With the iPhone 12 release well behind us, here at T3 we're already anticipating the launch of Apple's iPhone 13, which should see the tech giant roll out some long overdue upgrades, as well as debuting an industry first or two.
There's no doubt that the flagship is going to boast an upgraded processor, which is par for the course every year. However, fans have been waiting for Apple to upgrade its iPhone displays from the 60Hz we've been stuck with for the past few years to 120Hz; the iPhone 12 failed to deliver, but the iPhone 13 is set to give them exactly what they want, and then some.
There are even reports of a foldable iPhone in the pipeline, with patents indicating that Apple has a flip phone with a flexible display in the works. Rumors and leaks have been flying around for weeks, so let's dive in, and get up to speed on everything 2021 iPhone so far.
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iPhone 13: release date
Apple's iPhones usually launch in September every year, with the notable exception of the iPhone SE (2nd generation) which released in April 2020, and the iPhone X series, which saw the iPhone X hit the market in November 2017, the iPhone XS and XS Max debut in September 2018, followed by the iPhone XR in October 2018.
The iPhone 12 also saw a staggered launch, with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro shipping in October 2020, followed by the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max in November.
Looking forward to the iPhone 13 release, we're assuming Apple will opt for the September window, but it may need to rethink its release schedule if it wants to keep up with competitors like Samsung; the Korean tech giant has a slew of smartphones rolling out this year, having kicked things off with the Galaxy S21. The latest report, coming from analyst Daniel Ives at Wedbush, pins the iPhone 13 release for "the third week of September".
With a Samsung Galaxy Note device, and two foldables still to come, as well as a Galaxy S21 FE (Fan Edition), the iPhone 13 is going to need to make a big impression, or get some backup in the form a foldable iPhone to help fill out the calendar and fend off Samsung's Android attack.
iPhone 13: price
We've yet to see the rumor mill stir on the iPhone 13 release date, but Apple shook things up with the iPhone 12 by scrapping the EarPods and charger it's historically provided in the box.
The price of the iPhone 12 series starts from $699 / £699 / AU$1,199 for the iPhone Mini, $799 / £799 / AU$1,349 for the iPhone 12, $999 / £999 / AU$1,199 for the iPhone 12 Pro, and $1099 / £1099 / AU$1,699 for the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Compared to the iPhone 11 series that's an increase of $100/ £100/ AU$150 for the iPhone 12, while the more premium handsets cost the same as the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. Note that's without factoring in the $38 / £38 it would cost to buy the missing accessories for the iPhone 12.
This year's iPhone 13 will likely be in the same ballpark, especially with the saving of not having to ship the smartphones with accessories.
There's talk of Apple switching suppliers for its energy-efficient LTPO OLED displays, potentially doing business with Chinese display manufacturer BOE. There are still some finer points to be ironed out when it comes to BOE passing Apple’s rigorous quality standards, but if it manages to meet them, we could see the price of the iPhone 13 drop thanks to the cost saving from the manufacturer switch.
iPhone 13: display and design
The foldable patent was spotted back in the summer, and noted Apple leaker Jon Prosser confirmed that the device is in the works – although we don't know if this is the iPhone 13, or a separate device entirely under a totally new moniker. Apple is said to be actively testing prototype folding iPhones with different parts from its supply chain.
If Apple does end up launching a foldable as well as the iPhone 13, it looks set to be a lot more sturdy than the offerings we've seen so far, with a patent for a super tough bit flexible screen ensuring the display will be resistant to cracks at the crease. The most recent news on this front suggests Apple hasn't got a far as a functional prototype.
Another exciting development for the iPhone 13 is that after years of a sizeable notch, we might finally be seeing that phased out too, or at least shrunken down somewhat. Reports of a smaller notch say it will be possible thanks to the new Face ID camera module, as well as the new front-facing camera.
The panel itself is set for an upgrade, with the premium iPhone 13 Pro Max rumored to get a 120Hz Pro Motion display with variable refresh rate, utilising LTPO tech, which will help out with battery life.
On the battery front, the iPhone 13 is reportedly getting soft board batteries that have the same capacity as regular batteries but are significantly smaller, allowing for a thinner handset.
Hopefully we'll see some kind of battery boost, given that the iPhone 13 is rumored to feature an always-on display (AOD).
iPhone 13: specs and features
As with every annual iteration of the Apple's flagship, we expect the iPhone 13 to roll out with a brand new SoC. The iPhone 12 houses the A14 bionic chip, which followed the iPhone 11's A13 chip, so by all accounts, the iPhone 13 should be housing the A15 processor which will be faster and more powerful than its predecessor.
The iPhone 12 is a milestone for Apple, as it's the first range of iPhones to support 5G – both sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G, although the latter is only supported in the US. The iPhone 13 series, meanwhile, will reportedly support "either of the bands but not both for specific markets in 2021".
Industry insider Ross Young suggested the top tier 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max models will offer Sub6 as well as the high-bandwidth mmWave 5G, while the iPhone 13, and iPhone 13 Mini will be relegated to Sub6 only. Apple is working on its own 5G modem but recent reports suggest it'll be using Qualcomm's X60 modem which utilises an upgraded 5nm process, meaning that is supports both 5G waves, as well being smaller, and more power efficient.
Another big deal for the iPhone 13 is the impending debut of a 120Hz display; old news for Android users, but for iOS fans who have been stuck with 60Hz refresh rates, this is at the top of their list. Prosser also backed up this claim, so we're pretty confident the feature will show up this year.
When it comes to the camera, we've heard that the LiDAR scanner that is currently in the iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, and 2020 iPad Pro is reported to me making an appearance in all iPhone 13 models. Low light pics also won't be an issue for the iPhone 13, with all models set to launch with ultra-wide camera lenses, featuring an ƒ/1.8 aperture.
Prosser has weighed in on a number of other prospective iPhone 13 features, including the return of Touch ID. He's been "50/50" on its comeback, and while another leaker has said an iPhone 13 prototype handset doesn't include Touch ID, it's reported that the new flagship will resurrect the feature.
Apple may also bag a first for smartphones, with word of a portless iPhone 13 model coming this year. The launch of the MagSafe charger seems to be paving the way for this development, but the jury is still out right now, as noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo as indicated that the MagSafe ecosystem of products isn't quite ready just yet.
Whether it's a foldable or not, the iPhone 13 is going to tick off a lot of firsts for Apple, so if you're a long-time fan who's been lamenting at how far behind Android the devices have been lagging, 2021 looks set to be your year.