Forget iPhone 12 — iPhone 13 will get the upgrade you really want

iPhone 12 render
(Image credit: Ben Geskin)

The iPhone 12 is almost here, and Apple is expected to announce four new handsets at the big Apple Event next week with lots of upgrades. You can expect OLED screens, 5G, a faster A14 Bionic chip and better cameras. But there’s one wishlist item that likely won’t come true.

While the iPhone 12 should feature a fresher design with squared off edges and new color options, we likely won’t see smaller notches on the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max. However, the iPhone 13 could be a different story, based on a new leak.

According to a very rough illustration by Ice Universe on Twitter, the iPhone 13 will “continue the notch design, but notch is shorter.” We’ve heard other rumors that Apple could deliver a true full-screen phone with the iPhone 13, but at least this seems like a step in the right direction. 

Meanwhile, the best Android phones feature small punch holes towards the top of their displays, giving you more real estate for content than Apple’s iPhone notch. But to be fair, the notch on the iPhone houses a sophisticated TrueDepth camera that’s used for Face ID.

In April of this year, Front Page Tech’s Jon Prosser noted that the iPhone 12’s notch could be shrinking by Apple moving the speaker out of the top center of the design and placing it into the phone’s top bezel. Perhaps this is the plan for the iPhone 13 instead.

We've also heard that Apple could be working on a completely portless iPhone, so the iPhone 13 could exclusively use wireless charging while also sporting a mini notch. This would be the most radical (and controversial) iPhone design change in years.

The holy grail for smartphone design seems to be a true full-screen design, and one of the ways to deliver that is by offering an under-display camera. The ZTE Axon 20 5G, which was unveiled in August, appears to among the first phones to go this route. But Samsung is also working on under-display cameras as well, though there's debate as to whether the company can pull this off in time for the Galaxy S21

Based on what we've learned thus far, the iPhone 12 should represent an evolution of Apple's design, but the iPhone 13 could be a major departure. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.