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iPhone 13 leaker just tipped bad news for the camera

iPhone 13 camera rumor
(Image credit: Future)

We’re expecting camera upgrades across the board with the iPhone 13, but the standard phone could lack a LiDAR scanner for the second generation in a row. 

According to reasonably solid tipster Dylandkt on Twitter, only the ‘Pro’ models of the iPhone 13 (or potentially the iPhone 12S) will have the LiDAR scanner found on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. It was thought that all models of the next-generation iPhone will get the scanner but “due to one reason or another” this won’t be the case.  

A LiDAR scanner in Apple device rear camera arrays first popped up in the iPad Pro 2020. It was used to help with depth perception to deliver better augmented reality experiences. The LiDAR scanner was then added into the Pro iPhone 12 handsets. The sensor aided with autofocus and portrait photos in low-light situations, as well as boost the fidelity of AR experiences. 

Understandably, this was a new ‘pro’ feature at the time. But as Apple products mature, such features tend to trickle down to standard iPhone models. 

Going by the leaks and rumors so far, we had been expecting the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 to get the LiDAR sensors. 

Dylandkt didn't say why this won’t be the case, but simply stated “it won’t be happening this year.” Given the coronavirus pandemic isn’t over, one reason for this could be supply chain and manufacturing issues, but that's just speculation. 

The lack of a LiDAR sensor may be a little disheartening for Apple fans expecting a big camera upgrade in the standard iPhone 13 models. But depth perception of the current iPhone 12 is rather good, with solid portrait photos and good low-light performance, so a LiDAR scanner may not be a huge upgrade in practical terms. And some rumors have pointed towards larger sensors coming to the iPhone 13, with all models expected to gain sensor-shift stabilization, meaning the iPhone 13 could get a notable camera upgrade. 

We’d also place a solid bet that Apple with improve its computational photography to ensure the standard iPhone 13 offers a boost in camera performance over its predecessor. These include a portrait video mode and in new astrophotography abilities for shooting the night sky. However, the rumors so far have the Pro models tipped to get the biggest upgrades, with improvements to the ultra-wide camera and the inclusion of a six element lens

Outside of cameras, the iPhone 13 is expected to get a more powerful A15 Bionic chip, a smaller display notch and a faster 5G modem. However, an LTPO display with a 120Hz refresh rate is also reportedly limited to the iPhone 13 Pro models. A port-less design has also been tipped for the iPhone 13, but analyst Ming-Chi Kuo does not believe this will happen with the new iPhone as the MagSafe ecosystem isn’t mature enough. 

We’re expecting to find out what upgrades the iPhone 13 does bring to the table come September, which has been the month Apple traditionally shows off its next smartphone.

Time will tell on all the above, but the iPhone 13 is shaping up to be an interesting smartphone, especially if it delivers on the upgrades we want

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer is U.K. 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.