(Pocket-lint) – The annual refresh of the iPhone is one of the biggest events in tech: it’s the phone that many aspire to own, one that sets trends and the phone that all others are looking to better.
While leaks and rumours are nothing new to the world of tech, getting information about unannounced Apple devices is fairly rare. They don’t tend to leak as comprehensively as a Samsung or Google phone – but we’re gathering up everything we hear about the 2021 iPhone models right here.
Apple iPhone 13 release date and price
Typically Apple holds its iPhone event in the second week of September and normally on a Tuesday. If 2020 had been a standard year, the iPhone 12 would likely have been unveiled on 8 September 2020.
Of course, 2020 was not a normal year thanks to the ongoing global situation. Instead, Apple revealed the iPhone 12 series on 13 October, breaking the pattern and making it harder to determine when the iPhone 13 (or iPhone 14) event might take place.
If the pattern returns to normal for 2021 – which it has been claimed to do – the iPhone 13 event could take place on 7 September. It’s said availability could start in the third week of September. Of course no event is confirmed as yet, nor will it be until at least end of August 2021.
In terms of price, we’d expect the iPhone 13 series to start around the same as the iPhone 12 range.
What will the iPhone 2021 be called?
- iPhone 13/14 mini
- iPhone 13/14
- iPhone 13/14 Pro
- iPhone 13/14 Pro Max
Pre-2017, it was pretty easy to predict what the next iPhone would be called. Following the iPhone 3G up to the iPhone 8, Apple used sequential numbers and that was that.
With the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max having launched in 2020, it’s pretty likely the 2021 iPhones will be called the iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, if there are four iPhones again.
That said, as the number 13 is commonly associated with being unlucky, it could be that Apple skips 13 and calls the 2021 iPhones the iPhone 14 mini, iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. There’s also been talk of iPhone 12S flying around so the naming is a little up in the air at the moment.
- Similar design
- Squarer edges
The Apple iPhone 12 models came with a refreshed design, offering squarer edges more like the iPhone 4 or 5. It’s therefore likely that the iPhone 13 models will stick with this design as a design refresh two years running would be unusual.
We’re hoping to see a reduced notch at the top of the screen of the 2021 models though – which has been suggested in rumours – or better still, no notch at all. A patent has previously been filed for a notch-less phone, but how Face ID would be accommodated remains a puzzle. It’s also been said that a notchless phone won’t arrive until 2023.
Other rumours surrounding the design suggest a matte black finish could be on the cards, as well as a bronze finish and there’s been talk of a coating on the Pro models stainless steel frame to fight off fingerprints.
- All OLED
- 120Hz refresh rate
- Always-on display
With the iPhone 12 models all offering OLED displays, it is likely the iPhone 13 models will also all have OLED screens.
There were reports of a variable refresh rate for the iPhone 12 models with a 120Hz refresh rate that could drop down to 60Hz when necessary, though this never happened, so perhaps it will be something we will see on the 2021 models. Samsung is said to be producing LTPO displays for the Pro models so it’s possible we will see 120Hz variable refresh rates on the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max.
The iPhone 12 series comes in a 5.4-inch model, two 6.1-inch models and a 6.7-inch model. With the display sizes changing for 2020, we’d predict they will stay the same for 2021, though you never know.
Some speculation also suggested in-display fingerprint sensors for the iPhone 12 models. As this never appeared, perhaps this is something the iPhone 13 models will look to introduce alongside Face ID. There has also been talk of an always-on display, with icons like clock and battery showing even when the screen is locked, as well as notification bars dimly lighting up when a notification appears rather than the whole screen.
- Pro models likely to be better
- Improvements likely
- Astrophotography mode?
Currently there aren’t many rumours surrounding the cameras iPhone 13 models, but we suspect Apple will stick with offering a better camera setup on the iPhone 13 Pro models. We’re hoping to see the standard iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max offering the same again though.
There have been claims to suggest all models in the iPhone 13 line up could offer sensor-shift image stabilisation, which is currently offered on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which would be great to see. There’s also talk of an upgraded ultra wide sensor with all four models moving to a lens with an f/1.8 aperture compared to the f/2.4 offered on the iPhone 12 models. The iPhone 13 Pro Max model is also said to be coming with a f/1.5 main sensor.
Additionally, an automatic astrophotography mode that kicks in when the stars or moon is detected when taking a photo has been reported and there’s been talk of a redesign to allow for a smaller protrusion on the Pro models.
Hardware and software
With the iPhone 12 series offering 5G, the iPhone 13 models will no doubt do the same. They will also all likely run on the A15 chip and iOS 15 software, the latter of which we will most likely hear more about in June 2021. It’s also said they will all run Qualcomm’s X60 5G modem.
Other hardware and software features have yet to be detailed in rumours, but we expect to hear more over the coming months.
Apple iPhone 13 rumours: What’s happened so far?
Here’s everything we’ve heard about the iPhone 13 models so far.
4 May 2021: Samsung Electro-Mechanics to supply RFPCB to Apple for iPhone 13
The Elec published a report claiming Samsung Electro-Mechanics will supply its rigid flexible printed circuit boards (RFPCB) to Apple for the iPhone 13 models.
19 April 2021: Leaked images show how iPhone 13 could feature a much smaller notch than previous models
Twitter user DuanRui published a leaked image claimed to be of the iPhone 13 showing a reduced notch.
— DuanRui (@duanrui1205) April 17, 2021
19 April 2021: iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max will feature next-gen LTPO displays, ProMotion variable refresh rates
Analyst Ross Young from from Display Supply Chain Consultants claimed both the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max will feature next-generation LTPO displays with ProMotion.
If true, the refresh rate would be able to rise to 120Hz for improved fluidity and responsiveness. It could also mean that Apple Pencil will be supported on iPhone – the iPad Pro with ProMotion offers a 20ms latency.
31 March 2021: The iPhone 13 Pro Max might feature a f/1.5 wide camera
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed the iPhone 13 Pro Max will include a f/1.5 aperture wide-angle camera.
29 March 2021: Will the iPhone 13 come with a matte black finish?
Tipster Max Weinbach claimed the iPhone 13 will come in a matte black finish and a bronze finish was also mentioned. Weinbach also suggested the camera would be redesigned with a smaller protrusion on the iPhone 13 Pro models.
24 March 2021: Apple iPhone 13 could finally have smaller notch, leaked panels suggest
Some leaked panels sent to MacRumours suggest the iPhone 13 models will come with a smaller notch and relocated ear piece.
23 March 2021: iPhone 13 will go on sale ‘end of September 2021’
MacRumours reported that Apple will likely release its iPhone 13 models back in line with normal schedules, with availability suggested for the third week in September, according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.
22 March 2021: Samsung to reportedly supply LTPO displays for iPhone 13 models with ProMotion
AppleInsider reported that Samsung is gearing up to produce LTPO displays for Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max, supporting 120Hz refresh rates. It’s claimed in the report that Samsung could start production in the early half of 2021.
2 March 2021: Apple’s iPhone 13 lineup might feature a smaller notch cutout and bigger batteries
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said all four iPhone 13 models will be the same sizes as the iPhone 12 models. He also said the iPhone 13 Pro models would feature LTPO displays with 120Hz refresh rates, an upgraded ultra-wide camera with an f/1.8 aperture lens and autofocus.
Bigger batteries and smaller display cutouts were also reported but Kuo said there would be no portless design this year, no USB Type-C and all models would use Qualcomm’s X60 5G modem.
1 March 2021: How the iPhone 13 might work without a Lightning port
A report suggests there will be no Lightning port on the iPhone 13 and that several teams have been tasked with working out a solution to recover an iPhone if something was to go wrong with it that traditionally would involve plugging it into iTunes.
15 February 2021: Apple iPhone 13 could have always-on display and astrophotography mode
Leaker Max Weinbach claimed the iPhone 13 could come with an always-on display and it might have an automatic astrophotography mode that kicks in when stars or the moon is detected.
3 Febraury 2021: Apple iPhone 13 models could come with upgraded ultra wide camera
Barclays analysts claimed all four of the iPhone 13 models will see an upgraded ultra wide camera, while the iPhone 13 Pro will also get the upgraded telephoto lens from the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
2 February 2021: Will iPhone 13 feature in-display Touch ID? New claims suggest yes
The Wall Street Journal reported that it heard from two former Apple employees that a new optical Touch ID may be deployed alongside Face ID under the display.
21 January 2021: iPhone 12 Max sensor-shift stablilisation could come to all iPhone 13 or 14 handsets
The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max has a bunch of extra camera capabilities including sensor-shift image stabilisation meaning near-complete elimination of camera shake. According to reports, the tech is set to come to the whole of the next-generation iPhone lineup, including dual-lens models.
16 January 2021: Apple reportedly developing foldable iPhone displays and in-screen Touch ID
Bloomberg reported that the 2021 iPhone could come with an in-screen fingerprint sensor.
11 January 2021: Apple is planning to tweak the notch on the iPhone 13 – but don’t expect a design overhaul
The iPhone 13 is set to feature a near-identical design to the current crop of Apple smartphones, though the notch could be in line for a tweak compared to previous models, according to a report from Japanese outlet Mac Otakara.
18 October 2020: iPhone 13 could have in-display fingerprint sensor and Face ID
A report published by BGR suggests a leaker has said the iPhone 13 could feature Touch ID underneath the display, alongside Face ID.
26 August 2020: Video leaks, appears to show high refresh rate settings
A video purporting to show the iPhone 12 Max display leaked. The video appears to confirm high-refresh rate settings for the Pro and Pro Max. With the iPhone 12 Pro Max not offering this, maybe it’s a feature we will see on the iPhone 13 Pro models.
3 July 2020: Higher 120Hz refresh rate displays possibly coming to 2021 iPhones
Analyst Ross Young said his contacts think 120Hz technology could come to the 2021 iPhone series.
20 April 2020: Smaller notch incoming
Several reports suggested the iPhone 12 would have a smaller notch, yet all the Face ID sensors will be present. This would essentially only mean that the speaker is moved upwards into the bezel of the phone, as it has been on many Android devices.
As the iPhone 12 models didn’t offer this, all eyes are now on the iPhone 13 models.
31 December 2019: Notch-free phone patent filed by Apple
Patents filed by Apple have appeared for a notch-free phone, but it does raise the question of how Apple will offer Face ID if there’s no space for the needed hardware.
30 September 2019: Apple iPhone renders show no notch
Ben Geskin produced some renders showing what the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max could have looked like if the notch disappeared. We’ve left them here in case Apple makes this move for the iPhone 13 models.
5 September 2019: Apple developing in-screen sensor
According to Bloomberg, Apple is developing an in-display fingerprint authentication technology that works much like the solutions we’ve seen implemented by Samsung, OnePlus, Huawei, and others.
Presumably, it would be a Touch ID-branded feature that would work alongside Face ID, allowing users to more efficiently bypass their device’s lock screen and process payments.
5 August 2019: Long live Touch ID! Apple’s 2021 iPhone might use in-display fingerprint tech
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has claimed Apple will likely offer an Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 2021. Kuo said the system will work alongside Apple’s Face ID.
He also said that the notch would get smaller for the 2020 iPhone – which it didn’t – before being ditched completely for the 2021 iPhone.
11 July 2019: The iPhone will have its front-cameras under the display by 2021
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims the iPhone’s large notch will completely disappear by 2021.
Kuo doesn’t elaborate on how Apple might succeed in this, but one way would be to move the True Depth camera system – which is used for Face ID – to behind the display. There are big challenges with this technology at the moment though so perhaps there is another solution?
Writing by Britta O’Boyle.