While 2020 certainly was "the year that wasn't," it did manage to — against all odds — become the best year to purchase a new iPhone. We got amazing value, as we said in our iPhone SE (2020) review, along with four variations of the iPhone 12: the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 , iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max. No matter what you were looking for, there was plenty of choice for everyone when it came to the best iPhone.
But what about the next iteration of iPhone in 2021? Here's what I'm hoping to see.
iPhone 2021: Not port-less, please
One of the most prolific rumors so far about the next iPhone is that it will be port-less. With the introduction of MagSafe, that may seem to be the direction that Apple is headed, but I honestly hope not. In fact, one of the reasons why I have yet to purchase the official MagSafe charger, aside from that cable is too short for my taste, is that it still charges slower than plugging a cable directly into your iPhone. With MagSafe, the maximum output for charging is 15W — it's double what you typically get with the 7.5W of Qi-compatible wireless charging pads, but it's still slower than directly plugging in a USB-C to Lightning cable with a 20W adapter. If Apple were to remove a charging port on the next iPhone and we were stuck with only MagSafe chargers, well, I would be super disappointed, to say the least.
And what happens if we need to plug the iPhone into a computer to do something, like restore the phone back to factory settings? How would the data transfer work over MagSafe or a Smart Connector? I'm not entirely sold on the idea of a port-less iPhone, and I certainly hope that we don't go this route in 2021.
iPhone 2021: Always-On Display with 120Hz
One thing that I always liked on Android devices has been the always-on displays that you can have. After having an Apple Watch Series 5 for more than a year, I love that I can quickly glance down at my watch as I'm typing to quickly see the time if I need to, or whatever else. I have an older Galaxy smartphone in my office, and I liked being able to glance at the screen for the time or see if there were any notifications waiting for me without having to unlock, touch the screen, or adjust the angle of the device.
It would be amazing to have an always-on display on the next iPhone in 2021, along with a higher refresh rate of 120Hz, which is what a lot of us thought the iPhone 12 would have. Right now, all models of iPhone 12 still have the standard 60Hz refresh rate, so if the next iPhone could get 120Hz, that would be double what it is now. A higher refresh rate, for those who are unaware, would mean even smoother scrolling and animations, which are important factors when it comes to gaming and 4K quality video. While it may be harder for one to imagine the screen on an iPhone being even better than what it is now, there are quite a few Android smartphones out there with 120Hz refresh rate displays, and apparently, once you try one out and then go back to something less, the difference can be quite apparent.
iPhone 2021: A smaller iPhone with power-user "pro" features
I wrote about it earlier this year, but honestly, my dream iPhone would be an iPhone 12 mini with iPhone 12 Pro features. With the iPhone in 2021, I hope this could be a possibility that Apple could consider.
Since I don't have a standalone camera, I depend on my iPhone to take all of my photos, including the ones for my articles here at iMore. That's why when it comes to my iPhone, I want it to have the absolute best camera possible, so I always opt for the "Pro" version. However, with the iPhone 12, I was a little disappointed that the Max version got the best camera out of the two Pro models — while the regular iPhone 12 Pro doesn't have a bad camera, it's not the best, unlike with the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max. I didn't get the iPhone 12 Pro Max because, well, I have petite hands, and using the larger devices for a while causes my hands to cramp up (I learned this with the Plus-size devices).
Honestly, the iPhone 12 mini is the perfect size iPhone for me, especially when I need to use the iPhone one-handed. But the reason why I didn't get it was because the iPhone 12 mini, like the regular iPhone 12, lacks the telephoto lens that the Pro models have. And only the Pro models get the ProRAW image format, along with 6GB of RAM for even speedier performance.
For the iPhone in 2021, I hope that Apple can consider a "pro" level iPhone mini. Not all of us want gigantic devices, but we still want the best features.
iPhone 2021: Better battery life
While I haven't exactly had to worry about battery life on my iPhone 12 Pro since getting it on launch day, that probably has to do with the fact that I have barely left my house these days. That means I am not putting the battery to the test with a full day at Disneyland and snapping dozens of photos on each trip to the park. But according to Apple's claims, the iPhone 12 Pro actually has less battery life than the iPhone 11 Pro that I used to have, despite being bigger in size (though it's probably because of 5G).
For the iPhone in 2021, I hope to see some improvements made to the battery life. I feel like my old iPhone 11 Pro has lasted longer on a single charge than the iPhone 12 Pro. I mean, so far, my iPhone 12 Pro gets down to about 30% by the time I go to bed, but that's just me browsing social media and checking email and Slack all day, not snapping a lot of photos and mobile ordering food at the parks. Either way, I hope that the next iPhone has a bigger battery.
iPhone 2021: More fun colors for Pro models
One of the things I don't like about the Pro models is that they always have neutral colors to pick from. Don't get me wrong, I love my Pacific Blue iPhone 12 Pro, but why can't we have the fun colors, too? I would love to get a PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 12 Pro — I had wanted a red iPhone ever since the first PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which I didn't get because they launched a few months after the original iPhone 8 models. The PRODUCT(RED) version always seems to be available for the non-flagship models (iPhone SE 2020, iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 12 mini), but hey, I want to be able to get a flagship iPhone in PRODUCT(RED), so why not?
I would also love to see other colors, like other shades of green or pink, perhaps even purple, on the iPhone 13 Pro. Why should the non-Pro models have all the fun?
What do you want to see on the iPhone in 2021?
These are just some of the things I want to see for the iPhone in 2021. What are you hoping to see in the next iPhone? Let us know in the comments.
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently the iMore lead on all things iPhone, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.
Always on display option and 120HZ are the 2 must haves for me
120hz display and a bigger battery are a must. Apple needs to drop its obsession with thinness and putting form over function. No excuse to not include both in the next iPhone (especially after they dropped the battery from the 11 to the 12 series).
I’m not going to give up on Touch ID. I preferred it before the pandemic and even more now. I’m hoping for a 2021 SE with the same perfectly sized (for me) 4.7 inch screen with 5G. I will gladly pay $500 for that. Perhaps more color options but if not I’m still happy with product red.
A camera upgrade is WAY overdue. Apple has been using the same 12MP camera since the 6s Plus. That's 5 years. My 12 Pro Max pics are no better than my 8 Plus. Why? Because its the same camera.
That is not correct.
The Portless thing is a real potential problem if they don't have a good solution. The millions of cars out there with CarPlay that require a wired connection is an issue for years. I personally am not about to go out and buy a new Mercedes just to get CarPlay because wireless CarPlay wasn't really mainstream until 2019 in any cars and my car is a 2017. I would stick with the iPhone 12Pro that I haver now until it was time to get a new car.
And not only cars. I have a dedicated microphone for the lightning port, as well as a FlIR thermal camera. My done remote need a physical connection to the phone. If the next iPhone ist portless, my next phone is no iPhone! And honestly, I don't see any good reason for it apart from Apple's stubbornness.
Portless would also disable Carplay on most cars also currently on sale, if they don't come up with Magsafe also to transfer data.
Always on display! I know this is more of an OS thing, but better notifications- I love how Android does it. I am hoping that the iphone 13 Pro will have all the same bells and whistles as the Max. I have the 12 Max and really like, but for the first time I feel like a phone is a little too big. Would love to take a little step down in phone size next time. Great article, Christine!
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