Apple is famously secretive when it comes to tech announcements but going by the latest rumours, Apple's iPhone 13 launch date will be September 2021. The next-gen iPhone is expected to bring a host of upgrades including a super-fast 5G modem, ultra-wide 48MP camera and Apple's first-ever 120Hz display. Here's everything we know about the iPhone 13 so far...
The very first iPhone 13 rumours sprung up long before Apple CEO Tim Cook had unveiled the iPhone 12, back in 2020. As it stands, we've seen what appears to be an iPhone 13 Pro Max dummy unit and heard credible rumours of an upgraded ultra-wide lens with autofocus. Others sources appear to have confirmed that 2021 iPhone will be called 'iPhone 13'.
So, when will iPhone 13 be released? How many cameras will it have? Will Apple bundle the new iPhone with the upcoming AirPods 3 wireless earbuds? And will it support Apple Music Lossless? All valid questions. Grab a coffee, put your phone on silent and prepare for an exciting first look at the rumoured iPhone 13 specs, features and pricing...
New iPhone 13: latest rumours at a glance
- Four new iPhone 13 handsets
- Release date: 14th September 2021
- New ProMotion 120Hz displays
- New quad camera with 10x zoom
- New A15 Bionic processor
- Starting price: £699 ($799, AU$1349)
iPhone 13: release date
Apple is hotly tipped to launch the iPhone 13 in September 2021, as per its usual routine (briefly disrupted last year due to Covid-19).
In a 12th December investor note, respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that production of the iPhone 13 will run on the usual pre-iPhone 12 schedule, and that we can "expect all iPhone 13 models available by September 2021 without delays" (via 9to5mac).
More recently, Wedbush analysts have claimed that the Apple is plotting an iPhone 13 launch on 14th September 2021 (via Barrons). At least two of the handsets will be available to pre-order three days later, on 17th September. Wedbush says the prediction is based on "supply chain sources".
For reference, here's how the (covid-disrupted) iPhone 12 launch panned out:
iPhone 12 Pro: pre‑orders started at 5:00 am PST (8am EST, 1pm BST) on 16th October 2020, for availability on 23rd October.
iPhone 12 Pro Max: pre‑orders started at 5:00 am PST on 6th November 2020, for availability on 13th November.
iPhone 12: pre‑orders started at 5:00 am PST (8am EST, 1pm BST) on 16th October 2020, for availability on 23rd October.
iPhone 12 mini: pre‑orders started at 5:00 am PST on 6th November 2020, for availability on 13th November.
- Read our review of the five-star Apple HomePod Mini
iPhone 13: price
We're yet to see any reliable iPhone 13 price leaks but there are a couple of things to note.
The Samsung Galaxy S21, which launched in January 2021, actually cost less than its predecessor, the Galaxy S20. Since then, inflation has risen and a shortage of semiconductor chips has hit the tech industry as a hole, with most analysts tipping tech prices to rise.
We'll have to wait and see whether Apple follows Samsung's lead, but don't hold your breath. As a luxury brand with a huge global following, its unlikely to indulge in anything so unseemly as price-cutting. Especially if the chip shortage continues to cause bottlenecks. More likely, the standard iPhone 13 price will track around the same as the standard iPhone 12 – from £799 ($799, AU$1349).
Apple likely won't be short of buyers at any rate. On 27th January 2021, CEO Tim Cook reported record-breaking revenues of $65.6 billion in the first fiscal quarter of 2021 – around $5 billion more than analysts had predicted. The bump in sales was driven by a record number of people upgrading their iPhones in the last quarter of 2020 (iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max sold best during that period).
- Browse today's best Apple deals: iPhone, iPad, HomePod
iPhone 13: design
In March 2021, trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a detailed investor note claiming that the iPhone 13 will be available in “four models and the same screen sizes” (via 9to5Mac).
That suggests the iPhone 13 family will bear a close resemblance to the 2020 iPhone 12 line-up. As for persistent rumours that Apple is going to kill off the 5.4-inch iPhone Mini, Kuo said in April 2021 that he thinks that while there will be an iPhone 13 Mini, it could be the Mini's swan song.
That ties in with (unconfirmed) reports in June 2021 that Apple had ended the iPhone 12 mini production run early due to low sales (via TechRadar).
Here how the (rumoured) 2021 iPhone 13 series could look:
iPhone 13 mini – 5.4-inches
iPhone 13 – 6.1-inches
iPhone 13 Pro – 6.1-inches
iPhone 13 Pro Max – 6.7-inches
Kuo's (generally reliable) predictions tie in with previous iPhone 13 rumours authored by fellow tech tipster Ross Young, who claimed Apple will launch two "affordable" devices and two higher-end models blessed with Cupertino's top-tier camera tech.
As for the design of the iPhone 13, no major changes are expected in 2021. Indeed leaks point to the iPhone 13 being the 'iPhone 12S' in all but name. Some rumours even suggest it could be called the iPhone 12S but anonymous supply chain sources, quoted in a July 2021 report by Economic Daily Times, are adamant that the next iPhone will be called the 'iPhone 13'.
Apple tends to debut a major iPhone design overhaul every two years and with the iPhone 12 sporting a fresh 'geometric' design and 5G, it's likely that Apple will wait until 2022 to make any big changes.
That fits with a June 2021 report authored by market research firm TrendForce that confirms the iPhone 13 range be 'less ambitious' than tech fans originally thought. That said, it looks like we'll see some interesting tweaks...
We'll get to the 120Hz display in a moment in terms of the pure design, there's speculation Apple will finally shrink the notch (that annoying section at the top of the device that has stopped the iPhone from becoming 'all screen' since 2017).
Two purported iPhone 13 dummy units leaked in May and both showcased less intrusive notches. The more iPhone 13 Pro Max dummy unit appeared to point to a smaller notch and a bigger camera module. The upcoming Pro Max is also thought to be 3mm thicker than its predecessor to accommodate the rumoured 120Hz screen.
The design of the purported dummy units looks broadly in line Ming-Chi Kuo's predictions. In a March 2021 investor note, the renowned leaker tipped the iPhone 13 for "a reduced notch area" (between 10 and 30 percent smaller). In June 2021, Kuo claimed that Apple won't delete the notch and adopt a 'pin hole' selfie camera until 2022 at the earliest (see: iPhone 14 range could use new TouchID tech).
On 23rd March, Greek repair company iRepair obtained and shared an image of what it claims are the front glass panels for the iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max (via MacRumors). In this alleged photo of the handsets, the notch on each iPhone is visibly smaller and the earpiece speaker has been relocated above it, into the top bezel.
We've also see a screen protector leak recently, showing how the new, smaller notch could look, complete with cut-outs for the camera arrangement.
Kuo is also confident that Apple will bring back TouchID (in combination with FaceID, naturally). That tip ties in with a previously-revealed Apple patent that showed how to integrate Face ID and Touch ID sensors into the screen of a device.
With face masks now de rigueur in many parts of the world, the reintroduction of TouchID couldn't come at a better time for many users. (Fun fact: Apple's latest iOS 14.5 operating system is tipped for the ability to unlock your iPhone using an Apple Watch when wearing a mask.)
Another rumour – tweeted by Apple leaker Jon Prosser in May 2020 – suggests that the iPhone 13 could be "port-less". The idea is that Apple would remove all the ports from one of its high-end iPhone 13 devices. The port-free design would rely entirely on wireless charging and wireless headphones, such as Apple's new AirPods Max and upcoming AirPods 3. The "port-less" rumour was boosted by a January 2021 Bloomberg report that claimed Apple was considering axing the Lightning port.
However, it seems that "port-less" design is now firmly off the table. In his March 2021 report, top analyst Kuo says all four iPhone 13 mobiles will stick with Lightning connectors. Why? Because Lightning offers greater water resistance than USB-C, and Apple wants to ensure the iPhone 13 is as "life-proof" as its predecessor. That said, Kuo goes on to say the iPhone could go port-less in 2022.
The iPhone 13 is said to come in a new matte black finish. Apple is also reportedly considering a bronze or orange colour scheme, but that's much less likely to make it to shop shelves than the matt black. The internet has also been abuzz with rumours of a shocking pink iPhone 13 (via CreativeBloq). Apple has experimented with candy colours, releasing a Purple iPhone 12 earlier this year, so it's possible.
As for the rumour that Apple will launch a folding iPhone this year... maybe not this year, but soon. In May 2021 reputable ball-gazer Ming-Chi Kuo tipped Apple to ship an 8-inch foldable iPhone in 2023. Watch this space...
iPhone 13: display
The iPhone 12 was long-rumoured to boast a ProMotion display with variable refresh rate, but it never materialised. Instead, Apple may have saved that upgrade for the iPhone 13...
Ming-Chi Kuo's investor note (obtained by MacRumours) claims the two top-spec iPhone 13 models will sport low-power LTPO display technology and a 120Hz refresh rate. If he's correct, the high-end tech could bless the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max with even smoother scrolling, along with improved gameplay and video playback.
Kuo's prediction was backed up by another top Apple analyst, Ross Young, who said in May 2021 that more than one iPhone 13 could have 120Hz screen. The June 2021 TrendForce report is also in agreement, as is Bloomberg analyst Mark Gurman. So, it looks like 120Hz screen is a dead cert.
An earlier January 2021 report by TheElec reveals more detail: "Both models of iPhone 13 will use low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) thin-film transistors (TFT) OLED panels made by Samsung Display." While some mused that only the iPhone 13 Pro Max would have an LTPO display, sources recently claimed it would be joined in this regard by the iPhone 13 Pro.
LPTO tech allows for variable refresh rates of between 1Hz – 120Hz, which would allow the iPhone 13 to optimise battery life when, say, inactive. The other interesting thing about LTPO is that it cuts out a layer of components under the display, which suggests the iPhone 13 could be Apple's thinnest iPhone yet.
Other recent leaks have tipped the iPhone 13 for an "always-on" display, something that could be facilitated by low-power LTPO technology. Here's a mocked-up video of how the feature could work, courtesy of A Better Computer. This was recently backed up by Mark Gurman, lending it credence. Apple watchers have been expecting an always-on display for years now, so it might be time Apple finally made the rumour a reality.
Don't get too excited, though. Other analysts have poured cold water on the "always on" display rumours, claiming that Apple won't be able to integrate LTPO tech until 2022 when the iPhone 14 will presumably launch.
- Read our in-depth iPhone 12 Pro Max review
iPhone 13: spec and storage
Rumour has it the iPhone 13 will raise the bar when it comes to spec and storage. Perhaps the most exciting news so far is that the iPhone 13 range will boast Qualcomm's X60 modem, according to noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
Thanks to Qualcomm's latest "5nm" manufacturing process, the the X60 packs a bigger punch of performance into a smaller footprint that the "7nm" X55 modem in the iPhone 12. The X60 is smarter about 5G too, achieving higher connection speeds whilst preserving battery life.
The iPhone 13 is set for a further boost thanks to Apple's (rumoured) A15 Bionic chip. The A15 is thought to be a System-on-Chip (SoC) affair – a major upgrade over the A14 Bionic processor in the current iPhone. Performance-wise, it could be a huge shot in the arm (via TechRadar).
Unlike the AirPods Max, you can expect the iPhone 13 to support Apple Music Lossless. If you missed it, Apple now offers both lossless and Spatial Audio tracks to Apple Music subscribers, free of charge. Here's which devices will (and won't) play lossless and Spatial Audio.
But what about Hi-Res tracks? Apple's iPhones (since the iPhone 7) natively support lossless – but not the highest quality Hi-Res Lossless (which delivers up to 24-bit/192kHz). Fingers crossed the iPhone 13 raises the bar on that front.
As for storage, the iPhone 13 is expected to come with between 64GB and 512GB.
A February 2021 report (via 9to5Mac) tipped the iPhone 13 for up to 1TB of storage – double the 512GB in the current largest capacity iPhone 12 Pro – but a June 2021 TrendForce report claims storage capacities will be unchanged at 128GB/256GB/512GB for Pro models, and 64GB/128GB/256GB for the base iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini.
Finally, the iPhone 13 is rumoured to support Wi-Fi 6E, an improved version of Wi-Fi 6, which is said to deliver even faster mobile internet speeds. The 'E' might not sound like much but it extends your phone's bandwidth from 5GHz to 6GHz. That extra 1000Hz of bandwidth could make a big difference when streaming HD video on the go.
iPhone 13: camera
The big news here is that the iPhone 13 is said to boast a new 48MP camera with a game-changing ultra-wide lens. Apple watcher Ming-Chi Kuo says the new camera will help Apple push into the fast-growing augmented reality space.
According to a June 2021 report by Kuo, the iPhone 13 could have an ultra-wide lens with autofocus (and bigger bump). That ties in with a February report by Kuo, which claimed the next iPhones will feature an upgraded 6-element ultra-wide lens with an f/1.8 aperture (up from the f/2.4 on the iPhone 12). There's talk of a Apple using a 'diagonal' camera module to free up room for the new lenses.
The latest leaked image (above) seems to show the iPhone 13 Pro with larger-than-expected camera bump, adding yet more weight to the theory that the iPhone 13 Pro will feature an upgraded ultra-wide lens with autofocus.
Furthermore, the tech titan is also said to be developing a 10x optical zoom to match the top Android smartphone of 2021 so far, the Samsung Galaxy S21. Fingers crossed. With that kind of firepower, you could almost go pro.
The only disagreement seems to be over which iPhone 13 models will sport the new ultra-wide lens. Kuo says the upgrade will be limited to the two iPhone 13 Pro models, while Barclays analysts and well-known tech tipster Ross Young claim all four iPhones will get the tech.
One final addition could be the inclusion of LiDAR sensors on the iPhone 13 and 13 mini, as well as the Pro models. A June 2021 investor note by Wedbush claims all 2021 iPhones will include the advanced sensor.
An iPhone 13 leaked render obtained by MySmartPrice seems to add weight to that theory. It tips Apple's next flagship for a new camera bump with a 'diagonal arrangement'. Could Apple be freeing up space for a LIDAR sensor?
Plenty of analysts, including TrendForce, say otherwise. Apparently, Apple planned to bring LiDAR to all iPhone 13 models it will now only be available on Pro models, which are said boast more advanced cameras.
Apparently, an enhanced portrait mode is on the cards, leveraging these LiDAR sensors, according to sources speaking to YouTube channel EverythingApplePro. If more models feature LiDAR sensors, we could see better portraits come to every phone in the range.
Lastly, the iPhone 13 could be in line for Time-of-Flight (ToF) selfie cameras, which use AI to recognise faces and track gestures. That could see the iPhone 13 offer touch-free navigation. However, Google offered (but later abandoned) similar gesture tech when it released the Pixel 4 – could Apple make the same mistake? We'll have to wait and see.
iPhone 13: name
Apple introduces new iPhone monikers – X, XS, Xr, Pro, Pro Max, etc – as and when the technology demands it. Since the iPhone 13 is expected to be more 'evolution' than 'revolution', it seems likely Apple will stick to the iPhone 12 naming standards. Here's the story so far...
2007 - iPhone
2008 - iPhone 3G
2009 - iPhone 3GS
2010 - iPhone 4
2011 - iPhone 4s
2012 - iPhone 5
2013 - iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c
2014 - iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
2015 - iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus
2016 - iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
2017 - iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X
2018 - iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max
2019 - iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max
2020 - iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max
2021 TBC - iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max
2022 TBC - iPhone 14 (6.1), iPhone 14 (6.7), iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max
Needless to say, we'll be bringing you all the rumours, leaks and news in the build-up. We know next September seems a long away at the moment, but assuming everything goes according to plan, it, and the iPhone 13, will be here before you know it.
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