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iPhone 13 Pro camera upgrade tipped — but you might want to wait until next year

iPhone 13 Pro Max dummy unit
(Image credit: Unbox Therapy/YouTube)

If you're a fan of ultrawide photography, then we have may some good news about the iPhone 13's new capabilities. As long as you go for a Pro model, apparently.

According to respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via 9to5Mac), the ultrawide sensor on the iPhone 13 Pro will get a long-absent feature: autofocus. On the iPhone 12, the rear main camera and the telephoto camera on the iPhone 12 Pro are equipped with autofocus, but the ultrawide is not. Instead it uses fixed focus, which makes it the least versatile of the three cameras.

For context, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra features ultrawide autofocus, the first of Samsung's flagships to do so. If Apple wants the iPhone 13 to inherit the iPhone 12's place among the best camera phones on the market, then adding autofocus to its own ultrawide sensors is essential to keep up with its rivals.

We've also heard the ultrawide lens will receive more upgrades. Kuo, in a previous prediction, says Apple will swap out the current 5-element lens for a 6-element lens. This also matches the current main cameras, and would help reduce distortion and other unwanted image effects.

The only caveat to Kuo's prediction is that he says the new ultrawide lens is coming only to the Pro models. It may not be until next year that all available iPhones have these upgrades, he adds. So if you don't want to buy a iPhone 13 Pro, you might want to wait for the basic iPhone 14 in 2022.

There will be more than just camera improvements on the iPhone 13, according to the latest rumors. We may also get a smaller front camera notch, a faster A15 Bionic chip and improved 5G. The two expected iPhone 13 Pro models may also receive the iPhone series' first 120Hz refresh rate displays, a long-anticipated upgrade.

We'd expect the iPhone 13 (which could also be named the iPhone 12S) to arrive in September, in line with previous iPhone launches. It'll also bring with it the stable launch of iOS 15, Apple's latest operating system with changes like revamped notifications, enhancements for FaceTime and more.

Richard Priday

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. 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.