If you’ve been daydreaming about the iPhone 13 over the past few days, then you’ll be happy to know that you can order one very soon. Preorders for each of the four new iPhones start at 8 am EDT (6 am PDT) on September 17. If you’re struggling to find the best deal, you don’t know which model to choose, or you’re wondering if you even need to upgrade, we’ve got you covered.
Below, we break down the differences between the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max, and have included details on how to preorder one of these shiny new slabs of glass (or multiple, we don’t judge).
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Is the Upgrade Necessary?
All four iPhone 13 models come with incremental changes over last year’s devices. Slightly longer battery life here, more internal storage there. That’s why we don’t think it’s a sound investment to upgrade if you currently own an iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, or iPhone 12 Pro Max.
That mostly rings true for anyone with an iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro. Unless you’re really into the boxier frame of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, have cash to spare, and want to future-proof your device with 5G connectivity, then you’re good with what you have. If you’re dealing with poor battery life, the first step is to try a battery replacement, which can go a long way in extending the life of your device for a nominal fee.
Got an older iPhone? Then have at it! Snag that iPhone 13 with no regrets.
Choose Your iPhone
The iPhone 13 offers some noteworthy improvements over the 2020 range. Each model includes the A15 Bionic chip for slightly better performance, plus longer battery life, more internal storage, improved camera sensors, and new colors. The 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max are the first iPhones with ProMotion, a 120-Hz refresh rate, which you can read more about here.
Just like last year, there’s 5G support, but it shouldn’t be the sole reason to get a new iPhone, since 5G availability is still rather sparse in the US and not that different from 4G LTE in day-to-day use. To see more differences between each model, Apple’s comparison tool can help.
Journaling can be as simple as tapping in your Notes app. But I recommend pen and paper. A simple paper planner can double as a journal, as well as help you keep track of your tasks. Here are our favorites. I also like Miquelrius notebooks, because the paper is so delightfully soft.
The Blue Sky Thoughtful Journal ($35) is good for figuring out what to write. It offers prompts, including intentions and aspirations; weekly highs and lows; places to describe a perfect day or favorite attribute about yourself; as well as plain pages for free writing.
Gabriela Herstik’s Embody Your Magick: A Guided Journal for the Modern Witch ($15) is a great option for the witches among us, to guide you through your spiritual practice and get to know yourself a little better.
Read, Read, Read
I used to go through multiple books a month, until my phone, and then college and work, started taking up more of my time. But there’s nothing like cracking open a new book and settling into an alternate world. Plus, filling up bookshelves is an easy way to decorate and make your sanctuary a little warmer.
I prefer real books, but I’ve recently come to appreciate the Kindle. Many ebooks are cheaper than the hard copy, and if you have a library card (and if you don’t, what are you waiting for?) you can check out ebooks for free.
Mind, Body, and Soul
It’s important to focus on your mental health during this time, but attending to your physical health can give you a mood boost as well.
Some people work out to relieve stress and feel calm. I am not one of those people, but I do take their word for it. WIRED reviews editor Adrienne So put together a guide on how to work out from home that will help even the laziest and most out-of-shape (me) to get moving.
If working out sounds more stress-inducing than stress-relieving, but you still want to stay somewhat active, try yoga. We have some tips on how to make the perfect yoga space at home, from where to buy an inexpensive yoga mat to how to decorate your corner. Yoga melts away my stress and helps build muscle.
Whether your muscles get sore from working out or from slouching over your computer for the 100th day in a row, a muscle massager (also known as a percussive device) might help fix you right up. We love the expensive Theragun, but there are more affordable options, like the SKG F5 ($129), which adds heat, and the nonpercussive Sharper Image Powerboost ($130).
Clear Your Mind
Meditation is an extremely beneficial tool to feel calm. We are constantly plugged in to what’s happening in the world, and right now especially, it’s weighing on us. Setting aside time to meditate, with your phone on silent, will give you at least a few minutes of peace.
All you need to meditate is yourself and a quiet place. But it can be hard to turn off your thoughts and focus on the task at hand. We have some tips for how to get the most out of a simple meditation app. A few that we like include the Headspace app (iOS and Android), which has an easy-to-follow beginner’s course, a decent free library of guided meditations, and Andy Puddicombe’s soothing British voice. Unplug (iOS and Android) has a seven-day free trial. Both have super-short courses, which are perfect for when you’re in desperate need of a mental break.
I love running for the sole reason you can do it anywhere. I’ve run in foreign cities, using the time to explore back alleys and lesser-known monuments. In total, I’ve completed 13 marathons, including Boston, New York, and Chicago. I even ran the Beijing marathon in China.
I felt alive pounding the pavement day after day, running with like-minded friends. But two cross-country moves and a couple of children later, I was running solo and not enjoying myself. I gave up and joined the local gym.
When the pandemic hit, we bought a Peloton. I’d never taken a spin class, but I wanted a way to exercise from home that wasn’t mind-numbingly boring. Membership to the Peloton universe came with an app. One I ignored for at least six months.
After a few days visiting my parents at Christmas, I needed to blow off steam. So I grabbed my sneakers and headed out the door. I opened the Peloton app and found a 20-minute outdoor run. What the heck, I thought. Why not give it a try?
A voice spoke in my ear while an up-tempo song played. She took me through a few stretches and gradually increased the pace, calling for 20-second sprints and minute-long recoveries. Before I knew it, the class ended, and I’d run harder than I had in a long time.
The combination of pop music and guidance from the cheery Brit left me exhilarated. Sweat poured down my face, my heart pounded, and I couldn’t wait to do it again. Connecting with the right app provides a low-tech solution to the most common exercise problems — knowing what to do and when to do it, and having the motivation to get out the door.
There are several guided running apps like Peloton’s, from freemium to subscription-based, including Apple Fitness+, Nike+Run Club, Garmin Connect, Strava, and Aaptiv (to name a few). There’s even an app called Zombies, Run! where zombies chase you, and you have to outrun them. Each app provides a variety of challenges while tracking your mileage and pace for a monthly fee. In addition, some offer coaching and training programs.
“I started running with an app called Couch to 5K,” says Jeff Barton, editor of Runner’s Life. “It was the catalyst that ignited my passion for running because it provided step-by-step instructions and took the guesswork out of building a training plan.” Virtual coaches helped him stick with it, leading him to win an age group award in his first race.
After Couch to 5K, Barton moved on to Nike’s app because he liked keeping up with his daily stats and no longer needed the training plan. I tried Strava, which offers a vibrant social networking component. You can upload pictures and share your workouts with friends. I liked many of the features, and the free version is fine for most, but as an introvert I didn’t use the social component.
The Power of the Playlist
A new study, published in the Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, backs up what I experienced. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found runners who listened to a motivational playlist after completing a series of mentally demanding tasks ran at the same pace and perceived effort level as when they weren’t mentally exhausted.
The researchers speculate running to a motivational playlist is an excellent strategy for getting the most of your workout when you’re mentally exhausted. I agree. The right music can turn a drudgery of a workout into a far more pleasant experience.
This can also vary from game to game. Just look at the painstakingly crafted sound design of Overwatch, where every footstep and vocal cue conveys crucial information to the player. Or how Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice uses binaural audio recording techniques to reproduce the effects of psychosis, with the voices in Senua’s head feeling like they’re whispering just above you. Adding filters that adjust the game’s sound mix—at least, without the influence of the game’s developers—could very well harm the intention of the game’s design.
That’s why, after years of testing headsets and experimenting with different games, I generally don’t recommend the virtual surround feature built into gaming headsets. But if you’re still interested in the tech, here’s some buying advice as you filter through the noise.
First, remember that virtual surround is an enhancement, not a make-or-break feature—so prioritize it accordingly. There are a lot of other things that go into a good gaming headset, like comfort, reliable wireless connectivity, and the general sound quality (for standard stereo signals). All of these are crucial to a good experience, and there’s no sense in compromising on those for a “nice to have” extra like virtual surround.
Next, consider software solutions that aren’t tied to specific headsets. Some games, like Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, have their own free surround features in their respective settings, which are often better than what comes with gaming headsets. And even if a game doesn’t have an option for “virtual surround,” it may allow you to choose between speakers and headphones, which can make a difference in how the audio is presented.
In addition, Xbox and PC users can try the built-in Windows Sonic surround feature, which is free and works with any game. You can also download the Dolby Access app to try out Dolby Atmos for Headphones and DTS Sound Unbound for DTS Headphone:X, two other virtual surround algorithms that work with Windows’ system-wide spatial audio. They work with any game, but some games come with baked-in support for positional data that will provide more accurate results. In my testing, both Dolby and DTS sound much better than your typical “7.1” gaming headset. DTS even has some configuration options to tune their algorithm to your preferences and the specific set of headphones you’re using—whether it’s a gaming headset or a pair of traditional over-ear cans. Dolby and DTS cost $15 and $20 respectively, but you can give their free trial a shot before you buy.
If you’re gaming on the PS5, you can’t use Dolby or DTS, but Sony has its own 3D audio system that you can configure in the Sound settings.
None of this is to say you need to avoid headsets with virtual surround built in. The feature tends to come standard on mid-range and high-end headsets, and many of those are still worth the money on their other merits. I myself love the HyperX Cloud Flight S for its comfort, ease of use, and wireless charging—I just leave the surround feature off most of the time (though I do play with Dolby Atmos occasionally). And at my PC, I often play with wired audiophile headphones since I don’t need wireless connectivity—and they provide better sound quality than just about any gaming headset out there.
Of course, your ears are different from mine, which are different from your favorite hardware reviewer’s, so no one can tell you what sounds best to you. It depends heavily on how well your ear matches that specific HRTF algorithm, and how a given game’s sound interacts with it. I would merely caution against paying extra for a headset’s USB surround add-on, or paying extra for a headset just because it has the feature. Instead, grab whatever headphones fit your needs best. If they contain a virtual surround feature, feel free to try it out—but compare it with the software-based options out there too, along with the standard two-channel mix. That way, when you finally decide what to use, you’ll be confident it’s actually an improvement—and not an echoey mess propped up by marketing.
A good host always shares Wi-Fi with visitors, but explaining which network to join and spelling out the password (if you even remember it) can get tedious. Maybe you think you remember it, but it’s just not working and you insist your guest must be typing it in wrong. Then it hits you, you’ve been reciting your email password. Hey, it can happen to anyone.
There’s a much easier way to bestow Wi-Fi connectivity to your guests. If your router offers the option of creating a guest network, which we recommend because it helps you maintain a more secure Wi-Fi network, then that’s the password you should give them. Either way, here’s how to share Wi-Fi access quickly and easily on different devices.
How to Share Your Wi-Fi on iPhone, iPad, or Mac
Sharing Wi-Fi passwords between Apple devices is very easy, but your visitor needs to be listed in your Contacts and vice versa. Once you’re in each other’s Contacts list, make sure iPhones are on iOS 11 or newer, Macs on macOS High Sierra or later, and iPads on iPadOS. Here’s how to share it:
Turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on both devices, ensure Personal Hotspot is turned off, and make sure their device is unlocked and nearby.
Your device should be connected to the Wi-Fi network you want to share. (Connect to the guest network if that’s what you’re sharing.)
Have your guest select your Wi-Fi network from the list of available options on their device.
You will get a pop-up message on your device asking if you want to share your Wi-Fi password.
Tap Share Password.
How to Share Your Wi-Fi on Android
Photograph: Simon Hill
Not all Android phones have the same Settings menu, so yours might look different. Head to the Settings app and tap on Network and Internet.
With Android devices, you can use a QR code to share Wi-Fi details, provided the phones or tablets in question are running Android 10 or later. Here’s how:
Make sure your device is connected to the Wi-Fi network you want to share and go to Settings, Network and Internet (it might be called Connections depending on your device), then Wi-Fi.
Tap on the cog next to your Wi-Fi network.
Tap the Share icon on the right and you should see a QR code on the screen. (You may have to authenticate this action.)
Have your guest scan the QR code. You can scan QR codes using the regular camera app with most phones, including iPhones. If your guest has an Android phone, on their device head to Settings, Connections (or Network and Internet), then Wi-Fi. Scroll down to find where it says Add Network; next to it, you’ll see a QR code icon. Tap on it and they can now quickly scan the code.
Scanning the code should automatically connect the device.
How to Find Your Wi-Fi Password on Windows
Microsoft used to allow you to automatically share your Wi-Fi details with contacts through something called Wi-Fi Sense, but it was scrapped due to security concerns. Sadly, there’s now no quick and easy way to share a Wi-Fi password from a Windows device. All I can show you is how to find your Wi-Fi password in Windows:
Click on the Windows icon, then the Settings gear icon on the left, and choose Network & Internet.
Make sure you’re on the Status tab at the top left, then choose Network and Sharing Center.
Click on your network where it says Connections: Wi-Fi [your network name]. (This won’t work if you’re connected via Ethernet.)
Choose Wireless Properties in the pop-up window.
Select the Security tab and tick the Show characters box under the Network security key.
Have your guest pick the right network on their device and type in the password you found.
Now that you’ve hooked your guests up, read our guides on how to make your Wi-Fi faster and how to secure it.