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iPhone 13 camera megapixels: 12MP is better than 108MP on other phones

iPhone 13 Mini
(Image credit: James Artaius)

It's crazy to me. My iPhone 13 camera megapixels amount to just 12MP – a resolution that seems positively paltry on paper. And with 48MP and even 108MP phones now commonplace, it makes my phone feel a bit feeble.

Is that really the case, though? Because whenever I use other handsets – even the best camera phones (opens in new tab) like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (opens in new tab) – I find that the images I take on my iPhone are almost always better. The iPhone 13 (opens in new tab) camera megapixels, limited though they may be, simply produce superior photographs.

• What's the best iPhone for photography? (opens in new tab)

That's just my personal perspective, of course. And it only applies to the rear camera; I'm not going to pretend that the 8MP selfie camera is anything to write home about. However, in a world where the megapixel wars are still raging – and where rumors are swirling that the iPhone 14 Pro could have a 48MP primary camera – more doesn't necessarily mean better (just more expensive).

We've already danced this dance before, with traditional cameras. Armchair quarterbacks bemoaned that the Canon EOS R3 (opens in new tab) "only" had a 24.1MP image sensor, but anyone who has actually used it will tell you how the quality, dynamic range, ISO performance, noise and virtually any other metric blows away that of higher resolution sensors that are typically thought of as "better".

The same is true of the iPhone 13. It doesn't matter whether I'm shooting in harsh sunlight, the dead of night, at a rock concert, baseline at a basketball game, photographing a pet… the pictures are always great. Yes, there's a whole lot of computational trickery going on, but Apple just does it so much better than everyone else seems to. 

Images I get from the Samsung are usually grainy, washed out, lacking in detail or definition, and just sometimes just plain 'muddy'. And there's a reason that shooting at the full 108MP resolution is just an option, not the default, on these high-res phones.

I'm not an Apple fanboy – I don't care what logo is on my phone, I just care about the pictures it takes. And right now, I'll take these 12 meagre megapixels any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

Read more: 

iPhone 13 review
(opens in new tab)iPhone 13 Pro review
(opens in new tab)iPhone 13 Pro Max review
(opens in new tab)iPhone 13 Mini review (opens in new tab)

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.