iPhone 13 rumors: Camera improvements might have to come from software
March 31, 20210
iPhone 13 rumors: Camera improvements might have to come from software
It feels like the iPhone 12 only just landed, but we’re already looking ahead to the next one. While we’re not sure of the name—we’re calling it the iPhone 13 here but it might be the iPhone 12s—we’ve already heard a lot about what the next iPhone will bring. Stay tuned to this article as we’ll be updating with the newest and most credible reports as we hear them. Just remember, we won’t know for sure until Apple says so.
Few improvements to the main camera hardware
It’s looking more and more like the iPhone 13 will be an “S” type phone with a similar design and faster processor, so we’re hoping for some major camera upgrades. But they might need to come through software updates. According to Ming-Chi Kuo (via Macrumors), the iPhone 13, 13 mini, and 13 Pro will have the same f/1.6, 7P wide-angle lens as the iPhone 12, while the 13 Pro Max will also get a 7P lens with a slightly improved f/1.5 aperture.
This isn’t the first we’ve heard that the main camera on the iPhone 13 will be largely similar to its predecessor, but that doesn’t mean Apple won’t deliver huge improvements to the general photo-taking experience. Several analysts have claimed that Apple is working on improving the ultra-wide and telephoto lenses, including Ming-Chi Kuo (see below). Plus, Apple can still deliver massive improvements and new features just by tweaking its AI and processing engines.
Matte black and fewer fingerprints on the Pro
Leaker extraordinaire Max Weinbach, who previously teased the inclusion of an always-on display option in the iPhone 13, now has a few new details about the higher-end Pro models. On the EverythingApple Pro YouTube channel, Weinbach says the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max will be getting a new matte black option that is darker than this year’s graphite color that replaced space gray. The last time Apple launched a matte back option was on the iPhone 7. Weinbach also says the Pro models will also be getting a a new stainless-steel coating to repel fingerprints and smudges as well as a camera bump that doesn’t extrude as much from the case.
Speaking of the cameras, Weinbach says that portrait mode, which expanded to all of the available cameras on the iPhone 12, will “now rely heavily on a new process that combines both data from the lenses as well as LiDAR.” He also says Apple is working on a new “image stabilization correction” to keep subjects in focus while shooting video. Finally, he expects larger batteries and improved battery life.
Our first look at the smaller notch?
We’ve been hearing rumors for a while that the iPhone 13 will be getting a smaller notch, and we may have our first look at it. Greece-based repair company iRepair has provided Macrumors with images that it claims to represent the new notch on the next iPhone. Most notably, the speaker has been moved to the top of the case and the notch is both thinner and narrower as a result. We’d prefer it if the notch was gone completely, but if this image is accurate, it’s a big improvement.
Smaller notch and larger batteries
With about six months to go until the iPhone 13 arrives, the rumors are coming in fast. We have a new report from Minch-Chi Kuo (courtesy of Macrumors), who offers up some details about the upcoming phones. In addition to the 120Hz ProMotion display that has been previously rumored, Kuo disputes the report that Apple will be dropping the mini from the lineup and confirms that new phones will use Qualcomm’s X60 modem, which is smaller and more power-efficient than the X55 modem in the iPhone 12. He also notes that the phones will have larger batteries, due to “space-saving design choices such as integrating the SIM card slot with the logic board and reducing the thickness of some Face ID components,” according to Macrumors. Those thinner Face ID components could also lead to a smaller notch.
1TB storage and LiDAR everywhere
If you’ve been frustrated by the iPhone’s limit on storage, a new rumor will make you happy: As noted by Macrumors, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives, who analyzes Apple’s Asian supply chain, claims the iPhone 13 will include an option to upgrade to 1TB of storage, twice what Apple offers now. The option, which could cost upwards of $400, will likely be limited to the Pro models, which currently top out at 512GB.
Ives also notes that the iPhone 12’s LiDar sensor, which improves AR apps with more accurate depth sensing and real-world detail, could be coming to the entire iPhone 13 lineup. As it stands, it’s an upgrade feature on the iPhone 13 Pro, but bringing it to the standard models would help make AR more of a mainstream feature for developers.
Max Weinbach of the EverythingApplePro YouTube channel reports that the next iPhone could have an always-on lock screen. You will see the clock and battery life indicator, and notifications will appear. To conserve battery life, Apple could use an LPTO (low-temperature Polycrystalline oxide) OLED display like the one in the Apple Watch. Weinbach also says the new phones will bring ProMotion with a 120Hz refresh rate but only in the Pro models.
Weinbach also claims that the next iPhone will have a “soft matte” back, use a stronger magnet for attaching MagSafe accessories, include support for astrophotography and portrait video, and also have an improved camera sensor and lens.
An ‘S’ level device
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman in January reported that the iPhone that will be released in 2021 is considered an “S” level device by Apple engineers. In the past, Apple has used the S designation in models that do not have major feature changes from the phone they replace (the iPhone X and XS, for example).
Gurman’s report also states that Apple is doing some early work on a foldable phone, which have been available for Android recently. Prototype foldable screens have been developed, but the company hasn’t made efforts yet to incorporate them into a device. Gurman says that the foldable screen has a “mostly invisible hinge with the electronics stationed behind the display.” A phone with a foldable display won’t be ready for this year.
Ultra Wide camera improvements
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a built a reputation for reliable reports, says in recent research that Apple is working on improving the Ultra Wide camera for the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. According to Kuo, the upgrade is an f/1.8, six-element (6P) autofocus lens. That’s an upgrade from the current f/2.4, five-element (5P) 13mm fixed-focus lens on all of the iPhone 12 phones.
Kuo even goes on to say that this Ultra Wide camera will carry over to the iPhone 14.
Same sizes, ProMotion potential
In the same research where Kuo details the iPhone 13 Ultra Wide camera upgrades, Kuo says that Apple plans to offer the iPhone 13 in the same sizes as the iPhone 12: the mini model with a 5.4-inch display, a 13 “standard” model and a 13 Pro with a 6.1-inch display, and a 13 Pro Max with a 6.7-inch display.
Analyst Ross Young tweeted earlier this year that he also thought the iPhone 13 will be available in the same sizes as the iPhone 12. Young also said that the iPhone 13’s display will support ProMotion, Apple’s technology that uses variable refresh rates up to 120Hz.
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I have written professionally about technology for my entire adult professional life – over 20 years. I like to figure out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way anyone can understand.