Apple only launched its most recent array of iPhones at the end of 2020, 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 about the iPhone 13 series so far.
Apple’s current line up consists of the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max and the all-new iPhone Mini.
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.
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.
In other iPhone 13 release news, Apple has recently announced that WWDC will kick off on June 7. The Worldwide Developers Conference is usually where we see Apple unveil the next version of its iOS software, with iOS 15 set to be announced this year.
iOS 15 will likely launch very close to the iPhone 13 and should come installed on Apple’s next flagship. The announcement could also give us some clues about what’s to come with the iPhone 13.
iPhone 13 specs and features – a 120Hz display, the return of TouchID and an always-on display
This was backed up by the influential analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who asserts both technologies will be coming to some versions of the iPhone 13.
Further evidence for the switch to LTPO comes from a DigiTimes report, which reports both Samsung and LG Display are converting parts of their production into making LTPO displays for Apple. The report (via MacRumors) also states these displays are more efficient, with 15-20% less power required.
No Lightning port?
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. On March 12 Barclays analyst Andrew Gardiner added his voice to the choir expecting this to arrive on the iPhone 13.
In a note to investors (via MacRumors), he wrote: “We also view the adoption of fingerprint-under-glass, that likely is added in the 2H21 iPhones, as a structural headwind for additional 3D sensing content at Apple and could be the security feature of the future.”
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 design – we might finally get a smaller notch
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 battery – help is on the way!
As we’ve heard from previous leaks, the iPhone 13 range will find room for bigger cells by trimming components in other areas. However, there’ll be no avoiding the iPhone 13 gaining a little weight as a result, Kuo says.
He wrote (via MacRumors): “The new 2H21 iPhone models feature a larger battery capacity than the iPhone 12 series, thanks to the space-saving design of many components. Hence, the new 2H21 iPhone models are also slightly heavier than the iPhone 12. The space-saving design includes integrating the SIM card slot with the mainboard, reducing the front optical modules’ thickness, etc.”
It’s not clear how much heavier the iPhone 13 range will be, if larger batteries are deployed, but the iPhone 12 Pro Max already comes in as a girthy 228 grams. It’s also possible the larger batteries won’t have that great an effect on runtime, but with rumours of a 120Hz display, a larger cell might be needed to retain the current pace.
In our iPhone 12 Pro review, our own Max Parker wrote: “Apple improved the battery life notably last year with the iPhone 11 Pro, and you’ll get roughly the same endurance from the new model largely due to the addition of 5G and larger display. I’ve been comfortably getting through the day and managing to hit six hours of screen-on time. If you’re coming from an iPhone X or XS, you’ll notice the improvement.”
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.