It’s 2021 and the iPhone 12 launch is now well behind us, so naturally rumours of what’s coming to this year’s “iPhone 13” are starting to gel, giving us a better idea of what it may ultimately look like.
Although of course there are still many things up in the air right now, it stands to reason that Apple is already working on prototypes and lining up its supply chain for this year’s iPhone, which means there’s lots of information that’s leaking out about the upcoming model already.
For example, we’ve already heard that the “iPhone 13 Pro” will be gaining new high-refresh LTPO display technology, and while that’s not a big surprise considering that it was supposed to come to the iPhone 12 Pro lineup last year, and seemingly only cancelled due to supply chain problems, it opens the door to a number of interesting possibilities such as an always-on display and better battery life.
Other reports have in indicated that the new iPhone will likely gain faster Wi-Fi 6E support, that the new LiDAR Scanner could come to the non-Pro models this year, and that the Ultra Wide camera will get a significant boost.
The iPhone 13’s Notch
It looks like 2021 may be the year that one rumour we’ve been hearing for a while finally comes to fruition — the iPhone 13 may finally get the long-awaited smaller front camera notch.
According to Mac Otakara, which has already been on fire with new iPad rumours over the past few days, the TrueDepth camera could finally be slimmed down thanks to some important changes to the way in which the camera system is laid out.
Ever since Apple introduced Face ID on the iPhone X, the company has had to deal not only with packing in the new TrueDepth camera module, but also making it fit alongside the speaker for the earpiece, since people still need to be able to talk on the iPhone by holding it up to the side of their head. As a result, the speaker has to get tucked in the middle of the various TrueDepth components, increasing the space required for the notch in the front display.
Although Apple was able to shrink the size of some of these TrueDepth camera components for the iPhone 12 this year, it didn’t result in the smaller notch that last year’s rumours predicted, however now it looks like Apple may be trying to move the speaker right out of the mix entirely, placing it at the edge of the display instead, in the thin bezel area rather than within the notch.
By eliminating this one piece from the notch area, Apple would be able to reposition the various TrueDepth sensors, shrinking the size of the module and the notch required to support it.
This edge-mounted speaker is actually something that Apple has been working on for a while, and some reports suggested that it was going to arrive in this year’s iPhone 12 lineup, so we’re left to assume that Apple simply hasn’t perfected it yet.
Rear Camera Changes
While it’s unlikely that Apple will be able to get rid of the camera bump any time soon, it looks like it may be trying to smooth it out for the iPhone 13 by extending the entire square camera module even further so that all the lenses will be flush-mounted, rather than protruding individually, and could even be fully covered with a single piece of sapphire glass.
This would be a particularly welcome design change for the iPhone “Pro” models, which have begun to feature lenses that protrude further than ever — something readily apparent on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, thanks to its larger sensor and 2.5X telephoto lens.
In fact, this year the “iPhone 13 Pro” and “iPhone 13 Pro Max” may end up with the same camera capabilities; sources indicate that they’re expected to be identical in size, which implies that the smaller “Pro” iPhone could gain the sensor-shift optical image stabilization and larger sensor of its “Max” counterpart. However, with the camera unit expected to get even thicker as a result, it’s easy to see why Apple is looking at flush-mounting the whole thing.
Otherwise, there appear to be no major design changes expected for the “iPhone 13,” which will follow directly in the footsteps of the redesign we saw with the iPhone 12. This isn’t particularly astounding considering that Apple has never used an iPhone design for less than two years, and in fact the overall iPhone aesthetic remained unchanged since 2014 until last year marked a throwback to the iPhone 4 design style.