iPhone 13 still loses to Android phones in several key areas

Apple Event and iPhone 13

Tim Cook

Apple / Screenshot by James Martin / CNET

Apple gave iPhone owners plenty to get excited about iPhone 13. From its new cinematic video mode to his longer battery life and extra storage space, iPhone 13 is a welcome improvement over its predecessor. But there are still a few useful features Apple’s phones lack in comparison to Android competitors such as Samsung Galaxy S21.

For example, many Android phones have a borderless display with a notch-free design and a fingerprint sensor built into the display. These features are also not new and have been available on some Android phones for years.

That being said, the iPhone has come a long way in the last two years. Before iPhone 13 debuted, that iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 got features that were previously only available on Android devices, such as 5G support, OLED screen technology on entry-level phones, and night mode for the camera.

Read CNET’s reviews of iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro.

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What the iPhone 13 is still missing


Your phone preference probably depends on whether you prefer iOS or Android over specific features. Either way, there are still a few ways I would like to see the iPhone catch up with Android.

A chin-free design


OnePlus 9 has a borderless screen without notches.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

The iPhone 13’s notch is not quite as wide as the iPhone 12’s, but it is definitely present. Many Android device manufacturers, on the other hand, have managed to design screens with camera cutouts that are barely visible, making the front of the phone feel more like a seamless glass plate.

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 smartphones, for example, have a small hole for the camera located near the top of the screen, and it has implemented similar designs on their flagship devices since the Galaxy S10 was launched in 2019. The same can be said about Google Pixel 5a and OnePlus 9.

However, there may be a good reason why the iPhone’s notch is larger than the notch on Samsung’s phone and other Android devices. The iPhone’s notch includes more than just the selfie camera; this is also where the sensors that power Apple’s Face ID face recognition feature are located. Face ID has generally been considered to be ahead of the competition and more secure.

A screen that can display the time and calendar events, even when it is asleep


If you are willing to pay the price for battery life, Xiaomi has a feature that is always available on the screen.

Sareena Dayaram / CNET

When your iPhone’s screen is off, your phone becomes an inactive black rectangle. However, many modern Android phones can display information such as time and calendar events, even when the screen is idle. Device manufacturers including Samsung, Google and Xiaomi have all released phones with always-on screens.

I have found this useful when I just want to quickly check the time or see my next meeting without being distracted by taking my phone.

The ability to charge other devices when you are not near an electrical outlet


This feature lets you charge your Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Watch with your Note 10.

Sarah Tew

Many people have a habit of charging their phones overnight. But if you own a smartwatch or wireless earphones, chances are you forgot to plug them in at least once.

Android phones like Samsung’s Galaxy S21, Google’s Pixel 5 and older Galaxy phones like S20 and S10 have a feature that can be useful in situations like this. Samsung calls it Wireless Power Share and Google calls it Battery Share, but they do basically the same thing. The back of these devices can act as wireless charging pads for products that comply with the Qi wireless charging standard found on most modern phones and accessories.

Apple did not mention this feature below iPhone 13 launch event, so we can only assume that the company’s latest smartphones do not support it. But there have been some previous hints that Apple is at least considering bringing such technology to the iPhone. In October 2020, FCC applications appeared, suggesting this iPhone 12 was capable of reverse wireless charging, probably to turn on your AirPods on the go.

An on-screen fingerprint sensor to unlock your phone


Face ID works well most of the time, but not while wearing a mask. If you are an iPhone owner without an Apple Watch, you probably miss the old days when you could just rest your thumb on the start button to unlock your iPhone.

Unfortunately, that does not change with the iPhone 13. Android phone manufacturers like Samsung and OnePlus, on the other hand, have a different approach. Samsung has been building fingerprint scanners into the screens of its Galaxy S phones ever since Galaxy S10 launched in 2019. You’ll also find a fingerprint reader integrated into the screens of the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro.

A charger that also works with Macs and non-Apple devices


iPhone 13 still uses a Lightning cable for charging.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could use the same charger to power your iPhone and Mac? Do not get your hopes up.

The iPhone 13, like all iPhone models since the iPhone 5, includes Apple’s proprietary Lightning port for charging. You can also charge iPhone 13 through Apple’s MagSafe charger or a standard Qi wireless charger, but if you want to connect it, use Lightning.

It’s a shame there is no USB-C support on iPhone, despite being the charging standard on Apple’s iPad Air, iPad Pro, MacBook laptops and brand new iPad Mini. Using one type of charger to power all your devices is exactly the type of simplicity I would like to see from Apple.

USB-C is the established charging standard on Android devices, whether you buy a phone from Samsung, OnePlus, Google or Motorola. Needless to say, these included USB-C cables are much more ubiquitous and useful than iPhones, as you can use them with other devices and accessories as well.

It’s unclear if we’ll ever see USB-C come to the iPhone. Apple is said to work on a portless iPhone and its MagSafe charging system certainly acts as a step in that direction.

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