Apple only launched its most recent array of iPhones a few months ago, but we’re already looking forward to what the company could have in store for the iPhone 13 in 2021. Read on to discover everything we know about the iPhone 13 series so far, as well as all the things we’d like to see in Apple’s next smartphone.
Apple delivered improvements across the board with the iPhone 12. The base model, in particular, offered a more Pro-level experience than its predecessor, and the introduction of the Mini introduced an option for those of us yearning for the days of truly pocket-sized phones.
While Mini sales may have lagged this year, there are a few reasons this may be and we’re hoping Apple doesn’t give up on its baby iPhone just yet.
It’s still quite early to say what Apple will bring to the table for 2021, but we’re already seeing a good amount of leaks and rumours to give us an idea of what to expect from the iPhone 13 (and beyond).
Read on to see everything we think we know about the iPhone 13 so far, including the release date, design, specs and camera. Don’t forget to bookmark this guide either, as we will update it regularly as more news emerges.
iPhone 13 release date – when will the phone launch?
The iPhone 13 is expected to launch toward the end of 2021.
Usually, we would expect Apple to unveil its flagship smartphone in September, but the ongoing pandemic has caused plenty of delays in the tech world over the past year. Apple launched its iPhone 12 series on October 13, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the 13 followed in its footsteps.
iPhone 13 design – we might finally get a smaller notch
Both Digitimes (via Forbes) and MacOtakara have suggested that the next iPhone will work of reducing the size of its somewhat dated notch, with the latter also reporting that the phone will be 0.26mm thicker.
More recently, Twitter tipster @MauriGHD shared the above tweet seemingly confirming that Apple has created an entirely notch-less prototype at the expense of larger bezels. However, the leaker also indicated that Apple may not make the leap to fully notch-less until the iPhone 14 in 2022, so we won’t get our hopes up just yet.
The chances we may get a smaller notch seemed to rise in early March thanks to a research note from the reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. That would be welcomed, especially if Apple launches an iPhone 13 mini. The notch for the smaller iPhone 12 handset is particularly abundant.
iPhone 13 specs and features – a 120Hz display, the return of TouchID and an always-on display
As far as the display itself goes, Jon Prosser of Front Page Tech believes the iPhone 13 will definitely be getting LTPO displays, allowing Apple to include a 120Hz refresh rate on its ProMotion screen. That was backed-up by the influential analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who asserts both technologies will be coming to some versions of the iPhone 13.
As with previous models, there are rumours Apple will finally ditch the Lightning port and go completely wireless. Prosser tweeted about a port-less iPhone 2021 last May, suggesting the phones will never adopt USB-C despite pressure from the EU to make the port a universal standard.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via Apple Insider) recently suggested that Apple is “aggressively” testing a vapor chamber thermal system to be used in the iPhone, allowing Apple to handle higher thermal loads caused by the adoption of 5G and increased CPU performance. As of March 1 2021, Kuo somewhat backed away from those predictions.
In a new note to investors (via MacRumors) Kuo wrote: “If the iPhone abandons Lightning in the future, it may directly adopt the portless design with MagSafe support instead of using a USB-C port. At present, the MagSafe ecosystem is not mature enough, so the iPhone will continue to use the Lightning port in the foreseeable future.”
Lastly, Apple could be revamping its sign in features, with rumours of a return to TouchID alongside the iPhone’s existing Face ID capabilities. The under-display fingerprint tech, which has also been reported by the Wall Street Journal, would be especially handy right now as it would give users wearing masks an alternative fast option to sign into their phones and use features like Apple Pay in shops.
Apple is already testing a feature to combat this common issue – and you can try it out right now – but you’ll also need an Apple Watch to use it, so we’re looking forward to the company possibly providing an option that doesn’t require an extra piece of tech.
Another new feature that might be coming with the iPhone 13 is an always-on display, a feature that will be familiar to Android users. This news comes from leaker Max Weinbach (via YouTube channel EverythingApplePro), who says the clock and battery icons will be visible on the display even when it’s off. You could also see your incoming notifications this way, with the whole display no longer needing to light up.
Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors) also believes the iPhone 13 range will arrive with a larger battery pack, made possible by some space-saving efficiency inside the phone. That’ll include integrating the e-SIM into the logic board and trimming the Face ID components, Kuo says.
iPhone 13 camera – an upgraded ultra-wide lens
We haven’t heard of any major updates to Apple’s flagship camera just yet.
So far, Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis and Thomas O’Malley (via MacRumors) have predicted a f/1.8 aperture for the ultra-wide lens in all four iPhone 13 models. This is wider than the f/2.4 aperture found on the iPhone 12 and would offer better low-light performance. However, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the upgraded ultra-wide lens will only be available on the Pro model.
Kuo (via 9to5Mac) has also suggested Apple will introduce a periscope-style lens that’ll offer up to 10x optical zoom without bulking out the body of the phone, following the trend seen in other flagships right now, but this isn’t expected to debut until the iPhone 14 in 2022. The sensor-shift image stabilisation will be carried over from the iPhone 12 Pro Max too, he says.
Read on to discover everything else we hope to see in the iPhone 13 this year…
What do we want from the iPhone 13?
1. A high refresh, ProMotion display
Arguably the biggest missing feature from the iPhone 12 line is a faster refresh rate display, like the ProMotion panels we’ve got on the high-end iPad Pro. Screens with a faster refresh rate than 60Hz look smoother during operation, are more responsive when gaming and they have become commonplace on Android phones at all price points.
Rumour has it some models of the 12 Pro Max were tested with a faster display, but that it was ditched to ensure strong battery life along with 5G. Whether this is the case or not, hopefully it’s something we’ll see next year.
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2. Get rid of the notch
The notch has been dipping into the display of iPhones since the X a few years ago and while it’s easy to get used to, it’s still one of the few design elements that could be improved.
Sorry to compare to Android again, but we’ve seen phones from Samsung, Motorola and OnePlus tackle the notch and minimise its size.
Of course, with the iPhones you’ve got the small problem of FaceID which requires a bevvy of sensors to work as well as it does. If Apple can find a way to reduce the space needed for these sensors, then maybe we might see a smaller notch on the iPhone 13.
3. Give us the TouchID and Face ID combo
FaceID remains the finest facial unlocking system on any phone, as it works accurately in all manner of situations and rarely fails. It has one big issue though: it’s rubbish when you’re wearing a mask, something that feels like it’s going to be a sticking point for quite some time.
The easiest way to combat that is the reintroduction of TouchID, ideally embedded inside the lock button just like it is on the iPad Air 4. This gives you the practicality of a fingerprint sensor with the ease of FaceID.
4. Speed up MagSafe charging
We’re big fans of the new MagSafe Charger you can buy alongside the iPhone 12 (well, aside from the fact that it doesn’t come with a plug). It’s the most practical form of wireless charging as the magnets mean you can use the phone while it’s charging and the puck is incredibly small. Still, when compared to wired charging it’s about 50% slower. If Apple really does want to eventually go portless, the wireless solution needs to be a little bit faster.
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Apple now uses the hugely convenient USB-C port on its laptop and tablets, but with the iPhone 12 we’re still stuck with Lightning.
A move to USB-C on the iPhone once seemed like a possibility, however with the rumours of a portless iPhone coming it seems like it might never happen. But, if we had our way the iPhone 13 would ditch Lightning and go for USB-C.