Photo: Tech Area 24
Photo: Tech Area 24

The iPhone 13 remains several months away from becoming a reality, but there's still a steady drumbeat of rumors about what Apple has planned for this year's models. And all these details trickling out have created a surprisingly complete picture of the iPhone 13, even at this early stage.

From everything we've heard so far, the iPhone 13 is set to offer a 120Hz LTPO display on both Pro models, improved battery life thanks to a more efficient 5G modem, and substantial upgrades to the all-important cameras. That includes the possibility a LiDAR sensor on cheaper iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini, as well as a new portrait video mode.

As for the iPhone 13's design, Apple's not planning anything as radical as the new look rumored for the Google Pixel 6, though we have heard that the iPhone's notch will finally shrink on every new model. (And yes, we're expecting four models, just like with the iPhone 12.) Some other rumors have suggested that at least one version of the iPhone 13 may come with a truly portless design (though that prediction is looking shaky). We could finally see an always-on display gracing the iPhone, too.

iPhone 13 release date

Photo: Sony Dickson
Photo: Sony Dickson

If the iPhone 13 release date follows Apple's pattern for previous launches, we could see this device hit shelves on the fourth Friday of September 2021. That would be September 24.

A report by Wedbush analyst Dan Ives lines up with this possibility, as he predicts that the iPhone 13 will launch the third week of September. Pre-orders could begin that Friday, and the iPhone 13 could go on sale the following Friday.

Despite the coronavirus-related delays that faced the iPhone 12, pushing its launch to October 13, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims that the iPhone 13 should return to a normal release schedule in 2021. That's significant, given that chip shortages are delaying other consumer tech product releases this year.

It's certainly good news that the A15 Bionic chip that's rumored to power the iPhone 13 is reportedly ahead of schedule. An a more recent leak has claimed the A15 Bionic has started production, which would further suggest the iPhone 13 could be revealed around September time.

iPhone 13 dummy units tease smaller notch and new diagonal cameras

Photo: Weibo
Photo: Weibo

We're getting closer to the launch of the new iPhone 13, and now we have new photos of dummy units on Chinese social media site Weibo. These pictures show a Pro and a non-Pro model, with the latter having the long-rumored diagonal camera lens layout.

The images show a smaller notch, which we've heard about previously. This would mean that Apple has shrunk down the Face ID tech and moved the ear piece. Considering how stale the notched design has gotten, we're excited for any kind of change in that regard.

If you're having trouble getting to the Weibo link, Twitter user DuanRui re-shared the photos on his account. They're decent pictures for once, showing off the dummy units in excellent detail. Both units come from what the original Weibo user calls a reliable source. This third party apparently created accurate iPhone 12 dummy units last year, lending credence to the iPhone 13 ones picture here.

These images come shortly after previous dummy units we saw a few days ago. There's nothing new here from the back, but this new batch of photos show the alleged smaller notch.

Besides what these dummy units show, we're expecting a few other key upgrades on the iPhone 13. Some of these include 120Hz ProMotion displays with an always-on option for the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max and sensor-shift image stabilization on the entire lineup. All four iPhone 13 units should also offer a faster new A15 Bionic chip along with an enhanced 5G modem.

iPhone 13 price

As for how much the iPhone 13 will cost, we'd expect the prices to track with the iPhone 12 range — $699, $799, $999 and $1,099, respectively. Apple tends to keep its pricing for each new generation of iPhone relatively close to the one that preceded it.

A report by TrendForce says that the iPhone 13 pricing should be "relatively on par" with the current iPhone 13 models. Unfortunately, the firm also says that the iPhone 13 Pro models won't have a 1TB storage option.

Various rumors point toward the iPhone 13 coming in the same four sizes as the iPhone 12: a 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro and a 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max. The new iPhones showed up in regulatory filings with the Eurasian Economic Commission; that filing included seven models, though that could include different configurations.

Because the iPhone 12 mini hasn't sold well, rumors suggested that Apple might drop the iPhone 13 mini. However, subsequent reports have suggested that there will be an iPhone 13 mini, so let's assume we're going to see four models in the fall — at least for now. (Apple is reportedly developing a foldable iPhone, but the latest rumor suggests an iPhone Flip is two years out.)

iPhone 13: What we want to see

Expect to hear more details on the iPhone 13 between now and September. Here's what we'd love to see from the iPhone 13 when it does surface, beyond what rumors are suggesting.

128GB of storage, standard: Apple only granted 128GB base storage in the higher-tier iPhone 12 Pro models, leaving it out of the regular iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini. That's a good first step, but Apple has really got to get with the times and offer a floor of 128GB of storage in all iPhone 13 models. It's borderline offensive to spend nearly a grand on a premium smartphone that only packs 64GB from the factory, especially considering Apple's aversion to microSD expandability.

Improved camera zoom: Either through hardware, software or a combination of both, Apple has to punch up the iPhone's photography abilities when shooting from a distance. Many smartphone users love having a good ultrawide lens, but a strong telephoto is just as important for when you can't get up close to your subject. Perhaps Apple could learn a thing or two from Google's Super Res Zoom feature, which uses clever algorithms to nearly make up for the lack of a high-powered periscope lens. The iPhone 12 Pro Max has improved things slightly to 2.5x optical power, but we'd really like to see at least 3x in future telephoto-equipped iPhones.

120Hz display: If you've never used a phone with one before, a fast refresh-rate display just makes every scroll, tap, task and game so much more responsive than on standard 60Hz panels. We'd settle for 90Hz if 120Hz is deemed too costly for battery life, but a swifter refresh rate could go a long way toward making iOS feel even smoother than it feels now. Unfortunately, this was another feature teased for iPhone 12 early on that never ended up panning out for release.

Design: iPhone 13 will probably look familiar

iPhone 13 Pro Mac dummy unit (left) compared to a current iPhone 12 Pro model (Image credit: Unbox Therapy/YouTube)
iPhone 13 Pro Mac dummy unit (left) compared to a current iPhone 12 Pro model (Image credit: Unbox Therapy/YouTube)

There have already been a number of renders floating around the Twittersphere showing rumored iPhone 13 designs. A recent one, from MacRumors, illustrates the resized camera bump and increased thickness of the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro compared to its predecessors. According to MacRumors, the iPhone 13's camera bump is getting slightly thicker, perhaps to accommodate forthcoming camera upgrades like lidar.

A new render in late June from Sonny Dickson on Twitter showed a slight variation on the iPhone 13 and 12 Mini's camera module, with its two lenses situated diagonally from one another, rather than one atop the other.

The Twittersphere was abuzz in early May when an account called Peng Phones released a supposedly leaked image of a bubblegum pink iPhone 13, though the image ended up being wishful thinking from an artist on Instagram who specializes in 3D modeling. Then in June, YouTube account EverythingApplePro previewed a matte black iPhone 13 render, said to be a replacement for the existing graphite or space gray color options on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro models, respectively.

Earlier, we spotted a 3D-printed mockup from Japanese blog Macotakara and some concept renderings from EverythingApplePro. But we don't expect any big changes to the iPhone's design in 2021, considering 2020 saw a pretty significant "slabular" redesign already with the return of the iPhone 5's flat sides. Apple is also not expected to make any changes to the phone's sizing from the previous generation.

Cameras: New photo tricks and tech coming to the iPhone 13

The iPhone got some pretty well-received camera upgrades in 2020, especially in the Pro Max model, which introduced the iOS crowd to lidar (also found on the Pro) and ProRaw. The iPhone 12 even wrested CNET photo enthusiast Stephen Shankland's loyalty away from Google Pixel, the erstwhile computational photography king.

Improved night mode photos

Rumors in early February hinted at welcome improvements for low-light photography. Analysts are predicting an ultrawide-angle lens with a larger aperture -- f1.8, instead of f2.4. A larger aperture means more light can hit the sensor, which makes for better photos at nighttime or in low-light situations.

ALSO READ:Apple's 5G Modem: Launch Date, What to Expect?

iPhone 13 battery

The iPhone 12 models did not wow on our battery life test. Only the iPhone 12 Pro Max truly impressed with its large battery. However, another report from Ming-Chi Kuo about so-called soft battery technology in the iPhone 13 claimed that the new iPhones could offer increased battery capacity without growing the design footprint.

This seems to be backed up by a recent claim from leaker L0vetodream, who has tipped battery capacity increases for all models. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is the big winner here, gaining an 18% increase from 3,687 mAh to 4,352 mAh. The other three models' increases are all much smaller, but would still go some way to fixing the short battery life issue.

iPhone 13 charging

The iPhone 12 maxes out at 20W charging, and we have not yet heard any rumors about the the charging speed for this year. However, we have heard some bad news. According to Bloomberg, the iPhone 13 likely won't include reverse wireless charging, which would have allowed the iPhone to charge devices like the AirPods Pro and Apple Watch.

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