As I established three years ago, the iPhone is very good for taking pictures of dogs. Back in 2019, the newest iPhone at the time — the iPhone 11 Pro Max — captured stunning photos of dogs with incredible visual accuracy. So, perhaps unsurprisingly, the newest iPhone — now the 13 Pro Max — is also quite good for taking pictures of dogs.
But it is even better for taking pictures of pigs — piglets in particular.
This is most likely due to the recent improvements Apple brought to the device, whose neural engine can now perform a head-exploding 15.8 trillion operations per second — triple the already incomprehensible 5 trillion it could perform in 2019. Paired with an upgraded camera system that includes a 3X telephoto lens and some slick machine vision enhancements like cinematic mode (which is like portrait mode for video), the 13 Pro is a computational photography beast. If you don’t believe me, check out the pig pic below. Before you do, consider this: In 2019, I argued that as a test of smartphone camera performance, dogs are the gold standard: They rarely stay still, and capturing the detail in their fur and eyes is a challenge. This is doubly true of a pen of squirming piglets.
See? This delightful piglet did not pose for this shot, nor did I attempt to pose it or set up the photo in any way. I simply stuck my phone into the pen and clicked its shutter button over and over again as the piglets swarmed around me like puppies. In other words, I didn't even try. You don't even have to try is an incredible feature in a smartphone camera.
Now, I could go on in detail about the 13 Pro’s design and specs and build a compelling case for someone looking to rationalize the purchase of a $1,099 phone. A better display! More than a day’s worth of battery! But we all know how that goes, right? (If you must read a thorough review, I suggest this very good one by Lauren Goode.) So instead I’ll quote from “The Last iPhone Review You'll Ever Need To Read,” something I wrote back in 2018.
Author Michael Pollan once reduced the entirety of a healthy human diet to a simple three-phrase dictum: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Here’s a similar one for smartphone purchases: Pick the ecosystem you like. Spend what you can afford. Buy the newest device.
That’s a reasonable calculus for buying a new smartphone when the time comes to upgrade these days, I think. And if you follow it, it’s likely that the screen on your phone will be beautiful; the battery life will be great; the camera will take fantastic photos; media will render quickly; the apps will be great. It will serve you well.
Beyond that, who gives a shit, really. I’m not sure I do — anymore. And I have been endlessly fascinated by the evolution of the smartphone. My kids definitely don't, nor do their peers. And yet they are ferocious users of smartphones. They use their phones with a brutal thoroughness that is sometimes shocking — like a line cook uses a spatula. But they care about smartphones — their design, their capabilities — the way you might care about a TV, or a hairdryer.
Thing performs intended functions well. Thing good!
So, should you buy the iPhone 13? I don’t know, but check out these freaking pig pics.
Incidentally, the glorious pigs and piglets featured above and below live at Rusty Hinges Ranch, a regenerative farm in Petaluma, California. They're KuneKune heritage pigs, a breed first cultivated by the Maori of New Zealand. They live their entire lives outdoors, grazing, rooting, foraging, and napping as pigs should.