photo: Techradar
iPhone 13 - Two New Features Leaked - Photo: Techradar

As part of his Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman writes that we can expect to see some nice changes to the iPhone 13 display this coming September. Gurman’s revelations about Apple’s next-gen iPhone aren’t entirely new, but they do corroborate previous rumors we’ve seen in recent months.

Specifically, Gurman writes that Apple’s iPhone 13 display will be far better than anything we’ve seen before. Aside from a “new display for better battery life,” Gurman points to the inclusion of a display with a 120Hz refresh rate. Gurman also confirms the potential for an always-on display, a rumor that first surfaced back in February.

Why an iPhone 13 display with a 120Hz refresh rate is exciting

Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

Rumors of Apple incorporating a 120Hz refresh rate on the iPhone have persisted for a few years. The iPhone 13, though, will likely see this rumored feature become a reality.

According to reports, Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro models will boast a 120Hz ProMotion display. The end benefit for users will be more fluid scrolling, improved responsiveness, and “smoother motion content.” If you’ve already used the feature on Apple’s iPad Pro models, you can attest that this will be a welcome addition to the iPhone line.

Though nothing is confirmed just yet, previous reports have said that Apple will implement dynamic variable refresh switching. This will allow the display to alternate between 60Hz and 120Hz depending on the use-case scenario.

The iPhone 13 may be more popular than the iPhone 12

The iPhone 12 sold much better than many analysts anticipated, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic. And though it’s still too early to speculate on iPhone 13 sales, Gurman relays an interesting tidbit. Specifically, Apple is telling suppliers to boost iPhone production by 20% compared to last year. In effect, Apple is expecting to ship 90 million iPhone 13 models throughout 2021 and 2022.

iPhone 13 will incorporate an always-on display

Similar to the Always-On mode on the Apple Watch, the iPhone 13 will display pertinent information even when the phone is in sleep mode.

While the extent of Apple’s implementation remains unknown, it’s a safe bet that maintaining battery life will be a priority. A previous report said that the always-on iPhone 13 display will effectively be a muted iPhone lock screen. In other words, notifications and battery life will always be visible. The time will be visible as well.

Back in February, noted leaker Max Weinbach said that the iPhone 13 Always-On Display will have limited customizability.

iPhone 13 Battery Upgrade Leak: What to know & Predicted Price iPhone 13 Battery Upgrade Leak: What to know & Predicted Price

iPhone 13 release date

The iPhone 13 release date is likely to be in September 2021, and we expect it to hit stores on either the third or fourth Friday of the month (which makes it September 17 or 24).

Before 2020, Apple has often announced its new iPhones on either the first or second Tuesday of September. If that happens again in 2021, we'd expect the iPhone 13 range to be revealed on September 7 or September 14 and release 10 days later.

An analyst has also said to expect an announcement in the third week of September this year, which means that September 14 is the most likely date, with September 15 also being possible, as the brand occasionally announces phones on a Wednesday.

Based on Apple's usual approach we'd then expect pre-orders to open on September 17, with the release date being September 24 (the following Friday).

There's no guarantee this will be the iPhone 13 release date though, and that's mostly due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro were pushed back to October in 2020, and the other two devices – the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max – were released in November of that year.

Plus, apparently the 2020 delay resulted in increased sales for the phones. That may mean Apple decides to keep to this new window, but there's no real indication of that from leaks.

iPhone 13 design

The iPhone 13 family is largely expected to look similar to the iPhone 12 series, but there are a few key differences that we've heard time and time again in leaks and rumors.

In the gallery below, you can see our own renders based on the leaks you can read about below. We've taken the information we've heard from a whole host of different sources and created our own artist's impression of what we expect to see.

These may not be entirely accurate when the phone debuts later this year, but this is our best picture yet of the handset considering the leaks we've heard about in July 2021 and earlier.

One of the biggest design leaks so far includes CAD files that show a smaller notch, plus a diagonal camera layout for the iPhone 13. They appear to show a slightly thicker build too, likely to accommodate the larger batteries that have been rumored.

iPhone 13 notch changes

The notch looks very likely to change with this generation of Apple handsets. Far more sources are pointing to it shrinking than staying the same size, so a smaller notch seems likely, with one source adding that the Face ID sensor has apparently also been shrunk, which would allow for a smaller notch.

We've now also seen a couple of leaked photos reportedly showing the screen glass for the iPhone 13 range, and there's a visibly smaller notch, achieved by moving the earpiece to the bezel above.

Similarly, a 3D-printed iPhone 13 mock-up also shows a smaller notch. Specifically the notch here is 26.8mm wide (compared to 34.83mm on the iPhone 12), but it's also 5.35mm deep, making it stick out a tiny bit more than the 5.3mm one on the iPhone 12.

The mock-up also shows that the contents of the notch may have been moved around a bit, with the selfie camera shown on the left rather than the right, and the earpiece moved into the bezel.

Our render includes a notch which is 30% slimmer than the iPhone 12's, and that seems to be the consensus from most leaks of the iPhone 13.

Other iPhone 13 design leaks

Photo: Weibo
Photo: Weibo

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. In fact, we've now heard talk of an in-screen scanner multiple times at this point, with Apple apparently considering it in addition to Face ID.

This isn't a certainty, though, as noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests the feature is coming in some 2022 iPhones – aka the iPhone 14 – and will presumably skip the iPhone 13 line.

That said, an iOS 15 leak suggests the company's next major software update will arrive with support for dual biometric authentication – a feature which would only be possible to implement on a device with both Face ID and Touch ID. Still, we wouldn't count on this.

One thing that probably won't be changing is the sizes of the phones, with leaks suggesting we'll see four models, with the same screen sizes as the iPhone 12 range.

That said, the dimensions may vary slightly, with a report suggesting that the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro will be 7.57mm thick, making them 0.17mm thicker than their predecessors.

The same report suggests the camera blocks will stick out much further, with the iPhone 13 Pro's apparently sticking out by 3.65mm (compared to 1.7mm on the iPhone 12 Pro), and the iPhone 13's by 2.51mm (compared to 1.5mm on the iPhone 12).

Expect 5G support to continue in 2021 iPhones of course, but a source suggests that mmWave models will be more widely available than they were with the iPhone 12 range (which only got mmWave in the US), with both the UK and Australia (among other places) potentially getting them.

We've since heard this again, with over 50% of the world's iPhone 13 models supposedly getting mmWave support. This is potentially far faster than the sub-6GHz 5G that iPhone 12's in most of the world are stuck with, but it also requires the right infrastructure and spectrum to be available, which it isn't yet in most places.

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.

This was first predicted by analysts and they've since said the same again with more certainty, even naming the apparent suppliers of the Wi-Fi 6E tech.

Finally, an Apple patent details a system allowing an iPhone to track your gaze, so it can see what part of a document you're reading and obscure the other parts, by swapping or rearranging the letters in words.

This would mean you could read sensitive documents in public places without much risk of snoopers. However, we're not convinced this will make it to the iPhone 13.

iPhone 13 name: will it be the iPhone 12s?

There’s every chance the next iPhone won’t be called the iPhone 13, and there are a few reasons for that. The biggest reason is that this seems to be a relatively modest upgrade over the iPhone 12 series.

With that in mind, Apple might call these phones the iPhone 12s and iPhone 12s Pro range. While we haven't seen the 'S' used in the last couple of years, it's something that Apple has a history of using to mark out more minor upgrades, and it's something which at least one leak has referred to the upcoming phones as.

Not only that, but the number 13 could be an issue, as it's seen as an unlucky number in many parts of the world, including the US, so it may be that Apple wants to skip this number when it comes time for a new iPhone.

Of course, calling this year's phones the iPhone 12s range doesn't solve the problem of the number 13, it just delays it, so either this year or next year it's possible Apple will skip past 13 straight to the iPhone 14 range.

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