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iPhone 13 — 5 biggest rumors ahead of the Apple event

iPhone 13 render
(Image credit: EverythingApplePro)

The iPhone 13 is expected to be the big star of the Apple event September 14, and we've already heard a ton about the new iPhones. The rumors and leaks have revealed everything from a smaller notch and camera upgrades like portrait mode video to a faster A15 Bionic chip and 120Hz displays for the Pro models.

As we get closer to the iPhone 13 launch, there's been some very interesting last-minute leaks related to possible new iPhone 13 colors, as well as larger batteries and possible storage options. I'm particularly intrigued by the reportedly improved Night Mode that should finally let you shoot the stars without the photo turning out blurry.

But there's also a fair bit we still don't know about the iPhone 13 that the Apple event will finally answer. From the pricing and key differences between the four models to how some of the most exciting upgrades could work, here are the 5 biggest iPhone 13 rumors that need to be fleshed out.

iPhone 13 prices

This one has been a bit of a whirlwind. Earlier on in the rumor cycle we heard that the iPhone 13 pricing would be relatively on par with the iPhone 12. That would mean the iPhone 13 mini would start at $699, the iPhone 13 $799, the iPhone 13 Pro $999 and the iPhone 13 Pro Max $1,099. 

More recently there was a report that the iPhone 13 could be more expensive due to rising production costs, but I don't imagine Apple charging more for this year's lineup than the iPhone 12 series. If anything, the storage tiers could go slightly up. Interestingly, one retailer leak points to the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini not getting a 256GB storage option this year at all, which could be a one way to push shoppers towards the more premium iPhone 13 Pro models. 

iPhone 13 Face ID: Will it work with masks?

Face ID iPhone

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Apple is reportedly testing how Face ID could recognize faces even when people are wearing masks. This is according to FrontPageTech, which claims to have seen some prototype devices Apple has been using to gauge how effective this upgrade could be.

Given that the iPhone 13 reportedly won't get Touch ID support in the display as had been rumored previously, this would be a very welcome upgrade for Face ID. Based on the continued spread of Covid-19 and the Delta variant, it looks like we could be wearing masks in public spaces for months to come. 

The question is: can Apple get this Face ID upgrade done in time for launch, and how well will it work?

iPhone 13 always-on displays

iPhone 13 always-on display concept

An iPhone 13 always-on display concept (Image credit: A Better Computer/YouTube)

Rumor has it that at least some iPhone 13 models will get always-on displays, which would presumably allow you to check the time, battery status and perhaps notifications at a glance without fully powering on the display. However, it's not clear whether this feature would be limited to the iPhone 13 Pro series or if the regular iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini will be graced with always-on screens. 

It's possible that only the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max could get the always-on treatment, as it could require an adaptive 120Hz panel with the ability to scale its refresh rate down. As of now only the iPhone 13 Pro phones are tipped to offer this perk. However I'm holding out hope that all iPhone 13 models will support the always-on display feature.

iPhone 13 camera upgrades

iPhone 13 Pro Max dummy unit

(Image credit: Unbox Therapy/YouTube)

If there's one area I'd like Apple to catch up to Samsung, it's the optical zoom for its telephoto lenses. For example, the iPhone 12 Pro Max technically has a 5x optical zoom range, but that's really an effective 2.5x optical zoom. The iPhone 12 Pro is 2x. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S21 Ultra sports dual telephoto zoom lenses of 3x and 10x.

There have been some rumors that Apple is working on a folded or periscope zoom lens for the iPhone 13 but more recent reports point to Apple not being able to deliver this upgrade until the iPhone 14 in 2022. In the meantime, the iPhone 13 Pro series is tipped to offer a much improved ultrawide lens that lets in more light and faster auto-focus. 

iPhone 13 smaller notch

alleged iphone 13 notch vs iphone 12

(Image credit: DuanRui)

I think a lot of iPhone owners wish the notch dipping down into the phone's display would just go away, but it looks like it will be here to stay for the iPhone 13. The good news is that this display interruption could shrink by as much as 25% for the new iPhones, which would help make the viewing experience a bit more immersive. 

Apple would reportedly pull this off through a combination of smaller sensors for its TrueDepth camera while also moving the speaker higher up on the iPhone 13's design. The iPhone 14 will reportedly trade the notch for a punch hole, but that's based on very early rumors and renders. 

iPhone 13 bottom line

We'll have the answers to all of our questions as soon as the Apple event wraps up. In the meantime, check out our frequently updated iPhone 13 hub for all the latest news and leaks and our Apple event hub for all the other products we expect from Apple on September 14. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for nearly 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. 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.