iPhone 13 is going to have a tough time topping the major design overhaul of last year's iPhone 12. Typically we expect a simple spec bump the following year and one recent rumor suggests that the phone could return to the "S" naming convention and go with iPhone 12s.
While all signs are pointing to limited exterior changes for the iPhone 13, the other rumored upgrades are substantial. With a few months to go before launch, we have seen numerous renders and considerable rumors regarding camera and display upgrades for the iPhone 13 lineup.
Here's everything we know so far about the iPhone 13 including the expected release date, pricing, design, specs and more.
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iPhone 13 release date
After the iPhone 12 saw a roughly one-month delay between its announcement and release, it appears that Apple will be returning to its traditional September timeframe with the iPhone 13, at least according to Ming-Chi Kuo, the well-informed supply chain analyst.
A recent report from Wedbush analyst Dan Ives throws additional support behind this claim, asserting that he believes it will be the third week of September. That would suggest a September 21 announcement.
Obviously, we're far enough out from the release that even Apple wouldn't be able to state definitively that this is the case, but given the reduced likelihood of manufacturing and supply issues this year, it would stand to reason for Apple to return to its familiar schedule. We just wouldn't wager all of our Dogecoin on it quite yet.
iPhone 13 price
There have been no leaks regarding the price of the iPhone 13 just yet, but the smart money would be on Apple sticking with the iPhone 12 pricing, particularly in light of Samsung’s price reduction to the Galaxy S21 line.
Perhaps the bigger question is whether the smallest iPhone 13 hangs on after the iPhone 12 mini sales wildly underperformed when compared to the rest of the lineup. Turning again to Ming-Chi Kuo, an investor’s note from the analyst, spotted by MacRumors, suggests Apple won’t make any changes to the iPhone 13 lineup with all four models returning in 2021.
This was later supported by the oft-reliable leaker Jon Prosser, who indicated his sources point to Apple passing on a new iPhone SE rather than giving up on the mini. Don't worry though iPhone SE fans, display analyst Ross Young claims that Apple's budget phone will be back in 2022. A subsequent Digitimes report indicated that while the iPhone 13 mini may be the last and absent a reversal on its sales that certainly seems plausible.
Supply chain research firm TrendForce weighed in on the pricing matter with a report indicating that things would hold relatively consistent, but that a 1TB option may be added for the Pro models.
So, for now, the expectation is that starting prices will hold steady at $699, $799, $999 and $1,099 for the respective models: iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
iPhone 13 design
After the significant, albeit throwback, redesign of the iPhone 12, it's highly unlikely that any kind of meaningful changes will be made to the look of the iPhone 13. Apple has once again created a signature look for the iPhone that makes it easily distinguishable from the rest of the market, so we predict the company will cling to that for as long as it can.
One change that is all but confirmed is a reduction in the size of the display notch. That would please fans who have waited for slimmer bezels since the iPhone X. A DigiTimes report indicated that a redesigned Face ID system will allow for the long-awaited change.
We've now seen a leaked set of replacement panels for the iPhone 13 showing a notch roughly half the size of the current version and an alleged dummy unit sent to YouTuber Lewis Hilsenteger (Unbox Therapy) showed the same change. With most of the rest of the industry moving to hole-punch cameras, the large notch on the iPhone feels dated at this point, but maintaining the integrity of Face ID is crucial for Apple.
A rumor dump from Max Weinbach via EverythingApplePro offered a few more design details for the iPhone 13, including the return of a matte black color option and a reduction to the size of the lenses on the rear cameras. A follow-up video from the pair added more details. This included a larger wireless charging coil on the back.
The dimensions of the phone were even outed by a series of schematics showing that the phone will be marginally thicker than the iPhone 12 at 7.57mm vs. the current 7.4mm. That change will be hardly perceptible, but the camera bump could be getting a more notable size bump of 1.95mm on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
However, that is proving a contentious point as a leak that came courtesy of LeaksApplePro shows a dramatically reduced camera bump on the iPhone 13 Pro. It seems plausible that both of these existed in prototype form, so we'll just have to see which is in fact the final design.
Say hi to your first look at the finalized version of the iPhone 13 Pro.Thanks again to @ld_vova for the amazing work he has done with this.(Note that some things could be changed during mass production as what happened with AirPods Max, but that isn’t likely). pic.twitter.com/WMl9fIbTNmMay 21, 2021
Talk of Touch ID making a comeback has also been bubbling up with some disagreement on whether this would be via an under-display fingerprint sensor as we see on most Android devices today or integrated into the power button as with the iPad Air 4. The latest rumors are pointing to this being a holdover for the iPhone 14 though.
Dreams of Apple moving to USB Type-C on the iPhone remain just that; virtually every source has indicated that this is simply never happening and Apple will move directly to a portless iPhone (when that will be is unknown). This was certainly bolstered by the introduction of MagSafe last year, but don’t look for Apple to drop Lightning with the iPhone 13. Max Weinbach weighed in on the matter saying in an info dump via EverythingApplePro that the iPhone 13 will stick to a lightning port.
iPhone 13 cameras
Apple made significant strides with the camera performance on the iPhone 12, although that was largely due to its computational photography; the hardware itself remained largely unchanged on all but the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Look for that to potentially change with the iPhone 13, with rumors of the sensor-shift image stabilization from the iPhone 12 Pro Max trickling down to the rest of the lineup. That alone would be a big move as it allows Apple to leverage more of its newfound computational photography prowess.
Another Pro feature that may not be making its way to all four iPhone 13 models: the LiDAR sensor. Despite early rumors that this was happening as part of Apple's AR push, leaker @DylanDKT was the latest to suggest that this will remain Pro-only for iPhone 13. It's disappointing as beyond AR this has ramifications for the rear camera performance, but Apple needs differentiators for the Pro lineup.
For iPhone fans looking longingly at the massive 10x optical and 100x digital zoom capabilities of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, there have also been rumors of Apple looking into folding/periscope camera suppliers, including Samsung itself. Apple presently sticks to a fairly modest zoom, exclusively on the Pro models, that is more akin to a portrait lens than a true telephoto. Patently Apple recently spotted a new patent granted to Apple for a folded or periscope zoom lens adding further support that this is coming, but it is likely a year or two away still.
On the other end of the zoom range, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that Apple will introduce dramatically improved ultra-wide sensors for the iPhone 13 Pro models, moving to an f/1.8 6p six-element lens from the current f/2.4 5p five-element lens. This would be a massive boost to low-light performance for the ultra-wide, among other benefits. In a later report, Kuo added that the Pro models would also add an autofocus system for the ultra-wide, typically these are simply fixed-lens systems.
Kuo also claims that the iPhone 13 Pro Max may be alone in getting an improved main wide-angle sensor, dropping to an unbelievably low f/1.5 from the already impressive f/1.6 sensor in the iPhone 12 lineup.
iPhone 13 display
Display improvements are perhaps the most significant change we are expecting from the iPhone 13 as Apple has sat out of the high refresh rate race so far while most Android flagships moved to 90Hz or 120Hz panels over the last couple of years.
Reports prior to the release of the iPhone 12 indicated that it was down to the wire as to whether the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max would include a 120Hz display, but ultimately, that didn’t come to pass.
All signs point to Apple rectifying that with the iPhone 13 by using similar LTPO OLED displays to those found in the Galaxy S21 lineup, meaning they can provide adaptive refresh rates ranging up to 120Hz. A report from UBI Research and another from TheElec reaffirmed this claim indicating that the Samsung-made LTPO TFT OLED panels would begin production in the first half of 2021. That report suggested that the new ProMotion displays would be limited to the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Apple may take another page from Android's playbook with an always-on display, meaning your phone will display the time and battery at all times with notifications also popping up without fully powering on the display.
Hopefully, Apple can avoid the battery impact that we've seen with some of these high refresh rate displays, that was one feature that most iPhone 12 models didn't exactly excel at.
iPhone 13 performance
Apple’s A14 Bionic processor in the iPhone 12 is so comically far ahead of the competition that it could put it in the iPhone 13 and still be the fastest smartphone on the planet by a wide margin. But safe it won’t do that.
While rumors are fairly limited on this front at the moment, we did get a report from China Times that the A15 Bionic destined for the iPhone 13 will be based on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) N5P process. This is an enhanced version of the N5 process used for the A14 Bionic that should deliver roughly a 5% boost to performance and improve power efficiency by around 10%.
Those aren’t the dramatic jumps we saw with the A14 Bionic, but again, the rest of the industry is still chasing A12 Bionic performance, so this should remain a significant differentiator for the iPhone 13. Apple's A16 Bionic in next year's iPhone 14 could move to a 4nm process, again naming conventions on the phone and processor are uncertain at this point. A move to 3nm is on the horizon as well, but that is expected in the iPad first with the iPhone not moving to it until perhaps 2024.
Battery performance was one of the few notable downsides of the iPhone 12 lineup last year, so Ming-Chi Kuo's claims that the company is adding larger batteries to the iPhone 13 is certainly welcome. With that said it was virtually impossible for them to get smaller. If the rumors regarding the dimensions of the iPhone 13 are correct that doesn't bode well as there's only so much battery you can git in devices that thin.
iPhone 13 outlook
The iPhone 13 won’t look too different from the iPhone 12, but taken as a whole it may represent a bigger upgrade than the iPhone 11 to the iPhone 12.
The move to an adaptive 120Hz display could be transformative; the iPhone has long delivered a smoother visual experience than its Android competitors, but with the latter moving to 90Hz and 120Hz panels, the roles have flipped. Apple and iOS developers have years of experience with high refresh rates thanks to the iPad Pro, so OS-level support should be solid from day one, and app support should come much faster than what we’ve seen on Android.
The rumors regarding the iPhone 13 cameras are similarly exciting, particularly as we see Apple steer harder into computational photography. Google has transformed some of the least impressive camera hardware into the best-performing smartphone cameras on the market for years; if Apple can keep its foot on the gas with its software efforts it could become far and away the best phone on the market when it comes to both photo and video quality.
As the countdown to the iPhone 13 launch ticks down we’ll keep you updated with all of the latest leaks and rumors along the way.