It’s only a few months since Apple unveiled the iPhone 12, but we’re already looking forward to what our favourite tech company has in store when it updates the iPhone again in late 2021. That’s right: we’re talking about the iPhone 13.
In this article we round up everything we know so far about the iPhone 13 – or perhaps the iPhone 12s, if Apple has a more cautious iterative upgrade in mind – including its likely release date, new features, design changes and tech specs.
The latest news on the Apple grapevine is that the iPhone 13 will feature a Touch ID fingerprint scanner embedded under the screen, while the notch will be smaller – but not necessarily in the way you’d want.
When will the iPhone 13 be released?
We expect the iPhone 13 to launch in September 2021.
Up until this year, Apple has been quite consistent with the release dates of its iPhones. Usually, the new handsets are announced at the beginning of September and released a week or so later.
Occasionally we see a few outliers, such as the iPhone X and XR which launched in November and October respectively (although they were announced in September)… and then there’s the iPhone SE range that has so far been a spring fixture. But mostly it’s September.
- iPhone 12: Released October/November 2020
- iPhone SE (2020): April 2020
- iPhone 11: September 2019
- iPhone XR: October 2018
- iPhone XS: September 2018
- iPhone X: November 2017
- iPhone 8: September 2017
- iPhone 7: September 2016
- iPhone SE: March 2016
- iPhone 6s: September 2015
- iPhone 6: September 2014
- iPhone 5s: September 2013
- iPhone 5: September 2012
- iPhone 4s: October 2011
- iPhone 4: June 2010
- iPhone 3GS: June 2009
- iPhone 3G: July 2008
- iPhone: June 2007
COVID-19 caused a good deal of disruption in the Apple supply chain, which subsequently delayed the launch of the iPhone 12 and its stablemates until October 2020. (In fact two of the models didn’t go on sale until November.) But assuming that things return to a semblance of normality this year, the iPhone 13 should return to its traditional place in the calendar, with a September 2021 release.
It’s possible, of course, that we’ll get the iPhone SE 3 before then… but we wouldn’t bet on it.
What will the next iPhone be called?
iPhone 13 still seems like the most likely branding, but Apple’s own engineers have reportedly been referring to the device as the iPhone 12s.
If that turns out to be the name of the late 2021 iPhone – and it’s entirely possible that Apple is spreading misinformation to mislead rivals or flush out leakers – this would represent an unexpected return to what always seemed like an odd policy.
From 2009 to 2015, the company followed a ‘tick-tock’ strategy with its phone releases, alternating between major, full-number updates in even years (iPhone 4, 5, 6) and minor, S-designated updates (4s, 5s, 6s) in the odd years. But this had the obvious effect of discouraging people from updating in the S years because Apple itself appeared to be admitting that not much had changed.
The iPhone 6s was the last of that sequence and the three generations afterwards were tagged with a full-number bump – indeed one of them, the legitimately radical iPhone X update, leapt forward two numbers in a single bound. We thought the S strategy was dead and buried.
But it rose again in 2018, when Apple launched the XS and XS Max, and following two consecutive full-number updates (11 and 12) it sounds like it may appear again in 2021.
Maybe Apple is just worried about the number 13’s ‘unlucky’ associations in some countries, and plans to skip from the iPhone 12s to 14 in 2022.
How much will the iPhone 13 cost?
The iPhone 13 is likely to start at a price of around £799/$799.
iPhone pricing can be something of a moveable feast. The past few standard models have come with the following price tags:
- iPhone X: £999/$999
- iPhone XS: £999/$999
- iPhone 11: £729/$699
- iPhone 12: £799/$799
Now, the introduction of the iPhone Pro range that coincided with the iPhone 11 does explain the sudden drop, as it marks a bifurcation of the lineup. But, as you can see, the price of the iPhone 12 jumps up by £70/$100 when compared to its predecessor.
At the moment the range has a pattern that we think Apple may be settling on, with the following tiers:
- iPhone SE – £399/$399
- iPhone XR – £499/$499
- iPhone 11 – £599/$599
- iPhone 12 mini – £699/$699
- iPhone 12 – £799/$799
- iPhone 12 Pro – £999/$999
- iPhone 12 Pro Max – £1,099/$1,099
This gives potential buyers choices all the way up the price scale, with clear separation between the available devices. With this in mind, we expect Apple to stick with this structure and bring in the iPhone 13 at around £799/$799 and any mini or Pro models directly replacing their older siblings.
Screen updates and new features
According to the trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, we will get the same screen sizes next year: 5.4in, 6.1in and 6.7in. But what new features will Apple add to the iPhone display in 2021?
ProMotion/120Hz refresh rate
Many thought the iPhone 12 – or at least the Pro models in the 12-series range – would feature an upgraded display refresh rate.%