Forget iPhone 12: iPhone 13 leak reveals a game changing upgrade

iphone 12 vs. iphone 12 mini
(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are both a big step forward from the iPhone 11 series, but they’re not without their faults. The biggest issue is shorter battery life over 5G, which probably led to Apple’s decision not to adopt 120Hz screens this time around.

There are two likely culprits here. The first is pretty obvious: the iPhone 12 family has lower-capacity batteries than the iPhone 11 lineup. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro pack a 2,815 mAh battery, compared to 3,110 mAh for the iPhone 11 and 3,046 mAh for the iPhone 11 Pro. 

The second cause is slightly trickier: the introduction of 5G is clearly a battery drain as our iPhone 12 battery tests show. But there’s still something Apple can do about this, and the good news is it has already committed to taking that step in the upcoming iPhone 13.

A recent teardown video on Chinese social networking site Weibo proved what many feared: the iPhone 12 uses Qualcomm’s 7-nanometer X55 5G modem, which isn’t known for its power efficiency. 

But Apple has already confirmed that this will change in the iPhone 13, and not via the usual insider leaks. Instead, the company revealed its plans on page 71 of its settlement with Qualcomm

“Apple intends to commercially launch… New Models of Apple Products during the time period between June 1, 2021 and May 31, 2022 (the ‘2021 Lanch’), some of which use the SDX60 Qualcomm Chipset,” the document explains. 

That’s a big deal. The 5-nanometer X60 chipset can integrate directly into a phone’s chipset, meaning a smaller footprint and lower battery drain. Not only that, but 5G performance should be better too, as it can combine mmWave and Sub-6GHz 5G networks simultaneously.

Ahead of the iPhone 12’s release, some rumors suggested that the handset would get this game changing upgrade early, but sadly that didn’t come to pass. This was not surprising, though, given Qualcomm itself said that phones with the chip would first emerge next year.  

Even without this 5G modem, though, the iPhone 12 family is a big upgrade over its predecessor. Not only is it 50% faster in performance, but 5G connectivity across the board means faster browsing and downloads. There’s also the introduction of MagSafe wireless charging and Ceramic Shield, which Apple says provides up to four times the level of protection from drops. 

It all adds up to a compelling package and, as we said in our four-star iPhone 12 review, “a serious step forward for the most popular iPhone.” Our 4.5-star iPhone Pro review was even more glowing, stating that it “beats every Android phone in its class in terms of performance and camera quality, even if it’s a step behind in battery life.” 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.