iPhone 13 vs. purple iPhone 12: What to consider before you upgrade

We're past the probable halfway point between the iPhone 12 and 13, and Apple goes and releases a pretty new purple color.

Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
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  • Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
Patrick Holland
3 min read
Purple iPhone 12

The iPhone 12 got a fresh new purple hue this spring, just a few months before the rumored iPhone 13 release date.


Apple released a new color for the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini this spring, and it's purple. It's on sale now, but I got my hands on one of the new phones ahead of time. And I can indeed confirm, it's purple. But the timing of the new color is six months after Apple launched the iPhone 12 series and less than six months away from the rumored iPhone 13. So should you buy one or wait? I promise to explain.

Purple is the sixth color for the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini, which come in black, white, blue, green, Product Red and now purple. There were six colors in Apple's rainbow logo, which the company used from the late '70s through the '90s, and which also had purple in it. The new purple color isn't available on the iPhone 12 Pro or 12 Pro Max, which makes sense because the Pro models usually stick to graphite, silver and gold finishes.

Read more: Best eco-friendly iPhone 12 and 12 Pro cases

Watch this: Hands-on with the purple iPhone 12

The purple iPhone 12 and 12 Mini went on sale in April. Prices start at $829 (£799, AU$1,350) for the iPhone 12 or $799 if you activate it on a carrier when you buy it. The purple iPhone 12 Mini starts at $729 (£699, AU$1,199) or $699 with a carrier discount.

Unboxing the iPhone 12 in purple is, no surprise, exactly the same as unboxing any other iPhone 12 or 12 Mini. It has the same thinner box design that Apple rolled out in October as a way to reduce its impact on the environment. The box has the purple phone on it with the word iPhone and the Apple logo in purple. 

It comes with the same accessories as other iPhone 12 models: a single Lightning-to-USB-C cable. Apple doesn't include wired headphones or a wall charger in the box any more.

My first reaction to seeing the phone in-person? Yeah, that's purple. In the promotion video at the event, the purple color looked like a deep rich shade, like Prince purple. Or Joker from Batman purple. But this is actually a pretty light purple. Almost like an Easter purple.

Last year, there was the iPhone 11 in purple, but that was more of a light lavender color. The purple on the iPhone 12 looks richer, but gives off the same positive vibes.

iPhone 12's new purple color is pastel perfection

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The flat aluminum edges on the iPhone 12 are also purple and match the back. It definitely looks striking in-person. But even though the color is new, everything else about the phone is the same. It has the same support for 5G . The OLED screen is covered with Apple's ceramic shield. The body has an IP68 rating for dust- and water-resistance. It supports MagSafe wireless charging and accessories. It has the same A14 Bionic processor, runs on iOS 14 software and even has the same cameras.

And that brings me to the question: Should you buy it? We're at that weird halfway point in the typical iPhone refresh cycle. And it's smart for Apple to release a new color to help spur interest in the iPhone 12.

iPhone 12 purple
Patrick Holland/CNET

In most cases, if you're due for an upgrade and are looking to get an iPhone, it would be silly to wait. Get the iPhone 12 and rest comfortably knowing that Apple supports its phones four or even five years after they're released with OS and security updates.

If you know you'll want the latest and the newest and you can wait six months, you probably already know your decision. And if you love all things purple, what are you waiting for? But let's be real for a moment. No matter which phone you get or which color it is, most people will likely take this purple beauty and put it in a case.