs 60hz

This is an absolutely fantastic look at ProMotion at work. Gives you a true sense of the difference in scan lines on various iPhones and apps.

Comparing photos from modern iPhone with photos from the original iPhone

I’m new to this YouTube channel, but they have some very interesting videos. This one explores the evolution in iPhone photography, from steady camera hardware/sensor changes to a focus on software, with the rise of computational photography.

Don’t be put off by all the fooling around in the video. There’s a lot of interesting stuff here. A few highlights, if your time is limited:

  • At about 3:30: iPhone life with that original interface, before the App Store existed. Only one page.
  • At about 4:27: All about “rolling shutter”
  • And, at about 12:18: The core of this video, comparing the old and the new

I enjoyed the whole thing. Obviously, you’ll want to watch this in 4K for maximum effect.

AnandTech analysis of iPhone 13 series battery life and screen power

Andrei Frumusanu, AnandTech:

This year’s new iPhone 13 series have been extremely promising in terms of battery life as Apple has improved this aspect of the devices through a slew of different improvements. All the new phones feature new generation displays, most notably the new Pro models which have new variable refresh displays, along with increases in battery capacities. After a few arduous days of battery life testing, we can come to some very positive conclusions.

There’s a detailed discussion of LTPO VRR. If that’s just alphabet soup to you, here’s a bit from this discussion of LTPO:

LTPO is the snappy acronym that stands for low-temperature Polycrystalline oxide. In short, it allows for a display to dynamically change its refresh rate without needing any additional hardware components to sit between a device’s graphics processing unit and the display controller.

And VRR is variable refresh rate, which is being branded as ProMotion. Apple’s rates vary from 10Hz to 120Hz.

If the screen discussion doesn’t grab you, scroll down the the section labeled “Bigger Batteries”. The first table compares battery capacity of all the iPhone 12 models to that of the iPhone 13s. Big jumps (ranging from 8% to 18% across the board) in every model.

Next up is a bar chart showing web browsing battery life (in hours) for a variety of phones. From. the description:

All the new phones showcase extremely large generational gains compared to their predecessors. For the iPhone 13, we’re getting results that are 34% better than the iPhone 12, which exceeds the +14.6% battery capacity increase. The new SoC efficiency as well as increased display power efficiency would explain the remainder of the difference.

The iPhone 13 battery life is a big leap forward.

iPhone 13 Pro sample image gallery

Follow the headline link, maximize your window size (large display, if possible). Tap each of the controls on the upper right of the current sample image, just to get a sense of what each does. I’m a big fan of the loupe (click to turn it on, then drag the mini-window around the image).

I love this interface, wish there was a version that laid on top of a public, crowd-sourced gallery, with the favorite images rising to the top.

DPReview review of the iPhone 13 Pro, shot on the iPhone 13 Pro

Detailed video, filled with great looking shots of all the various lenses and modes, giving you a sense of what you might produce if you have an iPhone 13 Pro (or iPhone 13 Pro Max).

One of the many highlights in this video is at about 36 seconds in. Check out the sharpness on the jacket pocket seams, then look at the background. There’s a subtle sharpness adjustment as he moves, Cinematic Mode at work. It wasn’t so long ago that Portrait Mode and bokeh were brand new concepts. Apple’s iPhone camera team continues to push the ball forward.

The embedded video is 4K. If you have the ability to watch in higher resolution, here’s a link to an HDR version of the same video.

A gorgeous tour of iPhone Macro mode

Ben Sandofsky, Halide blog:

The iPhone 13 Pro features a new camera capable of focusing closer than ever before—less than an inch away. This opens a whole new dimension for iPhone photographers, but it’s not without surprises. Let’s take a tour of what this lens unlocks, some clever details you might miss in its implementation, why its “automatic” nature can catch you off guard, and much more. At the end, we have a special surprise for you — especially those not using an iPhone 13 Pro.

This post is way more than just a collection of macro photos, though it does have plenty of those. It’s a well presented tour of how macro works, full of detail/examples and, as Ben implies above, there’s a nice little surprise towards the end (hint: it’s a product announcement, one that you’ll find compelling if you are interested in macro photography).

The nuance of iPhone ProMotion

Jason Aten, writing for Inc:

It takes a lot of energy to light up and refresh that display, so the fewer times it has to redraw what you’re looking at, the better. Other devices with high refresh rates might adjust based on what is showing on the display. For example, if you’re watching a film shot at 24 frames per second, the display might refresh at 24 or 48Hz. If you’re playing a game, it might refresh at 120Hz.


On the iPhone, that’s still true, but Apple took it further by quietly included a remarkable way of deciding what refresh rate to use. Your iPhone 13 Pro or 13 Pro Max literally measures the speed of your finger on the screen, and then adjusts the refresh rate of the display.


Reading a tweet, the iPhone 13 Pro drops down to 10Hz. If you start to scroll slowly, it might choose a faster refresh rate, say 60Hz. If you scroll quickly, it can ramp up to 90 or 120Hz. Apple doesn’t say exactly how many different refresh rates the display uses, only that it designed the system to match the refresh rate to the speed of your finger.

Great read.

In my opinion, ProMotion is an under appreciated feature. It works everywhere on the 13 Pro models, scrolling is smooth as glass, and there are no artifacts that hint at refresh rate changes. Beautifully implemented.

Ophthalmologist using iPhone 13 Pro to take close up eye pics

Dr. Tommy Korn (via 9to5Mac):

Been using the iPhone 13 Pro Max for MACRO eye 👁 photos this week. Impressed. Will innovate patient eye care & telemedicine. 👀 forward to seeing where it goes 😊 …

Photos are from healing a resolving abrasion in a cornea transplant. Permission was obtained to use photos 🙏🏼.

PS: this “Pro camera” includes a telephone app too! 😂

Follow the headline link, check out the images. If you’ve got an iPhone 13 Pro, you can pretty easily take closeup eye pics like this. Bit by bit, tech like the iPhone 13 camera module and the Apple Watch are bringing telemedicine to life.

Side note: If you’ve not seen it, check out this macro pic I took last week, taken with an iPhone 13 Pro. This camera is incredible.

iPhone 13 ProMotion: Can people tell the difference?

This was interesting, a sort of focus group specifically set up to see if folks noticed the difference between older displays and the new iPhone 13 adaptive refresh ProMotion display.

I love the new display, but not sure I would have noticed the difference when 120Hz came into play. That said, it definitely makes for an overall better experience. Not something that would impact my purchase decision like, say, the 3x optical zoom or macro capability in the camera, something very easy to notice.

iPhone 13 Pro iFixit teardown: Any unauthorized display replacement knocks out Face ID

Lots of fascinating tidbits here, if teardowns are your thing. But deep down, all the way in Step 10:

Face ID works even when we disconnected the front sensor assembly. However, any display replacement knocks out Face ID. We tried transferring the sensors from the old display and porting over the Face ID hardware, but no dice. It looks like the display is serial-locked to the phone.


TL;DR: Unless Apple revises this behavior in software, screen replacements outside Apple’s authorized repair lose all Face ID functionality.

Is this a security measure to prevent a replacement screen from overriding Face ID on a stolen or seized iPhone? I suspect we’ll never know the logic behind this decision until far down the road.

iPhone 13 & 13 Pro: how to force restart, recovery mode, DFU mode, etc.

This is an informative video from 9to5Mac’s Jeff Benjamin. If you already know your way around shutting down and restarting your iPhone, jump to 2:20 in for a little used shutdown method that doesn’t require finger gymnastics, then rolling right into a force restart method you might not be aware of:

Press up volume, then down volume, then press and hold the power button, all in quick succession.

Go ahead and give it a try. You can cancel and, as you’d expect, you’ll need to type in your passcode, just as you would if you did the press and hold the up volume and power button at the same time.

If “Unlock with Apple Watch” isn’t working on your iPhone 13

With every new Apple rollout, there are issues that crop up. Sometimes, it’s an unfixable hardware issue (thinking butterfly keyboard failure here). Other times, it’s a bug, fixed by a subsequent system release.

From the headline-linked Apple support note:

Apple has identified an issue where Unlock with Apple Watch may not work with iPhone 13 devices. You might see “Unable to Communicate with Apple Watch” if you try to unlock your iPhone while wearing a face mask, or you might not be able to set up Unlock with Apple Watch.

Yup. I’m experiencing this issue. I see the “Unable to Communicate with Apple Watch” alert when I try to turn the feature on.

Fortunately, Apple follows this with:

This issue will be fixed in an upcoming software update.

Hoping the iPad mini jelly scrolling issue (I’ll get to that in a couple of posts) is just as fixable.

How Apple built the iPhone 13’s Cinematic Mode

Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch, got the chance to speak with Apple VP Kaiann Drance and Human Interface Team designer Johnnie Manzari about Cinematic Mode.

“We knew that bringing a high-quality depth of field to video would be magnitudes more challenging [than Portrait Mode],” says Drance. “Unlike photos, video is designed to move as the person filming, including hand shake. And that meant we would need even higher-quality depth data so Cinematic Mode could work across subjects, people, pets and objects, and we needed that depth data continuously to keep up with every frame. Rendering these autofocus changes in real time is a heavy computational workload.”


“We didn’t have an idea [for Cinematic Mode]. We were just curious — what is it about filmmaking that’s been timeless? And that kind of leads down this interesting road and then we started to learn more and talk more … with people across the company that can help us solve these problems.”

That second quote offers an interesting insight into how features like this are born. Sometimes new features are the result of trying to solve a specific problem in a clever way. Cinematic Mode was more born from an exploration into an existing process, trying to bring an existing solution from the complex, expensive, hardware heavy filmmaking world to the iPhone.

Nice writeup by Panzarino. Don’t miss the section “Testing Cinematic Mode” with the embedded demo reel. Don’t just watch the demo reel. It needs the context of Matthew’s descriptions to give a true sense of what Cinematic Mode is and isn’t. Great read.

iPhone 13 Pro & Pro Max review: Nearly perfect, but the camera needs a fix

Another great iPhone 13 Pro camera review, filled with images to give you a sense of the reach of the newest high end iPhone lenses/modes.

If the camera is driving you to consider an iPhone 13 Pro, this is a great review to make your way through.

The only caveat:

But there’s been one thing that has been bothering me in the week I’ve been testing the iPhone 13 Pros’ cameras. Something so frustrating that, for the first time in a decade, I’m not upgrading to the best iPhone camera that Apple has to offer… at launch. Not until Apple fixes it, at least. And a fix is coming, Apple confirmed to Input.

Here’s the issue:

If you have your iPhone 13 Pro camera set to the 1x wide camera and place an object or a subject within 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) of it, the viewfinder will maintain the 1x framing/composition but use the ultrawide’s close-range autofocusing in tandem. You can literally see the viewfinder flicker/pop and “switch” to this hybrid viewfinder.

Here’s a pair of videos (here and here) showing this flicker/pop effect in action. I get the annoyance, and I appreciate knowing the cause.

Apple’s response:

A new setting will be added in a software update this fall to turn off automatic camera switching when shooting at close distances for macro photography and video.


Austin Mann’s iPhone 13 Pro camera review, all the way from Tanzania

Austin Mann:

From macro shots of tiny ants to massive landscapes by helicopter, we’ve put the iPhone 13 Pro camera through the paces and I’m excited to share the results with you.

Just start scrolling. I love these shots, especially those shot with the iPhone 13 Pro’s Ultra Wide macro. More than anything else, that macro capability is the part of the iPhone 13 Pro I’m most looking forward to. Mine is arriving tomorrow.

Reddit’s list of iPhone 13 Pro and Max unboxing, impressions and reviews, plus Rene Ritchie

Follow the headline link for an updating list of links.

One video that was missed (at least as of this posting) was this excellent, detailed, video review by Rene Ritchie, which I’ve embedded below. It covers all the iPhone 13 series, including the mini, and touched on a few points I personally found very interesting. A fire hose of detail.

Here are the best new Safari extensions to download for iOS 15 and iPadOS 15

Parker Ortolani, 9to5Mac:

One of the flagship new features in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 is the redesigned Safari web browser. While the highlight of the new Safari is its user interface, it also gains compatibility with more powerful, Mac-like browser extensions. Now that iOS 15 is available to download, there are plenty of extensions hitting the App Store, and we’ve put together a list of some to try out.

Parker showcases 10 different extensions. Once you’ve looked through that list, here’s how to find lots more:

  • On your iPhone, go to Settings, scroll down (past App Store and Wallet & ApplePay section) and tap Safari
  • On the Safari Settings page, scroll down to the GENERAL section and tap Extensions
  • Tap “More Extensions”

That’ll take you to the Safari Extensions section of the iOS App Store.

Apple shares guided tour of iPhone 13 & iPhone 13 Pro

If you are considering an iPhone 13 series phone, this video is worth watching. If nothing else, don’t miss the demonstration of Cinematic Mode and, especially, that bit at 2:37 in showing editing the focus points after the video was shot.

First iPhone 13 pre-orders now shipping for Friday release

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

Just two days after pre-orders began, Apple has now started shipping the first batch of iPhone 13 orders to to early buyers. Unfortunately, however, this doesn’t mean you should expect your iPhone 13 pre-order to arrive any earlier than the September 24 release date.

Still, Friday will be here soon enough. And it is certainly possible that some phones might slip through and arrive a day early, though clearly the intent is for the arrivals to start on Friday.

I jumped through the hoops of checking the trade-in value of my iPhone 11 Pro with Apple and comparing it to the trade-in value offered by my carrier. Turns out there’s a significant difference, worth exploring.

In my specific case, with my existing unlimited plan, my carrier offered me $1000 for my iPhone 11 Pro, as compared to Apple’s offer of $450. Here’s the details:

  • I am getting an iPhone 13 Pro, 256 GB, Sierra Blue. The phone will arrive Friday.
  • Also arriving Friday will be a pre-paid trade-in box. Once I get my new phone set up, I pop my iPhone 11 Pro in the box and send it back.
  • My iPhone 13 Pro will take 36 months to pay off. This means that $2.78 will be added to my monthly bill and, after 36 months, we’ll be square.
  • My iPhone 13 Pro will remain locked to my carrier for that time. If I want out earlier, I have to pay off the remaining balance. By my math, it’ll take roughly 18 months to start having more value than Apple’s $450 offer.

I have no plans to switch carriers anytime soon, so this feels like a good deal to me. Your mileage may vary.

China preorders for iPhone 13 blow away preorders for iPhone 12, year-over-year

South China Morning Post:

Chinese consumers have placed more than 2 million pre-orders for the new 5G iPhone 13 line through Apple’s official store on JD.com as of Thursday, surpassing the 1.5 million iPhone 12 pre-orders on the same platform a year earlier, as the world’s largest smartphone market finds fewer high-end models on offer amid the decline of Huawei Technologies Co.

That’s a year-over-year increase from 1.5 million units to 2 million units (33% YOY growth).

Less competition at the high end, combined with a price decrease:

Pricing for the iPhone 13 lineup in China comes in at 5,199 yuan for the iPhone 13 Mini, 5,999 yuan for the iPhone 13 and 7,999 yuan for the iPhone 13 Pro, prices that are 300 yuan to 800 yuan cheaper than the iPhone 12 family

If these numbers are accurate, that’s certainly excellent news for Apple in the China market.

AppleCare+ now covers cracked back glass on iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models for reduced $29 fee

Joe Rossignol, MacRumors:

Apple today indicated that “back-glass only” damage on iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models is now eligible for repair under AppleCare+ for a reduced fee of $29 in the United States, $39 in Canada, £25 in the UK, or the equivalent in other countries.


The iPhone must be covered by AppleCare+ and have no additional damage beyond the damaged back glass that would prevent Apple from replacing the back glass, such as a bent or dented enclosure.

Back glass, as opposed to the front display.

Apple warns vibrations like those from high-power motorcycle engines can harm iPhone cameras

Eric Slivka, MacRumors:

Apple today published a new support document warning iPhone users that the cameras on their devices can be damaged by exposure to certain vibrational frequencies such as those generated by high-power motorcycle engines.

From Apple’s support document:

High-power or high-volume motorcycle engines generate intense high-amplitude vibrations, which are transmitted through the chassis and handlebars. It is not recommended to attach your iPhone to motorcycles with high-power or high-volume engines due to the amplitude of the vibration in certain frequency ranges that they generate. Attaching your iPhone to vehicles with small-volume or electric engines, such as mopeds and scooters, may lead to comparatively lower-amplitude vibrations, but if you do so a vibration dampening mount is recommended to lessen the risk of damage to your iPhone and its OIS and AF systems. It is also recommended to avoid regular use for prolonged periods to further lessen the risk of damage.

Sounds like the issue is mitigated if you keep your iPhone in your pocket. If you do mount your camera on, say, your handlebars, will AppleCare+ still fix the issue? Is there fine print on this?

I looked through the AppleCare+ iPhone coverage web site, could not find any mention of this issue.

More detail on Apple’s rumored iPhone satellite plans

From Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac, yesterday:

In an investor note, Ming-Chi Kuo today said that he expects the upcoming iPhone 13 models to feature a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite communication mode. This would allow an iPhone 13 user to send messages and make phone calls, even when they are not within standard 4G/5G cell tower coverage.

And today, from Juli Clover, reporting on this paywalled Bloomberg article:

There are at least two emergency features that will rely on satellite networks, and while satellite technology has been in the works for years, these capabilities are not likely to launch in 2021.

The first feature, Emergency Message via Satellite, is designed to let users text emergency services and contacts using a satellite network when there is no signal available, and it will be integrated into the Messages app as a third communications protocol alongside SMS and iMessage. It will feature gray message bubbles rather than green or blue, and message length will be restricted.


The second feature will let users report major emergencies like plane crashes and fires using satellite networks. It will be similar to a “911” call in the U.S. and can provide information like a user’s location and medical ID, in addition to alerting emergency contacts.

Sounds like this will be built into the iPhone 13 hardware, not intended as an alternative to traditional carriers, and those grey bubbles won’t roll out until next year.

iPhone 13 and Portrait mode

The linked report from Mark Gurman is full of spoilers, so don’t follow the headline link if you want to be surprised by Apple’s coming hardware event.

And the text below has one of those spoilers, a tiny one, but one I think may compel a lot of people to make the leap to a new iPhone.

Read on, fairly warned:

The new handsets will include a video version of the phone’s Portrait mode feature.

Portrait mode, and the accompanying Portrait Lighting effects brought a huge wave of excitement and, I suspect a big wave of iPhone updates. Portrait mode arrived about 5 years ago (back in September 2016), hinted at with a much-analyzed bokeh invitation.

Portrait mode was possible because of a big leap in iPhone processing power. Bringing this power to video? That’s huge, sure to bring a new wave of TikToks taking advantage of the effect. And also (IMO) sure to bring a new wave of upgrades.

Some simple, yet powerful iPhone filmmaking techniques

Some great technique insights, in this short commissioned by Apple.

There’s forced perspective (little kid as giant monster), a cool low-budget crane shot, and a spooky lighting effect. All of these are shots you can recreate at home, and a good starting point for other shots you might be inspired to create with your own materials/equipment.

Fear of iPhone 13

Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac:

The iPhone 13 name would be off-putting to some 18% of iPhone and iPad users, who would describe themselves as triskaidekaphobic – that is, having a fear of the number 13.

The preferred alternative name would be iPhone (2021).

Famously, most tall buildings have no 13th floor. Because triskaidekaphobia, a superstitious fear of the number 13. There’s even a “thirteenth floor” Wikipedia page.

Will Apple push on with the name iPhone 13, despite the widespread (at least in the US) superstition? As Mike Glass points out, Apple didn’t have this issue with iOS 13, so my bet is on iPhone 13 and business as usual.

iOS 15: Find My network can still find your iPhone when it is powered off, or factory reset

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

With iOS 15, your iPhone is still traceable through the Find My network even when the device is powered off. It seems that with iOS 15, the phone is not really fully ‘powered off’, it stays in a low-power state and acts like an AirTag, allowing any nearby iOS device to pick up the Bluetooth signal and send back its location.

This also means if your iPhone runs out of battery during the day, you still have a chance of finding its location for several more hours. In fact, Apple says the location tracking will even keep working whilst the phone is reset to factory settings with Activation Lock enabled.

So if someone steals your iPhone and powers it off, or factory resets it, Find My will still work? At least if you get to it before it truly runs out of power?

This seems huge.

PSA: iPhone users reporting ‘SIM Failure’ error after updating to iOS 14.7 beta 2

Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac:

Apple today released iOS 14.7 beta 2 for developers, and while bugs and other weird issues are quite common in beta software, sometimes they can make your device nearly unusable. According to some reports, today’s beta seems to be causing a “SIM Failure” error for iPhone users.

Not enough data to know for sure, but this may be an eSim issue. But that said, if you’ve not yet made the leap, I’d hold off on installing the latest beta until this gets sorted.