iPhone 13 design rumors — here’s why I’m worried

alleged iphone 13 notch vs iphone 12
(Image credit: DuanRui)

The arrival of the iPhone 13 isn't too far off, with an expected announcement in mid-September. Among other upgrades and changes rumored for the new iPhones, one key thing of note is the possibility that Apple might finally shrink the iconic notch on the iPhone 13 models.

At a time where top-tier Android phones like the Galaxy S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro are all-screen beauties, the iPhone has fallen behind in terms of design. In fact, as of the iPhone 12, Apple's design language has grown incredibly stale.

The iPhone's notch housing Apple's Face ID tech, front-facing camera, and earpiece was unsightly when we first saw it on the iPhone X. In the years since, smartphone design has evolved with Apple largely failing to keep up. While the iPhone 12 is still a beautiful phone with its squared off edges, the notch detracts from that beauty.

I look at the leaked screen protectors and renders of the iPhone 13 and I'm not convinced that Apple is going to do enough to modernize the iPhone 13's design with its coming phone rollout. From all appearances, the smaller notch isn't all that noticeable. Just look at the image at the top of this article. It's definitely not as wide as the iPhone 12's notch, but it's still a far cry from making the iPhone 13 an all-screen experience.

That lends credence to the possibility that the iPhone 13 will be little more than an iterative upgrade in terms of design. While some rumors about the iPhone 14 next year have already started swirling, Apple seems to have kept things safer this year. Of course, I'll wait to levy that judgment until the phone is officially announced.

I don't think Apple has done enough with the iPhone 13's seemingly smaller notch. When I pick up my OnePlus 9 Pro, Galaxy Z Flip 3, or even Pixel 5 after using the iPhone 12 Pro, I'm frequently amazed at the edge-to-edge displays. Granted, all of these phones rely on fingerprint sensors for biometric authentication, but Apple could have gone that route, too. Instead, rumors suggest that the company canned the return of Touch ID for the iPhone 13 (both in-display and in the power button), another huge mistake in my opinion.

Face ID is definitely a great advancement when it comes to unlocking your phone, but the pandemic has shown its severe limitations. I might forgive Apple's stubborn dedication to Face ID if the rumors of it figuring out how to work even with face masks on turn out to be true. Based on the facts we know now, however, Face ID has hit the wall in an age where we are still encouraged to wear masks in the wake of new COVID-19 variants. Therefore, the notch is more of a nuisance than a positive.

Barring any surprise reveals this month, it looks like we're stuck with the iPhone notch for now. And even though the notch looks like it'll be smaller for the first time since 2017, I don't think it's enough. I expect Apple to lead the charge on smartphone design, not fall so far behind.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.