A new iPhone – probably the iPhone 13 – is coming in 2021, even if you’re only just wrapping your head around the iPhone 12 family – and we’ve already seen a variety of juicy leaks and rumors land.
Apple’s 2021 handsets are likely to launch toward the end of the year, but we’re hearing news from a variety of sources about what to expect on the next-gen iPhone from Apple.
What’s the overall word right now? We’ve heard from all different types of sources not to expect any humongous upgrades, as rumors point to the company focusing on refining the design, improving the internals, and perhaps even bringing in far more powerful cameras.
All of this is speculation at the moment, and may be subject to change when Apple is ready to release its next handset.
Below you’ll find everything we know so far about the next iPhone, including our best guess at an iPhone 13 release date, and a selection of things we want to see Apple introduce in its 2021 handset.
Update: There’s growing evidence that the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max could have 120Hz refresh rate screens built by Samsung. Plus, a source claims that all four iPhone 13 models will have a LiDAR scanner for improved augmented reality.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next iPhone
- When is it out? Probably September 2021
- What will it cost? Expect $699 / £699 / AU$1,199 and up
iPhone 13 release date and price
When can you expect to be able to buy a next-gen iPhone? We expect the iPhone 13 release date to be set for September 2021, but that may be subject to change given the Covid-19 pandemic.
For the last 10 years, Apple has consistently introduced its flagship phones at an event near the start of September and released the phones 10 days later. All that changed in 2020, due to the pandemic, and the phones were delayed beyond their usual window.
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro were pushed back to October, and the other two devices – the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max – were released in November, reportedly due to a lack of parts for the manufacturing process.
If we were betting on a date, we’d expect Apple to move its iPhone 13 release date back to September 2021, and indeed at least one well-respected Apple analyst agrees with us.
Little is known about the price of the iPhone 13, but we’d expect it to be a similar level to the iPhone 12 family. Those handsets cost more than the 2019 phones – the iPhone 11 series – but that’s because of the addition of 5G and a few other technical elements.
We’ll be sure to include more 2021 iPhone price leaks and rumors as we hear them, but below you can see the prices for the iPhone 12 series that we’re relatively confident will be similar next year.
iPhone 13 name: could it be the iPhone 12s?
There’s every chance the next iPhone won’t be called the iPhone 13. That’s especially true as the number 13 is seen as an unlucky number in parts of the world, including the US, so it may be Apple wants to skip this numeral when it comes time for a new iPhone.
With rumors suggesting we’ll see a relatively similar design to the iPhone 12, it may be that the company is reading an iPhone 12s family for 2021. This is common practice for Apple where it introduces an ‘S’ series the year after a big upgrade, and it may be we see that next year.
iPhone 13 leaks and rumors
You may think with the iPhone 13 release date so far in the distance that we wouldn’t know much about the next-gen phone, but a variety of sources have shown us some things to expect on the next iPhone.
First off, we’re expecting four members of the iPhone 13 family. Those are likely to be – but this isn’t guaranteed – the iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
The company focused on three models until 2020, when it introduced the mini model as the fourth handset in the iPhone 12 family. Most rumors suggest that’ll continue in 2021, and that’s even more likely to happen if the iPhone 12 mini sells well.
We’re expecting similar designs to the iPhone 12 family, and the screen technology is likely to be similar as well because the company made big upgrades to that element of the iPhone 12.
One thing rumored for the iPhone 12 that didn’t come to fruition was the addition of a high refresh rate display. Rumors suggest that may be introduced on the iPhone 13, and that’ll make the display look smoother when playing games or scrolling through your social media feed.
Most important development on the iPhone 13 models from my perspective will be ProMotion with variable refresh rates through LTPO adoption on the Pro models.October 2, 2020
That technology may also work in a similar way to what we’ve seen on the company’s iPad Pro lineup where it is able to vary the refresh rate depending on what activity you’re doing on your phone.
Another rumor backed up 120Hz refresh rate rumors but suggested such a display might only be on two of the four anticipated iPhone 13 models. Maybe this means the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max will have 120Hz screens while the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini, or whatever they end up getting called, won’t.
The source of that claim (Korean site The Elec) has since reiterated it, adding that industry sources say the top two models will get a 120Hz screen. That site has also now added more details, claiming that Samsung will be the sole supplier of these 120Hz panels.
The topic of the notch has been under scrutiny as well with some sources claiming that it’ll remain the same size as the iPhone 12 and others believing it’ll be set to shrink in 2021. What will happen here is particularly unclear right now.
Another leak has also suggested the company may finally be ready to introduce an under-display fingerprint scanner. A lot of Android manufacturers include this technology on flagship phones, and this leak suggests Apple is ready to follow suit.
One source has also suggested that 2021 may be when we see the introduction of 1TB iPhones. That’s a storage size the company hasn’t experimented with yet, at least for its smartphones, and we’d expect it to be an option on the phone’s most expensive Pro handsets.
hope y’all are ready for 1TB iphonesOctober 28, 2020
If Prosser’s information is correct, that may well make for the most expensive iPhone ever as that’s a lot of storage on one handset.
As for the camera, industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo – who is often right about Apple information – has suggested the iPhone 13 camera may be bumped to a f/1.8, six-element lens from the current f/2.4, five-element lens on the Pro.
There are also reports that Apple is looking into adding a periscope camera to a future iPhone. This would allow for a greater zoom range than current models, maybe up to 10x optical zoom, potentially without making the camera components any thicker. However, based on rumors this might not arrive until the iPhone 14 or an even later device.
A report has also suggested that all four iPhone 13 models might get a LiDAR scanner, rather than just the Pro models having it as on the iPhone 12 range. The same site has since reiterated that claim, but until we hear it from other sources we’d take it with a pinch of salt.
Little else has been rumored specifically around the camera, but we’d expect Apple to focus on this as a key area to differentiate the handsets from the iPhone 12 family.
On the battery front meanwhile, we’ve heard from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that the iPhone 13 might switch to soft board technology, which could allow for physically smaller batteries without reducing the capacity.
There’s also an Apple patent that talks about a ‘protective charging’ mode, which would stop you overcharging the phone even if you leave it plugged in for long periods (such as overnight). However, patents don’t always get used, so don’t count on this.
Expect 5G support to continue in 2021 iPhones of course, but it’s expected the company will be switching to either mmWave or sub-6 devices, allowing it to save money.
That essentially means that if mmWave technology isn’t available in your country, you’ll only be able to buy the sub-6 version. Apple included both versions of the 5G technology on the iPhone 12, and that saw the price of the handset rise significantly in the US in particular.
Staying with wireless technologies, we’ve also been led to understand that the iPhone 13 is going to come packing some Wi-Fi 6E connectivity for an even faster link to the web and the cloud.
iPhone 13: what we want to see
With little known for certain about the iPhone 13, we’ve put together a list of things we’d love to see the company introduce for its next-gen device. Some of these will match with what you’ve read about above, and others are just things we want to see Apple do.
1. A big camera upgrade
The iPhone 12 series brought some slight camera tweaks to the family of handsets, but it wasn’t a significant overhaul that many were hoping for.
Expect to see an improved camera in 2021, and we’re hoping for a big one that can mean the company can hold onto its footing in making some of the very best shooters on the market.
2. Improved battery life
The iPhone 12 didn’t improve the battery life on handsets that much over the iPhone 11 series, so we’d like to see Apple put more of a focus on battery life in the future.
Nowhere is this more true than on the iPhone 12 mini, which has the worst battery life of the entire family. It’s okay enough to cope with on a day to day basis, but we’d like to see Apple commit to improving battery life further.
3. An iPhone 13 mini
This may seem like an obvious one, but we really like the iPhone 12 mini and we’d like to see it become a mainstay of the iPhone family.
Smaller handsets that are as capable as the flagship alternative are few and far between in 2020, so we’d like to see the company commit to this new size of handset again for the iPhone 13.
4. A price drop
This is unlikely to be possible for the iPhone 13, but with the price of the iPhone 12 series increasing over the iPhone 11 we’d like to see the company drop its prices again in 2021.
With a rumor suggesting the company will only be using 5G technology relevant to whatever market you live in, that may allow Apple to drop the price lower than it had done before.
5. The death of 64GB iPhones
The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 are both available with 64GB of storage, and we believe that isn’t enough room on a smartphone in 2020. Some will be able to handle that, but if you want to make the most of your device you’ll likely find it will clog up after a few years of usage.
We’d like to see Apple introduce 128GB as the minimum device size in 2021, and hopefully bring the price of the larger storage variants down to a more affordable level.
6. A high refresh rate display
Rumored for the iPhone 12, a high refresh rate display will be another solid screen upgrade that we’d love to see included on the iPhone to keep it competitive with other smartphones on the market.
It’s the sort of upgrade you don’t know you want until you’ve used a phone with the technology included, but it’s something that would make a noticeable difference to the iPhone experience.
7. A better option for chargers
The iPhone 12 was the moment Apple decided to drop chargers in the box. According to Apple, that’s an initiative it believes will save on ewaste and while that may be true it isn’t the most user friendly way of doing so.
We’d like to see the company come up with an alternative way to offer chargers to those who want them, while also not including them in the box by default.
Perhaps, each iPhone could come with a charger coupon that you can cash in if you’re in need of a charger but it strongly discourages you from doing so if you already have a way to charge your phone?