The iPhone 13 would do well to "borrow" from the best Samsung phones. And that's because the past few generations of iPhone have been relatively similar in overall design and capabilities. We’ve grown used to the OLED displays with hefty Face ID notches, as well as the ability for Apple’s smartphones to deliver impressive photos in all sorts of conditions.
But technology rarely stands still, and when you compare the specs and features of the latest Android phones to the iPhone 12, the latter looks a little wanting. And even more so when the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S21 and the feature-heavy Galaxy S21 Ultra are taken into account.
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Where once Samsung was seen as a follower of Apple’s lead in the smartphone world, it's now blazing its own trail. And we think Apple could learn a thing or two from its rival’s latest phones if it’s to make the iPhone 13 a compelling phone to everyone, rather than just Apple fans.
In fact, the iPhone 13 should be announced on September 14 at the Apple event. We've heard a lot about rumored features, so we'll just have to see if Apple has taken some cues from Samsung for the new iPhone.
120Hz dynamic display
Arguably one of the best features on the Samsung Galaxy S21 range is the 120Hz OLED display, which thanks to LTPO technology can scale down to 10Hz on the S21 Ultra. This means users can have a high refresh display without it guzzling up battery life.
Apple has yet to move on from 60Hz displays. While the display on the iPhone 12 is very nice indeed and everything feels slick thanks to the A14 Bionic chip’s power, there’s no denying that the 60Hz panel feels sluggish — to the point of being jarring, if you’ve been using a phone with a 120Hz display for any length of time.
But now that LTPO tech is readily available, Apple really should adopt it for the iPhone 13. Rumor has it that the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max will get 120Hz ProMotion displays, but the regular iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini would be left out.
Speaking of screens, there have been murmurs that the iPhone 13 could get an always-on display. It's a feature the Galaxy S21 has, along with other Android phones such as the OnePlus 9 Pro, so Cupertino would do well to catch up here.
Always-on displays are handy for getting notifications or other information, such as the current weather, time or battery status, without needing to pick up or unlock your phone. And with LTPO tech able to scale back a display’s refresh rate, an always-on display could be enabled on the iPhone 13 without using up a lot of battery power.
Under-display Touch ID
Samsung has put in a good bit of effort in refining the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner found in the Galaxy S21, to the extent that it’s a lot faster and reliable. Conversely, Apple has yet to adopt under-display fingerprint scanners, relying on Face ID instead.
But as robust as Face ID is, it comes apart when trying to detect users who are wearing masks, something that’s much more common thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. So having an alternative form of biometric security would come in handy while the pandemic still rages.
Some rumors have claimed Apple is working on an under-display version of Touch ID for the iPhone 13, but others have claimed the iPhone 14 will be first with in-display Touch ID. That could arrive a little late, as we’re hoping COIVD-19 will have abated by then.
The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max both feature impressive telephoto cameras, but the latter tops out at a 2.5x optical zoom with a 5x effective range. In comparison, the Galaxy S21 can deliver a 3x hybrid optical zoom and a 30x digital zoom with the Galaxy S21 Ultra going up to a 100x zoom.
While extreme zooms can lead to rather muddy and distorted photos, Samsung has done a good bit on the software side to make these more usable; zoom into a sign in the distance and you should be able to read the text on it. You simply can’t do the same on the iPhone 12 Pro cameras.
So Apple has the scope to improve the zooming on the iPhone 13 Pro. Supposedly Apple is looking for suppliers of a "folded lens" camera that will reportedly improve the optical zooming by providing a periscope-like arrangement for the lens. Even if Apple doesn't tweak the telephoto camera hardware, some improvements on the software size could see the iPhone 13 deliver better zooming capabilities over its predecessor.
Apple has improved the charging speeds of its more recent iPhones, with the iPhone 12 now being able to use a 20W charger, though you won’t find the charger in the box. With such a charger, a drained iPhone 12 Pro Max will fill around 50% of its 3,687 mAh battery with juice in 30 minutes.
But that’s slow compared to the Galaxy S21’s fast charging, which offers 25W fast charging over USB-C PD. As such, the Galaxy S21’s larger 4,000 mAh will hit 55% capacity in 30 minutes.
Apple iPhone battery management is reasonably impressive, but it could certainly learn from Samsung here and opt for faster charging for the iPhone 13. A larger battery would also be appreciated. There's a rumor that Apple could jump to 25W charging on the iPhone 13, but it's not from a reliable source.
iPhone 13 vs Samsung outlook
The iPhone 13 rumors point to plenty of other possible improvements, from a smaller notch and faster A15 Bionic chip to larger batteries and new camera features like portrait mode video. But if it can also copy some of Samsung's best features in the process Apple will have a true winner on its hands.
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Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.