WWDC 2021 – Apple's annual developer conference – kicked off with our first look at iOS 15; the software that the next iPhones will ship with. Read our full guide to everything you need to know about iOS 15 for more on the new software tricks the iPhone 13 will launch with.
When will the iPhone 13 be released?
Apple’s release cycle for the iPhone is predictable, albeit with the global pandemic disrupting things in 2020. Usually, the new models are announced at the beginning of September and then become available a week or so later.
In the past few years though, there have been a few devices that have been announced in September but appeared slightly later, with the iPhone XR coming in October 2018, while the iPhone X arrived in November 2017.
Due to the problems caused by COVID-19, we also saw the iPhone 12 delayed until October, but if things return to some semblance of normality, then we would expect the traditional September release for the iPhone 13 in 2021.
That's backed up by a prediction by the ever-accurate Ming-Chi Kuo, who told investors that Apple is due to revert to the traditional September launch with the iPhone 13 in 2021. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives agrees, going even further to suggest it'll make an appearance on the third week of September 2021.
Given the fact that Apple tends to host iPhone events on Tuesday, that'd mean Apple is due to launch the iPhone 13 on 14 September 2021. That's in line with previous September iPhone launches, with the iPhone 11 launch taking place on 13 September 2019, and the iPhone XS range appeared on 12 September 2018.
The Elec has added weight to that prediction, reporting in early June that production has already begun on the phones' display panels by Samsung and LG. That's a month ahead of the equivalent schedule last year, suggesting Apple is back on track for a September debut.
As reported by French iPhone fan site Consomac, previously unseen iPhone models have also passed through the EEC (the Eurasian Economic Commission, which covers Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia).
Seven models (A2628, A2630, A2634, A2635, A2640, A2643 and A2645), thought not to be discreet models but include different storage capacities of the same few variants, are listed; reinforcing the notion that this generation is on track for a September launch.
Bloomberg suggests Apple has plans to manufacture as many as 90 million new iPhones, a 20% bump compared to the iPhone 12, while Chinese news site cnbeta suggests Apple has ordered over 100 million A15 chipsets to use in upcoming products. The caveat with the latter is that the A15 is also expected in the iPad Mini 6 later this year, so they're not exclusively for the upcoming iPhone range.
How much will the iPhone 13 cost?
Prices for the standard iPhone have been going up and down with recent releases, as you can see from this list;
- iPhone X: £999/$999
- iPhone XS: £999/$999
- iPhone 11: £729/$699
- iPhone 12: £799/$799
The arrival of the iPhone 11, with the sudden price drop, is more easily understood when you take into account that it coincided with the release of the iPhone Pro range. Why the iPhone 12 saw an increase by £70/$100 is less clear, but it does mean that the current Apple smartphone range now has a very regimented feel, with options at most price points. Here’s how the iPhone catalogue breaks down;
- iPhone 12 Pro Max - £1,099/$1,099
- iPhone 12 Pro - £999/$999
- iPhone 12 - £799/$799
- iPhone 12 Mini - £699/$699
- iPhone 11 - £599/$599
- iPhone XR - £499/$499
- iPhone SE - £399/$399
As you can see, the iPhone 12 sits just above the middle, £100/$100 more than the new iPhone 12 mini but £200/$200 less than the iPhone 12 Pro. The lower end of the list is made up of previous iPhones that have been kept around to offer buyers the chance to enter the world of iOS without spending around £700/$700.
With this model in place, we think there’s a good chance that Apple will replace devices like-for-like when it updates the line in 2021. So, the iPhone 13 is likely to cost £799/$799, with Mini and Pro varieties on either side.
That's backed up by predictions from market research company TrendForce too, suggesting in a June 2021 report that "retail prices are expected to remain on par with last year's release".
What new features will Apple bring to the iPhone 13?
- Smaller Face ID notch
- Improved cameras across the range
- 120Hz refresh rate on Pro models
- Faster processor
- Increased storage, up to 1TB
- In-display Touch ID now unlikely
Obviously, with it still being many months until the iPhone 13 is unveiled, there isn’t much in the way of confirmed news about features or specs. That hasn’t stopped the rumour mill from going into overload though, with various leaks and prognostication about what Apple has in store. Here’s what’s been said so far.
A thicker design
While it's more than likely that the iPhone 13 range will look similar to that of the iPhone 12, rumours suggest it could be a little thicker this time around. Why? It could be partly down to the camera module - according to leaked documents shared by MacRumours.
According to schematics seen by MacRumours, the iPhone 13 Pro camera bump extends to 3.65mm, up by 1.7mm compared to the previous generation. It's not exclusive to the Pro model either; the iPhone 13 camera bump allegedly protrudes by an extra 1.01mm, taking it to 2.51mm.
However, renders of what LeaksApplePro claims is the 'finalised' iPhone 13 Pro showcase a reduction in the overall camera bump, and the leaker is confident of its' legitimacy.
Say hi to your first look at the finalized version of the iPhone 13 Pro.— LeaksApplePro (@LeaksApplePro) May 21, 2021
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/WMl9fIbTNm
That also seems to be the case with an image shared by leaker Sonny Dickson allegedly depicting dummy models of the entire iPhone 13 range, also confirming the rearranged camera module detailed below.
iPhone 13 and 13 Pro dummies. All 4 sizes still in the running. Camera module placement changed on the regular 13s. Pro Max looks slightly larger pic.twitter.com/RqxNiOfBnb— Sonny Dickson (@SonnyDickson) June 23, 2021
Separately, Mac Otakara suggests that the overall thickness of the range will increase by around 0.26mm, and that the new models could be heavier than their predecessors due to larger batteries.
A smaller Face ID notch
Since the launch of the iPhone X, the notch at the top of the screen that houses the Face ID cameras has been something of a Marmite issue. Some like it, others have just grown used to it, while a further group actively hate it.
Now, it does seem unlikely to disappear in the iPhone 13, but a rumour from Ice Universe suggests that the notch will be slimmed down so that it protrudes less into the display.
iPhone13 still continues the notch design, but notch is shorter.— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) October 7, 2020
That's backed up by the ever-reliable MacOtakara, also reporting that the iPhone 13 will feature a smaller notch thanks to the shrinking of the TrueDepth camera system.
LeaksApplePro has shared renders of what's claimed to be the 'finalised' iPhone 13 Pro, seemingly confirming the reduced notch.
The notch has been heavily reduced. pic.twitter.com/kREsbNTJFr— LeaksApplePro (@LeaksApplePro) May 21, 2021
However, a competing tweet from reliable tipster @MauriQHD suggests that an upcoming iPhone could ditch the notch altogether, albeit at a cost of slightly thicker bezels.
The tipster was upfront in stating that it's unclear whether it'll come to the iPhone 13 or iPhone 14, and given the sheer number of rumours detailing a smaller notch, it's likely that this display change is still some time away.
Ming-Chi Kuo also believes that the notch will shrink on the iPhone 13, and even goes as far as to suggest Apple will move a holepunch-esque setup with certain iPhone 14 models expected in 2022.
120Hz refresh rate
Regardless of the notch, the display itself is expected to see significant upgrades, with lots of expectation that the iPhone 13 will move up to a 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rate that would allow ProMotion scrolling and catch the Apple smartphones up with the majority of Android flagships.
There’s also the chance that the new model with benefit from switching to Low-Temperature Polycrystalline Oxide (LTPO) panels, as found on the Apple Watch. These would bring increased energy efficiency over the current OLED panels, which in turn could add a chunk of time to battery life.
That's backed up by a report from The Elec, claiming that both the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max will sport 120Hz refresh rates, and even goes a step further, reiterating previous rumours that the two Pro models will use LTPO OLED display tech. A later report reiterates the claim, suggesting that the panels will be made exclusively by the Samsung Display division, while LG will provide simpler LTPS OLED panels for the 13 and 13 Mini.
Max Weinbach, via the EverythingApplePro YouTube channel, also claims that 120Hz LTPO displays are coming, but that's not all - the leaker also suggests always-on display tech is on the way.
The feature, exclusive to the 120Hz LTPO display, is said to mimic your lock screen, with your clock and battery icon constantly visible, and notifications appearing temporarily on-screen.
As well as generally being more battery efficient, the LTPO tech allows the display to automatically adjust the refresh rate without any additional hardware. As the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini are rumoured to use existing LTPS tech, they'll likely be capped at 60Hz.
The inclusion of always-on display tech was backed up by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman months later, although he doesn't specify which models are likely to get the tech.
Improved camera setup
When it comes to the camera setup, rumours suggest that small - but significant - changes are in store.
Mac Otakara suggests that the rear camera setup of the entire iPhone 13 range will be covered in sapphire glass, and that the iPhone 13 Pro will sport the same camera module as the 13 Pro Max, complete with sensor-shifted OIS.
DigitTimes Asia claims that Apple has increased VCM orders far beyond what's usually expected - a component that could be used in the sensor-shift OIS system - suggesting the feature could indeed be coming to more models of iPhone 13.
That's not the only change though; the EverythingApplePro report claims that the ultra-wide camera is due to get an upgrade across the entire iPhone 13 range, with improved low-light performance.
It's also been predicted that every phone in the iPhone 13 will include LiDAR tech on the rear cameras. Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives made the claim in an investors note seen by MacRumors in early June, though it's worth noting that Ming-Chi Kuo, TrendForce and leaker @Dylandkt all disagree with the notion, asserting that LiDAR would remain limited to the iPhone 13 Pro models.
Leaker @dylandkt goes into a little more detail, suggesting Apple originally wanted to ship the sensor across the entire iPhone 13 range before backtracking. That would explain the Wedbush predictions and other claims suggesting LiDAR would come to the entire range.
Despite multiple sources disagreeing with the notion, the Wedbush analyst doubled down on the prediction in late July, again suggesting LiDAR will be a feature of the entire range.
There's also said to be the introduction of an automatic astrophotography mode, and a portrait video mode too.
Indian tech blog MySmartPrice shared 3D renders of what it claims is the standard model of iPhone 13, detailing a familiar design with a notable change to the rear camera layout.
The render depicts a diagonally arranged rear-facing camera setup, and while it's not clear why this is the case, it could be to facilitate the new sensor-shifted OIS detailed above - the size of the camera unit does seem to match up with that of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, after all.
In turn, the Pro and Pro Max camera modules might be getting even bigger in their own right. That's what's implied by a Weibo user who shared images of an iPhone 12 Pro in what they claim is a case designed for the iPhone 13 Pro. The phone seems to fit the case fine, but the cut-out for the camera is clearly far too large, suggesting that the new phone will have a much larger camera unit.
Of course, this might be an early case made to incorrect dimensions, so we shouldn't take it as a guarantee of anything - but it does seem likely that all of Apple's new camera tech will bulk the back module up.
Processor & storage
It’s a pretty safe call to say that the iPhone 13 will arrive with the latest version of Apple’s own A-series processors. Just as the iPhone 11 sported an A13 Bionic and the iPhone 12 arrived with the A14 Bionic, it’s a good bet that the iPhone 13 will come with a new A15 Bionic. How this will improve things is still to be determined, but expect performance boosts and better energy management with the updated silicon.
One interesting tweet that appeared in October 2020 from tipster Jon Prosser is that the iPhone 13 will offer a 1TB storage tier.
hope y’all are ready for 1TB iphones— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) October 28, 2020
This would double the maximum currently available on the iPhone Pro lineup and quadruple that of the iPhone 12 standard model.
More recent rumblings, this time from Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives, also claim that the next-gen iPhone will offer a 1TB storage option, lending more credibility to the rumour, although market research firm TrendForce disagrees, suggesting it'll stick with its current storage options for another year.
The storage options for the iPhone have remained the same since the release of the iPhone XS back in 2018, and Samsung started offering a 1TB option back with the Galaxy S10, so it'd be a good time for Apple to refresh its offering to reflect the higher quality videos and larger apps we've got on our phones in 2021.
The return of Touch ID
This one has been rumoured for quite some time, with some suggestion that it'd be a feature of the iPhone 12, but as we now know, that wasn't the case.
The initial suggestion, via Bloomberg, is that Apple is planning on bringing Touch ID back to the iPhone - it remains a staple on Mac and cheaper iPhones after all - but with a significant change: it'll be built into the display this time around.
Now, this isn't a new concept. Android smartphones have featured in-display fingerprint scanner tech for quite some time, and while it was initially a bit hit-and-miss, recent implementations show that it can be just as reliable as a side-mounted scanner. However, it's not something Apple has dabbled in - until this point.
The reintroduction of the tech makes sense given our need to wear facemasks in our daily lives, rendering Apple's high-end Face ID tech essentially useless. A combination of Face- and Touch ID would give users the best of both worlds and speed up the unlock process when out and about.
The rumour was backed up weeks later by a separate report from the Wall Street Journal. According to former Apple employees that spoke to the publication, Apple is looking at incorporating Touch ID into the display of an upcoming iPhone, although the source wasn't sure that it'd be available on the iPhone 13.
However, a more recent report from Bloomberg suggests that Touch ID has been scrapped. In the July 2021 report, Mark Gurman suggests that Apple has decided against including Touch ID in this year's iPhone range.
"The company has tested an in-display fingerprint scanner for this year's devices, however that feature will likely not appear on this generation [of iPhones]" Gurman explains in the article. This would explain why Bloomberg and others initially thought Touch ID was making a comeback.
Though a disappointment to those looking forward to this year's iPhone, the good news is that the ever-accurate Ming-Chi Kuo has suggested that Touch ID will make an appearance on the 2022 iPhone, unofficially dubbed iPhone 14.
One unexpected rumour is that Apple is planning to expand the use of mmWave 5G technology on the next generation of iPhones.
In the iPhone 12 series, only US models include mmWave support, while models elsewhere are limited to Sub-6GHz frequencies - which are far more widely supported by non-US networks.
However a DigiTimes Asia report claims that more than 50% of iPhone 13 models will include a mmWave modem. Given mmWave availability this will mostly help with future-proofing, making sure that more iPhone 13s will continue to support the faster 5G standard when it's more widespread worldwide a few years from now.
Bigger batteries & faster charging
One welcome change is that the next generation of iPhone models are tipped to include bigger batteries than ever before - in part to compensate for all the extra tech, especially the high-power 120Hz displays.
Reliable tipster Digital Chat Station made the prediction, claiming that the regular 13 and 13 Pro will both use 3095mAh cells (up from 2815mAh), the 13 Mini will offer 2406mAh (up from 2227mAh), and finally the 13 Pro Max will include a 4352mAh battery (up from 3687mAh).
Apple itself never publicly shares specific battery capacities for the iPhones, and tends to try to keep battery life consistent year on year. So don't expect this to mean a huge jump in battery life - instead it's more likely that these larger batteries will help the phones keep up with the 12 series while delivering extra oomph.
Charging may also be improved ever so slightly. Speaking to EverythingApplePro, leaker Max Weinbach claimed that the wireless charging coils inside the iPhone 13 phones will be slightly larger than in the iPhone 12 series.
That potentially means faster wireless charging speeds - up from the 15W limit of the iPhone 12. It could even mean the introduction of reverse wireless charging, which would allow you to wirelessly charge AirPods or other similar products from your iPhone. This is still just speculation, but there's at least a chance of it.
Wireless charging aside, a report from MyDrivers suggests the iPhone 13 range could support up to 25W fast charging on the wired front. Of course, with Apple's decision to stop shipping charging bricks with the iPhone 12, it's highly likely that the 25W fast chargers won't come in the box, so you'll have to pick one up separately to take advantage. Either way, it'll help charge those larger batteries a little quicker than currently possible.
New colour options
The iPhone 13 Pro line could sport a new matte black colour option that's allegedly much darker than the existing Graphite and Space Grey colour options present on some Apple devices - according to Filip Koroy, anyway.
The YouTuber posted a video in collaboration with leaker Max Weinbach with what he described as "new and exclusive iPhone 13 Pro leaks". Per the video, the new matte black colour option will be close to HEX colour code 121212, and it'll be available on both the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max, but not the standard range.
While unconfirmed for now, a matte black colour option would mark the first time Apple has dabbled in matte finishes on its iPhone range. It'd likely allow the iPhone 13 Pro models to better compete with the likes of the Phantom Black Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, and let's be honest, it'd look gorgeous with the iPhone's industrial design wouldn't it?
Separately, leaker Lanzuk, posting on Naver, claims that the iPhone 13 Pro models will also be available in not only black but silver, rose gold and sunset gold too. The leaker suggests that the sunset gold shade has a striking bronze look, while the rose gold variant looks pale in comparison.
Apple to ditch all ports on the iPhone
One of the stranger rumours that’s gathering momentum is that Apple will remove the Lightning port, but rather than move to USB-C like on the MacBook and iPad Pros, it will simply have no ports at all. This would mean all charging is wireless and connecting your iPhone to another device or peripheral will have to be done by Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or witchcraft.
Jon Prosser and fellow tipster Fudge (so many of them have fun names) have already agreed publicly on this idea, and Bloomberg also claims Apple has discussed the idea internally.
With Apple’s history of removing popular ports while simultaneously releasing very expensive wireless accessories, we can see it happening, although maybe not with the next iteration of iPhone.
We discussed the likelihood of an iPhone 13 Mini after whispers about the iPhone 12 Mini production ending earlier than expected in a recent episode of our weekly podcast Fast Charge. Check out what we had to say on the matter below: