(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, the iPhone 13 event could take place on 7 September. Of course nothing 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.
- 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.
- All OLED
- 120Hz refresh rate
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.
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.
- Pro models likely to be better
- Improvements likely
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.
We’d also expect improvements across the board, but at the moment, it is not clear what these could be.
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.
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.
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.