iPhone 13 leak just revealed three big upgrades

iPhone 13 leak
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We're expecting Apple to bring a raft of upgrades to the iPhone 13. And a new leak has given us a better idea of what's coming. 

Based on information from "industry sources, DigiTimes claims that Apple's next iPhone will not only take the iPhone 12 Pro Max's best photography features and make them available across the entire next-gen iPhone range but also finally shrink the display notch. 

Given we can't verify these sources and Apple is famously tight-lipped with its iPhone plans, you should take this leak with a pinch of salt. But here are the upgrades newly tipped to come to the iPhone 13. 

iPhone 13 smaller notch

iPhone 13 design smaller notch

(Image credit: svetapple)

Probably the biggest claimed change to the iPhone 13 —  and one many Apple fans have been waiting for — is a smaller display notch. 

From the iPhone X to the recent iPhone 12 Pro, Apple has kept the same size notch despite other phone makers adopting smaller notches or punch-hole selfie cameras. Apple needs the extra notch space to hold all the sensor tech required for Face ID, which is more secure than the face-scanning biometrics of Android phones. 

By combining the currently separated infrared flood illuminator, sensor and dot projector into a single module, Apple could shrink down the iPhone 13's notch. Two fewer sensors means the next iPhone could sport a much narrower notch; just don't expect it to disappear yet. 

The selfie camera sensor will be altered, too. It will reportedly get an upgrade from a 5-part lens to a 6-part lens, a change that will help reduce small distortions in images caused by the light passing through the camera lens. 

All iPhone 13 models could get a LiDAR sensor

iPhone 13 camera leak

(Image credit: Future)

Currently limited to the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, the DigiTimes report claims a LiDAR scanner could come to all models of the iPhone 13. 

By using lasers to help a camera system better figure out distances and depths, a LiDAR scanner can lead to photos with a deeper sense of depth, especially in low light. For people who love to take portrait pictures with artfully blurred backgrounds, LiDAR stands to be a boon. We certainly found that the iPhone 12 Pro took some excellent portrait pics. 

LiDAR can also help deliver better augmented reality experiences, thanks to better depth perception. This should allow for AR objects to be placed more realistically into a real-world environment. If the entire iPhone 13 range gets a LiDAR scanner, then we could see developers get motivated to produce more AR apps and Apple build out the AR and LiDAR augmented capabilities of its iPhones. 

iPhone 13 could get major camera upgrades

iPhone 13 camera leaks

(Image credit: Future)

On the back, of the phone, all iPhone 13 models are apparently going to use Apple's sensor-shift stabilization system. Only the iPhone 12 Pro Max currently uses this feature. Given that this phone sits at the top of our best camera phones rankings, it would be exciting to see one of its secret weapons make it to all iPhone 13 models.

Image stabilization is a crucial addition to phone cameras to avoid the shaky-looking photographs that are naturally caused by slight movements of the user's hands. All modern phones typically use electronic image stabilization (EIS), but some also use optical image stabilization (OIS), which allows the camera lens to move freely and limit blurring.

Sensor-shift stabilization works similarly to OIS, but allows the sensor to move instead of the lens, as the name suggests. This apparently results in more effective stabilizing than the usual method.

Finally, DigiTimes' report also makes mention of higher resolution sensors coming to the iPhone 13 Pro models. Apple has kept the iPhone's cameras at a fairly small 12MP for some time without it losing ground to competitors. 

But with rival phones now regularly using 48MP, 64MP and even 108MP cameras (in the case of phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra), it makes sense for Apple to upgrade now.

The base iPhone 13 models won't get these new sensors. They will instead inherit the ones used by the iPhone 12 Pro, which while not new are still great cameras.

Beyond these camera upgrades, the other big change to look out for is the potential elimination of the Lightning port, as it's rumored that the iPhone 13 will be Apple's first wireless-only phone. Expect other upgrades like a new A15 Bionic chipset, a 120Hz display and possibly the return of Touch ID in the display. 

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.