But a new video from Apple Insider gives us insights on the possible changes to expect with the new iPhones, using the real-world iPhone 12 handsets and dummy units based on “the most recent schematics.”
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The site stresses that Apple could change the designs between now and the iPhone 13 release date, but notes that last year’s equivalent piece — with dummy models sourced from the same place — turned out to be spot on. So while this should be treated with a pinch of salt, you shouldn’t be entirely surprised if Tim Cook presents handsets that look like this in September.
First of all, the dummies seem of nearly identical dimensions to the current batch of iPhones, with a 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, and a 6.7-inch iPhone Pro Max. The presence of a mini model may be a surprise, given the reported dire sales figures of the iPhone 12 mini, and rumor has it this will be its last outing. Unless, presumably, it sells brilliantly this time around.
The front of the dummies do seem to corroborate one rumor: the earpiece has shifted to the top of the bezel. The rumored rationale for this change is to make way for a smaller notch, but unfortunately the dummies don't shed any light on this, as they have pieces of black glass in lieu of an actual screen.
As you can see from the various comparison pictures, the biggest difference in the alleged non-Pro models is the new positioning for the dual-camera lenses. While the iPhone 12 and mini version has two vertically aligned lenses, the iPhone 13 dummy cases shift these to be diagonal from each other — like the dots representing ‘two’ on a dice.
That said, Apple could be making a couple of interesting changes from the 6.1-inch iPhone 13. As you can see from the image below, not only have the buttons been shifted down a little, but the SIM card tray is in a whole new ZIP code.
The possibly more significant changes lie with the iPhone 13 Pro models, where the increased size of the camera array hints at possible improvements on the tech within.
The iPhone 13 Pro’s camera bump in this dummy unit is markedly larger than the iPhone 12 Pro’s equivalent, and two of the lenses are larger as well. This, Apple Insider reckons, could indicate improved ultra-wide performance and boosted auto-focus, but the fact that the top lens remains the same size suggests that improved telephoto performance could be exclusive to the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Speaking of, while the largest iPhone 13 Pro Max dummy is virtually identical to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the bump is slightly bigger and all three lenses have grown a little, too. The site suggests this could be the new wide-angle camera with an f/1.5 aperture predicted by Ming-Chi Kuo and an unspecified upgrade to telephoto performance.
Both Pro handsets are supposedly marginally thicker than the predecessors — somewhere between 0.5- and 1mm, so nothing that will stretch your pockets significantly.
While these design shifts indicate the kind of iterative changes typically seen in an iPhone ‘S’ year, it has been predicted that Apple will be pushing ahead with the iPhone 13 branding, rather than moving to iPhone 12s.
But it's important to remember that lots of other changes are reportedly in store for the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro handsets beyond the design. Based on the rumors, there should be a faster new A15 Bionic chip, improved 5G performance thanks to a new modem and exciting new camera features like astrophotography for shooting the night sky and an immersive portrait video mode.
Plus, the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are both tipped to get 120Hz ProMotion displays, which should help them stand out more from the regular iPhone 13 models.
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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.