We are only weeks away from the launch of the 2021 iPhone 13 models in September. And because we’ve heard rumors about the new devices since the 2020 iPhone 12 models were released, we have a good idea of what to expect. Although we don’t know when the new iPhones will debut, if Apple follows its past event plans, September 14th is the most likely date.
The 2021 iPhone lineup will be similar to the 2020 iPhone lineup. There will be four sizes, including 5.4, 6.1, and 6.7 inches. Two of the iPhones will be higher-end Pro models, while two are lower-cost, less expensive devices.
Although major design changes are unlikely, 2021 iPhones will feature the same set, and 2020 iPhones will have them. We can expect camera improvements, a faster processor in the A-series, increased battery life, and a smaller notch.
Early rumors suggested that at least one iPhone would have a portless design, relying solely on wireless charging. But Ming-Chi Kuo, an Apple analyst, says that this is unlikely to be the case.
Apple will continue to use Lightning for the foreseeable futurity, with no switch to USB-C. There will also be no portless design until MagSafe accessories are more widely available. Instead, portless iPhones may begin to appear in 2022.
We are expecting a smaller notch. While some rumors suggested it could be shallower, device mockups based on information sourced from the Chinese supply chain indicate it will be smaller in size, taking up less space than the existing notch. Apple will also introduce 120Hz refresh rates to Pro iPhone models. This will bring the iPad Pro’s ProMotion technology onto the iPhone.
Apple was considering adding an in-display fingerprint sensor to the iPhone 13 models, which would be used in addition to Face ID as an alternate biometric authentication method. Still, it’s something tabled or saved for a future update because it didn’t cut for the iPhone 13.
Rumors suggest that the iPhone 12 Pro Max could have a larger sensor, which will allow for improved camera technology. This would be in addition to the Sensor-Shift Stabilization feature, which allows for better auto-focus, stabilization, and overall performance across the range.
There are design changes in the camera bump due to the forthcoming camera changes. The iPhone 13 Pro will get a larger array of cameras, while the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini will feature diagonal camera setups.
There are rumored to be improvements to the Ultra Wide lenses on the “Pro” iPhone 13 models in better performance in low-light conditions and improved autofocus. Still, few changes are expected for the Wide lens in the devices. The iPhone 13 and 13 Pro are expected to feature a new diagonal camera lens setup, a departure from the design of the iPhone 12 models.
Apple will offer four iPhones in 2021. There will be no changes to the sizes. We can expect an iPhone mini of 5.4 inches, a Pro model with a 6.1-inch price tag, and a Pro Max model of 6.7 inches. Rumors have suggested the iPhone 12 mini has seen lackluster sales, but Apple is still planning for an iPhone 13 mini at this time.
Because the 2020 iPhone models were a major technology and design overhaul, it is not likely that the 2021 iPhone models will feature any significant design changes. Bloomberg reports that Apple engineers consider the 2021 iPhones an “S” version. Apple used the “S” nomenclature for years when iPhone models had more minor updates.
According to Mac Otakara in Japan, the new iPhones will have the same dimensions as the iPhone 12 models, but the thickness of the new iPhones is expected to increase by 0.26mm. Due to the larger batteries, the iPhone 13 models will be slightly heavier.
The standard iPhone 13 model with a dual-lens camera setup could see the lenses arranged diagonally rather than a vertical design. Although the Wide and Ultra-Wide lenses will still be available on the iPhone 13, some changes may require repositioning, such as sensor-shift optical imaging stabilization for Wide lenses.
The iPhone 13 Pro models will be 0.2mm thicker, perhaps to facilitate a larger battery, and will feature a much larger rear camera unit, according to renders images. The larger rear camera unit may be required to support sensor-shift stabilization. However, it looks the same size as the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s rear camera unit.
The larger camera size of the iPhone 13 Pro has been demonstrated in images of an iPhone 12 Pro in an iPhone 13 Pro case, which has a noticeably bigger camera cutout. This case was created using CAD images and leaked specs of iPhone 13 models.
The iPhone 13 models may also feature stronger magnets inside and a different matte finish on the outside. Rumors suggest the upcoming iPhones will come in a matte black color option that will replace space gray, along with a new stainless steel coating that reduces smudges and fingerprints.
Apple may also be considering an orange-bronze-like color, but that could not be true. These rumors are based on rumors that have not been proven accurate in predicting Apple’s plans.
The iPhone 13 will have a smaller notch. Many reliable sources, including Ming-Chi Kuo, an Apple analyst, predict that the notch will shrink in 2021.
According to Mac Otakara, TrueDepth cameras will have a shallower depth because the receiver at its top is being moved to the edges of the case. Initial information suggested that the notch would appear smaller than it was, but mockups later revealed that it would shrink in width and height.
DigiTimes claims that the iPhone 13 model’s notch will shrink in size due to a redesign of the camera module. This integrates the Rx and Tx as well as flood illuminator. Analysts have similarly explained that a smaller notch on iPhone 13 models will result from a “more tightly integrated version of the current structured light system” for Face ID.
The iPhone 13’s Face ID transmitter is made from a plastic material instead of glass, made possible thanks to improved coating technologies. Still, it is not clear if this will have end-user benefits or mean a reduction in production cost for Apple.
The smaller notch can be seen in leaked display panels for the upcoming iPhone 13 models. These images show that the panels have a smaller notch because the earpiece speaker was moved to the top bezel.
Mac Otakara in April shared images of a 3D-printed iPhone 13 mockup, showing a smaller notch, the front-facing camera moved to the left, and a repositioned earpiece. The mockup shows that the iPhone 13 Pro will have a notch measuring 5.35mm high, 26.80mm wide, and 5.30mm high, respectively, as opposed to the iPhone 12 Pro. This is down from 34.83mm.
It is not normal to expect a portless design
Apple’s longtime goal has been an iPhone with no external ports or buttons for a clean, streamlined device, and rumors suggest that Apple would introduce a portless iPhone in 2021 with no Lightning port. Still, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen after all.
Bloomberg said that Apple mulled removing the Lightning port on some iPhone models in favor of wireless charging. Still, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently said that Apple would continue to use a Lightning connector for the 2021 iPhone lineup.
A portless iPhone could charge using Qi wireless charging and MagSafe accessories. Kuo doesn’t believe that the MagSafe market has matured enough to support such a design.
USB-C is not supported
According to Ming-Chi Kuo, an Apple analyst, Apple does not switch the iPhone lineup to USB-C from Lightning. Kuo recently said that Apple is reluctant to shift to USB-C because it is an open standard and less waterproof than Lightning.
Apple Lightning allows Apple to regulate the quality and design of Lightning cables, accessories, and other products through the Made for iPhone program (MFi), but this would not be possible using USB-C. Future iPhones and iPhone 13 will continue to use Lightning ports until MagSafe accessories become sufficiently common to permit a portless design.
No Touch ID
Throughout the iPhone 13 development process, Apple tested an in-screen Touch ID fingerprint reader that would mark a major change to the biometric systems that Apple has used for flagship devices since the launch of the iPhone X, allowing for dual biometric functionality.
Unfortunately, under-display Touch ID didn’t “cut” for the iPhone 13 models, and Apple will instead continue to focus solely on Face ID. The iPhone 13 will not include a Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
Bloomberg also states that Apple is focusing its attention on Face ID. It plans to embed Face ID underneath the screen for an all-screen design for a future iPhone, rather than to use under display Touch ID in a flagship device.
There have been a lot of rumors about Apple’s under-display Touch ID work. For example, the Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern has suggested that Apple is working on an in-display fingerprint sensor that could use optical technology, but this doesn’t appear to have panned out if it was indeed in testing.
Apple could have made the fingerprint sensor available alongside Face ID to create a dual biometric system. Under-display Touch ID technology could still be implemented in a future iPhone, and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that Apple could use the feature for some models of the 2022 iPhones.
120Hz ProMotion Display
There were multiple rumors ahead of the launch of the iPhone 12 lineup that suggested the high-end iPhone 12 models could feature 120Hz ProMotion displays. Still, later in the rumor cycle, it became clear that this feature was delayed until 2021 due to battery life concerns.
To implement a 120Hz refresh rate on the iPhone, Apple needs to adopt LTPO display technology, which is rumored to be happening in 2021. At least two 2021 iPhone models will use OLED displays with low-power LTPO backplane technology, which will pave the way for 120Hz refresh rates.
LTPO is a more efficient backplane that turns individual pixels on and off and provides longer battery life. Two models equipped with LTPO will be Pro models. These models are believed to have ProMotion technology.
Samsung will supply the OLED displays for the LTPO OLED display, enabling Apple to use the 120Hz refresh rate on the 2021 iPhone models. BOE and LG Display could also provide displays to Apple for the new iPhones. Samsung began producing LTPO OLED displays for Apple in May 2021.
Apple will use Y-OCTA display technology, which allows touchscreen circuitry to be patterned on the OLED panel without needing a separate layer. This allows for a thinner and more affordable display.
Apple suppliers Samsung and LG Display are believed to be in the process of converting parts of their production capacity to produce low-power LTPO OLED panels for the iPhone 13. In the first half of 2021, production will be converted from LTPS to LTPO.
Apple will use a 5nm+ A15 chip for the 2021 iPhones, with the chipset to be manufactured by TSMC. Although we haven’t been able to find out more about the A15 chip, new chips always improve speed and efficiency.
TSMC started production on the A15 chip in late May. Apple has ordered more than 100 million A15 chips for the new iPhones, expecting high demand for the updated models.