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19 May 2023

Why we score the iPhone 13 higher than 14

And find out which model our mobile phone expert would buy. 

If you’ve checked out our mobile phones test results lately, you might have wondered if we made a mistake. The iPhone 13 has an overall score of 78% while the iPhone 14 is behind on 77%.  

Surely the latest model should score higher than an older one, right? Especially when it costs $200 more.  

Our mobile phones expert Nick Gelling has pored over the data from the test lab and says it’s no mistake. The iPhone 13 Pro also scored higher than the 14 Pro. 

“We have to remember that Apple’s business model is based on getting sales every single year. They can’t afford to have a year where everyone sits out and waits for the next iPhone, so they need the public to believe that this year’s model is the best iPhone ever. Don’t believe the hype,” Nick said. 

“The truth is Apple phones haven’t changed much for at least three years, since the iPhone 12, and arguably even further back. It’s partially a pandemic effect – Apple offices were closed for a long time with engineers and designers working in isolation, which surely stifled innovation. But also, these products have reached such a high benchmark that it’s hard to find stuff to improve.” 

While our testing shows the iPhone 14 has improved on the 13 in some areas, there are some important areas where we found the 13 does better, which led to it getting a higher score.    

In our test, the iPhone 14 rated higher than the 13 for camera quality (76% vs 71%) and audio quality (82% vs 76%). But the iPhone 13 outscored the 14 in other areas, including battery life and ease of use. 

“The new phones take even better photos, especially in low light. The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus are also more repairable, thanks to a redesigned internal structure. But, in a classic Apple move, the focus on maximising performance and the vibrancy of the display has made a small dent in the iPhone 14’s battery life. That’s despite the battery capacity increasing by 3% - it isn’t enough to keep up with the extra demand.”  

Nick said if you’re deciding between an iPhone 13 and 14 model, to check out our test results and see how they scored on the factors most important to you.  

“But honestly, I think the differences between the iPhone 13 and 14 are so minor that it’s important to zoom out to the wider context. Which can you get cheaper? Can you get one refurbished for a bargain?

We asked Nick which one he’d personally choose out of the two and his answer was “neither”. Instead, he reckons he’d be better off buying the 2022 iPhone SE. At about $850 it’s a lot cheaper than the iPhone 13 and 14 models, which start at $1399 and $1599.  

“They don’t test as well on some of our measures in the lab, but they’re good enough for many consumers,” he said. 

See the rest of our mobile phones test results to find out: 

  • The phone that costs less than $700 but scores just as well as phones over $1500. 

  • Which phone we think is the best, from a list of 71 phones tested. 

  • Which brand’s phones score higher – Apple or Samsung? 

  • How easy it is to repair your phone if things go wrong using our repairability index.  

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