The rumored always-on display for iPhone 13 could be its best new feature

Iphone 13 Bronze
Iphone 13 Bronze (Image credit: EverythingApplePro)

No, I'm not joking. Yes, I'm aware there are rumors of camera improvements and that 120Hz ProMotion display we were promised last year. But bear with me here — I still think an always-on display (AOD) could be iPhone 13's biggest new feature of the year.

Assuming it happens, of course.

We hadn't really heard all that much about Apple adding an always-on display this year, beyond the odd concept and wishful thinking. And then Bloomberg's Mark Gurman stirred the pot with his latest newsletter, suggesting that we could get an Apple Watch-like AOD screen as part of the iPhone 13 refresh.

Expect a faster A15 chip, smaller notch, a new display for better battery life and the potential of an Apple Watch-like always on mode and a 120Hz refresh rate and upgrades to video recording.

And boy, am I very much right here for that prospect. We saw a pretty stellar concept a few months ago and I'm even more pumped for it today than I was back in February.

See, the idea of being able to see Apple Watch-like widgets on the Home screen is the kind of thing I've been waiting for Apple to do for years. The technology is there — Android phones have been doing AOD screens for a very long time now. They were able to do it because of OLED screens which Apple's latest iPhones already have. And if those ProMotion displays have a variable refresh rate as rumors have suggested, Apple could slow them right down to save battery, too.

Just imagine. You glance at your iPhone and you see that you have new messages without having to lift a finger. You can see Fantastical's wonderful iPhone widget, so you know what's coming up. OmniFocus sits below it, ready and waiting for your gaze. And it's all just there, ready and waiting.

In its most simple form, an AOD would be great for people who don't own an Apple Watch, too. Want to know the time? There's a clock on your iPhone, every time you look towards it. It seems so simple, but it's the kind of thing that could make a big difference over the course of days, weeks, and months. I'm not exaggerating when I say I'd upgrade to an iPhone 13 handset for an AOD alone.

Now I just need Apple to do the thing and give me the feature. Otherwise, all these words were wasted and I'm going to have to wait for iPhone 14 or, at best, iOS 16!

Even though iPhone 13 is just a couple of months away, iPhone 12 is still a great phone. Make sure to check out the best iPhone deals before placing an order if you're in the market!

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.