Apple may have only just pulled back the covers on the iPhone 12, but that never stops us from looking forward to what our favourite tech company has in store when it updates the iPhone again in late 2021. Here's everything we know so far about the iPhone 13, including news that the iPhone 13 will offer better cameras across the range and better 5G capabilities.
When will the iPhone 13 be released?
Up until this year, Apple has been quite consistent with the release dates of its iPhones. Usually, the new products are announced at the beginning of September and released a week or so later.
Occasionally we see a few outliers, as with the iPhone X and XR that launched respectively in November and October (although they were announced in September)... and then there's the iPhone SE range that has so far been a spring fixture. But mostly it's September.
COVID-19 caused a good deal of disruption in the Apple supply chain, which subsequently delayed the launch of the iPhone 12 and its stablemates until October 2020. (In fact two of the models didn't go on sale until November.) But assuming that things return to a semblance of normality in 2021, the iPhone 13 should return to its traditional place in the calendar, with a September release.
It's possible, of course, that we'll get the iPhone SE 3 before then... but we wouldn't bet on it.
How much will the iPhone 13 cost?
iPhone pricing can be something of a moveable feast. The past few standard models have come with the following price tags:
- iPhone X: £999/$999
- iPhone XS: £999/$999
- iPhone 11: £729/$699
- iPhone 12: £799/$799
Now, the introduction of the iPhone Pro range that coincided with the iPhone 11 does explain the sudden drop, as it marks a bifurcation of the lineup. But, as you can see, the price of the iPhone 12 jumps up by £70/$100 when compared to its predecessor.
At the moment the range has a pattern that we think Apple may be settling on, with the following tiers:
- iPhone SE - £399/$399
- iPhone XR - £499/$499
- iPhone 11 - £599/$599
- iPhone 12 mini - £699/$699
- iPhone 12 - £799/$799
- iPhone 12 Pro - £999/$999
- iPhone 12 Pro Max - £1,099/$1,099
This gives potential buyers choices all the way up the price scale, with clear separation between the available devices. With this in mind, we expect Apple to stick with this structure and bring in the iPhone 13 at around £799/$799 and any mini or Pro models directly replacing their older siblings.
According to the trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, we will get the same screen sizes next year: 5.4in, 6.1in and 6.7in. But what new features will Apple add to the iPhone display in 2021?
There are also rumours - based on a patent Apple applied for in February 2020 - that a future iPhone could have touch sensitive sides. A kind of wraparound screen.
There's a concept video that looks into this idea. Read: Concept video shows iPhone 13 with touchscreen edges.
ProMotion/120Hz refresh rate
Many thought the iPhone 12, or at least the 12 Pro models, would come with updates to the display refresh rates.
With a wide range of Android devices already boasting 90Hz or even 120Hz refresh rates, the 60Hz on Apple's displays seemed to be falling behind. This was surprising, given the company's iPad Pro range has taken advantage of these faster speeds for a while to enable their ProMotion feature.
It was disappointing, then, when the iPhone 12 range arrived with only 60Hz on offer. But of course, this leaves the door open for Apple to introduce the faster displays on the iPhone 13.
To see why this would be a big deal, read our coverage of why display experts say you should wait for iPhone 13.
Energy-efficient LTPO displays
There's also the recurring rumour that Apple will use LTPO display technology, as found on the Apple Watch, for the iPhone 13. This could bring the advantage of lower power drain, boosting battery life in the new models. The technology can extend battery performance by up to 15%.
Sources have since added further weight to the LTPO rumour, and now say the energy-efficient screens are likely to be supplied principally by LG Display, although Korean site The Elec reckons Samsung will get the gig.
Smaller notch for Face ID
Another area of the display that needs work is the notch. While Apple users have grown used to the intrusion at the top of their screens, the notch remains a divisive feature.
With this in mind it will be an encouragement to many that tech tipster Ice Universe reported recently that the notch on the iPhone 13 will be shorter than that of the iPhone 12. How much of a difference is still unclear, but anything that reduces the black box at the top of the display will be a welcome addition.
Embedded Touch ID scanner
Face ID is fast and secure, but in our new post-COVID world where masks are a regular part of most people's wardrobes, there are many occasions when Touch ID would be more useful. Of course, Apple is unlikely to bring back the Home button now that it has its nearly edge-to-edge displays, but there is another option.
Leak leviathan Jon Prosser recently gave the nod to a tweet from fellow tipster @L0vetodream, who stated rather cryptically "MESA uts for iPhone". Apparently this is deciphered as MESA (Touch ID) uts (under the screen) for iPhone (well, we think you can work that one out).
Apple has since been granted a patent for an under-screen fingerprint scanner, so it's clearly on the company's mind.
Of course, with the new iPad Air including Touch ID in the power button instead, Apple may decide that this solves the problem in a neater fashion.
The next generation of iPhones will feature boosted specifications across the board, from upgraded processors to improved cameras. Here's what we've seen rumoured so far.
A15 Bionic processor
We don't know much about the A15 except that it will be faster than the A14 (obviously) and based on an improved 5 nanometre (5nm) production process from supplier TSMC. This will make it more efficient than the current A14 chip in the iPhone 12 series.
The big jump in terms of processors, however, is likely to come in 2022. The A16 in the iPhone 14 will be 4nm and we can therefore expect significant gains in energy efficiency.
Sources say the iPhone 13 will have much better cameras than the iPhone 12. At this point sceptics will be shouting at their laptops a) that's both extremely vague and extremely obvious and b) exactly how much better do cameras need to get?
Let's get a bit more specific.
Based on news that Apple has come to an agreement with Sony for the latter company to provide LiDAR scanners for the next three years it is thought that all iPhone 13 models will feature LiDAR (this technology is currently only offered by the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max models).
The LiDAR technology enables users to measure and map a 3D space. This can be used for probably for AR (e.g games and interior design), and for photography improvements (e.g focusing in the dark or low light). Read our guide to LiDAR for more information.
In addition to this change, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the ultra-wide-angle lens (which we expect to appear in the two Pro models only) will have its aperture changed from f2.4 to f1.8. This will double the amount of light that can be admitted and improve low-light performance. The ultra-wide lens will also get autofocus, which should improve close-up work.
However, in later guidance in January 2021 Kuo suggested that there wouldn't in fact be a new camera for the iPhone 13. Kuo suggested in a note to investors that Kuo we will not see new camera lenses in this autumn's models of iPhone. Read: iPhone 13 camera lenses will be same as 12 - Kuo.
But we're the first to admit that the 12-series iPhones have extremely good cameras, and it's debatable how much of a difference these upgrades will make.
A January 2021 report suggested the cameras of the iPhone 13 could be about 0.9mm larger and be entirely covered with sapphire glass. Read more here: iPhone 13 will look like iPhone 12 with smaller notch bigger camera.
There are already rumours about the iPhone 14, with analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claiming that by 2022 the iPhone will have 10x optical zoom. Read more here: Analyst: In two years iPhone will have 10x optical zoom.
US iPhone 12 models offer mmWave - but elsewhere this form of 5G isn't offered. That may change with the iPhone 13. Apple is said to have made a large order for mmWave antenna - which should mean that the UK and other countries will get faster 5G with the iPhone 13.
The theoretical maximum speed for mmWave is 1-2 gigabits per second, compared to the 100-400 megabits offered by Sub-6 GHz. However, Sub-6 GHz offers a longer range, which is to the benefit of users outside the big cities. Read about the 5G coverage problems faced by the iPhone 12 in the UK.
1TB of storage
Well-known technology leaker Jon Prosser has indicated via his Twitter account that the iPhone 13 could come with twice as much storage as current models.
hope y’all are ready for 1TB iphones— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) October 28, 2020
While few users need that much storage space, those who film in high resolution may benefit. Read more here: iPhone 13 could get 1TB of storage.
No more Lightning port
One of the stranger rumours that seems to be picking up traction is that Apple will ditch the Lightning port on the iPhone 13.
"Well, what's so strange about that?" you may ask, as most Apple products now use USB-C. Ah, but we didn't say there would be a replacement port. Instead the rumours from Jon Prosser and Fudge state that the iPhone 13 will have no ports at all.
Rather than rely on cables for charging, all power will be delivered wirelessly. It's a bit weird, as it instantly renders many accessories and power banks redundant, but that's never stopped Apple in the past.
For more information about what Apple will launch in 2021 read: New Apple products guide to what's coming out in 2021
We'll keep updating this article as more news and rumours arise, so be sure to keep coming back to see what we uncover.
In the meantime, if you don't want to wait until next year to update your device, check out our iPhone buying guide and our roundup of the best iPhone deals so you can find the one that's best for your needs.