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With less than a week to go until Apple officially announces its 2020 iPhone 12 lineup, it looks as if the rumour mill is already starting to move on to reports on what next year’s iPhone will have in store for us.
To be fair, even though the iPhone 12 hasn’t been announced yet, it’s already becoming old news thanks to the steady stream of rumours and analyst reports that we’ve heard over the past several months. While we’re quite sure Apple still has at least one or two surprises up its sleeve for next Tuesday’s event, we already know most of the big things that are coming: four models, including a 5.4-inch iPhone mini and slightly larger “Pro” models in dark blue, 5G technology, a faster A14 chip, a new design overall, a LiDAR Scanner in the iPhone 12 Pro, and no EarPods and no chargers in the box.
So with all of that already on the table, it’s no surprise that curious onlookers and leakers are now digging up information on what Apple has in store for the “iPhone 13,” since of course, it’s almost certain that Apple is already making plans for whatever it’s going to do next.
To be clear, it’s unlikely that Apple has yet produced any definitive prototypes of next year’s iPhone. Still, there’s no doubt that the company is starting to spec out designs and even line up component orders throughout its supply chain, so there’s some information that can be gleaned at this point, even if it’s not final yet.
After all, it was well over a year ago when we first heard Apple would be changing up its screen sizes, including the first reports of the 5.4-inch iPhone 12. Even though it was too early to be completely certain of what Apple was working on, those rumours ultimately began to solidify around this time last year into the lineup that we’re now almost certainly going to see announced next week.
So while rumours of a 2021 “iPhone 13” should be taken with a similar level of uncertainty, there’s a very good chance that they’re still fairly accurate in terms of the broad strokes — reflections of the direction Apple is looking to go in, even if that hasn’t gelled into any specific plans just yet.
What’s in Store for 2021?
Some of these reports, of course, make complete sense, such as the recent rumours that next year’s iPhone will gain 120Hz OLED displays; it doesn’t really take a crystal ball to predict that one, since there was solid evidence that Apple wanted to get these into the iPhone 12 Pro this year, but was forced to walk back those plans due to component shortages.
Some 3D-printed mockups appeared last spring, purporting to be of the “iPhone 13” that showed the presence of a USB-C connector in place of a Lightning port, and although that does seem to conflict with other rumours that Apple is either planning on going completely portless or moving to the iPad Pro-style Smart Connector, at this point Apple may have been considering all three possibilities, especially at such an early stage.
That same mockup also suggested that Apple might be looking for ways to eliminate the notch entirely on next year’s iPhone, using Samsung’s under-display technology instead, and could even place the camera at the bottom of the screen.
Cutouts on the mockup’s rear side also hinted at a new layout that would allow for four cameras plus the LiDAR scanner, which other reports had suggested could include a staggering 64-megapixel primary shooter, plus an increase to 40 megapixels for the other two lenses. The new fourth lens would allegedly be designed for cinema-style anamorphic video capture.
There were also rumours earlier this year that a 64MP camera would be coming to the iPhone 12 Pro. While that’s still not completely outside the realm of possibility, we’ve heard little more on the topic, so it seems unlikely we’ll see a huge camera bump next week. However, it does add some credibility to the idea that Apple may be working on the higher megapixel count for next year’s iPhone cameras, with the possibility that sources may have simply misunderstood which models were being referred to.
Again, though, these have all been very preliminary rumours that should be taken with a huge dose of salt. While there likely is an element of truth to all of these reports, the timing suggests that they may only represent possible avenues that Apple’s engineers and designers have been considering. It’s almost likely not everything is yet locked down for the new iPhone even now.
To be clear, we don’t even know that Apple will call it the “iPhone 13.” Apple’s product names are rarely 100% confirmed until Apple actually takes the stage to unveil them. This year has actually been one of the rare occasions that there have been enough leaks to all but confirm the name of the iPhone 12 before the event. However, the iPhone 12 name is also a departure from Apple’s tendency to release “S” models in alternating years, so at this point, it’s really tough to say what Apple will do with the name for next year’s iPhone.
Not Quite Notchless
Now another leak has surfaced that contradicts the idea that we’ll see a totally notch-less iPhone next year, suggesting instead that Apple is simply planning to reduce the notch size, rather than eliminating it entirely.
It’s far from the first time that we’ve heard of Apple’s plans to reduce the notch size — those rumours have been kicking around since right after the notch first appeared on the iPhone X in 2017, and it’s a safe bet that Apple has been considering ways that it might get rid of the notch all along.
However, the only definitive reports of a smaller notch this year are for the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini, which will supposedly feature a narrower notch, undoubtedly as a necessary concession to the smaller screen, since the areas to the left and right of the notch are still used to display status information.
However, if this latest report of next year’s “iPhone 13” design is true, the size of the notch may go down in the other direction as well, which could be the only significant design change that we actually see for the iPhone in 2021, since with a new iPhone 12 design expected to show up next week, Apple will likely stick with that one for a while.
That said, we do not doubt that Apple will continue to work on ways to eliminate the notch. Still, like most revolutionary new developments, Apple tends to take baby steps when implementing new technologies, and if and when it does it at all, it’s going to make sure it can do it right. A smaller notch is likely just one step on that larger journey to no notch at all.