iPhone 13 killer upgrades just leaked — and one is a big surprise

iPhone 13
(Image credit: Ben Geskin)

The iPhone 12 ultimately missed out on a high refresh display, but there's good news if you've decided to hold out for the iPhone 13. According to a report from Korean tech website The Elec, Apple has placed large orders from both Samsung Display and LG Display, with LG providing LTPO panels capable of higher refresh rates and even always-on capability. 

Two iPhone models for next year are reported to use low-temperate polycrystalline oxide (LPTO) displays. It's likely that these features would be limited to Pro models. While the next iPhone is expected to be more battery efficient, it's uncertain if Apple would be willing to sacrifice battery life for the sake of always-on functionality.

According to a source at Samsung Display, Apple is expecting to ship between 160 to 180 million iPhones (both 12 and 13) with OLED panels. Currently, all iPhone 12 models use OLED displays, and it's expected that iPhone 13 will as well. 

Of the order, Samsung Display is aiming to provide 140 million displays. A source at LG told The Elec that the Seoul-based company is aiming to provide enough OLED panels for 40 million iPhones, which is double the number supplied this year. 

Chinese manufacturer BOE Display is also aiming to provide Apple with 20 million panels. The Elec did not cite a source at BOE Display, and its numbers are double what the website's Samsung and LG sources predict. BOE is trying to become part of Apple's supply chain, though it's failed to do so twice after a review of its products. At the moment, BOE is unable to create LPTO panels at the same quality of its Korean rivals.

BOE's involvement could be trick in another way. According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, BOE Technology Group sources some of its displays from Hefei-based Highbroad Advanced Material, which allegedly uses forced labor from the minority Uighur population in the Western province of Xinjiang. While Apple has denounced forced labor in testimony to congress, it's among the companies lobbying Congress to reject the Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act. Apple has said the provisions in the bill are too far reaching, claiming the act would hurt its supply chain. 

Faster refreshing displays are just one of the features reportedly heading to the iPhone next year. The new phones could also see the return of Touch ID to some models, with the sensor either embedded in a power button or underneath the display. You can also expect a new Apple-built processor and the usual spate of camera improvements.

Of course, it will be some time before we find out what happens with Apple's display plans for the next iPhone. The iPhone 12 debuted just a few months ago, and the iPhone 13 isn't likely to debut until next September.

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.