September is upon us, meaning we’ll likely see Apple’s new flagship smartphone in the very near future. Keep reading to find out everything we know about the iPhone 13 so far.
If history is anything to go by, Apple holds its launch events in September each year, with the 2020 event being the only analogy as the event happened in October.
Last year we saw the launch of four new models, including the iPhone 12, the iPhone 12 Pro, the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the first iPhone Mini.
All four smartphones got four and a half stars from us, with the iPhone 12 being particularly impressive with a lot of Pro-like improvements over Apple’s previous models.
Nearly a year on, we’re so close to seeing what Apple has to offer us this time around. Here’s everything we know about the newest iPhone, including rumours on battery life, new always-on display tech and the unfortunate dismissal of Touch ID.
Release date – when will the phone launch?
The iPhone 13 is expected to launch toward the end of 2021, in either September or October.
Traditionally, we’d expect Apple to unveil its flagship in September. However, after the pandemic delayed last year’s iPhone 12 to October 13, it’s unclear whether Apple will return to its usual schedule for 2021.
Wedbush analyst Dan Ives (via Barrons) predicts we’ll see an announcement take place on the third week of September. While Ives didn’t give an exact date, industry speculation suggests we could see the launch take place on September 14, followed by pre-orders opening on September 17 and the device officially shipping out on September 24.
However, during Apple’s Q3 earnings call, chief financial officer Luca Maestri warned investors that the iPhone 13 and the iPad could be impacted by supply constraints in September.
To further complicate things, Apple’s human resources and retail chief Deirdre O’Brien recently announced that the company would push back its deadline for staff to return to the office from early September until at least October (via Bloomberg). The delay, which has been implemented due to the new strains of Covid-19 across the world, might force Apple to delay any in-person events (such as the iPhone launch) until October.
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Specs and features – a 120Hz display, no Touch ID and an always-on display
- 120Hz could be on the cards
- Touch ID will not be returning
- Up to 1TB of storage
- Satellite mode for emergencies
As far as the display goes, Jon Prosser of Front Page Tech believes the iPhone 13 will be getting an LTPO display, allowing Apple to include a 120Hz refresh rate on its ProMotion screen.
And despite the rumours that have been speculating, it seems highly unlikely that the iPhone 13 will feature Touch ID. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, in his Power On newsletter, he revealed that the new flagship phone will definitely not include Touch ID.
He believes it’s due to Apple’s long-term goal to include an under-display Face ID sensor, and since they’re all in on implementing Face ID in the display itself, Touch ID will be left by the wayside this time around and won’t make the cut this year.
Touch ID is still currently available on a few select iPads and some lower-end iPhones, such as the SE, but it seems the main flagships phones will not include Touch ID for the foreseeable future.
Apple currently uses LTPO tech to allow its Apple Watch 6 to show an always-on display and we’ve seen it used on some newer best Android phones, like the OnePlus 9 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
This rumour has been 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.
Leaker Max Weinbach (via YouTube channel EverythingApplePro) also believes we could see an always-on display this year. Weinbach 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.
Kuo (via Apple Insider) has also 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. However, as of March 1 2021, Kuo somewhat backed away from those predictions.
Meanwhile, analysts at Wedbush (via 9to5Mac) think that the iPhone 13 line-up could feature a model with 1TB of storage – that’s nearly double the 512GB found in the highest-specced Pro model right now.
However, Trendforce has previously reported that Apple will be sticking with a max capacity of 512GB, going against Wedush’s prediction.
There’s also been some chatter about Apple integrating satellite communications onto the iPhone 13, so users will be able to make calls and send messages even when conventional mobile services are unavailable.
Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that the iPhone 13 will be the first handset that supports low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications technology.
It’s not clear if the satellite communications will be something users will have to pay extra for, or if it will be available as a GPS communication, but it should become clear sometime this month.
Design – we might finally get a smaller notch
- The notch could finally be getting smaller
Both Digitimes (via Forbes) and MacOtakara have suggested that the next iPhone will work to reduce 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 Ming-Chi Kuo. That would be welcomed, especially if Apple launches an iPhone 13 mini, as the notch on the smaller iPhone 12 handset is particularly abundant.
Research firm TrendForce has also reported that the next iPhone will see a smaller notch. However, the firm also suggested that this will be one of the biggest changes we’ll see, with the four new models operating as more of an “extension” to the iPhone 12 series. TrendForce even reported that the phone may be named the “iPhone 12s” series rather than the iPhone 13, implying a smaller update than we’ve seen in recent years.
We also saw what could be a glimpse of what could be a notch-less iPhone 13 in the new Ted Lasso series, as in a recent episode it seemed a character was wielding an iPhone that did not have any notches on the side.
While it’s unlikely that Apple has decided to reveal its latest handset in one of its own original series, it’s exciting to speculate. However, it’s more likely that the iPhone 13 will feature a smaller notch and that we’ll be waiting around another year before we get to see the completely notch-free design.
Battery – help is on the way!
- Larger batteries on the way
- Faster wireless charging
- Apple could ditch the Lightning port
Apple plans to fit the iPhone 13 with much larger batteries, according to many recent rumours and now the reliable Ming-Chi Kuo has chimed in. In a note to investors, Kuo says this year’s models will have physically larger batteries than the iPhone 12.
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 at 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.
Twitter tipster L0vetodream (via Creative Bloq) claims the iPhone 13 Mini will pack a 2406mAh battery, while the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro will feature 3095mAh batteries and the Pro Max will see the biggest increase with an 18% larger 4352mAh battery.
ZDNet published these numbers and pointed out that the A15 processor is rumoured to reduce power consumption between 15% and 20%, which could also boost the iPhone’s battery life.
Leaker Max Weinbach via EverythingApplePro has suggested that the iPhone 13 will pack larger wireless charging coils on the back, possibly for better heat management or to allow faster wireless charging. While MagSafe can charge at 15w, many of the best Android phones wirelessly charge at far greater speeds than this.
MyDrivers (via MacRumors) has reported that Apple plans to introduce 25W fast charging across the iPhone 13 range, though this would only be a 5W improvement on the iPhone 12’s charging speed. 25W also pales next to the 30W and 65W fast charging offered by some Android competitors.
A larger coil could also allow for additional features, like the wireless reverse charge feature used on many Android phones. This could allow a pair of AirPods to be juiced up on the rear of the iPhone 13. This is a feature rumoured for an upcoming iPad.
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.
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.”
Camera – an upgraded ultra-wide lens
- Better low-light performance
- A periscope lens
- Portrait mode in videos
So, what about the camera?
So far, Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis and Thomas O’Malley (via MacRumors) have predicted an 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, Ming-Chi Kuo believes the upgraded ultra-wide lens will only be available on the Pro model.
Kuo (via 9to5Mac) has 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.
Tipster Sonny Dickson has also tweeted images of supposed iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro dummies that shows off a larger and more diagonal camera module than that found on the iPhone 12.
Mark Gurman recently revealed that the iPhone will get three major camera and video-recording features, including a video version of portrait mode, the ability to record higher-quality ProRes videos and a new “filters-like” feature to boost the looks and colours of photos. This is all reportedly according to those familiar with the matter.
According to a report by The Elec (via 9to5Mac), Apple also plans to start procuring camera modules individually this year and assembling them itself to reduce costs.
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