With Apple's iPhone 12 well established as one of the most popular and successful iPhones in recent years, eyes are starting to look ahead to Apple's next-generation smartphone, expected to debut later in 2021. Here's everything we already know about the upcoming release.
Name: Unlucky for some
Yes, we know, the title of this article is iPhone 13. However, the most recent reports suggest that internally, Apple's engineers consider the 2021 iPhone to be an 'S' upgrade, and Jon Prosser says that his sources indicate this will indeed be the name given to the device. In fact, Prosser says that because of the negative connotations given to the number 13 in some cultures, there might not be an iPhone 13... ever.
The brand new design of the iPhone 12 with its square edges has been a big hit with plenty of customers, and there are no reports that Apple plans to deviate from this design in 2021. If an 'S' upgrade really is on the cards, expect changes under the hood, but not to the bodywork.
Reports indicate that Apple will follow the same lineup configuration as the iPhone 12, which means four phones in three different sizes:
- iPhone 12S mini (5.4-inch)
- iPhone 12S (6.1-inch)
- iPhone 12S Pro (6.1-inch)
- iPhone 12S Pro Max (6.7-inch)
If reports are correct, 2021 could finally be the year of 120Hz on the iPhone. According to reports, the iPhone 12S Pro lineup is expected to feature a ProMotion display with a variable refresh rate display, thanks to LTPO adoption. This is the same technology Apple uses in Apple Watch and could signal the inclusion of an always-on display option, as well as 120Hz capability.
We have no indication as to how Apple will power its 2021 iPhone yet. In recent years Apple has followed the very simple pattern of adding a new 'A' series chip to its iPhone each year. If Apple follows previous form, we can probably expect a new 'A' series chip, probably an A15, to feature.
One big rumored improvement for the next iPhone is the camera. Reports suggest that at least the iPhone 12S Pro versions of the device will feature a Time-of-Flight camera, with a triple-lens configuration.
Reports also claim that the iPhone 12S lineup, the two lower-end devices, will receive a boost by taking on the camera from the iPhone 12 Pro Max. As with iPhone 12, these are expected to be dual cameras.
We don't have any specific rumors about the iPhone 12S battery yet. However, if Apple sticks with the same form factor/size lineup as the iPhone 12, it's probably safe to assume the battery in the iPhone will be of a similar size for each respective model. The adoption of LTPO and variable refresh rate, as used in Apple Watch, could make for big efficiency savings when it comes to power, and may make for improved battery life.
It is rumored the iPhone 12S 'Pro' lineup will feature both mmWave and Sub6 GHz 5G connectivity, whilst the basic models will only get mmWave. Sub6 offers substantially faster speeds compared to mmWave.
Charging: Finally USB-C, right?
Bad news. A report from Jon Prosser earlier this year states that Apple will never adopt USB-C in the iPhone and that Apple is planning to release one 'portless' iPhone next year. That's right, at least one iPhone 12S could come with no ports whatsoever, relying on wireless connectivity and charging, or perhaps a smart connector to get the job done. Regardless, there will never be a USB-C iPhone.
Again, there are no specific rumors about the price of the iPhone 12S yet, but in recent years Apple has followed the simple pattern of introducing a new phone at roughly similar price points to current models and then reducing the price of the old one. We'd be pretty surprised if the iPhone 12S is substantially different in price to iPhone 12. especially given the more minor 'S' upgrades apparently planned for this year.
The iPhone 12 debuted in a split launch and was delayed due to COVID-19. Reports state that Apple will return to the regular September launch window of previous iPhones, meaning you won't have to wait as long for the 2021 flagship to debut.
The return of Touch ID
Numerous reports indicate that Touch ID may return to iPhone in 2021 thanks to an under-display fingerprint scanner. As noted by Jon Prosser, the events of 2020 provide the perfect cover for Apple to reintroduce the feature without undermining its previous push of Face ID in favor of Touch ID.
There are multiple indications that Apple's notch will be narrower, but not shorter, in the 2021 iPhone lineup. That should hopefully mean more space on either side of the notch for status symbols and indicators such as battery life and connectivity.